Urunga is a sleepy coastal village, on the northern N.S.W coast.  The area is renowned for its amazing bird life, diverse wildlife and spectacular marine environment. Take a leisurely walk along the Kalang River and enjoy an amazing array of habitats and local bird life.

Starting at Anchors Wharf restaurant, just under the Railway Bridge, you can walk along the bank of the Kalang River via Atherton Drive, bringing you to the parkland in front of the Ocean View Hotel. Following the river, you are likely to see a number of birds such as the Australian Pelican, White-faced Heron and Osprey (a pair of Osprey have successfully nested on the top of the Railway Bridge for a few years now). On the adjoining golf course, you will see plenty of Galahs, Masked Lapwing and Crested Pigeons. Along this stretch of river, there are numerous places to relax and have a picnic, during which time you will likely see more of the abundant birdlife of this area.

Reaching the parkland in front of the Ocean View Hotel, you have a great view across the river to the sand spit at the southern end of Yellow Rock Island. This is the point where the Kalang and Bellinger Rivers meet and is a very important high tide roosting area for many birds. Regulars include, Pied & Sooty Oystercatchers, Crested Terns, Common Terns, Bar-tailed Godwits, Pied Cormorants and Little Black Cormorants.

Further along is the sea lido, a popular swimming spot and the start of the Boardwalk. Take time to scan the low rock wall that separates the river from the lagoon. Birds that regularly perch along the rocks include the Australian Darter, Crested Terns, and occasionally, a Striated Heron who patiently watches for signs of fish in the lagoon shallows.

The boardwalk itself is 800m long, with stunning views inland past Urunga town. The vista and up river takes in the valleys to the Great Dividing Range, north across the rivers to Mylestom Spit and south along the beach to Picket Hill and beyond to Nambucca Heads. The entire length of the boardwalk is wheelchair accessible. There are numerous rest areas with seating, as well as many interpretive signs along the boardwalk pointing out items of interest and telling the history of the area.

With so many fascinating birds at eye level, don’t forget to glance skyward to spot high flyers such as Brahminy Kites, and White-bellied Sea Eagles. Other visually stunning birds to look out for are the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos who often pass overhead in large buoyant flocks, flashing their yellow tail feathers and screeching prehistoric sounding calls. In the summer months, cavorting Rainbow Bee-eaters are commonly seen.

Text and image by Gary Philips