• Iron Banded sandstone

A day of discoveries – Murramarang National Park

posted in: New South Wales, walks | 8

The local mob of eastern grey kangaroos are quietly grazing near our cabin as I carry our breakfast to a table outside. We are being carefully watched by a magpie and kookaburra. I tell Harry to keep guard while I go inside to get the milk, I know that as soon as my back is turned the magpie and kookaburra who were eyeing off the food as I carried it out to the table will see their chance. Opportunists.

Today we are going to spend the day exploring the southern parts of Murramarang National Park. This NP has many walks but we are sticking to a few short ones today as I build Harry up to doing some longer ones later in the trip. We spent a lovely afternoon at Pebbly Beach and Depot Beach yesterday so this morning we are going to head inland a little to explore the area around Durras Lake.

Durras Lake Discovery Trail and Lake Walk

The drive down the bumpy unsealed road delights Harry “This is an adventure! Where will this road go to?” He exclaims as we bump along. This road goes to the carpark where the Durras Lake Discovery Trail and Lake walk begin. The Lake Walk is 8km return which I think is going to be a bit much for Harry today so I have chosen the 1.5 km Discovery Trail instead.

We set out and quickly reach a very Lord of the Rings looking gate. The gate itself isn’t part of a functional fence, rather its purpose being to educate people of the importance of “shutting the gate” when a gate is present, as it’s usually there for a reason – stopping dogs, stock and other animals from escaping into protected areas  Harry does the honors of opening and shutting the gate and we find ourselves in a remnant of endangered rainforest full of cabbage tree palms. “Do you think dinosaurs lived in here?” Harry asks in wonder. Possibly, this place does feel like anything could be lurking out there…


lord of the rings gate

cabbage tree palms


We cross over a small bridge and here the track divides. Left for the Lake Walk and right for the discovery trail. Harry insists that we go left, so we agree that we will try to get up close to the lake and then come back for the discovery walk. After a few hundred meters the track nears the lake and we take the opportunity to go down to the waters edge. It is serene and peaceful here. The water is smooth and glassy and a soft wind blows gently through the trees. We can see small fish swimming around up close to the banks and little crabs scuttle about. We return to the track and walk back to begin the discovery trail.


Durras Lake


This area while now protected was logged in the past. The Discovery Trail has many interpretive signs along the way explaining the history of the early logging days and information about the forest and its importance.  The birdlife in here is prolific. Whipbirds and many others that I do not know the names of call out earnestly to one another. Interestingly we do not actually see many of them as they are too well hidden in the canopy so we just listen to them as we walk along. We come to a wooden lookout tower which stirs Harrys curiosity. He climbs to the top and we come face to face with a part of an old gum that was felled, found to be full of rot and left to the creatures of the forest. The lookout tower also provides a nice place to just relax and listen to the sounds of the forest.

From here the walk moves out of the rainforest and into dry blackbutt forest before looping back around to another ‘Lord of the Rings’ like gate and on to the car park. It has been an interesting walk and we have all learned something new.



blackbutt forest

Wasp Head

The next place I am keen to check out today is Wasp Head. I have read there are some interesting rock formations there and those of you who read this blog regularly know I am a sucker for some good rocks. I consult my map and we head off towards the township of Durras. After stopping off to get directions at Murramurang Beach resort, we pull up at the Wasp Head car park. The walking track isn’t signed as it heads off through a forest of casuarina trees, with unmarked tracks branching off here and there. We just stick to what appears to be the most well trodden path and head in the direction that I think we should. I push through some trees and I can see the ocean and Wasp Island before me.

casurina forest


I realise that I am on my own. Chris and Harry had been right behind me a minute ago, maybe Harry had to answer the call of nature or they have found something interesting to look at. I call out to them. No answer. I retrace my steps a bit and call out again “Chris, Harry! Where are you two”. I hear a reply “Here”. “Well are you coming?” I ask. “No” come the reply. “What do you mean no?!” I yell back. “There is a snake. We are not coming any further that way”. Oh. Fair enough. “Where is it?” I ask. “Just near your head. You just walked straight past it”. I look about. Snake. Near my head. Nope I don’t see any snake. Oh, hang on there it is. It’s curled up asleep in a tree. It looks like a diamond python. I get my camera out while Chris and Harry find another way past. Chris isn’t too fond of snakes. Even the sleeping non venomous kind. Snakes don’t worry me, but spiders will have me screaming my head off! We all have our fears I guess.




Chris and Harry finally join me on the other side of the snake and we search around for a track to get access down to the rocks I am interested in seeing. As I have said this walk is pretty much unsigned. I see a track heading off down the hill and decide to have a look. I get to the bottom of the track and find 3 people with their cameras out snapping away at the rocks. “Its iron banded sandstone. It’s amazing. We have been looking for this spot since yesterday but it was so poorly signed we couldn’t find it until today”  they tell me. This is the place I was looking for. I am thankful it hasn’t taken me 2 days! I go back to fetch Chris and Harry.

The rock formations here are like nothing I have ever seen before. The iron banded sandstone formations look like they have been made by hand and the honeycomb effect in the sandstone caused by wind and water erosion is also impressive. Nature never ceases to amaze me. Its time for lunch so we head into Batemans Bay and have a leisurely lunch at the North St Cafe before heading back to Depot Beach.


Wasp Head

ironstone box work
Iron banded sandstone (also called ironstone box work)


Wasp Head4

honeycomb rocks

Wasp Head2

Wasp Head3

Wasp Head5


Rainforest Walk and Depot Beach Rock Platform

Depot Beach is such a lovely place and we had such a great time doing the Depot Beach rock platform walk yesterday afternoon that we have decided we want to do it again. First up though I want to do the short 400m rainforest loop walk.

There is something magical about listening to the crash of the waves and smelling the salty air mingle with the damp, decomposing smells of the rainforest. As I mentioned in my last post the rainforest and spotted gum forest here at Depot beach is a rare sight to see so close to the ocean.


Rainforest walk

Rainforest walk 1

spotted gums

depot beach2

depot beach forest


After walking through the rainforest we head back down to the beach and along the rock platform, and yes it is as beautiful as yesterday. I think we take even longer to walk along here today as we know we are heading off tomorrow and wont be back here for a while.


depot beach

rock platform2

rock platform

depot beach rock platform

Depot Beach headland panorama
Rock pools

Depot Beach 2

Depot Beach 3


All good things must come to an end but I will always try and draw out them out for as long as possible! We finish off the day sitting by the beach having a picnic dinner, watching the sun set and the kangaroos graze. Depot Beach at Murramarang NP has been a real treat and I will definately be coming back here to stay again one day.


Depot Beach 4

depot beach dinner picnic


At a Glance

mapDurras Lake Discovery Trail
1.5 km loop Murramarang NP

mapWasp Head Walk
2km return from the carpark just past Murramarang resort, Murramarang NP

mapRainforest Walk 400m loop walk from Depot Beach car park

mapDepot Beach Rock Platform Walk
2km return walk from Depot Beach carpark, Murramarang http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/murramarang-national-park/rock-platform-walk-depot-beach/walking

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8 Responses

    • Amanda

      Hi Cam. The rocks were pretty unreal – a professional photographer would turn out some pretty incredible photographs at many places in Murramarang NP. Thanks for reading.

    • Amanda

      Thanks Grandad. I think the love of the outdoors is in his blood – just like you and me 🙂

  1. Dayna

    Hi Amanda,
    Is Wasp Head named so because the iron-banded sandstone looks like wasp nests? I’m thinking more on the vertical sides rather than the waffle-like horizontal tops. The concentration of iron is amazing – what a fantastic place!
    There are various rocky points along the east cost that have similar (though not as concentrated) patterns to the rocks. I used to wonder about the ridges that made the large ‘pave stones’ out of the rock slabs. I guess it could be the same thing.
    It’s a really beautiful national park. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos!

    • Amanda

      Hi Dayna,

      I am not sure if Wasp Head gets it name from looking out to Wasp Island or vice versa. There is another Island that you can see from Depot Beach called Grasshopper Island so maybe the person who named the island had a thing for insects! I agree with you though that the vertical sides of some of the rocks have a wasp nest like appearance. I think you are right that this geological phenomenon occurs in a few places along the coast but as you say in larger ‘paved areas”. I saw a bit of this along the rock platform at depot beach but I have never seen anything like the fine concentrated examples that were present at Wasp Head. I also have realised that the iron banded sandstone is also called ironstone boxwork and banded iron formations (BIF’s) and it seems to depend on the writer of the publication. Whatever people choose to call them they are caused by erosion of the softer sandstone leaving behind the harder ironstone layers creating the effect of boxwork and sills. Thanks again for reading and commenting Dayna.

  2. Jane

    Hi Amanda,
    Another great write up and gorgeous pics. I would have loved to have seen the snake. I am always hoping to see pythons on my walk. Not as keen on the venomous ones making a sudden appearance though. The rock formations are really interesting. I would have loved to explore those areas. Nice to see you bringing culture (wine and dips/cheese?) along on a hike. Good food is enjoyed more in the outdoors I think (except for flies sometimes of course!) Looking forward to the next post. 🙂

    • Amanda

      Thanks Jane. It was a very interesting day (even though Chris said he really could have done without the snake encounter). I really loved this national park and I would love to get back there again. Depot beach is great as it has cabins and a great campground that can also fit caravans in so it is accessible to all types of travelers. Your keen eyes spotted my wine, cheese and dips I see! Yes I absolutely agree that good food tastes even better when you have a great view, I think it forces one to slow down and really savor the moment and the food 🙂 Thanks once again for reading and commenting.

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