Described in one of my older bushwalking books as “traversing varied terrain, vegetation and geological features”, the Emily Miller, Dark and Myrtle Beaches Loop seemed like an appealing Murramarang bushwalk. It turned out to be a slightly more challenging walk than I anticipated… and one that I would highly recommend.
Emily Miller Beach to Dark Beach
I’m starting the loop walk at the small Emily Beach carpark on the Old Coast Road. A narrow and shaded bushwalking track descends to the picturesque beach.
I have Emily Miller Beach all to myself; it would make a nice spot for a swim, but it’s still fairly early in the day and I haven’t made it very far on my walk yet.
I hop across the small, rocky outcrop at the middle end of the beach, passing a couple of people fishing off the rocks. I’m glad it’s close to low tide, as high tide would have made it tricky getting across to the southern part of the beach.
There’s a broad cave in the rock outcrop, which would make a nice shelter at low tide.
I continue along Emily Miller Beach, watched by a few Pied Oystercatchers.
At the far end of the beach, I first attempt to follow the coastline around the headland. It doesn’t take me long to decide this is is a bad idea – even with the tide being low the route looks a bit treacherous and exposed.
I retreat, and find a path at the very southern end of Emily MIller Beach that heads up to the top of the headland. At the top, a seies of pink ribbons marks what I hope is a track across the headland.
This part of the walk turns out to be a bit of a disaster… or rather, an unplanned bushbash. I do often have the special skill of finding the hardest possible route between two points, and this is one of those occasions. In hindsight, I should have followed the track up from Emily Beach until it met the formal track down to Dark Beach. But, I figure it should be possible to cut across the top of the headland. I continue along the top of the headland cliffs for a while, enjoying some nice views over Emily Miller Beach.
The scrub is pretty thick, so after my first attempt to cross the headland, I end up back on the edge of the cliffs. There’s a nice view of Wasp Island to the north. But the view of the rocks below confirms that following the shoreline is not an option.
So, I push through the scrub again as I cross the top of the headland. It’s only a few hundred metres, and while the scrub is pretty thick it’s also fairly low.
On the other side of the headland I get my first glimpse of Dark Beach.
I continue along the top of the cliffs; although it’s an easy scramble down to the rocks, sheer cliffs and a sea cave mean following the coastline is still not an option.
I eventually reach the official track down to Dark Beach, another sheltered beach.
Like the previous beach, Dark Beach is split into two by a rock outcrop; the northern part is much smaller, and is surrounded by steep cliffs. You can reach this smaller beach via a scramble over the outcrop, and I have a quick swim here, and a rest in the shade under the tall cliffs.
I reluctantly leave the shade and seclusion of Dark Beach, and follow the path back up from the beach. It ascends gently through tall, spotted gum forest to reach the carpark.
Myrtle Beach and Headland Walk
The last part of my loop bushwalk – which can also be done as a separate walk – is to the end of the Headland Track, and then down to Myrtle Beach. This carpark is by far the busiest, mainly with people heading to Myrtle Beach, which I soon discover is an unofficial nude or “clothing optional” beach. The path is initially fairly level, as it passes through a stunted spotted gum forest, apparently called the “enchanted forest” by locals.
Soon after the track starts to descend, it reaches a junction. I follow the Headland Track (also called the Flat Rock Island Walking Track on some maps) which goes out to the end of Flat Rock Point. The track is mostly pretty good, although a few trees have come down across the path, and there are a few places where I temporarily lose the the track.
The trail ends at the top of the cliffs at the end of Flat Rock Point, where there is a view out to the diminutive and rocky Flat Rock Island.
It’s then back the same way, this time continuing at the junction down the main track to Myrtle Beach. This is the busiest beach of my bushwalk; not crowded, but lots of nudists enjoying a clothing-free sunbaking experience! And maybe also enjoying a clothing-free swim – but there isn’t a single person in the water.
I continue along Myrtle Beach, crossing a low rocky platform to reach South Myrtle Beach. There’s not a single person on this beach, which I think is a slightly nicer and has a bit more shade.
A bushwalking track heads directly up from the back of the beach to a parking area on the Old Coast Road. This is the end of the bushwalk – from here I walk along the unsealed Old Coast Road back to the car.
It’s been a fantastic walk and a bit of an adventure – I’ve enjoyed the short off-track section, although you could do this loop walk entirely on-track.
Getting to the Emily Miller, Dark and Myrtle Beaches Loop
You can start this bushwalk at various locations, or visit any of the three beachs as separate walks. If you are doing the complete loop, I would park at the Emily Miller Beach carpark on the Old Coast Road, then walk back along the road to the Myrtle Beach carpark. This means you’re not finishing the bushwalk with the least interesting section along a road. The Old Coast Road is unsealed but fine for 2WD vehicles, and starts in Durras, about 4 hours south of Sydney.