Anderson’s Lagoon-Shag River

Sunday, 3rd November

A perfect day for a walk by the seaside: fine, sunny, blue skies, warm with a light north-easterly breeze. Six trampers drove to the end of Anderson Road, off the Goodwood Road east of Palmerston. At about 9.15 we set off walking along the track through a replanted area beside Andersons Lagoon. The lagoon itself was unusually high so the main track was in places under water requiring detours. After about half a km the track reached Stony Creek beach and we turned north, past the closed mouth of the lagoon to the steel ladder which climbed up the cliff. It was not long after high tide, which meant that the beach route would be impassable, so we climbed the ladder and the following zig-zag steps to reach the esplanade walking track which undulated along the clifftops for some two kms, crossing several small streams on the way.

Eventually the track turned down a bank on to the beach. However, waves were still reaching the rocky cliff bottom which marked the entry to the next stretch of beach, so we settled down for a leisurely morning tea while the tide continued to go out. After half an hour or so, we packed up again and clambered over the rocks to reach the sandy beach which would take us to our end point at the mouth of the Shag River. On the way we were entertained by wildlife: rows of shags nesting on rocky ledges like tenements in an old European city. Most nests occupied by one or two adults and a chick – some almost fully fledged and ready to leave home, others still covered in down. Further along, a couple of basking sea lions threatened to bar progress, rearing up and forcing us to walk higher up the beach to get by. A third sea lion was enjoying the surf. A number of tracks across the sand suggested that several more had been in occupation earlier.

A bit after noon, we reached the end of the beach and settled down on the Shag Estuary side of the sand dunes for lunch in the sunshine and sheltered from the light easterly. Just on one o’clock we started heading back south along the now much wider beach, the damp sand providing firm footing. We passed a sea lion heading seawards and then the two we had avoided in the morning, now much more relaxed. When we reached the cove where we had come down from the esplanade track in the morning, we decided to take advantage of the lower tide and tackle the next headland. We managed with a scramble over rocks, made more difficult than expected by a fairly fresh slip which had deposited some room-sized boulders in the way. This brought us out on to the next sandy beach which terminated in a headland which dropped directly into the sea with no rock pile to offer a way round. So it was a climb back up to the track, over the hill, and down to the next beach to the south. This provided good going and the now almost low tide meant that we could negotiate the last headland with relative ease, back to the Stony Creek beach, through the sand hills and along the lagoon-side track to reach the cars just on 3pm. The combination of seascape, cliffs, beach and wildlife had made for an interesting day which was enjoyed by Phyllis, Maurice, Bronwyn, Jane, Bill and John.