Sunday, May 20, 2018

Attempting the Great Ocean Walk (pt 3)

Great Ocean Walk - The Walk

OK Yes... What happened

I arrived in Melbourne, it was cold and dark.

Went to my folks place and prepared my gear, spent too much money on stuff I really would need if I were to survive this walk. 
Thermals, water containers (bladders that fit into my new pack... actually quite awesome and practical), the food, my boots etc...
(Mum had my boots repaired by one of Melbourne's last cobblers, a story in itself). 

Found out there's no bus on the day I intended to leave the trail so changed my bookings and shoved everything ahead by one day so I could catch the Wednesday bus. V/Line busses only run Mon, Wednesday and Friday. 
Got a ride with Mum and Dad out to Ballarat where we met my Uncle and Aunty who drove me all the way down to Apollo Bay. To the beginning of the trail and to help me search for a place to drop food. 
After all my searching I could not find a scrap of help when it came to finding acceptable places to drop food. It is mentioned in the FAQ but there appears to be no practical or official means of doing so.

We visited the Aire River camp site and were shocked to find it completely submerged in water, coots and ducks were swimming where I thought my tent was booked to be. not a great sign.

Aire River GOW camp (fire pit)
At about 4pm I was dropped at the Shelly Beach picnic area and walked about 1.5 km into the Eliot Ridge campsite. 
From the moment I got out of the car I could smell that sweetness of the Mountain Ash forest. The Otway Ranges are a blessing and a relic of Victoria's great forests. 

When I arrived at the camp I found a school group of about 10 students and three teachers were settling in to cook their dinner. I was the only independent hiker. 

The camp site was well equipped with a three walled shelter, fresh rain water tanks (full) and composting toilets (including toilet paper)

Elliot Ridge Shelter

Elliot Ridge composting toilets

I set my camp beneath the giant Ash, cooked my dinner, took a deep breath of the fresh sweet cool air around me and got into my cozy sleeping bag, it was 6:00pm and completely Dark. The night of the New Moon. 
First time use of tent. It's great!
Mountain Ash - Precious!

A great nights sleep as the wind blew across the canopy above me, with only a slight concern of falling limbs.  
At dawn I woke and ate my porridge, stowed my gear took down my tent and loaded my pack. At 7:35 I was on my way, while the other campers were organizing their activities for the day. 

The walk from Elliot Ridge to Blanket Bay was about 12 km mostly following fairly wide access tracks through the Ash Forests inland away from the coast. The track made a loop around thick sections of forest before returning to the coast at Blanket Bay. An easy walk even with over 30kg on my back. In the cool weather I found I could just keep walking, so I did, I walked straight through with only a ten minute break. Arrived at camp within three and a half hours. 

Blanket Bay was a beautiful spot. I found a tent pad and by 12:00 pm I had set up my camp and eaten lunch. I did the 45 minute loop walk which joined the alternate inland rout with the coastal route. (The inland route is the high tide option to get to camp) Felt a bit dozy, collapsed into my tent and slept for two hours! Maybe the unfamiliar exertion and weight of my pack was a bit of a shock to the system.

Blanket Bay from GOW camp

Toes up time
When the drizzle slowed I got up and cooked my dinner then went straight back to bed. 

360 Furno doing dinner.
Then it rained... and rained... and the water did flow and eventually it did rise through the floor of the tent... and that changed everything.

I spent most of the night shuffling things around to keep them dry, packed away my down sleeping bag (they're useless when wet) and hoping the rain would stop. It wasn't a heavy rain but the damage was done.

(To be continued...)

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