A big camping weekend with a varied crew called for a team effort – and the Mount Yacaaba Headland walk was the challenge Joe’s mates needed.
One of my favourite people, Marijs (ma-rehs with a rolling ‘r’), effortlessly rallied the troops for her birthday camping weekend… 15 eager friends? Check. Campsite? Check. Food? Too much. Wine? Obviously. Easy right?!
Agreeing on what to do when you’ve got a camping group of very different people is the hard part. Some people surf, some people love to hike, some love the beach, some enjoy staying at camp and reading a book. So, what’s the plan? Do we all stick together? Do we part ways and meet up for dinners? As the little girl in the Old El Paso taco advert says: Porque no los dos?!
- Beach walking
- Epic views
- Whale watching! (if lucky)
- Sheltered beach (side trip)
- Lakeside sunset
Old El Paso Style
We started Day 1 as a group; the delegated breakfast-cooker (yours truly) organised the morning feast and brewed an army’s worth of coffee. But after the clean-up, we split. Some went back to bed, others explored the campsite and surrounding lakes, a couple of us explored Dark Point Aboriginal Place; all with the vague plan to gather back at camp for dinner.
On Day 2, we decided to stick together and pick a local hike. The signboards at the campground mentioned the Yacaaba Headland walking trail; a challenging but not-too-long walk starting at the south-end of Bennetts Beach around 25 minutes’ drive away. Some were a little wary of the trip; they weren’t ‘hikers’, but with a bit of ‘you’ll be right’, and some ‘no, you probably shouldn’t wear thongs’, we hit the road.
Parking at Bennetts Beach carpark (with the plan to jump in the ocean at the end of the hike) we started the trail walking south along Beach Road behind the sandy brushland parallel to the beach. You can actually drive further down Beach Road to the Jimmy’s Beach Reserve carpark and start here, which would avoid walking along the road (oops…sorry team!). At this carpark we cut left and began the Yacaaba Spit ‘Track’ towards the bottom of Mount Yacaaba. I say ‘track’ because you’re actually just walking along the sand on the beach; no trail markers needed.
After almost 2km, we reached the rocky base of Mount Yacaaba. This headland separates the ocean and Bennetts Beach, from the Karuah River mouth and the more protected bay of Jimmy’s Beach. The sign here explains that the trail to the right leads up the Yacaaba Walking Track; 1km to the viewpoint or 1.5km to the summit.
Up we go!
The trail is well-marked and well-trodden, so navigationally easy – but not necessarily hiking-easy. We were all already pretty knackered from the beach-walk, so this section up the mountain was particularly tiring. The conversation dwindled as everyone puffed and panted (some swore) up the sometimes-rocky trail, taking breaks (and taking in the sweeping views) at every opportunity.
The final stretch to the top was a heart-pumper, and you’d be forgiven for assuming that some of the group weren’t enjoying it – but the silence, smiles and selfies at the top confirmed the opposite. We were rewarded with a beautiful panoramic lookout over Bennetts Beach and Mungo Brush to the north, and Tomaree Headland to the south. A family at the summit had even caught glimpses of breaching whales!
Unfortunately it was a hazy day for photography, so we took more mental pictures than digital ones and made our wobbly-legged way back down the mountain. The wind had picked up and Bennett’s Beach was looking a little rough for a swim, so we high-fived and parted ways – some of the group took the short side track (less than 500m) at the base of Mount Yacaaba over to Jimmy’s Beach to catch some sun and play in the mellow waters of the bay; others went back to camp for a nap (me!).
Cheers to us
Mungo Brush campsite is perched on the bank of Blackfellows Bay, and offers plenty of areas to sit riverside to enjoy sunset. Our group (almost instinctively) all arrived back to camp before sunset, so we laid out picnic blankets, poured some wine and took turns trying to get the best sunset-over-lake photos. Conversation turned to the hike earlier in the day; those that had been apprehensive were now feeling proud, empowered and even excited for future hikes. After a campside river bath (surprisingly not freezing), we all cheersed to our efforts at the perfect place to cap off a day of exploring.
One thing to note: The Myall Lakes system is tidal, so don’t put your picnic blanket too close to the water line… it might get wet!
What To Bring
- Sneakers (not thongs)
How To Get There
Starting at Bennett’s Beach or Jimmy’s Beach Reserve, heading south towards Mount Yacaaba. The trail is marked from the south end of the beach.
Distance / Time Taken / Elevation
7km return / 2.5-3.5 hours / 239m