I began today slightly dehydrated from one too many drinks in the spa the night before. Jase was probably the same but didn’t want to admit it. The kitchen was set up with all the things necessary for an enjoyable breakfast. We had something to eat and Andrew came and picked us up at 8am with, as promised, a packed lunch to order. Andrew dropped us off back at the Aire River bridge (the other side, as mentioned on yesterdays walk). The morning was cool but clear, perfect walking weather. Our trip today would cover 21km to Milanesia Gate. Elevations today were to around 300m. More about that later.
After taking some snap shots of Koala’s we decided to move on. We had a little bit of trouble finding the beginning of the track today as it was located in the camping area leading up from the toilet block. Of coarse, if we had read our daily walking notes, we would have seen that they clearly stipulated this. The camping ground here and its location was nothing short of magnificent and I felt a little jealous of Melbournian’s living only 2 hours away. If I wished to come back and camp it was 20 hours drive from my place.
The start of today’s walk took us along the south-western side of and below a rugged cliff face. The face had a distinct overhang that was absolutely spectacular in the early morning light, although very hard to take any good photos of because of the direction of the sun (and my cheap arse camera, Jase got some good shots though). From a lookout later on in the day you could see that the whole place was almost an island surrounded by the ocean, Aire river and an inland lake/swamp area. You could actually make out that in the not too distant future it would be separated completely. The area also has archaeological significance, as dinosaur fossils have been found here.
Today still had a cool wind but you could distinctly feel the weather warming up. We came to the Castle Cove lookout which joined up with the Great Ocean Rd for about 100m or so. It was always a little disappointing coming to the points in the track where humans can get to with their cars. Mainly because there is always rubbish all over the place, usually in the form of plastic bottles and take away food packaging. The rubbish would always cease within 200m of the road because that’s as far as most people are prepared to walk. I was impressed with 99% of the track though, hikers generally have respect for the environment and don’t litter, in fact most will pick rubbish up.
Looking back along overhanging cliffs, gradually being surrounded by water.
We went through some very interesting and diverse scenery between Castle Cove lookout and Johanna beach. As much as the area looks rugged it is actually very susceptible to diseases and introduced species that can wipe out communities of plants. There were shoe washing and cleaning stations along the track to help prevent this (will show you these in day sixes adventure).
Yes, I almost got nailed by a wave at this beach.
Most of us are used to living in cities or towns and seeing pipes leading out to the beach or a channel cut out with rock borders to allow boat entry. Joanna Beach was yet another example of a beach undisturbed by man made features. There was a river trying to enter into the ocean but held at bay for a 100m or so by a large sand dune. The beach is also host to the critically endangered Hooded Plover, we actually got to see a couple of them and Jase got a photo. There is a website Save the Hoodie that goes into more detail about the plight of this bird. As mentioned there is a river coming out onto this beach, therefore a river crossing, albeit minor. The day we were there waves were coming up the river mouth and slamming into a 1.5m collapsing sand bank. I have probably made this sound more hardcore than it really was because, most likely, the worst that could happen this day was I got wet, not so good with boots and socks and gaiters. Anyway, as I gingerly made my way across the the river, picking spots to jump that were only a few inches deep a rogue wave came in threatening to soak me to the bone. I managed to jump up the collapsing sand bank and got away with a minor soaking and boots choc full of sand. The rest of the walk along the beach was a tad uncomfortable.
At the end of Joanna Beach I emptied the sand out of my boots and we continued along a somewhat different track leading up through farm country. We passed through a couple of locked gates. As mentioned earlier, the last part of todays walk was all up hill so quite tough on the old legs but the views from the top were spectacular. The last part of today’s walk took us along a quiet stretch of road (also up) for roughly 3km. We finished our walk about 1km short of Milanesia Gate as Jase had had enough for one day. I had flashbacks of Aire River Bridge, but we did do this section the next day which was actually a very pleasant start to the day. Andrew picked us up and we went back to our accommodation at Southern Anchorage Retreat. We had showers, relaxed and were once again treated to an awesome dinner and a rather early night. Stay tuned for day 5 next week on ‘My Walkabout Plants’.