Take a Hike
There’s no better way to soak up the beauty of our coastline than with a little exploration. The park itself covers some 1,500 hectares and includes an eight-kilometre peninsula between the ocean and Wallis Lake and encompasses stunning beaches, estuarine foreshore, rainforest and scenic headlands – perfect for the upcoming whale watching season.
The Booti Hill and Wallis Lake walking track is a loop of several kilometres that will take an estimated three hours. The walk has a couple of possible starting points – Elizabeth Beach, Sunset Picnic Area on The Lakes Way or the Ruins campground. Our advice is to commence the walk at The Ruins campground, also on The Lakes Way (just after Tiona Park, heading south).
Starting the walk at the campground means you’ll have the steepest part of the walk out of the way first.
To start, make your way from the campground down to Seven Mile Beach where the walk is signposted. You’ll be travelling clockwise and making your way up the northern side of Booti Hill, ascending steep steps amongst banksia trees. For those wishing to catch their breath on their way up or simply wanting to take in the surrounds, benches are dotted along the incline. The path is manageable for most walkers if taken slow and steady. The cool breeze from the ocean makes this one of the more comfortable bushwalks in the area.
Twitchers (or bird lovers for the uninitiated) are wise to pack their binos for the walk with the habitat of Booti Booti home to over 200 bird species. For those who prefer scaly creatures, keep an eye out for goannas and water dragons around The Ruins campground.
After the initial climb up the hill, the walk is more undulated and takes you from drier, bushy scrub to subtropical rainforest dotted with ferns, moss and strangler figs. This point in the walk also provides views of Seagull Point before the track emerges above Lindemans Cove. You then make your way along the ridge before heading down in the direction of Elizabeth Beach where you have pockets of views of the beach below. The walk down is steep so it’s advisable to wear appropriate shoes. Leave your thongs at home for this one.
The walk then threads by the lovely Elizabeth Beach. The beach is framed by the southern side of Booti Hill and tends to be more protected than the more open, surfing beaches of Boomerang and Blueys. ‘Elizabeth’ has been long been the pick for families as it is considered the safest beach in the area and is also the only patrolled beach (summer and peak seasons only).
There’s a picnic area a short stroll from the beach should you be ready for that yummy afternoon tea you packed.
For those interested in a slight detour, the beautiful, tucked away Shelly Beach (where clothing is optional) is accessed by a walking track at the southern end of Elizabeth Beach. The walk over to Shelly Beach, up the hill and over the ridge, takes about 10 minutes.
If Shelly Beach is preferred for another day, then continue the walk from Elizabeth by retracing your steps up Booti Hill until you reach the fire trail heading west (as marked) towards The Lakes Way. Cross over The Lakes Way for the last part of the walk which hugs the shoreline of Wallis Lake. The last few kilometres are easy and level. The views across the lake are gorgeous so this part of the walk is particularly scenic and peaceful.
With an average depth of only five feet, Wallis Lake is wonderful for swimming, paddle-boarding, kayaking and fishing. And for those bird lovers with binoculars still in hand, it’s the best spot to enjoy waterbirds such as pelicans and the endangered little tern.
Wallis Lake is also considered one of the cleanest lakes in Australia so why not dive in for a swim at the end of the walk. After covering several kilometres, it’s deserved!
Cb’s review of the walk
This is a fantastic walk even through the warmer months of the year. The dense rainforest canopy means that the path is mostly shaded if you walk in the afternoon. Remember to keep looking back, as sometimes the most impressive views are behind you on this walk. Sturdy footwear will help for the steep parts as well and for roots, stone and leaf debris scattered along the path. Smooth, latte coloured gum trees are dotted throughout the walk. This is a great bush, beach and lakeside walk that provides a sense of peaceful isolation.
But wait, there’s more
If the walk through Booti Booti National Park tickled your fancy, there are other exciting developments in the pipeline sure to interest you.
The MidCoast Council, in conjunction with National Parks & Wildlife Services, has engaged a leading tourism and trail specialist to develop a feasibility study and Master Plan for a 100-kilometre walk and aquatic trails between Forster and Hawks Nest.
The aim of the Great Lakes Great Walk and Aquatic Trails is to open up an incredible stretch of our coastline for nature-based tourism, in line with what the MidCoast region is already renowned for. With a growing market in adventure tourism and nature-based pursuits, the walk and aquatic trail would be ideal for hikers, paddleboarders and kayakers.
Sharon Bultitude, MidCoast Council’s Destination Management Coordinator, says the project is positioned to deliver, “a world-class coastal trail experience, with a unique mix of visitor accommodation, new high-quality experience-based tourism products and a range of cultural and indigenous experiences.”