Distance: 40km (Day one 25km, Day two 15km)
Time required: Including minimal breaks, two days (day one, 10 hours; day two, 6 hours)
Best time of year: May to October, avoid cyclone season, stinger season & summer.
Environment: Coastal sand spit, beach front, mangrove wetlands.
This one's for all the beach lovers out there. Go remote and have your own private beach getaway. Visit an active lighthouse at the end of the headland, near the base of the sandspit. See in your own eyes all the rubbish washed up onto the shore. Sharks, dingoes, no drinking water and kilometre after kilometre of sand spit ensure that this walk will be more adventurous than most other beach walks. It's not just a boring beach walk, this hike will take your through different terrains as you navigation through dead mangrove forests and the sand spit. It's an interesting beach with human rubbish littered throughout.
Over 4000 years old and still growing, this 22 kilometer long sandy cape is a place for local Quad bikers, fisherman and boaters to explore on their weekend; though not many venture too far from home. The northshore current has been depositing the sand over many years creating this lengthy headland ending with a long low sandspit and wetlands habitat. Cape Bowling Green is a truly remarkable spit which extends 22 km out into the sea. It is north of Ayr and is reached through the tiny community of Alva 16 km from Ayr. Much of the spit is less than 1 km wide.
Many ships wrecking at Cape Bowling Green necessitated the construction of a lighthouse at the cape and is home to a diverse array of coastal wetlands. The diversity and extent of wetlands, including the wildlife it supports, has led to large parts of the bay being listed as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance, under the Ramsar Convention. Mangroves line the western shore and cyclone-battered beach makes up the eastern side. In many places mangroves have been screwed out of the sand by past cyclones. Crocodiles have not been sighted on the spit but then few people go there to see. The vast mangroves could well be home to some.
The walk is recommended as an overnight trip and for safety reasons you should camp away from the mangroves. Preferably camp north of the lighthouse, 15 km from Alva. The light is a modern automatic one; the original was removed. Some 200 m west of the light is the restored grave of a family member of a former lighthouse keeper. The grave used to be east of the light but has been moved because of beach erosion. Before setting off, ensure you are totally self-sufficient, especially with water and sun screening. Knowledge of tide times could be useful, as walking is easier at low tide. Signs at the outset at Alva banning camping relate to Alva and not to the cape.
- Walk the east side beach for the long 15 km to the light and grave, then preferably go a little further to set up camp.
- Take a walk without the packs for the remaining 5 km to the remote and magnificent cape tip. You feel as if you are on some mid-Pacific coral atoll. There is no vegetation to be seen anywhere. Swimming may be unwise near the tip as currents appear strong and during just ten minutes at the spot several sharks were sighted. Marine stingers may also be present during the wet season. During the infrequent cyclones the sea evidently washes right across the last couple of kilometres of the sand spit. You can opt to miss out on the last 5km and stay at base camp, set up a tarp or find a tree to get some shade and read a book.
On the second day you need to retrace the 15 km to Alva beach front. No doubt the experience of this coastal wilderness will long be remembered.
WHAT TO TAKE
- Tent or bivy or sleep under the stars!
- Sleeping mat & Sleeping bag
- Food and snacks for the days (1 x breakfast, 2 x lunch, 1 x dinner)
- 2 x 3 litres of water carrying capacity minimum. Recommended 4 liters of water per day. The only thing worse than carrying water, is running out of water.
- First Aid Kit & PLB
- Inscent repallent
- Spare clothes for the trip home
- Tarp for shade (optional)
- Camping Permit
WHAT TO WEAR
- Sun protection (A wide brimmed hat, long sleeve shirt, long pants)
- Sunscreen SPF 50+
- Appropriate footwear
- Swimming may be unwise near the tip as currents appear strong, several sharks have been sighted and it's NQ so crocs...
- Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration & sunburn.
- Possible cold temperatures at night (15 degrees C)
Sandy Beach Camping. Go tohttps://qpws.usedirect.com/QPWS/Facilities/SearchView.aspxand in the "Enter park name" field, type "Bowling Green Bay National Park" and click search. Reserve "Barratta Creek camping area" and pay. I've spoke to QPWS on the 03/08/18 about the camping permit for the Cape but was told that I can just book the Barratta Creek camping area instead.
ENVIRONMENT AND VEGETATION
Bowling Green Bay National Park provides a range of nature-based activities for visitors to enjoy such as camping, bushwalking and wildlife viewing. The national park covers approximately 57,900 hectares of coastal and mountainous country with Mount Elliot (1210 metres) rising out of the surrounding coastal plain and dominating the landscape. Alligator Creek offers a number of popular tracks for bushwalking. Boating and fishing is also popular in the marine waters and is permitted with some restrictions.
The Bowling Green Bay Ramsar site covers more than 35,000 hectares and includes Cape Bowling Green, parts of Cape Cleveland and the south-eastern portion of Cleveland Bay. Most of the site is protected by the Bowling Green Bay National Park and Bowling Green Bay Conservation Park. Bowling Green Bay and Cleveland Bay are also protected as Fish Habitat Areas and Dugong Protection Areas. Wetlands in Bowling Green Bay include seagrass meadows, mangrove and saltmarsh communities, as well as brackish and freshwater swamps. The site is internationally important in the migration of marine turtles, shorebirds and terns. It is also nationally and internationally important for several threatened species, including marine turtles, dugongs, inshore dolphins and waterbirds.
Bowling Green Bay provides vital habitat for a range of species, with some of the largest colonies of fish feeding birds in eastern Queensland occurring there. Fresh and saltwater interact in Bowling Green Bay. Tidal waters push inland to form estuarine deltas. During flood conditions, freshwater from the nearby Burdekin and Haughton rivers flow into the bay, reducing the salinity of the water. The site’s multitude of habitats fit together in a complex, constantly changing mosaic influenced by these water flows. Some plants that usually thrive in very different levels of salinity grow side by side here.
Rains from summer storms add fresh water but the rainfall is variable due to seasonal tropical cyclone and monsoon activity. Groundwater from two main aquifers is a significant source of water for the site. The Traditional Owners of the Bowling Green Bay area are the Bindal and Wulgurukaba Aboriginal people. This resource-rich land and sea country supported them for many thousands of years, and today the Bindal and Wulgurukaba people retain a close connection to their land. Bowling Green Bay is a Ramsar site because of the diversity and extent of wetland types and the wildlife the site supports.
Mangroves stretch across a large area of the site. These mangrove forests are vital to the region’s coastline, particularly during cyclone activity, because they help control coastal erosion and protect the land from strong winds, tidal surges and heavy rainfall. Seagrass meadows are also important to the site. These occur in the intertidal and subtidal areas of Bowling Green and Cleveland bays. They provide food for animals, including dugongs, marine turtles and dolphins.
Seagrass meadows also help absorb nutrients and sediments, stabilise the estuarine banks, provide protection from wave impacts and accumulate high levels of carbon. The site supports threatened species such as green, loggerhead, hawksbill and flatback turtles; dugongs, estuarine crocodiles and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. Thousands of brolgas and magpie geese live in the area. Many species depend on the site at critical stages of their life cycles.
Bowling Green Bay is a haven for its diverse and abundant fish and crustacean populations. Bowling Green Bay supports rich and abundant birdlife, including seasonally more than 20,000 waterbirds in, and adjacent to, the site. At least 224 species of birds have been recorded at the site, with almost half of them breeding there. Many migratory birds rest and feed here during their annual migration, including large numbers of red-necked stints. Bowling Green Bay is also an important feeding ground for Brolgas and Magpie Geese, which gather in large numbers and feed on bulkuru sedge at the site and in adjacent areas.