Enough of this living in a tent, time to go home. We packed up everything back into the car, and just after being told there was another snake in the vicinity, drove out. Back onto the highway, with a few diversions to Cape Conran (stunning beach), Marlo (more stunning scenery, and a pub lunch), Orbost (fill ‘er up), Lakes Entrance (ah, that view from the roadside as you head west…) and were back in Melbourne in time for the evening peak hour traffic, though thankfully most of it was going the other way.
Up the road yet again and out of Cann River, we zoomed up along the highway towards New South Wales. The roads on the Victorian side of the border had been pretty much clear of roadkill – at least I hadn’t noticed any. But I was able to count the number of dead animals along the road in New South Wales. It came to six within about fifteen minutes, making me think the guys in charge of clearing it up must be busy doing something else.
We arrived in Eden, and driving down the hill into the town could immediately see the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean. But first, lunch beckoned. After some mighty fine fish’n'chips, a swim in the ocean was in order. The tide was quite strong – as I walked in it nearly swept me off my feet. I could understand how in some circumstances, people get dragged out to sea, never to be seen again a la Harold Holt. There was a lifeguard on duty, though nobody was in any real danger. (It wasn’t until later that it was pointed out to me that sharks could be in the vicinity. Hmmm. I hadn’t thought of that.)
As we left the beach, a family were in the midst of a debate about beaches. From the sounds of it they had been at Merimbula Beach, and had on a whim decided to check out Eden. They drove 25-odd kilometres to get there, and as we walked past the dad was just deciding that Eden beach wasn’t so nice as Merimbula after all, and rather than enjoy it, they should head straight back again. I hope if I’m ever that stupid and sadistic someone slaps me silly.
I liked Eden’s beach. Okay so I haven’t seen Merimbula’s, but I really enjoyed myself there. The other great thing about Eden was that opposite the beach was a shower. Cold, but still a shower, and having a semi-proper wash for the first time in four days was something of a relief.
On the way back we made a detour via Mallacoota, which was another lovely spot. We walked around the caravan park, which contained lots of lobster-like red tanned roasting people, quietly sitting and sipping beer, then went to a nice cafe and stopped for some drinks before heading back to the camp.
My sandals at Wingan beach. I hope to sell this picture to the Birkenstock company for millions and millions of dollars.
We drove toWingan Inlet, which involved the 45 minute drive back up to Cann River, 18km along the highway, then another hour or so down a very rough road which got exceedingly narrow in places. At Wingan we found a very picturesque jetty, a family teaching their kids how to fish, and a tap providing pure cool stream water.
We set off down the nature walk, with me wishing I was wearing my boots. Oh yes, I’d brought them with me in the car. Problem was I’d left all my socks behind, so I was walking in my sandals. That’s not ideal when there’s a risk of snakes. But I survived to tell the tale, and at the end of the walk we found Wingan beach, quite nice, but very windy.
On the beach I took a photo of my sandals, which I hope I can sell to the Birkenstock company for millions and millions of dollars so they can use it for an advertising campaign, and in turn sell millions and millions of sandals. Then we’ll both be happy.
Lesson three when camping: Take heavy boots and socks along for walking through the forest. But if you have to take your sandals, you might as well make use of them.
We walked back and made a nice cup of tea before driving back.
Goanna in the campsite, looking for food. The wheel on the right is a bicycle wheel. I think it wanted to have a ride.
My back was killing me when I awoke. Lesson one when camping: don’t buy a cheapie sleeping mat.
A morning walk along the beach cured it, and I was able to see little bouncing bug things. I have no idea what they are, but they would crawl around for a bit, then leap half a metre or so, and land on their back. Then they’d flip over, crawl around a bit more, and repeat.
After spraying on some insect repellent to keep the HUGE flies and other creepy-crawlies at bay (only time I’ve had a fly actually inflict pain on me when it bit into me), we walked along the beach to Mueller River. There was a nice peaceful inlet there, which was a great spot to stop for lunch and then have a swim. Then we walked back inland along the road. It was very hot, but frequent stops for drinks in the shade kept us going. We got back into the camp site to see a huge goanna creeping along the sites, looking for food. It skulked off into the bushes when it saw us.
In the afternoon we went for a walk west along the path to the lighthouse. A little way along was a gate, and a sign claiming the lighthouse was but a mere 2.2km "easy" walk. So we thought we’d try it. Whoever wrote the sign were a pack of lying bastards. It was torturous, and we should have taken more water. Up hills, down hills, up more steeper hills. It seemed like ages before we actually got to the lighthouse. And even then we didn’t quite make it. C was stuffed and waited by the information board while I kept going down the track to look at the lighthouse. The view off the coast was worth it, as well as the marker with potted history. Point Hicks was named after Lieutenant Hicks, who was the first man on Captain Cook’s ship to spot the eastern Australian coast in 1770.
The rock formations on the point were very pretty to look at. I was dying for a leak, so carefully choosing a spot where the wind was less strong and more predictable (I will always remember that centuries old advice: He who pisseth into the wind, wetteth his shirt), I left my mark on one of the rocks. On the way back up the path C came and yelled that she could see a brown snake on the path with me. I didn’t see it, but it scared the shit out of me, and we made our escape.
Further down the path on the way back we passed a beach. I was so hot and sweaty that – despite the presence of others on the beach, perhaps 500 metres away – I stripped off and jumped in the water for a minute. It was very comforting, until I noticed a woman walking down the beach towards us, and I put my clothes back on in something of a hurry.
We walked back thoroughly exhausted.
Lesson two when camping: When going walking, take along plenty of water.
Pelican, Lakes Entrance
So, the adventure began. Saturday night I packed all my stuff up. Clothes, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, towel, bathers, torch… a whole bunch of stuff, in fact. C arrived in the hired four-wheel drive just after 8am, and we set out. First stop Sale, to fill up with petrol and pick up food. Second stop was Lakes Entrance, for a walk around and look at the water.
Then Cann River for more fuel (it was burning it up like there was no tomorrow, and continued to do so until a couple of days later when we found the Overdrive switch), and off down the Point Hicks Road, which was sealed for the first fifteen minutes, then became something of an adventurous bumpy unsealed dirt track for another half hour to the Thurra River camp site. It got easier when we discovered where the 4WD button was in the car.
There to meet us were camp hosts Neils and Guy, a couple of blokes you could be forgiven were school students working a holiday job for Parks Victoria. Their information board was good, informing us of the upcoming weather, and the fact that camping was only available to those with Advanced Bookings (sic). They introduced themselves and told us about the various facilities around the site, and Monday’s
total fire ban. They said this meant we couldn’t have any hot meat – evidently they assumed that red meat burnt to a crisp was the natural staple food for all campers. I don’t think the spicy salami we had bought in Sale was quite what they had in mind.
The tent etc got setup and after some dinner and a glass of some very nice ten year-old port, we went for a walk to the beach and watched the moon (full, or almost full) rising over the ocean, a glorious sight to say the least.
On Friday night I went to Paddy Pallin to buy a backpack in preparation for next week’s camping trip with C. Sorry, a travelpack to be precise. Apparently this is the correct term in the travel world.
I have borrowed a couple of different backpacks over the years. The first one was owned by one of my sister’s friends who is about 7 feet tall, and it was sized to fit him correctly. It was enormous. And I foolishly packed it full and took it to Europe with me. The second one was owned by another friend, and was a Macpac brand one, a kind of dark red colour. It was fabulous, and I decided back then that if I ever owned a backpack, I’d be looking at Macpacs as a priority.
So, into Paddy Pallin, and I tried on a Macpac or two, and eventually bought a Pegasus one. A basic pack with a daypack attached. And they were having a sale, so it was 15% off the price. It seemed like good value. I think… So with this in hand, I headed home.
Well I got as far as Richmond before changing my mind. It wasn’t right. It didn’t have all the handy dandy pockets that had been on the last pack I’d borrowed. Pockets that were a major convenience. Reading the brochure that came with it, that said (I’m paraphrasing) "this is a good solid pack that we’ve built down to a price by leaving off some of the cool features" convinced me. I didn’t need the el cheapo option. I went back and upgraded to the Orient Express model, which was not only much more like the one I’d borrowed, it was better, with more handier pockets all over it.
I went home a happy camper.