Kakadu is famous for its wetlands but the sleepy town of Macksville located around 100kms south of Coffs Harbour is also home to one of Australia’s most significant wetland areas. A tour of the Valley of the Mist offers a unique glimpse of one of Australia’s lesser known attractions along the Legendary Pacific Coast. The Valley of the Mist, or the less romantically named 100 Acre Swamp, occurs across ten properties managed by eight separate landholders who agreed to preserve this special area for years to come. The wetlands are listed under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of significant wetlands that are valued for their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value.
If you would like to experience this unique habitat for yourself book a Valley of the Mist tour with Dennis Ryan, the landowner who instigated the Ramsar listing. Valley of the Mist tours run 7 days a week and include a bush tucker tour and morning tea. Tours must be booked in advance and you will need to set your alarm. To get the most out of this experience you need to make an early start. We walked down to the wetlands just after 8am to see mist rising off the water as we boarded canoes paddled by Dennis and another guide. Having someone more experienced to do the paddling makes for a relaxing trip plus it is ideal for taking photos. Trust me, you will definitely want to get some shots.
100 Acre Swamp supports an incredible array of water birds including Jabiru, Osprey, White-bellied Sea Eagles, Black Swans, Black Ducks, Black- winged Stilt and Royal Spoonbill. There is one large area of relatively open-water in the south east and two major bays which receive the majority of the freshwater inflows and the birds love it. The wetlands are less than 50 centimetres deep in most sections and give off stunning reflections thanks to the dark staining from the surrounding tea trees. Here are some photos to give you an idea of what you can expect to see.
The wetland adventure goes for approximately one and a half hours and is followed by a tour around the on-site bush tucker farm. Dennis takes great pleasure in sharing his knowledge of bush medicine, traditional bush tucker and Australian native foods. It’s very hands-on with plenty of opportunities to touch and taste. We loved the beautiful colour and piquant flavour of the finger limes which were filled with tangy flesh that resembled caviar.
Our tour finished with morning tea featuring pancakes topped with homemade custard, macadamia nuts, finger lime and vanilla ice cream. This delicious treat was reason enough to return and do it all again.
Disclosure: The writer travelled as a guest of The Legendary Pacific Coast.