The Mumbulla Debacle

Tathra was supposed to just be a spot to top up my engine oil. The lady at the service station was helpful, so I asked her what she suggested I see in the area. Mumbulla Falls was the first thing she mentioned – with a glance at the Corolla saying, “the road’s dirt but you’ll make it up easily in that.”

I jumped onto the road and, after a wrong turn which took me deep onto someone’s farmland, I found the road into Mimosa Rocks National Park. There were a few different tracks into the park. The one I chose would wind through three different dirt roads for about twenty kilometres to the waterfalls. Easy…

The farm I blundered on to.

Except, of course, it was winter. The track I’d picked was shoddy to start with. Rocky with deep ruts and pretty well unsuitable for a small two wheel drive. The kicker was that no-one visits remote waterfalls in winter on the South Coast, so all the forest debris from the past few storms had covered the path with everything from twigs to whole trees.

Burned out trees shed more debris...

No less than five times I had to stop the car and drag trees off the road. By the time I’d made it halfway in to the park, my shoulders were tense, my eyes scanning the road ahead obsessively and I was both regretting my choice but also well and truly committed to going ahead, in the hope that the path would get better.

Weaving through the trees.

It didn’t. So, after an hour of driving at a snail’s pace, freaking out that every branch would kick up and puncture my tyre or some such, I made it to Mumbulla Falls.

The forest, at least the bits that weren't on the road, was spectacular.

The Falls were underwhelming compared to the stunning Apsley and Fitzroy Falls I’d seen recently, but the important thing was that I’d made it with the Corolla intact. I wandered around, took a few photos and had a secluded lunch.

The main set of cascades at Mumbulla... the rocks are like a slip'n'slide.

The biggest cascade into a cold, deep pool.

It was a 12km drive back to the Princes Highway. The road was better than the one I’d used to get in, but the forest had been logged recently, so the road was practically a stick bridge.

Finally, I emerged from the forest onto a well-graded gravel road. It felt like red carpet. I pulled the car over to appreciate the view of the Bega farmland.

It was like driving out into a dream!

Continuing down through the green slopes, I made it on to bitumen. If the gravel was carpet, this was silk! Looking back at the mountains of Mimosa Rocks, I noticed a vandalised road sign (Warning; contains a swear word!).

"Greens still tell lies" and "Caution: Logging Fucks The Environment"

A mixed message, perhaps; no matter, because I’d made it through. The final test was a tyre pressure check at Bermagui. All fine. I treated myself to an ice-cream to celebrate. As I took it to the counter of the deli, I noticed some home-made Rocky Road in a basket, and winced.

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Categories: photos, Road Trip | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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