Durras Mountain – Pretty Beach to the Summit
The coastline between Depot Beach in the south and Pretty Beach in the north sits below the impressive hills and mountains of the Murramurang National Park. In the centre of this range is Durras Mountain, which is officially 277m above sea level. There are many excellent bushwalks here in the Murramurang, including one along the coastal fringes that takes you from Pretty to Pebbly. However if you want to enjoy amazing views, then you need to walk to the top of Durras Mountain. It all begins at the Pretty Beach campground [Google Maps Pin].
For my money, Murramurang is one of the jewels of the south coast of NSW. It’s a proper wild bit of park-land, home to some dramatic hills and some stunning beaches. In order to get a better look at this particular bit of landscape, I can highly recommend the hike to the top of Durras Mountain, which is located mid-way between Pebbly Beach and Pretty Beach. There’s about 300m of ascent to the top and some relatively steep sections, but the bushtrack is wide and shady and anyone with a decent level of fitness could complete it without issue.
There are several ways to go about this particular hike, depending on what sort of transport you have, how many of you are walking and how far you want to go. Here are the options:
The simplest walk is to set off from the Pretty Beach campground, walk to the summit of Durras Mountain and then, having enjoyed the amazing views, turn around and walk back down again. It’s about 5km each way and there are plenty of level sections to break up the climb and let you catch you breath.
For a longer walk, simply keep on going once you get to the summit. The track descends down the other side of the mountain and then hits the coast at the Clear Point lookout. From Clear Point it’s a relatively(!) level walk down onto Pebbly Beach. From there you can car-pool back to Pretty Beach, or, down the same walk in reverse.
The third option is to head south over the top of Durras Mountain, then down the other side and then, when you get to Clear Point, head north again following the bushtrack along the coast at sea level all the way back to Pretty Beach. In all you’re looking at about 20km of walking if you do the full loop, but boy-oh-boy what a walk it is.
We visited the Durras Mountain bushwalk in the spring when the temperatures were in the low 20ºs and found this to be an ideal temperature to walk in. The coastal rainforest provides plenty of shade, but opens out at the summit. It’s a fairly strenuous walk, so take plenty of water, particularly if you’re visiting during the hot summer months.
The best vantage points at the top can be discovered by turning off the track when you encounter a large old water tank. Follow the track through the scrub in the direction of the ocean and you’ll find an excellent vantage point where the trees are clear and you can see all the way south to Batemans Bay. This is the perfect place to open up that packed lunch, pop the lid on something cool and refreshing and enjoy the views and the peace and quiet of this magical location.
If you’re just doing the walk up and back down again, then I recommend that you do so from the Pretty Beach end, for the simple reason that Pretty is a much nicer swimming beach than Pebbly. And if you end up looking a quarter as sweaty as I did by the time I got back down from the mountain, there is nothing quite as rewarding as getting into your swimmers and having a refreshing dip in the ocean at Pretty Beach or one of the quiet O’Hara beaches just to the south of there.
Once you’ve enjoyed the splendour of the coastline south of Pretty Beach and the beautiful rainforest that covers Durras Mountain, then you have a couple of options. If you’ve still got a bit of energy then be sure to walk north out of the Pretty Beach campground to the Snapper Point lookout where you’ll get stunning views south over Pretty Beach and beyond down the coast towards Depot.
If you want to explore this amazing National Park at a more leisurely pace, then you can stay at either end of this walk. At Pretty Beach you can stay at the campground, where you can pitch a tent or park your motorhome or caravan. At the southern end at Pebbly Beach there is also a campground but National Parks also manage some cabins on the site which you can rent and which are virtually on the beach. Alternatively, stay at nearby Kioloa or Merry Beach where you can find large and well provisioned tourist parks.