The Mid North Coast of NSW is a favourite escape destination for us. It has a bit of everything to offer, with a heavy emphasis on long white beaches and laidback vibes.
What it also has is a large range of national parks with walking trails for all interest and abilities.
It was high time to kick myself out of my sloth and go for a wee wander in the Booti Booti National Park.
The Booti Booti National Park is 1,567ha of sand dunes, sea views, lake views, coastal bush and the aptly named, Seven Mile Beach. Booti Booti (or butibuti) is the local indigenous word meaning ‘honey and/or plenty of bees’ in the Gathang language – the language of the Warrimay, Birrbay, and Guringay people.
The Park itself is split neatly in two halves with a section of private lands and camp grounds right in the middle. How lucky are those folks to own a piece of this Paradise?
The focus of today’s stroll was the Booti Hill track starting from the Ruins campground. I couldn’t actually see any ruins of the original homestead buildings, just lots of caravans and happy campers. This campground is at the very southern end of Seven Mile Beach and would be a heavenly location for anglers, swimmers, surfers and other water babies. A National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Information Centre is also located onsite and this would be very handy to access local knowledge of the region.
Here are the Nuts and Bolts of this little walk:
- Distance: 6.5km return
- Rating: Grade 3/4
- Terrain: A bit of everything including steep steps, gravel fire trails and very flat paths on the Lake’s edge.
- Path: The path is clearly waymarked and the surface underfoot is pretty even, if a little muddy. Sneakers/running shoes are more than sufficient and I think a pair of those hiking sandals would be perfect to handle the mud.
- What Else There is to See/Do: Make the most of the drop dead gorgeous, and virtually people-free, Seven Mile Beach. Be aware that it is unpatrolled. For the keen angler, both lake and ocean would provide some interesting challenges. Bird lovers will also enjoy the abundant and very vocal birdlife.
- Mobile Phone Coverage: Telephone reception is available in places.
- Water: Take water with you. There are no watering points available anywhere along the path. This is even more important if you walk in Summer.
- Sun Protection: Wear a hat and sunscreen. Even though there is plenty of shade on the path, the Australian sun is unforgiving.
- Insect Protection: Mosquitos usually avoid me, but that morning they decided I was fair game. Take some bug spray to discourage their feasting.
- Snakes: This area would be prime snake country in summertime. Be careful where you step.
- Bushfires: Be careful with any cigarettes or naked flame. Sometimes you are walking through thick patches of bush with no real escape routes, so take care.
- Toilets: There are no toilet facilities out on the path, but comfortable facilities back at the Ruins Campground.
Setting out just after 7am, the sky was slightly overcast muting the coastal colours. I welcomed the cool though as I faced up to the steep climb that marks the beginning of the walk. Referred to as the Stairway to Heaven by the locals, the views sweeping back up the beach are quickly lost as the stairs and steps take you straight up and deep into the heavily wooded scrub.
It was slightly muddy underfoot from the previous day’s rain and I had to keep a wary eye on the mud, tricky tree roots and my two left feet. Up, up, up I climbed catching my breath on the short flat sections before the path switched back on itself to continue ever upwards.
Not living on the coast, I love the different feel of coastal bush, the different smells and sounds. The trees are lusher, thicker and taller, and yet display a hardiness that is proof they can withstand the wild storms and winds that brew up from the ocean. I was accompanied right along this section of the path by the crash and hush of waves breaking against the shore and receding again. I couldn’t see the water, but the rhythmic sound matched my steps.
After about 2km you reach a decision point and the path splits. You can keep going south to visit Elizabeth Beach or turn westwards and head to the Lake. That was my direction of choice as I wanted to experience all the contrasts of this circuit.
Within a few footsteps, the path changed from a narrow bush track to a broad fire trail. I smiled to myself as it felt, and sounded, like someone had firmly closed a window as the descent down the hill completely blocked out all the noises of the ocean. New sounds of passing traffic filtered up the path and through the trees from the main road I would need to cross to reach Wallis Lake.
A couple of minutes later I arrived at the road (Yes, this is only a short walk) and, wary of the speeding traffic, crossed over to Sunset Picnic Area. And what a stunning spot it would be to watch the sun set!?
This walk’s endless contrast hit me again. Instead of the sound of the ocean, it was replaced with the gentle lapping of the Lake’s ripples. The noise of the passing traffic did intrude a little however it is not a highway by any stretch of the imagination, and cars quickly came and went with long stretches of quiet in between.
Turning for home, or back to the car, I followed the clear, flat path that hugged the edge of the water. I soon realised that I hadn’t chosen the most appropriate footwear as the path turned from mud bogs to mini-lakes to running streams! For a while I tried to avoid all the water obstacles and then gave up completely, merrily trudging through both puddles and mud.
Wherever I turned were glorious views up, down and across the Lake. Herons perched on fallen tree branches eyeing the water for their breakfast while human fisherman used more traditional methods.
I couldn’t believe the beauty that this walk delivered and I couldn’t believe that I had it all to myself. For the entire length of the walk I met only one other walker and he was going in the opposite direction. Maybe visitors to this region are more focussed on sun, surf and sand than bushwalking?
The path eventually turned eastwards, looping back to the Ruins Campground. My feet were filthy and I was regretting my choice of white socks that morning, but I was happy. A really special walk through a scenic patch of Aussie bush.
Do you have a favourite ‘water’ walk?
What: Booti Booti National Park has a number of other small walks on offer which showcase small sections of Wallis Lake and Seven Mile Beach. Choose a path that matches your energy levels.
Where: The starting point for this walk at The Ruins Campground is approximately 20km South of Forster on the Lakes Way.
When: I walked in early May – our late Autumn. You could walk this path at any time of year however I would recommend avoiding the serious heat of Summer due to the lack of water, shade and the potential risk of bushfire. An early morning or late afternoon visit would increase your chance of seeing native wildlife. You may also be able to see the annual north-south humpback whale migration from early June through to late October.
Why: For the joy of a good walk full of contrasts.
How: You can catch a public bus (#150) to Tiona, just North of the Ruins Campground and walk the short distance from there (approx. 1.1km). Parking is plentiful if you have your own car.
Who: This is not an accessible path for those with mobility difficulties. You don’t need to be super-fit to enjoy this path, just be prepared for the steep terrain going up and, of course, down. Take your time, catch your breath and enjoy the views that surround you.
Related Posts: For another stunning coastal walk with endless ocean views, check out my stroll up Tomaree Head near Nelson Bay.
Related Blogs: Jo is also tackling some steep steps and what amazing steps they are.
Read About It: Feel like a stroll in Australia? Lonely Planet has a comprehensive guide book highlighting their pick of the 60 best day walks in Australia. Grab a copy from Book Depository.
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