In the last of the series about our recent little day visit to the town of Merimbula on the Australian Sapphire coast, we have the real reason that we had come! It wasn't for the really great lunch, or even for the unexpectedly good ice-cream!
It was to take he kids for a dreaded walk... but we were hoping that this walk had a little bit of a hook, that would have them interested!
So, the Merimbula Boardwalk is something that is quite well-known in the area... it is a boardwalk (surprise surprise...), that extends out on the mud flats around the river, and traces a path from near the centre of the town (at the bridge) and onwards following the river bank. Eventually, it changes into a normal sort of forest path, but the boardwalk section is only a few kilometres long... and that is the perfect length for kids to walk... especially, if you have the ice cream enticement at the end!
As you walk along the wooden boards, you are flanked by the mudflats on one side... especially if the tide has gone out, and the river is shallower. If you look a bit further out, you can see the oyster farming that takes place in the river proper.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the boardwalk you have the riverbank proper... with the true forest trees growing thick and wild! This is part of the appeal of this area... it is a place where the ocean and the forests/mountains join pretty seamlessly together. You can easily spend a morning on the beach, and then go for a forest walk in the afternoon if you wished!
Now... taking a closer look into the mudflats, you can see the reason that the boardwalk is such an attraction. The little holes are little hideaways for these little crabs that scuttle around on the brackish pools and mud. They are pretty hard to spot when you first arrive... you just catch a movement here and there out of the corner of your eye. However, as you get accustomed to what to look for... you start to realise that the mudflats are full of life!
Looking further upriver, you can see that this is an ecosystem that extends for quite some distance. This is something that we are readjusting to on our return back to Australia... the different scales of distance in comparison to Europe! Here... the distance is real, there is true silence and isolation... and a sense of stillness and slowness of time. I love it! Of course, that is quite different to Sydney and Melbourne... or even Canberra, where things and people are always so important and busy!
There are quite a lot of things to learn as you walk through the mudflats... well, especially for me... I have very little knowledge about nature and the environment, so there is definitely a lot of things for me to discover. For instance, the odd little poking up things that litter the mudflats are the roots of the mangrove trees. Apparently, they poke up and out of the ground to allow the salt-water trees to "breathe".
... more of the little crabs! You definitely start to get at spotting them before they dash for their little hiding holes!
... but if you are observant, there is also a great deal of life on the other side of the boardwalk as well! Little skinks and lizards, as well as the constant call of birds... and I'm sure that there are quite a number of other little animals hiding in scrubs and trees that I wasn't able to see! Silently, watching the humans on the boardwalk...
What you also start to notice as you pass more and more of the crabs, is the vast variety of them... I'm not sure if they are different species of crabs... or if they are just different coloured ones due to their different locations in the river?
My favourite ones were definitely these strange little blue ones!
Now... this is the main event... a little bit further down (up...) the river... down the boardwalk... you can see that the mudflats are completely teeming with crabs... I'm not sure if you can quite make them out in the photo... and definitely, the still life of a photo doesn't do justice to the moving mass of crabs that skitter around as a single group in response to food or threats!
It is definitely something quite wonderous to be experienced! So, if you are in this area... take the time out to have a little walk down the Boardwalk and see the little crabs moving around. It is a pleasant walk in any case... and there are more than enough things for kids to see and to keep them occupied!
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