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River Walk @ Barwon Heads

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by Lucy Graham (subscribe)
I'm a Melbourne based freelance writer with a diverse portfolio including performing arts articles and reviews, human interest stories, and social comment. Visit my blog for an overview
Published February 4th 2013
Sick of shaking sand from your strides? Why not river it?
Tranquility away from the beach

Barwon Heads has something most other seaside towns lack - a beautiful river walk. Away from the coast, a river somehow softens the intensity of a beach destination.

Flood gauge at Sheepwash Drive

[ADVERT]Begin your walk at the flood gauge protruding from the river at the end of Sheepwash Drive. It's an easy cycle to this point from anywhere in Barwon Heads but if you're in a car, there is some parking space available.

Choosing to turn left or right is up to you. Day trippers can avail themselves of the toilet facilities a short way along the river to your left. Also left is Moonah Park for those craving an open grassy space, simple picnic tables, and additional car parking. To find it continue left until the road ends, beyond the toilet block.

But if its walking you're here for, you'd best turn right.

You'll be led along winding dirt paths through gnarled trees, and along board-walks over precious mangroves. Jetties jut periodically into the river providing an alternate viewing platform which offers quite a different perspective up the river.

Fishers are a fixture by the river on any given day. If you ask them what they catch here, they'll say 'everything'. That is, unless a seal makes its way up the river as sometimes happens - then the seal generally wins and the fishers are more likely to return home with take away dinner instead.

Bird life is abundant here, not only spoonbills and pelicans but also red-necked stints who fly 26,000 kilometres from the Arctic each year, and orange bellied parrots who breed in Tasmania and then visit here in winter.

Stand awhile and watch as they forage the mangroves for edible treats, or fuss about in their nesting place. Information boards wizen the walker.

Botanical enthusiasts will relish the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of flowering plant life, particularly along the board walk section.

Flowers along the boardwalk

The mangroves are protected here and the river is a gateway to Lake Connewarre, a shallow lagoon which is managed by Parks Victoria. You may spot kayakers making their way up river to the lagoon as you stroll.

After the board walk ends you'll come to a boat ramp and nearby you'll find a reference to tide heights, including reference to an astrological event that causes very high waters. The mosquitoes can be infuriating beyond here, so slap on the repellent particularly if the air is still.

It is possible to continue walking on towards Barwon Heads by navigating the streets, but you'll be separated from the water by large properties for several blocks before you're reacquainted with the river. When you do, it will have been transformed into a beach.

Those with a craving for an extended walk can continue on past the Barwon Heads bridges, and undertake the Barwon Heads Bluff Walk.

Otherwise, about-turn and head back whence you came. If you turn back here, it's a 20-25 minute round trip, depending on your pace.

Dogs are welcome on leads, and cyclists commonly share the paths with walkers. The track is relatively flat and generally speaking is accessible to wheelchairs and prams. Bench seats are spaced along the trail.
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Why? Birdlife, botany and peace away from the beach
Where: Barwon Heads
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Thanks for your comments - it is worth dropping everything to get there. Part of its charm is that it is quiet, so there is no cafe in the vicinity (and I hope it stays that way). However Barwon Heads is small enough to walk anywhere, and there are plenty of cafe choices along the main drag.
by Lucy Graham (score: 2|277) 2666 days ago
Great information and sounds like a wonderful walk - makes me want to leave work right now and head over there. Definitely one I will keep in mind. Any cafes in the area for a lunch after the walk?
by npask (score: 1|29) 2666 days ago
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