Questions regarding the South Coast Track

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Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby Scout » Fri 22 Feb, 2019 9:12 am

Hey guys!

I'm hoping to do the South Coast Track in April around Easter time with a small party (or perhaps solo).

Just had a few questions regarding the area however. Is seven days plenty of time to complete the Melaleuca-Cockle Creek trip including time to explore and possibly wait for creek tides to change? Considering people do it in 5 days I believe this may be achievable but others have said 11 days is better, so I thought I'd just gauge that one.

Here's the itinerary I've conjured so far:
Day 1: Fly Hobart to Melaleuca, then walk to Point Eric
Est. 4-5 hours
Side trip along the short Needwonnee walk in Melaleuca and possibly up into the Bathurst Range, to Mount Counsel or even the smaller Foley Pimple.

Day 2: Point Eric to Louisa River
Est. 4-7 hours
Side trip to Louisa Bay.

Day 3: Louisa River to Little Deadman’s Bay
Est 6-9 hours

Day 4: Little Deadman’s Bay to Osmiridium Beach
Est. 5-6 hours

Day 5: Osmiridium Beach to South Cape Rivulet via Surprise Bay
Est. 7-10 hours

Day 6: South Cape Rivulet to Cockle Creek
Est. 4 hours

An additional day would be left in here as contingency for river crossings/exploring.


Parks mentions to be weary of South Cape Rivulet, Louisa River, Faraway Creek, Louisa Creek and Milford Creek in high tide. Where would be the best place to get tidal information from the days prior to departure? I've used Willy Weather previously, however due to the nature of the walk it seems fairly critical to be using the most accurate resources.

The boat crossing at Prion Bay across New River Lagoon is another obstacle that has sparked my interest. Obviously putting in the hard yards is needed with rowing but in the circumstance that 2 boats are on the opposite side to you, what does one do? Is it common to wait till low tide and do a mighty swim? As it would be quite a large detour to circumnavigate the Lagoon and even then, you would still have to cross New River by foot.

Thanks in advance :)
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby L_Cham_67 » Fri 22 Feb, 2019 10:55 am

Milford Creek now has a bridge across it, so that's one less creek to worry about.

Camping at granite beach or surprise bay is of course an option if you end up with poor weather.

I've also heard that camping at deadmans bay (turua beach) instead of little deadmans bay is a more scenic option. No facilities and a little more walking required after a big day over the ironbounds, but yeah it's apparently worth it!
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby Azza » Fri 22 Feb, 2019 11:01 am

7 days is a good amount of time.
I wouldn't stress too much about tides. Rivers will go up quickly after significant rain. Take it as it comes.
South Cape Rivulet is often barely above the knee and you can usually cross well back from the sea.
Most of the creeks along the beaches weren't much to worry about. The others were thigh deep. But just depends on how much rain.

The boat crossing at Prion is a couple of hundred metres and relatively sheltered in the Lagoon.
Its not unheard of to bump into a group going the other way and you can just cross over.
Worst case scenario there will often be people at the Prion campsite they could help if both boats were on one side.
Depending on how much water is in the lagoon, I remember it being quite shallow for a fair way out. You could probably wade half of it. I think it would be more of a mighty cold swim that anything else.
Circumnavigate the lagoon? I'd opt for the swim.
There could be a bit of a flow out to sea, so you do have be a little careful. I'm not sure the tides really make a huge difference in the Lagoon.
I think the hardest part is carrying the boat to the water if your going solo. (Compared to Pt Davey getting two boats on one side isn't as bigger deal)
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby Thylaseen » Fri 22 Feb, 2019 8:51 pm

You wouldn't consider circumnavigating the lagoon - not a serious option.
It's out there
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby durks » Sat 23 Feb, 2019 7:04 am

Scout wrote: ... in the circumstance that 2 boats are on the opposite side to you ...


Has this ever happened to anybody? I'd hope not.

I've only done that crossing twice, but I've never considered the possibility that previous users of the boats wouldn't make sure that one was on either side.
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby Rabid K9 » Sat 23 Feb, 2019 10:32 am

durks wrote:
Scout wrote: ... in the circumstance that 2 boats are on the opposite side to you ...


Has this ever happened to anybody? I'd hope not.

I've only done that crossing twice, but I've never considered the possibility that previous users of the boats wouldn't make sure that one was on either side.


Years ago (2003), went through during the winter solstice, west to east. Was quite a wet trip, with enormous seas, which meant a few detours, flooded rivers etc. Louisa was a good cold swim.

Quite a large section of the dune on the western side had been scoured out by storm surges, high water levels etc & suspect boats hadn't quite been pulled up far enough. Boats were sunk & filled with sand so had to do a rescue operation. Also only one good oar, which snapped halfway across. Fortunately grew up on fishing boats with dodgy tinnies & makeshift oars, so wasn't too much of an issue, but entertaining none the less.
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby Orion » Sat 23 Feb, 2019 11:34 am

durks wrote:
Scout wrote: ... in the circumstance that 2 boats are on the opposite side to you ...

Has this ever happened to anybody? I'd hope not.

I've only done that crossing twice, but I've never considered the possibility that previous users of the boats wouldn't make sure that one was on either side.


I'm sure it happens all the time that there are two boats on one side now that there are three boats.
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby Warin » Sat 23 Feb, 2019 4:21 pm

Orion wrote:
durks wrote:I'm sure it happens all the time that there are two boats on one side now that there are three boats.

Bit difficult to have only one on each side when you have three.

Solutions?
Anchor the third mid stream?
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby durks » Sun 24 Feb, 2019 2:19 am

Orion wrote:I'm sure it happens all the time that there are two boats on one side now that there are three boats.


Fair enough - last time I was there was in 2010, at which time there were a total of two boats.

But I was really responding to the OP's question, namely: "Obviously putting in the hard yards is needed with rowing but in the circumstance that 2 boats are on the opposite side to you, what does one do? Is it common to wait till low tide and do a mighty swim?" That question relates to the possibilty of all boats (2, 3, whatever) being on one side. Has anybody ever had that experience at this crossing?
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby Orion » Sun 24 Feb, 2019 11:43 am

I don't know but I'll bet it's happened.
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby rangersac » Sun 24 Feb, 2019 7:17 pm

Point Eric to Louisa River plus a side trip to Louisa Bay is a big day. You’d want to get going real early for that one given the amount of light you’ll have in April.

Also I’d did the track at a similar time of year to what you are proposing and Faraway Creek was the highest of the water courses.
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby RicktheHuman » Mon 25 Feb, 2019 9:33 am

A friend of mine once swam the Bathurst narrows and New River lagoon on the same trip in July :shock:
I lika do da cha-cha
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby Azza » Mon 25 Feb, 2019 10:40 am

I think Bathurst Narrows has a greater problem with the boats being left on one side.
Many years ago I remember seeing comments in the Log book at Scotts Peak of people turning around on the Pt Davey track after not being able to cross because of the boats being left on Melaleuca side.
I can also remember similar comments in the log books at Melaleuca, so it happens occasionally.
The narrows has much greater issues with currents, tides, weather etc, situations where it might not not safe to attempt a crossing or selfishness would mean the boats get left on one side.

The good thing about Prion crossing is that there tends to be a lot more groups around.
You will get parties coming off the Southern Ranges or others going the reverse direction to Melaleuca.
So the chance of someone turning up that can assist with a boat screw up are quite good. (*Depending on time of year)

When I did the crossing just as I finished sorting out the boats two parties showed up, one on each side. So they got to just cross over.
I had to do the three crossings and rescue my wife, turns out she couldn't work out how to row the second boat and she was slowly drifting towards the sea with the current flowing out of the lagoon.
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby Jon MS » Mon 25 Feb, 2019 6:29 pm

Got out of the South Coast on fri after a 7 day walk. Probably about the 40th trip through over the past 40 years (first trip was in Feb 79 as my first walk longer than 3 days).

The itinerary proposed sounds fine except that its a big day from Osmiridium Beach to South Cape Rvt.

Last mon I walked across New River Lagoon where I normally cross it, opposite where Milford Ck comes out into the lagoon. In most years it is knee to waist deep there but this year it was chest deep (about 1.6 m) and flowing well but still easy to cross. Then walked up Milford Ck 100 m to the new bridge and followed the new re-route east. Crossing New River Lagoon here saves about 1:30 hours due to not having to use the boats and not having to walk up and down along nearly 2 km of dunes.

But, the re-route east from Milford Ck is horrid!!! It is only about 18 months old and already closing over. It also goes up and down dunes and then up and down more dunes.

Would also be interested in knowing the logic used by PWS to determine where they do track work. The general state of the track is far worse than at any time in the last 40 years. Lots of work has been done between Melaleuca and the top of the Ironbounds, mostly in areas where minimal real ecological damage was occurring. But, on this track work the drains that have been put in have not been cleared for years meaning that water is causing increased erosion of the track. Also, nothing has been done on the eastern side of the Ironbounds, which 25 years ago was mostly fixed up but where now more than 99% of the work has collapsed due to usage and a lack maintenance. The major safety issue at Granite Beach where it is necessary to walk along a 80 m section of boulders which are subject to large waves hitting the cliff (and where it is probable that a death has occurred) has also not been fixed despite it being easy to do a re-route.
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby philm » Sat 09 Mar, 2019 2:13 pm

We just completed this walk over 6 days. My comments and suggestions would be:

1. Day 2 is a big day and you will be rushed. If you have 7 days and the weather is good go to Louisa Bay and stay the night there and relax, then the next day walk to Louisa River and camp there.

2. We were going to stop at Osmiridium and walked in and whilst the camp site was reasonable there was little water and the creek was not flowing - so we walked onto Surprise Bay - this was one of our favourite camp sites perched above the cliffs overlooking the beach. I would give Osmiridium a miss or if you decide to stay there boil or filter what water there is. The next day we just walked from Surprise Bay to Granite Beach and relaxed most of the day.

2. Our plan was similar to yours and you will find days 2, 3 and 4 are quite big ones with distances of about 15-17km per day.

3. We walked from Granite Beach to Lion Rock on the second to last day and this was a fairly easy day of about 12km and over the range.

Overall we had a great walk with great weather. Let me know if you need any more details.
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Re: Questions regarding the South Coast Track

Postby Gunner55 » Mon 01 Apr, 2019 4:36 pm

Lots of good feedback provided above. I did the track in Dec/Jan and most people followed the itinerary you proposed. I did the diversion to Louise Bay which was lovely (both getting there and what you find on arrival - a whole bunch of sea caves, big cascade and lovely beach that goes on forever, and great views up to the Ironbounds). The only campsite with lots of human junk - disappointing. It led to me going from there to my high camp on the IB, which was terrific but edgy when the weather came in during the night. I wouldn't do it if the weather was sketchy. Another big day from there to Osmiridium. Definitely a good call above re the beautiful campsite at Surprise Bay - far better than the relatively disappointing Osmiridium.


The track was in pretty good nick. Very overgrown in places I thought (though easy enough to see where you are meant to be going). There is a lot of duckboarding and personally I would not like to see any more development incl mooted huts or inclusion of diversions around Granite Beach or the mooted low cut track being considered around the Ironbounds (heaven forbid). Just maintain it, or else it will be compromised too significantly.
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