I was pretty sore after my last jaunt into the mountains, so I've decided to do some 'gentlemans' walks for the time being. Hiking doesn't always have to be about smashing oneself all the time does it? Does it?! Anyway, I thought a few casual trips to the coast are in order, especially during the hot weather we're having in Melbourne right now.
There's no better place to start my coastal pilgrimage than Bells Beach which has been on one of my places to visit for quite some time. A walk that combines the beach and a bit of inland forest hiking to complete a circuit sounded fine and it's sourced from my trusty Glenn Tempest book, 'Daywalks Around Melbourne'. There's actually a blurb on the walk at his Open Spaces Books website and I made note of one of the comments mentioning that the beach section is not passable unless it's extremely low tide. Mm... We'll see, but I can say the one reason I've always missed out on this walk is due to the tide not being in my favour on the days I could attempt the hike.
|On the sand of Bells Beach|
So, what's the plan if the tide is not in favour? Well, I'd be a daredevil and go anyway to see what would happen. I arrived on a clear, sunny day an hour after high tide and really I shouldn't have worried too much. The beach was clear for walking from Bells Beach all the way to my first destination being Point Addis.
Bells Beach is certainly well known judging by the international flavour of the voices I heard in the car park when I got there. I did get bailed up though by some Australian bloke who asked me, "Where are the changing rooms?" I said, "I'm pretty sure it's not one of those beaches. It's surfing only." The bloke then replied, "There must be, it's a famous beach." I guess he didn't believe me, so all I could do was the traditional shrug of the shoulders and say, "I dunno" as he left to accost someone else.
The silly thing is though, whenever I think of Bells Beach I'm always reminded by the worst attempt at an Australian accent in the history of cinema. That without doubt goes to the bloke who arrives at a fake 'Bells Beach' (it was filmed in Oregon) at the end of Point Break. The 'Australian' policeman who appears has an accent that is so mangled it sounds like the cross between a leprechaun with a vice around his nuts and a squirrel on helium. That's being generous as well. Why do they even bother? You know what's worse? Let's look at a photo and see.
|Point Break. AKA worst attempt at an accent in the history of cinema.|
Yep, that's the culprit above. The one thing I've also wondered is how the hell does he even see with the visor of his hat pulled down to his nostrils? He ends up with some sort of weird, 'chin way up high' system in order to see under his hat. It's real roofing nail stuff. I can say though that this unique hat wearing method can be pulled off if you show a bit of élan. One that comes to mind that looks okay is Ian Hendry in The Hill. He proves that the roofing nail look is not always the end result.
|Now, that's what I'm talking about. Check out that peaked hat on Ian Hendry.|
Walking? Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Well, I headed down to the beach and was off and racing. The coastline is magnificent on such a clear day, especially as part of the walk is lined with red coloured cliffs of jarosite. First of all though there was a bit of beach walking and I was feeling a little annoyed that I was wearing runners instead of sandals. The water did look inviting for a bit of a wade.
|Point Addis in the distance.|
The beach was very clean with no driftwood to catch my eye and you know what else? Shoes. My 'shoe sighting on beach visits' is pretty high, but I can say that I didn't see any washed up. There's a first for everything I guess. I did see some old rusty pieces of steel and wondered where they'd come from. An old shipwreck? A large pair of scissors?
Things were going great and it was inevitable that something would come up to spoil the fun. I was happily strolling along when I felt a sharp spearing feeling on my calf muscle. I knew from experience what that pain is caused by. I turned to look and sure enough. Bloody March fly!! I'd gone through some March fly trauma on my last hike to Mount Howitt.
On this occasion, the fly was so well and truly attached, that I had time to angle my leg and swipe my hand at roughly the speed of sound to connect right on his head whilst yelling, "bastard!". The fly dropped dead on the beach leaving my leg with a smear of my own blood and plenty more on his smashed body.
|Smashed March fly. Pity he's covered in my blood...|
Oh well, on I continued and the story about needing low tide to do this walk was turning into a bit of a fallacy. I began to pass some cliffs with no hint of getting my feet wet.
This is a nice change from destroying myself up a mountain. Being a beach as well there is always the chance things will be a little bit out of the ordinary. I guess I realised this when I saw the following sign.
|Get your gear off.|
I guess it would feel quite comfortable, but I was too scared of sunburn to think about disrobing. Not the bloke who was walking in front of me though. I quickly caught up to him and I noted the only thing he was wearing was a hat. I suppose he was being a little 'sun smart'? I felt a little uncomfortable in that I was walking with a camera in my hand, so he did check me out as I passed him by. I would to if I was strolling along with my tackle hanging out and then got overtaken by a bloke with a whopping big DSLR and telephoto lens.
The photos stopped for a little while whilst I passed the nudists, but I soon entered the vast expanse of sand on Addiscott Beach.
A bit more strolling and I reached Point Addis itself. I now had a couple of options of either heading straight up to the top of the cliffs via stairs or walk around the point to another set of stairs as per the walk notes. This though is where low tide is needed, but I figured the water was out far enough to give it a go. I noted a sign informing me that the cliffs are unstable which is always what you want to see when you're walking under, well, cliffs.
|I love the rich colour in these cliffs.|
I rock hopped a little and then reached a point where the water was up to the cliff, but it was so shallow and calm I thought it best to ditch the shoes and go for a bit of a wade.
|Wading time at Point Addis.|
I was being extra careful here not to slip. It was not me getting wet that I was worried about, but the camera. I understand dropping a DSLR in salt water is not the most desirable thing to do, so I was making sure my feet were firmly planted before taking another step. In my slow water walking I happened to look behind me and see a number of paragliders back in the direction I'd come. I may be short of sight, but I'm positive they weren't there when I walked through initially.
During my wading I came to small cove which I accessed by an interesting looking rock arch. "Now is the time for the cliffs not to collapse", was my thinking.
I survived under the arch and within this sandy cove was the set of stairs I needed to get to the top. Umm... There was a slight problem though (of course there was)
The track was closed, so I could either backtrack or continue on by trying to round another water covered rock shelf to the next set of stairs further along. I was on a roll with this wading business, so I thought I should continue. I began the same method, but the water was a little deeper with rock pools evident and I just knew I'd be pushing my luck with the camera in my hand. I reckon if I was only in my three-sizes-too-small speedos I could have successfully strolled around.
|The end of the road...|
So, it was backtrack to Addiscott Beach time and I thought I should do some fossicking whilst I was at it. The 'find' of the day so far was part of a fishing rod stuck in the rocks. That would have been one crap fishing trip to actually come home with not just no fish, but no actual rod as well.
|I've got dem fishing blues...|
I continued my retreat and I noted how sensitive my feet were walking on the rocks. I was uttering a lot of 'oohs' and 'aahs' as I gingerly strolled along.
|Heading back to Addiscott Beach.|
|Looking back towards Bells Beach (with sore feet)|
I headed out of the arch way again, but due to foot pain I decided to go for a new approach by doing some 'ocean walking'. It was sandy and shallow, so I thought that would be the best way to proceed with the mantra in my head being repeated, "just don't drop the bloody camera". It was comfortable, but the worlds smallest waves had me jumping to keep the salt water out of my electronics.
I kept up my ocean walking until I reached Addiscott Beach and it was time to head up the stairs I'd passed an hour earlier. I took one last photo before ascending.
On my way up the stairs I noted a seat with a plaque attached. I do like a seat with a story and this one was quite nice.
Actually, on the subject of seats with names I remembered my brother who thought when he first heard the U2 song, 'Where the Streets Have No Name' that the actual lyric was, 'Where the Seats Have No Name'. When he realised his error he didn't like the song any more, as he thought the concept of a city where there's no names on seats was a better idea.
Anyway, I got to the top of Point Addis and walked down a road to the end for a bit of a perusal. There's the odd lookout with nice views and I did come across a rather 'generous' sized bloke who I said "G'day" to and with a strong American accent replied with "G'day" as well. That took me a little by surprise, but he was getting right into this local lingo business.
|Looking back at Addiscott Beach from Point Addis.|
Now for some inland walking and the next section is through the Ironbark Forest. My plant knowledge is pretty minimal, but I know enough that Ironbark is a type of eucalyptus. I contemplated just returning on the beach as it was very relaxing, but then I thought of more March fly attacks plus potential random wanger exposure, so I elected to finish the walk as per the notes.
It starts off following the 'Koori Cultural Trail' which is a short walk through the bush with a number of information signs along the way. The shock of this though was I actually had to walk up a hill.
|What's this? A hill?|
The beauty of coastal walks though is that the hills are little and there wasn't going to be any '1000 metres climbing in a day' shenanigans. There are some nice lookouts on the way as well.
|Point Addis from the Koori Cultural Walk.|
Now, from this point on I've no idea which track I was on at any particular time. I knew which way to go, but there are signs for multiple named paths such as the 'Nature Trail', 'Jarosite Trail' and 'Ironbark Track'. At times they all seemed to appear one after the other, so I lost interest into which was which after a while. I relied on the book to get me through. Oh yeah, the GPS as well.
Through the odd gaps in trees I could see the coastline and the paragliders were now a little closer.
I passed an unusually 'green' looking dam which didn't look very appetising. I think one would have to be mighty thirsty to contemplate putting any of that green water near the lips.
I've neglected feathers in the last few posts, but don't worry, here's one to admire that was on the track.
A few more kilometres of undulating walking and the track opened out onto a nice wide path with some views of the ocean through the trees.
This track was very comfortable walking, but one can never relax too much as I felt a sharp sting to my ankle of all places. Can it be? Yes, it can, as I looked down and a March fly was attached to my sock. Now I know why they hurt so much when I read that, "...they slice off the top layer of flesh, which feels like needles pricking into the skin and then lick the blood..." I'd being munched on again, but I managed to raise my foot and deliver with my hand a resounding blow to the bonce of the fly which left it mangled on the end of my finger. It was worthy of the photo below and it was close to being a perfect kill in regards to the finger it ended up on. This will have to do though, as I give the fly the 'ring finger'.
|Hey fly. How does that feel?|
Man, this walking caper can be full on at times. I continued monitoring bare patches of skin for flies as I followed what I believe is the Jarosite Track. There's the remains of an old jarosite mine in the area and if you really need to know, jarosite "...was used to make red paint pigment..." (I stole that quote directly from the notes of the walk). The path has plenty of red colour to it, but I've no idea if that has anything to do with the jarosite, but the contrast in colour did look good against the numerous green grass trees in the area.
|Grass trees on Jarosite Track|
The track made a descent down to where the old mine was, but there wasn't much to see. I'm not sure if there is anything else hiding in the bushes, but all I found was this disused well...
|Old well at Jarosite Mine.|
...and a dam which was accessed by possibly the deadliest set of stairs I've seen on a walk lately. These were real 'ankle snappers' and I can see why everyone avoids them, judging by the amount of footprints on either side.
|The stairs need a bit of a spruce up...|
My March fly phobia continued, but I did come across some of natures victories along the way. There was the odd victim in spider webs across the track and one web in which the flies had been wrapped up for lunch at a later date.
I was well and truly on my way to finish the walk as I returned towards the coastline again. I did come across a Cinnamon Fungus cleaning station though. I don't see many of these on my walks, although I remember a couple on the Great Ocean Walk. I make sure I do the right thing and give my shoes a good scrubbing over and dunking.
There's not much else to report now as the path popped back out on top of the cliffs near my car.
|Final cliff top walk...|
The track ended up at the road I drove in on. This is a true 'road bash' to end the walk, but it was very short and who cares with the views available.
Another few hundred metres and I was back at the car to end a thoroughly enjoyable walk. The GPS route I took is available for perusal at Garmin Connect. A comfortable 13.75 kms with a very casual total of 268 metres of elevation climbed for the day. It's enjoyable to get back to the coast again and I should be making the most of it as autumn approaches.
I didn't find low tide really necessary, but it was going out the whole time I was walking and the sea was pretty calm. It's probably a different story with a big swell rolling in. How about a final look of the ocean?
I was going to end with the photo above with the brilliant blues and greens of the ocean in summer. I couldn't though, as I really think the final photo should be a look at that Ian Hendry hat again. This is what I'm talking about...
|Ian Hendry - The Hill|