Callala Creek Reserve Boardwalk

By Leslie McKinnon, Nowra Group

On a beautiful autumn afternoon last weekend, we headed off to Callala Bay to seek out the Callala Creek Reserve boardwalk. The boardwalk has been recently reopened after being damaged by fires at the end of 2016 and sits between Callala Bay and Callala Beach taking in the Callala Creek salt marsh. The walk consists of constructed recycled plastic boards and areas of open bush paths. The boards allow visitors to walk through the Sepp14 wetland without causing damage to the wetland itself. 

This small area contains a number of different vegetation communities including Swamp Oak floodplain forest dominated by Casuarina glauca, where the graceful sprays of Dendrobium teretifolium (Bridal Veil orchids) can be found in early spring. 

Examples of both Swamp sclerophyll forest and Bangalay sands forest are traversed. They are good examples of these coastal communities that have come under threat from housing developments and village expansions along the much sort after coastal areas south of Sydney. The understorey in the wet forested areas is thick and impenetrable with a dense mat of fine leaved sedges and ferns interspersed with a range of delicately flowering plants that scramble for sunlight. 

Flowering their little heads off were Goodenia ovata (Hop Goodenia), Lobelia alata and Atriplex hastata (a foreigner often mistaken for a native). Tiny white daisies flowers of Lagenifera stipitata popped up their little heads. Shots of the purple fan flowers of Scaevola aemula drew attention amongst the sedges. The midstorey was dominated by Melaleuca ericifolia (Swamp paperbark) with the occasional Melaleuca styphelioides

The walk follows along the edge of the salt marsh on the banks of Callala Creek. From here you can see through to the back of the hind dunes along the edge of Callala Beach. The area is dominated by River Mangroves (Aegiceras corniculatum) nearer to the water’s edge. The open mudflats carry sparse vegetation of Saltworts, Samphires and Seablites. Their plump little leaves giving a salty tang when popped in the mouth. It was low tide and soldier crabs scuttled about on the open sandy mud ducking down tunnels when surprised. All four of the vegetation communities present are listed endangered in NSW.

Just a word of warning for anyone heading out on this fascinating little walk, don’t forget to wear long pants and sleeves or the mozzies will have a feast on you! Our chief mozzie attractor had decided to have a swim in the lovely Callala Bay with a friend instead of joining us on the walk so I was elevated to top mozzie meal, thank goodness for the long pants but gee they loved my ears! With precautions taken this is well worth the hour or so walk to really get immersed in these special coastal plant communities. 

For more information about the Nowra Group, see here https://www.austplants.com.au/Nowra