We didn’t see any koalas, but there is still an astonishing diversity of habitat, plants and animals on this walk. So it was unsurprising to learn that the Gumbaynggirr name Bongil Bongil means “the place where you stay a long time” because of the abundance of food. Dating of middens indicate people have lived here for at least 1,000 years.
The sometimes muddy path from Moller Rd winds its way alongside Bonville creek, past mangroves, swamp oak and through paperbark forests. The track passes under the railway bridge and on to the picnic area with fishing pontoon and NPWS interpretive signage. There are saltmarshes and sedge, wet and dry schlerophyll, bangalow and cabbage palms.
The arrival of white fellas changed the land – first the cedar getters, then clearing for dairy farming by the Williams brothers. They also built channels to drain the swamp. Spot the rows of blackbutt, Sydney blue gum and flooded gum trees planted in the 1970s for paper mills, after diary farming ceased. Koala food trees have been planted amongst the plantation trees.
We started from Moller Rd, but you could also start from the lovely Picnic area at the end of Williams Rd. This would allow you to shorten the walk by some 4km, but you’d miss out on the paperbark forests along picturesque Bonville Creek.