Extreme Sea Caves

MUNMORAH SRA – 15 December 2020
You can plan for every contingency, and then a massive low over the East Coast of Australia causes very high swells, virtually negating the .18m low tide predicted.  The whole trip was planned around this very low tide at 4.20pm and there was a bloody 1m swell!  And if that wasn’t bad enough, it was overcast with low visibility so the photos don’t even look any good!  It was an adventure though.

After positioning a couple of vehicles at the end of the walk, Alissa, Penny, Ian and I met up with Brad and Trish at Catherine Hill Bay at 11pm and set off to find the Purple Cave.

A convenient track led us down to the beach.

For a while there it looked might we get wet feet, but Trish found a track around this small lagoon.

It was shortly after this that I tripped over a rock on the sand and fell, grazing my knee badly and hitting my forehead on a rock (lots of blood).  The rest of the crew took delight in applying first aid with my meagre first aid supplies (you’ll be pleased to know the first aid kit has been improved since this).  After they mopped me up we continued, the knee hurt but I didn’t have a head ache.

We headed around the head-land, the rock shelf didn’t look high enough for a cave, but I was still hopeful.

After a while we arrived at an inlet and Brad said that this was probably the Purple Cave, but the seas were just too high and dangerous to get any closer (bloody unfinished business).  If the swell wasn’t as big, then you would be able to walk down on the rock shelf.

If we’d been able to get down onto the rock shelf, this is what we would have seen (photo: Geoff Dowsett – Eco Bushwalks) – definitely unfinished business.

Headed back to the beach and made our way to Flat Rocks Point, I’d seen this from afar for a while now so we walked out to the end of it (nice rock slabs out there, but other than that nothing of interest. Coming back from the point it started to rain, but Brad had spotted a small overhang so we holed up there for lunch until the rain passed.

Over to the next beach and Brad checking out our walk through cave.

Alissa was our depth sounder, the water was deeper than we would have liked, and was swelling considerably through the cave.

Brad thought he could give it a go (you can see the daylight hole at the end), but the ledge ran out and the force of the water flowing through was too strong, so we sat up on some rocks for a while, waiting for the tide to go out a bit more.

An hour later we could walk through safely.

Once through the cave there was a safe place where we could stand. Brad went out onto another rock to look around to see where you could exit.

The cave is pretty impressive.

More of the cave. This would be completely under water in high tide.

Ian, in the distance in a red shirt, actually climbed up the rocks here, and found a way over to the next beach, but we didn’t like the look of the climb, so he came back and we reassessed the situation, as that climb had been my exit from this beach and access to the next beach.

Walking back out through the tunnel.

Looking back through, there was now minimal flow through the tunnel.

We debated the options, either head up on a dodgy track in the middle of the photo, up to the skyline, or walk all the way back to the start of the walk. Adventurous group that we were, we all decided to challenge ourselves with the bush-bash!

Heading over to the bush.  Trish wasn’t too keen on this route as she said it was very slippery, but we had a rope with us, so thought that would be enough to get us up to the top.

There was a “track” but it was a hands and knees affair.

The first sketchy bit. There’s a rope near Ian, attached to a very dodgy piece of Bitou bush, which is very fragile, we all used the rope with caution.

Brad went up the next dodgy section and set up another hand line. Ali made it look easy, Trish went next.

Wasn’t easy, wherever you put your foot, the dirt and small stones broke away.

Trish on the right hand side, where the dirt was even more crumbly.

Penny went up very quickly, I chose a slightly different route which wasn’t as crumbly.

So now we’re up the top, and it looked like a track, but maybe not, seemed to wind all over the place, and there was a lot of cassaurina that was dead and had fallen down, we’re still not sure it was a track, but eventually we came to a fire trail shown on the map and we followed that to the cars.

We dropped our packs at the cars and then headed down the “tourist track” a very eroded track (as you can see).

Down on the beach we headed into the first of two caves (sometimes known as Rainbow Cave and known by others as Mermaid Cave).

Trish very happy that she was in the cave.

It’s truly impressive, looks better when you have bright blue skies and blue green ocean, but we were just happy that the swell had dropped enough for us to get in.

In the next section of cave. There is another cave, but the seas were just too high for us to attempt even looking into it.

So, despite not being able to do the walk as planned, it was still a good recce walk for Trish, Brad and me – it’s been a good 20 years since I was at these caves, and I was unaware of the other two areas that we’d first visited.  Also good to know you can bush bash up from one beach to get over to the next if the seas are too high to do the rock climb.

Thanks so much for coming on the walk with me team, will look at next December’s full low-tide to pay it another visit, still have to see if there’s a third cave there (that rumour has it you can get to in a full low tide).

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6 Responses to Extreme Sea Caves

  1. Betty McCleary says:

    That was some walk,climb and caving. I always used to take visitors to Catherine Hill Bay.
    Never to those adventurous places. Happy Christmas and hopefully a better 2021.

    • marilyn says:

      Thanks Betty, hope you’re having better whether up north! Trust your Christmas was enjoyable and that you’ll have a good 2021

  2. Jenny Hughes says:

    What a great adventure, it looked so beautiful and so much fun. Would be even more awesome with blue skies and a swim! Hope your knee and head are better now. Looking forward to the “Extreme Sea Caves finished business” blog!

  3. Kathy Leslie says:

    Looks amazing!!! Happy New Year to you! Looking forward to viewing more of your adventures. I am in Mesa, Az. Listening to fireworks all around me at midnight.
    Sounds like a war zone!!! Hope 2021 is a good year for you and us all!!!

    • marilyn says:

      Thanks Kathy, hope you had a good NYE with your friend in AZ. It’s been raining cats and dogs over here – very wet summer so far!

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