Australia’s Great Lakes Part V: Myall Lake National Park and Smiths Lake Sandbar


By Nic Stoltzfus

Monday morning we woke up, packed our gear, and set out for the Tasman Sea. We drove out on Lakes Way and turned right at the little village of Bungwhal, onto Seal Rocks Road.

Our first stop was Sugarloaf Bay. I glanced skyward—it was a clear morning and the warm sun felt good on my face. I was happy to have a day that began without fog obscuring the sunlight. However, the fog was forecast to return later in the week, bringing rain and chill. But today was a welcome respite from the damp cold; families and surfers dotted the beach in equal enjoyment of a sunny day.

A surfer getting ready to head out and catch some waves.
A surfer getting ready to head out and catch some waves.
Sugarloaf Bay with Statis Rock off to the right.
Sugarloaf Bay with Statis Rock off to the right.

I took off my boots, rolled up my jeans, and waded across a thin strip of water-covered sand so I could climb up Statis Rock. From here I focused my lens to the north and got some great shots of the Smiths Lake outfall off in the distance. I stood on the rocks for a while and watched the surfers bobbing in communion with the waves, and the waves rushing forward towards the rocky coast and booming upward like watery fireworks.

Rush, beat, BOOM! Rush, beat, BOOM! Rush, beat, BOOM!

Compared to the dynamo and loud pulsing push-pull of the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico seems relatively mild and laconic. Calm waters quietly petting the sand and receding back with a gentle goodbye. Hushed greetings, a soothing whisper.

Waves crashing on Statis Rock--you can almost make out the sandbar from Smiths Lake out in the distance.
Waves crashing on Statis Rock–you can almost make out the sandbar from Smiths Lake out in the distance.
BOOM! A crash of waves.
BOOM! A crash of waves.

After my few minutes of meditation, I grappled the rock back downward to the sandy shoreline and Dad and I drove to nearby Myall Lakes National Park. Here, we walked out to Trespass Point and got some nice pictures of the sand dunes. Unlike the dunes in Florida, people here are able to walk and even drive over parts of them. This may be due in part to the massive size of these dunes, and the large amount of land they occupy.

Soon, Dad did a timelapse of the clouds forming over the dunes, and when finished, we packed up and drove north to Smiths Lake. We followed the contour of Smiths Lake and got out at Sandbar & Bushland Caravan Park. From here we walked south to the Smiths Lake sandbar. Dad set up his tripod again and got some great timelapse video of more clouds forming over the sandbar––huge clouds growing darker with the signs of an approaching storm­­––and we soon knew it was time to leave. It was about a 2.5 mile hike to the sandbar and back, with heavy gear trudging through soft sand—and after a long day already filled with hiking. By the time I reached the car I was cold, hungry, tired, and a bit dehydrated. Dad felt about the same, so we stopped at the bowling club in the community of Smiths Lake and sat down for a spell to enjoy some hot chocolate.

Click here to read the last blog in the series, Australia’s Great Lakes Part VI: Mungo Brush and the Aftermath, and also watch the short video we made about the lakes.

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