If you're an attentive reader within these infernal walls and have plenty of time up your hands (maybe you're in a maximum security prison?), then you're probably wondering why I'm doing another 'Five Mile Beach' post, seeing how I wrote about it back in March. Oh, just to let you know. You may be thinking something written four months ago is quite a long time, but in my blogging world, it's like yesterday, as my output is generally glacial.
So why am I writing about it again? Well that's easy. Let it be known, a successful tilt on the northern circuit of Wilsons Promontory was completed in April and this will be the first entry detailing the 'fun', which Smuffin and I had. The history of my previous attempts to do this walk is a mixture of pathetic or inept. Sometimes both at once. How many times have I attempted this hike? One? Two? Three? One hundred? Even I've lost count, but rest assured the gorilla is now out of the bag.
I must say, there were a couple of interesting moments, so in order to do them justice, the whole thing will have to be given the full lowbrow/overblown fiasco treatment. I'm sorry, as there's no other way. You're going to get four posts for the four days and as an index they will run along these lines.
Day One: Long/Easy/Sedate/Why am I wearing shorts?
Day Two: One of the worst days of my life. Since the last time I had the worst day of my life. Also, why am I wearing shorts?
Day Three: Visually spectacular for bits, but also potentially the worst day of my life since the worst day, which had only occurred the previous day, but not the worst day after all. Almost though.
Day Four: Is there any chance the bloody thing will finish? Did the Swiss Army Knife really get thrown out with a hamburger wrapper?
So there you go. Scanning the list, I bet you want me to start with the second day, but this would be cheating. Unfortunately, you'll find this first post a little short on highlights, as Smuffin and I performed the interminably long, boring road bash from Five Mile carpark to Five Mile Beach. Really, there's nothing of note regarding this day, but luckily I can pad it out a bit, with a blurb about caravan base camp where we stayed pre-hike. Knowing this, do you feel a little more excited? Don't be, as it's not.
Firstly, I must mention a couple of things. There's barely anything about this walk online. I wanted a bit of info, as in Wilsons Promontory terms, the northern circuit is classified as 'wild and woolly' compared to its tamer sibling, the southern circuit. No real drama I reckon, as I had some notes from, guess who? Yep, you can't keep the bloke under control, as Glenn 'Baron of Balltearing' Tempest has it written up in his book 'Weekend Walks Around Melbourne'. The book was written in 2003 though, so it felt a bit long in the tooth. What else could I use?
Well, I had the GPS track. Surely I had nothing to worry about now? Yes, I think so, as a GPS track is handy. Hang on. Am I having a conversation with myself? I seem to be and what's worse is one of the voices that just answered was a woman's. Maybe I'll ask the bloke sitting in the chair opposite, who's actually me also and ask him. This is going well. Anyway, getting back on track, the GPS route was provided to me by Liam Bantock who you can find in the subversive world of Twitter.
Phew. Can I start the hike now? No, not yet, so don't be impatient. I always wanted to do this walk in winter, only for the reason it would be more entertaining. Unfortunately, late April is not the same, but there was a gruesome forecast for our trip, which sounded promising. A break in the endless, fine weather of autumn was on the cards, so it caused a packing conundrum. What do I take in my ol' kit bag?
The northern circuit is known for a fairly lengthy inland section, which is not formally marked, but tape has been intermittently laid out as a guide. Mm... Can it be trusted? Also within this section is Chinaman Swamp, which if wet meant a bit of wading would be involved. As per usual, details on the current conditions was thin on the ground. Even Parks Victoria, who run the joint, had the barest of information when I spoke to them.
Oh, other than gems such as, "Do you know what you're doing?" (No).
"We rescue a few people, generally because of dehydration. Are you prepared to source your own water?" (Yes. I think so. If not, I can drink my own urine, as I saw Bear Grylls do it and I discovered the internet has plenty of videos showing various techniques.)
"Remember to take a first aid kit." (Yes, I always do. Except on this walk, as I forgot it. Technically it was at Wilsons Promontory, but it just happened to be sitting in the boot of my car.)
"Are you an experienced hiker?" (Yes, I've walked around Albert Park Lake more often than anyone else in the Southern Hemisphere.)
Yeah, it went on and on, as I had to complete a check list just to get a hiking permit. Mind you, it's like one of those psych tests where you look for whatever they're after and answer accordingly. Those are always full of stuff like, "You're standing at the edge of a cliff. Do you feel like jumping off?" I mean, come on. You know I'm going to write 'no', when in fact I'm thinking, 'shit yeah. Who doesn't want to jump off?'
In the end, I got the permit and regarding the weather forecast, elected to play safe. Yes, in went the heavy duty three quarter length raincoat and overpants. Gaiters were de rigueur, along with trekking poles etc etc. In the back of my mind though, there's a common theme when I take all the good gear. The weather ends up being like high noon on Venus and I don't use any of it. Mm... What do you think will happen on this occasion?
Early on, there was a drama with the gear aspect. Smuffin may be the cashed up retiree, but he had one minor problem. He had no pants. Yeah, even I don't know what's going on there, but his constant hiking pants, which were nicknamed, 'Vlad Putins', due to a certain Eastern European look (beige, arse-hugging and containing approximately 350 pointless, little pockets) were out of action. It looked like aggressive moths had eaten away most of the fabric, so with dozens of holes he decided not to risk them, due to the possibility of trouser implosion and being left with only his leather g-string to finish the hike with.
What would he wear instead? Yes, shorts. This idea was okay, but I wondered if stomping through coastal scrub would be more suited to pants? You know, so the pants take the punishment instead of skin? I had no choice, as he's right into the, 'all should dress the same out of sympathy to the man who owns no pants' method. The end result? Pants out, shorts in. Loss of skin inevitable.
The thought of getting up early and driving down to hike on the first day was binned pretty quickly, due to an ailment we suffer. I'm not sure of the medical term, but it's more commonly known as 'dicking around'. Some severe micro-managing goes on with the packing. All the stuff needed is laid out in a lounge room and the packing would begin. Upon conclusion we'd sit down on comfortable leather chairs and stare at the backpacks, pondering their now stuffed state. Frequent standing up will follow, where a pack will be lifted by one hand and a comment will be uttered, such as, "Why is it so heavy when there's nothing in it?" Then it would be placed down and we'd retire to the chairs again to contemplate and generally, just stare at them. I don't have any photos of this thrilling scene, but I've faithfully recreated it, so you have an idea of what transpired.
We decided to stay near Wilsons Promontory the night before, so we could at least be within striking distance the following day. Our choice of accommodation? It had to be the Yanakie Caravan Park, mainly because it's the only place we could think of. It's also lucky we stayed near the hiking venue, as the drive down took longer than expected. Mainly because I got lost and spent some aimless moments looking at empty paddocks near Koo Wee Rup. I guess the writing was on the wall when the road I was driving on suddenly seemed unfamiliar. You know geographical embarrassment has kicked in when you say, "What the hell is that school doing there? Is it new? It wasn't here a few months back". Oh, if you're wondering, the surprise school was built in 1911. I'm not even joking.
Anyway, we finally made it to Yanakie and I guess it's time you had some more photos, as you're probably dying to go to the comfort station and are screaming at your computer, "When will this prick stop writing and post some pictures??!!" Fair enough, so here you are. Let me start off with the birds, which hang out at the caravan park. I felt like Tippi Hedren, as I eyed off a lawnful of galahs...
...whilst keeping a watch above.
The ominous weather forecast looked a probability, as rain clouds passed near us. Actually, the caravan park is in a great location to look across Corner Inlet towards Wilsons Promontory itself.
I must say, I'm always impressed by rain clouds at sunset. Probably as good as sunrise, but as you know, it's rare I'm awake at that time.
This is all great, but svelte hiking gods like Smuffin and I need sustenance, so to hell with the magnificent sunset and off to the car for tea. Yeah okay, I did spot a blazing red sky under a passing rain shower, which was too good to pass up, so it took a bit of nifty roadside parking (consisting of stopping in the middle of the road) to capture it.
Then it was full steam ahead to the sleepy hamlet of Fish Creek and of course the Fish Creek Hotel. Victorians probably know what's in the town, but for the intergalactic reader I should explain. The whole joint is a little weird, as the locals have embraced the 'fish in a name' aspect and gone nuts. It's like the place is full of random creatures of the sea wherever you look. I mean, there's even one on the roof of the pub.
Does this happen in other towns with an unusual name? If so, I'm off to visit Intercourse, Pennsylvania as soon as possible. I must say, if you're heading to Fish Creek for the annual Tea Cosy Festival, make sure you have one of the tasty pub meals. I considered taking a photo of our dishes, but declined, as I felt you couldn't give a stuff about what we ordered and are probably insanely frustrated, as you came here to read about a walk to Five Mile Beach. Oh yeah, I forgot. Rest assured, it's almost the walking day.
Heading back to the caravan park, we opted for the ultimate luxury. Two men. Two cabins. None of this sharing crap. What? Were we going to walk around in a tiny cabin wearing our three-sizes-too-small underwear and check each other out? No way. Stuff like that happens out bush, but not in real life.
The interiors were okay, but there was a fascinating radiator in one of the cabins (not mine, thank god). It was this insanely impressive device, which produced a blinding light from its elements. I cursed not bringing my welders goggles, as it was like staring at the sun. Unfortunately, for all its impressiveness, it seemed to be lacking a fundamental part of its job description. It didn't produce any heat. Oh well, at least Smuffin had a night light to go to sleep with.
|I bet it's running flat out not producing heat right now.|
Oh yeah, I reckon the night before is now done. Roll those drums, as the time machine transports us from slipping beneath the sheets to springing up in daylight, within a matter of seconds.
Okay, the walk from Five Mile carpark was imminent and we were both dreading it. The 18 km is not hard, but as you know from my previous post about this, it's pretty dull. There's nothing worse than an impending dreary day on foot, as it's hard to get going in the morning. Then again, didn't I say earlier on it's always like that? Anyway, packing was done and we were off and racing to the start. Well, via the Yanakie General Store, as coffee was required and kabana and cheese and more stuff. Frankly, I've no idea what was going on, as even though we stayed close to the start, we still didn't kick off until after 10 am.
Rest assured, it's all downhill from now, as I've got nothing to talk about. A bright, patchy white sky meant even the photos wouldn't be any good. Before leaving the car, I had to do one thing (other than forget the first aid kit), which all you gear fetish lovers may be interested in. We had a day walking on a road to come and really, if I had them, I'd do it in runners. The thing is though, there's a kilometre or so at the end of the day spent walking on Five Mile Beach.
I'm not a fan of sand getting into my boots, so wanted to wear gaiters on this section. The trouble is I know myself better than anyone else and just knew if I reached the beach late in the day, knowing camp was so close, there was no way I could be bothered to stop and put them on. The solution? Oh yeah, I put them on at the start and Smuffin joined the party. Yes, I was going to wear gaiters on a road. This isn't a big deal, but as we began walking, some bloke laden down with a pack came waltzing down the road. He appeared to have been out for a few nights and as he passed us, we looked back at him and noted he was doing the same. I just know he was thinking, "Look at these wankers wearing gaiters on a road!" It was that sort of a look.
Really, it wasn't a problem, as gaiters on the legs meant not carrying them on my back. What was to come? Well, the washed out sky produced scenes like this, as I looked back across Corner Inlet to where we'd stayed the night before...
...before facing the scourge of Five Mile Road. An endless trail of gravel leading off into the distance.
It's interesting writing this a couple of months after the event, as I normally have a good memory and don't need to make notes. It can be said this theory has gone out the window, as I haven't got a clue what happened over the 18 km. It took hours, but for the life of me I can't remember anything other than what the odd photo produces.
A section through ferns made an interesting sight. No, Smuffin isn't a leprechaun who sleeps under a mushroom at night. These were just really, really big ferns.
One thing of note caught my eye through here. A seed of something looked like a choc-top from the cinema and I do like a choc-top. Yeah okay, if you think it doesn't look like an ice-cream, I suggest you close your eyes, slam your head into a brick wall and then rub hot English mustard into your eyeballs. Right, have another look. It's an ice-cream, isn't it?
There isn't much more to come, other than photos taken from identical positions, as my previous trips. I think I've now got three pictures of this leaning tree, whilst standing in the same spot. Mind you, there are different weather conditions in each image, so this means it's not the same photo at all?
Late in the day the beach was reached and conditions were strangely benign. A flat sea, no wind and a hazy cloud covered us, as we began the sandy trudge. It's a lovely stretch of beach to walk on if the tide is out, but we had the 'in-between' conditions. The water wasn't out far enough, so walking near it meant being on a 45 degree angle, so we generally kept to the level, but more tiresome softer stuff. There were some things to take our mind of the slog though. This was a nicely coloured shell...
...and a half-buried piece of timber was quite photogenic.
No waves were to be seen, as the ocean was flat...
...but a developing tornado was entertaining.
What? It's not a tornado if it's over the water? Okay, alter it to a developing water-spout. Then again, maybe it's just a cloud? So many possibilities and not enough time.
Finally, camp was reached and you'll find this day is done. It's certainly a nice spot to pitch a tent amongst the sheltered ti-tree. Even better as we had the place to ourselves, but I'm not sure what it would be like with a few other people around. I do know wherever I wandered I had to tread carefully due to some freestyle rogue dumpers who apparently aren't real savvy with a shovel.
Anyway, the tide was in, so there was no chance to top up our water. As you know, the water source for the camp is on the other side of Miranda Creek, but we were confident in being able to fill up the following day. Speaking of which. What's to come on the next day? Let me check my list from the start of the post. Oh okay, now I remember. What's to come was the worst day of my life. Let me have a bottle of bourbon with my packet of Valium and I'll start collating it now.