20 – 22 January 2015
My initial thought had been spending a couple of days going to Wilsons Prom - a renowned national park southeast of Melbourne. However, staying at Sandy Point I had to bike 60k each way so it seemed a little stretched as I would only have an afternoon and morning for hiking. Instead I decided to spend an extra day which made it much more interesting as I could hike the whole 60k southern loop of the park – though still fairly ambitious with 120k of biking and 60k hiking in 3 days.
The forecast said rain and a possible thunderstorm in the afternoon so I left Sandy Point at 8.30 and pushed hard to be able to finish the first day’s hike before the bad weather came in. It was rolling hills towards the park and not surprisingly the wind had turned and now came from the east (!) making it a headwind the first 30k and a sidewind the last part. A couple of big hills just before I reached the visitor center at Tidal River but having left most of my luggage in Sandy Point it was quite easy. After 2½ hours I reached the visitor center where I bought my camping permit and stored my bike which was big help not having to carry my panniers, helmet, repair kit, etc. I took the park bus up to Telegraph Saddle and had lunch before I heading out – 17k to Refuge Cove. As I descended from the hilltop towards the coast at Sealer’s Cove I went through different kinds of forest and vegetation and also encountered the damage done by fires and floods 4-5 years earlier. A few birds but otherwise not much wildlife except a small snake to which I paid little attention – how dangerous could it be? Later I found out it was a very poisonous brown snake of which the juveniles are often more dangerous because they don’t know to dose their venom. I reached Sealer’s Cove after a couple of hours and after a short break I pushed on along the coast - it was still overcast which had been nice for riding and hiking but less so for the views especially here on the coast; I know I have written it countless times but the colours are just not the same. I reached Refuge Cove around 16.30 and quickly got my tent up – not the nicest camp area as it was just one big common area. There were 20-30 other people so I tried to strike up some conversations – some people cut it short and others looked at me as I was mad for approaching them, so I spent the time reading. A wallabie came into the camp but otherwise surpisingly few animals – usually there are a lot around offical campgrounds. A group of old people came in late and decided to camp right next to me – they were quite loud but as it got dark the big thunder/lightning storm made everybody take cover in their tents. I just love falling asleep to heavy rain on the tent and slept like a baby until the same people got up at 6.30 and continued their loud conversations. I rolled around for an hour before I gave up and got up.
It was a lovely morning with a clear blue sky and after breakfast I hiked south along the coast towards my first ”checkpoint” at Little Waterloo Bay. The trail took me steep up through the lush forest and back down across gorgeous white sandy beaches – a pattern that would continue for the rest of the hike making it more streneous than the 60k implies. It was a very warm day so I treasured the parts in the forest providing a bit of shade and the hikes on the beaches where I walked barefoot. The day’s hike was 26k so I pushed on to the Lighthouse further down the coast where I had a lunchbreak before heading inland to camp at Roaring Meg – on the way I spotted a beautiful fox and yet another juvenile brown snake. Many people do the first part of the hike while few do the latter – I caught up with Melbourne girls Cass and Jess camping the same place so we walked together the last part. Nobody else was at the campground so it was nice and quiet and the girls were great company. The only disturbance was a cheaky possum trying to steal the girls’ food that was not in a tree…
The girls had another night in the park so the next morning I continued alone. A few kilometers through the forest but then I had to walk the road for a long time – fast but fairly boring and limited shade on yet another warm day. Clouds over the coast made me consider skipping the detour there but the alternative walking inland and taking the bus back from Telegraph Saddle seemed uninteresting. A good decision as the clouds lifted and I got more spectacular coastal/beach views on my way back to Tidal River that I reached early afternoon; just after encountering a 1.5 meter big black snake a couple of steps ahead of me on the trail - unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it was more alert than me and went into the bushes. At the visitor center I loaded the bike and had lunch before heading to Sandy Point that I reached late afternoon. All-in-all a great experience – very lucky with the weather making the hike and views exceptional instead of mediocre.