The Durras Discovery Trail is a formed and developed walk through the eucalypt forest adjoining Lake Durras, north of Batemans Bay on the South Coast of NSW. The trail was developed by NSW State Forests under a grant by the federal government provided to develop scenic walks in the Eurobodalla region.
The trail is about 1.5 kms in length and takes most people around three quarters of an hour to complete. The first half of the walk has steps over a gentle climb and descent, while the rest of the walk is flat and easy going. The trail contains several information boards that discuss several aspects of the forest including its logging history and some of the features of the forest that you walk through. There is a viewing platform, several boardwalks across the low lying parts of the walk and some formed timber bridges and gates.
It is a peaceful environment and the trail meanders through the forest offering attractive shady scenes under the eucalypt canopy. Ferns and spotted gums are the predominant flora, as they are elsewhere in this region, while stands of palms native to this region abound.
This is not old growth forest as it has been logged on at least two occasions in the past. However, the recent logging in the 1970's was selective, so many mature trees and bushland give the visitor a pleasant forest experience. The walk begins and ends by the shores of Lake Durras, regarded as one of the most unspoiled waterways in the state.
State Forests have promoted the Durras Discovery Trail as an example of the regard they have made to preserving valuable environmental values in the management of the forests under their control. Indeed much of the information on the boards in the walk seem to be focussed on the concept of the different uses that are made of our forests and encourage the visitor to view the forests from these different perspectives.
"Forests mean different things to different people. Sometimes we're so keen to find the things that we feel are important to us, that we miss the things that are important to others."
A visit to the Discovery Trail gives a graphic reminder of the values and perspectives practised in the past by the managers of these forests. The trail itself is accessed along a 2.5km track which exhibits the results of these practices. Ugly regrowth along this track is a stark reminder that the discovery trail is, even in its limited natural state, an exception to the destructive practices followed for many decades in this and many of the other south east forests.
The Durras Discovery Trail should not be seen merely as a tourist attraction, but also as a "discovery" of the reasons why better protection of Australia's remaining forests is so important. Left to authorities with economic agendas, these forests are at risk. Fortunately, in the case of the Discovery Trail, the recent expansion of the Murramarang National Park includes the trail and its environs so that, over time, it and the forests around it, will eventually recover from the practices of the past.
You can reach the Durras Discovery Trail by taking the North Durras/Depot Beach turnoff from the Princes Highway about 15km north of Batemans Bay. Visitors to the park are now required to pay an entry fee, but this is not a disincentive to those with a real interest in the beauty of this unique coastal area.
Accommodation (B&B, cottages, cabins and campsites) in the park near the trail can be found in the nearby villages of Depot Beach, North Durras and Pebbly Beach.
Some holiday accommodation in Depot Beach can be seen by clicking here or here.
To read more about the region and the nearby towns and villages, please take the following links:
South Coast NSW