Sunday, May 20, 2018

Attempting the Great Ocean Walk (pt 4)

The Honeymoon is over
Friday morning I got up at first light, sorted out the wet from the dry, packed as much stuff as I could, ate some breakfast and some ABC instant mocha coffee (from Indonesia, very sweet) then attempted to dry and clean the mud off my tent.

Tent half collapsed... a somewhat messy affair
Dawn at Blanket Bay with rain on the horizon

Sunlight pressing though
A friendly farewell

Once everything was stowed away I set out on the 11km hike to the Lighthouse. Although I was now carrying quite a bit of excess weight in unwanted water, I was still able to enjoy the walk and found this part of the trail absolutely stunning! It wove through a series of landscapes, including a little bit of Ash Forest full of tree ferns and tall tall trees, then some beautiful stunted eucalypt groves with a ground cover of bracken and shrubs, and in the valleys were dense rain forest trees with ferns, mosses and lots of tiny birds. Between Blanket Bay and Point Franklin I saw 6 wallabies in the valleys and undergrowth. Also two deer on the open path.

Boot Cleaning Bay protection against spread of Phytophthora a parasitic fungas that kills plants

Wild views along the shipwreck coast (Point Lewis I think)

Bracken undergrowth

These forests are so special providing great protection from the wind, life beneath the canopy is far more comfortable than the bald hills we have created for agriculture.

Of course the New Moon is accompanied by Spring Tides so it was important to make river crossings and beach walks during the low tide. I arrived at Parker Inlet at a good time to cross the water was quite low and I could see the ocean bubbling and frothing at the creek mouth. I would not want to be there when the tide comes in. After crossing the creek I looked down and noticed blood on my boot. I felt no pain and knew straight away it must have been a leach. It must have been there a long time because it had gone of it's own accord and all that remained was a sock totally soaked in blood! 

Parker Inlet at low tide

Creek at Parker Inlet

The less gruesome view of leach meal time

Immediately after Parker Inlet was a very pretty but long stone stairway, it was a steady walk to the top but quite stable footing. Regardless of the quality of the track I still felt stuffed by the time I reached the top. My hips and toes were struggling under the weight of my pack. I had bruised toes from the downhill tramping and sore muscles in the hips and feet from unfamiliar exertion, but generally, I was able to keep the pace and continue. 

Hard slog up a pretty hill
Looking back

The next section was coastal heath and totally different from all the other sections I'd done. I was walking along the edge of a shear cliff face and the wind from the southern ocean was blowing hard against me. At some points there is a clear view along the coast and the lighthouse can be seen in the distance. Absolutely wild, raw power! It energized me but at my core I felt I was beginning to flag. By the time I reached the Light station I was knackered. I plonked on the grass and rested.

Windswept coastal heath

Board Walk and stairs

Cape Otway Lighthouse... Just over there... another 2 km to walk

(To be continued...)

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