A trip report from PJ’s 4 day solo hike in Yuraygir National Park
When: 1-4 November 2017
Where: Yuraygir National Park
What: Yamba to Red Rock Coastal Hike
Why: Needed a challenge to focus on
Day 1 – Marra Creek to Red Cliffs campsite
The National Parks guide recommends doing this walk North to South and I can understand why. The first day is pretty easy, the third day is hard.
This first day is mostly a dirt/sand track. Very peaceful, easy to navigate and well sign-posted. It’s obvious where the track goes.
There is fresh water at the end of the day, but it’s an extra 2-3 km round trip. I just asked someone’s Nan and Pop in a camper if they could spare some, which they were happy to do.
Great spot for a swim and lots of kangaroos! You can have a fire there, but its BYO fire wood. I scavenged around the fireplaces for peoples left over bits and had some Firestarters with me.
Day 2 – Red Cliffs to Illaroo
25 kms/6 hours
Mostly beach walking. Fairly compact, though it’s worth working with the tides, rather than against them.
I used an app ‘Map my ride’, which provided speed and distance at 5km intervals. On the beach I did about 3.5kms/hr in soft sand, and about 5kms/hr on hard packed sand. Knowing this helped me plan my water and food consumption.
I made sure I was up early, packed and walking by 6.15am. This made the most of the mild temperatures and meant my water lasted me the day.
When I did find opportunities to fill up my water, I made sure I took 10mins to drink as much as possible, often a litre, sometimes more.
The first water crossing is via a National Parks canoe, which was on the other side when I came through, but I asked around and a father gave me a lift in his two person kayak. You can’t walk across it as it’s too deep and fast.
Illaroo campsite is lovely and has a good beach. There is also a great general store at Minnie Waters, which is about 1km south of the campsite and does hot food, wet/dry goods, coffee and alcohol.
You can have a fire at this campsite and there is water 3 kms away, but you can also get it from the general store if you ask nicely.
Day 3 – Illaroo to Pebbly beach campsite
28 kms/8.5 hours
Beach walking- a lot of it. Especially Wolli beach, which I struck at high tide. It wasn’t fun but I found a rhythm and just kept going. I didn’t stop much on the beaches, because I found it hard to get started and sand gets everywhere when you put your pack down!
You need to book the water crossing at the end of Wooli beach. Information for this is on the websites provided below. The water crossing costs $10 per person and it’s the only way to get across, unless you happen to find someone with a private boat.
Then there is a 5 kilometre long ‘Rock Platform Crossing’. It is pretty challenging. The rocks are sharp and on awkward angles, which makes it strenuous. Look for the ‘goat track’ people have made up above the rocks. I used sections of this to make it easy, but it wasn’t a proper trail and you would want to carefully assess the risks. In a group, the rock platform would have been easier and less brutal I think.
There is a lovely beach at Station Creek. Nice for a swim and you can have a fire. No water there though, so make sure you take this into account or try to get some from another camping group. Plenty of people, families mostly when I was there and they were great. You MUST cross Station Creek at low tide. There are no formal arrangements for crossing it. But I got a lift by one of the fathers with a 4WD.
Day 4 – Pebbly Beach to Red Rock
As I did far more kilometres on day three, this day was just a stroll and a final water crossing. Again, you need to book the guy with the boat, but he was easy to deal with. At very low tide you could probably put your pack on your head and try to walk across, but there is a general store on the other side with great burgers… so you may not want to wait for low tide!
I got a mate to pick me up at Red Rock, but there is a bus service too. Check the timetable though because the buses aren’t that frequent. Alternatively you can camp at the Red Rock campground and have a hot shower.
The beaches in Red Rock are amazing and worth the effort.
All the hard work for this trip was done in the preparation phase. You could do it without planning (meals, training, getting other peeps advice) but it would make things harder than necessary.
The trip restored my faith in people. There were several times when I needed some help, with water crossings or just extra water. I just approached people and they happily helped me. Maybe it was because I was a single female, but I think it was also that I was doing it solo and they appreciated the difficulty of it.
I looked up some blogs on solo hiking and there were a few gems.
Firstly when you encounter an unexpected challenge or something goes wrong-> STOP- Stop, Think, Observe, Plan. I used this several times to make decisions, when there was no one else to consult.
Also – one blog made a valid point, that you are not alone when doing a solo. You have your thoughts, memories and own company. This was a valuable piece of advice when I was doing hard sections on the soft sand or the rock platform crossing. I had some very funny moments and laughed out loud literally!
- 60 Litre pack
- 2L Water (plus 1.5L emergency water)
- cereal, long life milk, chocolate, high calorie CLIF bars, dehydrated meals, fruit, snacks
- First aid kit
- Klymit sleeping mat, summer weight sleeping bag +thermal liner
- matches/fire starters
- reading book
- trip notes
- iPhone with spare charging bank
- sense of adventure and a positive attitude
Any questions – I would be happy to help. Comment below or get in touch via the Hunter Area Outdoor Women facebook group.