We found a paved path along the foreshore and decided to follow it towards Dongara, a neighboring town about 4km (2.5 miles) away. The views of the pounding surf on the reefs and the beaches were gorgeous in the morning sun.
After a klick (km) or so, we came to a boardwalk that led to a lovely estuary teeming with birdlife.
We saw huge Australian pelicans, ducks and the usual cormorant and gulls sharing the calm waters with pied stilts and red-capped plovers. A very serious-looking great egret oversaw all the activity from his vantage point above.
There were lots of wildflowers in bloom along the coast … pigface (I love that name), gazania and so many others that I was unfamiliar with and need to find the names for. We found it fascinating that some had tiny snails living on them, clinging tightly as the tall stems blew in the breeze.
We weren't sure which way the trail went, but we decided to continue on in the direction of the little town of Dongara. It turned out there wasn't much in Dongara. The main street, Moreton Terrace, is lined with Moreton Figs planted in 1906 which provide a shady, pleasant walkway past a string of restaurants, motels and shops, including an IGA supermarket.
Closer to the Brand Highway, is a giant crayfish … very appropriate for the area.
We visited the tiny Visitor's Centre which also housed the town library and the licensing bureau. Not much was going on, but we did pick up a trail map and she assured us that the path we had not taken along the beach provided a sand bar for walking across to get to the other side. With this in mind, we headed back to Port Denison along the Irwin River coastal trail. With our extra sidetrips, we had walked about 5 miles so far and with another couple of miles to get back, we figured it would be a full day.
We walked along the muddy brown Irwin River. Sandstone cliffs lined the side and we could hear the buzzing of thousands of bees hard at work in their hives tucked into the the cracks and crevices.
The river meandered, but wasn't a particularly pretty river until it neared the ocean. This is where we'd viewed all the birds from the other side. We could see the red and white Fisherman's Obelisk far in the distance. We were nearing home and glad of it. Then we saw the mouth of the river as it emptied into the Indian Ocean. Unpassable! We took off our shoes and walked out into the surf a bit to see if we could get through. We tried to determine the depth of the fast running water. We reckoned at least chest deep, if not more. If we'd had dry bags for our cameras and perhaps were wearing swim suits, maybe.
We reluctantly turned around (silently cursing the Visitor's Centre lady) and retraced our steps. Add another 3 miles to our little walk. We followed the trail along the river to the bridge at Point Leander Drive, then walked along the sidewalk back to the port. We did see one sight of interest en route … an old-fashioned drive-in movie which still seemed to be functional … at least in season.
Finally, we were back at the jetty … hungry, a bit tired and ready for a glass of wine and dinner aboard Cups. All in all, a full day.