Rambles of ambles and sagas of suburbia

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nelson to White Sands, Great South West Walk, Victoria. Winter 2012

ocean beach at discovery bay coastal park
Ocean Beach, Discovery Bay Coastal Park

Well, here we go again. It's another stage of the eternal saga of the Great South West Walk (GSWW). Mind you, I'm on the home straight now with just the stroll along the coast from the coastal town of Nelson back to Portland.

By the way, do you realise these GSWW posts are the least read entries I've written over the past year? No love out there for the Victorian coast? Don't worry though, as there's no way I'd quit writing about each particular day until this hike is done. I do get a bit of perverse pleasure that no one's reading it. It's the same as having too much ice-cream after dinner and you're forced to whip yourself with a cat o' nine tales as punishment for eating all of that glorious sugar. Do you see what I mean?

I shouldn't complain though, as I've always wanted to write about hikes that have barely any online coverage. The reading statistics might take a hit, but as that famous saying goes, 'It's better to die on your feet, than live on your knees at the glory hole'.

Now, Nelson. I'd met Smuffin that afternoon and he was adamant about one thing. "Don't stay at the pub", was his mantra. He'd arrived the night before and elected to have a room in the local hotel. Little did he know that the accommodation was in danger of imminent collapse, due to damaged walls that appeared to have suffered too much 'combat Karma Sutra' over the years. Not to mention the local netball team were staying there as well. Besides packing more punch than Haystacks Calhoun, they also drank more than him as well.

So, we elected to check into one of the caravan parks for the night, before descending on the pub for dinner. I must say though, it was a little odd in there. Firstly, we noted a ruddy faced bloke sitting at the bar with his face in a beer. He was watching an Aboriginal bloke on television singing some sort of song at an Australian Day celebration. Mr. Ruddy wasn't happy with this sight, as he uttered to another bloke, "Why do they get an abo to sing? The pricks don't even celebrate Australia Day!" Mm... Interesting. I too have wondered why the Aboriginals don't show any gratitude for the white blokes taking over their country and slaughtering them.

Anyway, we moved on from the casual racism and perused the menu. One dish called 'Shelton's Snags' caught our eye and Smuffin asked the barman, "What's the 'Shelton Snags'?" The barman looked at him incredulous and said, "They're sausages!!" Now, did he really think we were so stupid that we'd never heard the term 'snag' before? Those crazy city slickers! Didn't know a 'snag' was a sausage!! As a result, I still don't know what flavour a Shelton sausage is.

I guess I should get to the actual walk? Yeah okay, I will in minute. Before I do, I must mention that it was nice to sleep in a bed overnight, although the 'greatest hits' of Nelson continued when leaving in the morning. Whilst dropping off the key, the owner said, "Have you done the dishes, dried them and put them away?" I thought that was an interesting comment seeing how Smuffin and I were the only people staying in this enormous caravan park. What did he think? We'd whipped up a degustation dinner in the cabin?

Now the walk! This wasn't going to be a long day distance-wise, but it was all on sand, so it was never going to be that easy. I dropped by the local store (only store) and picked up a food drop I'd left there the week before. Sounds simple? Well, there's more to that later on. Oh yeah, we also stocked up on some extras...

jar of peanut butter on outside of backpack
Don't even think of not taking the whole jar.

We donned the packs and made our way towards the sound of surf. Showers were passing through, but it wasn't too bad as we reached a lookout above the sand. Smuffin adopted the 'ready for business' pose. Either that or he was busting to go to the comfort station.

standing on wooden lookout above beach

That's quite a noble pose and it reminded me of a painting that I'd seen and as you can see, Smuffin is a dead-ringer for the following. Have a close look. Surrounded by sea, the matching cream coloured pants, black lounge/hiking slippers, dark jacket and a long thing in the hand. You must admit they're exactly the same? If you don't think so, then I suggest doing the following. Dim the lights and squint your eyes whilst staring at the photos. Now do a head stand and continue looking whilst a friend smashes you across the forehead with a rubber mallet. What do you see now? They're exactly the same aren't they?

painting of admiral nelson by william berczy

Oh yeah, for all of you heathens who only reached Year 11 at school (that's me). Who is that in the painting? Well, that's Admiral Nelson of course and it's all coming together beautifully, as we just happened to be in Nelson.

Really, the blog writes itself and slipping in a photo of Nelson at Nelson was a cinch. I can't wait to repeat this when I do a hike on Dildo Island. Can you imagine the photos I'll come up with for that one? Actually, what happens if I type the word 'dildo' in Google images? Will there be any photos online?

Anyway, back to the walking and to put you out of your misery, there'll be lots of photos from now on. We hit the beach to find that the sand was slightly 'soft as butter'. In our favour, the wind was behind us as the odd shower passed through.

walking on sandy beach

It's hard to judge distance on the beach, but we had an outcrop called 'Shipwreck Rock' as a target. It was the only feature we could see on the horizon, as it sat in a swirl of sea mist.

shipwreck rock in the water on the horizon
Shipwreck Rock in the distance.

There was plenty to keep us occupied though. How about various sized cuttlefish?

large cuttlefish shell next to boot
The big...

small cuttlefish next to boot
...and the small.

The trouble with writing things six months after they happen is that I don't remember every detail. The next picture is an example. It's a bloke waving/drowning, but I can't recall whether it was a rock, seaweed or bizarro jellyfish.

object on beach in shape of person waving

We continued on, making slow progress on the soft sand. There was the odd excitement along the way. A raised edge of sand was problematic. The 'upper level' was soft, but staying low meant the risk of getting wet boots from waves rushing in. Smuffin was adamant that the 'top deck' was the go...

small sand cliff along beach near water

...whereas I was relying on my cat-like reflexes and natural slingshot speed if the waves came too close. This was a good theory until a wave threatened my boots. I slipped into gear, sprinting for the 'upper level' safety with the speed of Carl Lewis after a packet of Valium. That was going well until I launched upwards and promptly caused the sand cliff to collapse and ended up face-planting instead.

lying on sand after falling over

I was wedged like that for a while and after extracting myself I noted the sandy cliff was slightly squashed.

hole in sand as a result of falling over

Oh yeah, I got wet boots as well. Anyway, Shipwreck Rock was getting closer now...

shipwreck rock formation in surf

In the meantime, there was plenty of flotsam to keep us company before reaching the rocks. Wherever you are in the world, rusty nails attached to pieces of timber are keeping the tetanus shots companies in business.

piece of wood with rusty nails on beach

There was a bottle which looked like a relic from the deep...

shells attached to bottle lying on beach

...and not to be outdone, the bottle had a shellfish encrusted friend.

piece of timber with seashells attached to it on beach

Briefly I thought I could get online when I spotted a computer case...

remains of computer screen on the beach

...but it needed some work to get it going again.

case of computer screen lying on beach

At times the air was filled with a salty mist...

sea mist from ocean over beach

...and then it would clear giving us some sunny breaks.

ocean beach at discovery bay coastal park

After walking a while we were both feeling hungry. The trouble is we'd decided not to stop until we passed Shipwreck Rock. Feeling peckish, my sidekick slipped into 'Bear Smuffs' mode and elected to eat food that had been washed ashore. A sachet of something was tasted. I declined, but apparently it was spicy.

opened spice sachet found on beach

Whilst food was being collected I was on a roll finding other treasures of the deep. I mean, how much great stuff can a bloke find in a kilometre of walking? Let's review these 'flotsam favourites'. Then again, is it jetsam? If so, it'll be 'jerrific jetsam'.

scuba diving flipper washed up on beach
Fantastic flipper

holding scuba diving flipper washed up on beach

holding motorcycle helmet found on beach
Hurrah! Helmet!

holding orange fishing buoy washed up on beach
Buoy bonanza

How's that? There's some pretty good stuff amongst that lot. On the walking front, we reached Shipwreck Rock and finally had some lunch. Looking at the rock though, it took on the appearance of a cat more than anything. If you can't see that in the next picture, then I suggest you go back earlier in the post and revisit my 'how to look at a photo' instructions.

waves breaking on shipwreck rock
Shipwreck Rock

It was whilst having lunch that I realised something was missing which makes up a big part of the entire lunch experience. Food. I'd picked up my food drop at Nelson earlier in the day, but it seemed to be missing the lunches. I thought this was strange, as I purposely created a list when packing the plastic tub and ticked off everything that was needed. Mm... Had there been a food heist at Nelson?

That mystery would linger for the days to come, but on this occasion I had to search the high tide mark for anything edible. Maybe a Caesar salad was washed up or some toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches? I looked for a while, but couldn't find anything, so I settled on the next best thing. I had half of Smuffin's lunch instead. He didn't mind as he was too busy getting a kick out of standing with the wind to his back and creating severe 'puffy overpants syndrome'.

waterproof overpants puffed up by wind
'You can't touch this'.

The fun and games had to end though. We continued on...

walking on beach

...whilst still passing more debris. Such as this tub...

orange fishing tub washed up on beach

...and a wheel.

car wheel washed up on beach

A wheel?

car tyre and wheel washed up on beach covered in shellfish

Not to mention a table tennis racquet. Huh?

table tennis racquet washed up on sand

There were some more natural sights than these, as passing showers brought a nice rainbow.

rainbow above ocean

rainbow above ocean and beach

At a distance we spotted a wooden crate on the beach. There was a bit of guessing as to what it contained. We both decided it was full of 'Johnny Walker Blue Label' and whilst approaching it wondered how we were going to carry that booty of bottles.

wooden crate on beach in the distance
The wooden crate is in sight...

Unfortunately for us, it was a mirage...

remains of wooden crate washed up on beach

The strolling continued with a fairly featureless horizon...

surf and sand at discovery bay coastal park

...until we finally came across the White Sands camp. The sign led the way...

sign for white sands camp

The camp is protected behind the sand dunes, but it was by far the most rudimentary of all of the GSWW sites. There was no shelter other than a tiny roofed area next to the comfort station. This spot became necessary, as we'd barely dropped our packs and a heavy shower passed through. It wasn't that fun hunkering down in the Gent's, but it was better than nothing. Actually, I have no idea why I don't have a photograph, but the toilet appeared to be a relic from an archaeological excavation. The shifting sands had half buried it and shovelling was needed to uncover the seat. Why don't I have a photo of that? I seem to have pictures of every other piece of crap that was going on that day!

It's still a nice spot once the sun comes out...

clouds and sun above sand dunes
The beach is past the sand dunes.

So, that's it. What a roller coaster this post has been! Somehow I've dragged out a walk of less than 10 km in traditional overblown fashion.

Don't forget there's plenty more beach action to come. How about another sunny view above the White Sands camp..?

clouds and sunshine at white sands campsite

Okay, one more photo and I'm done. Here's the camp with the Lightheart SoLong tent set-up in non-stealth mode as the light faded...

tent set up at white sands camp


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