On arrival at the St Kilda mangroves, you make your way through the Interpretive Centre where they have mud and insects displayed so that you can see them before you enter the swamp. Unfortunately, the day we went the Interpretive Centre was closed, probably due to the staff having a meeting about mud and insects. A sign informed us that they were sorry about not being there but we could enter the swamp via a side gate after leaving money in an honour tin. Though my son attempted to access the contents, it was firmly padlocked.
Passing several signs warning us of snakes, we reached the boardwalk and entered the swamp. After pretending to push each other off the boardwalk into the mud for several minutes, we reached the first check point. Checkpoints consist of a slightly wider section of the boardwalk with a sign explaining that the swamp contains mud and insects. There are twenty checkpoints.
Checkpoints 2 to 8
The mud is worth mentioning as there were hardly any insects the day we visited. It is very deep in parts and not in others and has millions of spiky roots sticking out of it like semi submerged hedgehogs. According to the brochure, the mud is teeming with life but we did not see any. Interestingly enough, the brochure also mentioned that dolphins enter the swamp in search of food but as they would require one of those ride-on boats with a big fan on the back like the dad drove in the television series Gentle Ben, this is quite unlikely. The people who wrote the brochure covered themselves though, each statement regarding the wide and exciting range of animals to be seen began with "Depending on weather conditions..." so they could have added tigers, polar bears and elk to the list without any risk of litigation. We did see a dead cat but that was not listed in the brochure.
Despite the noticeable lack of other visitors to the swamp, as we progressed to checkpoint nine, a father and two children approached us along the boardwalk from the opposite direction and we gave each other a sympathetic and understanding nod as we passed.
Checkpoints 10 to 13
While traversing the next few checkpoints, we played a game called 'what we could be doing instead'.
With the natural beauty of the environment reflected in the wonder on their faces, Seb and Holly took a break from their mobile phones and games consoles to pose for a photo in one of the more picturesque regions of the swamp:
Checkpoints 15 to 19
We progressed through checkpoints fifteen to nineteen fairly quickly, driven on by the fact that I was experiencing nicotine withdrawal and had left my cigarettes in the car. With only one checkpoint to go, and the car in view, we came to a dead end where the boardwalk had collapsed. Despite seriously considering jumping the five metre gap, braving the millions of spiky roots sticking out of the mud, we were forced to turn back and retrace our journey.
Checkpoints 19 to 1
On the way back we pretended to push each other off the boardwalk into the mud and as Seb was annoying me, I pushed him off the boardwalk into the mud. Due to his new sneakers being cased in twelve inches of solid black mud, he did not speak to me for the rest of the walk back which was nice.