Cape Conran Coastal Park is a coastal reserve located near Marlo in East Gippsland, 420 km east of Melbourne. It extends from west of Cape Conran and all along the coast to the neighbouring fishing village of Bemm River. The 11,700 hectare area was declared a coastal park under the National Parks Act in 1997.
Much of the area is covered by heathland and banksia woodlands which attracts nectar-feeding birds. Dolphins and whales (depending on the time of year) may be spotted off the coast. The abundant bird life includes White-bellied Sea Eagles and the Eastern Ground Parrot.
The Park features pristine beaches, rocky cliffs, walking tracks and good fishing spots. The area is used for a number of water-based activities including boating, fishing, swimming, diving and rock pooling. Short walks within the park include the Heathland Walk, Cape Conran Nature Trail, East Cape Boardwalk,Yeerung River Estuary View and Gorge trails. Day walk destinations include Dock Inlet and Pearl Point.
There is a mixture of rocky and sandy beaches at the actual cape. The West Cape offers scenic views at the Salmon Rocks lookout (GPS -37.809241,148.727067), which is part of the Batuluk Cultural Trail and has information on Indigenous midden sites.
The East Cape is a good spot for a picnic, with gas barbecues and picnic tables. There are a number of walks from the Day Visitor Area (GPS -37.792151, 148.763065). The scenic 0.6 km, 1-1.5 hours return coastal East Cape Boardwalk was a joint project of the then National Parks Service and the Moogji Aboriginal Council in Orbost. The boardwalk rounds the East Cape to Cowrie Bay.
Along the way,interpretive signs give visitors a glimpse of the uses Indigenous people made of the many resources around the Cape. The boardwalk joins the Nature Trail (1.5 km, 1.5-2 hours return via boardwalk) and a complete loop can be made back to the East Cape Day Visitor Area, or continue on to the West Cape and Salmon Rocks Beach.
The Yeerung River Road links the East Cape with the Yeerung River mouth where there are picnic facilities, good fishing spots, and a walking trail to the Yeerung Gorge (GPS -37.760100, 148.787400). I was bought by Park Victoria’s description of Yeerung Gorge as a “hidden gem. But I regretted the decision of visiting this place. Your car will need to travel perhaps 10 km on a one-lane wide, unsealed road full of pebbles. This means a speed of 20-30 km/h for a sedan car if you don’t want a bumpy ride or getting hit by flying stones. The walk path to the Gorge is alright in the initial stage but becomes a very steep decline when I begin to hear the flow of river water. At that point, I did not feel safe enough to proceed further in this isolated jungle and decided to make a return trip to the car.