18 Jan 2016

Heading Down Under - Aussie Land by valeriepeltier

8/29

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Waking with the sound of others packing up their belongings, I laid there sleepily for a few minutes before my watch began to beep at me. I reached to turn it off and realizing it was only 7am I chose to lay there a little longer before starting to pack up my things.

By 7:30 we were up and moving. Starting with packing up my sleep system, and next moving to taking the fly off the tent as it was already scorching hot with the sun beating down on us.

It wasn't too long before we had all out belongings out of the tent and the tent torn down. I slowly rolled it in order to dry the bottom and attempt to clean out some of the sand from the previous camp.

As we stopped to eat breakfast before placing the last few things in our packs, I turned to sit down just in time to watch a flock of Magpie Larks being lead to the swamp by what looked like a heron, but I was unsure as to which one it was.

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Setting out we reached what I thought was the other side of the stream cutting through the open field in which we camped, but it turned out there was one more crossing. While Lauren headed off to the washroom, I carried our bags across a large stick laying in the stream to make it easier to begin on the trail.
By 9:45am we had packs on and were beginning our first climb of the day.
When we reached the top the view behind us was a view of the hill we had accomplished and in front of us was another hill in which we had yet to accomplish.
The first few valleys seemed to be hill after hill with beaches separating them. The majority of our morning we spent it climbing and descending hills with an approximate elevation of 200 ft each time. Although this section of the trail definitely had much more shady sections than the last section the hill climbing definitely made it a little more difficult.

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Now passing through more of a rainforest setting, there were a few more little villages of cottages that we walked passed following the trail. One in particular was more or less just a large canvas shelter with a few young boys sitting outside and I'm assuming their father was the one doing the repairs to the path to their house. We greeted one another and he asked us if we had enough water to reach the end of the trail. Considering we had brought an extra 4 litres in the beginning and already had the jug half refilled once already we had more than enough to finish. He told us that there was a tap at the surf school in the village just around the corner. (Another water source for the trail)
As we rounded the corner Lauren pointed for me to look down on the rock patio and I spotted an iguana and attempted to get a little closer and that is when the Crimson Rosella flew up from behind the rock wall and startling the iguana. Now both gone Lauren was explaining that it was the bird she was looking at and I explained it was the iguana that I had saw from my point of view. Both equally interesting but funny how we were both looking at different things thinking we were looking at the animal the other one was looking at.

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The rainforest portion of the trail reminded me a lot of our hike through the Napali Coast in Hawaii. Australia's version was much shorter of an area filled with palm trees and gum trees. The area we walked through was actually calling burning palms beach, and I believe it got its name due to the dryness of the area, and the fact that a certain area was scorched from catching fire in the past.
A little further through the rainforest it opened up to a burning palms beach which is where the main turn off for the figure 8 pools were, but we decided we didn't want to walk across the beach and instead stayed on the trail until the other side of the beach and followed that trail off to the side instead.
We rounded the edge of the beach following a rock path leading us across piles of large rocks along the face of a cliff.after rounding two corners we finally made it to the rock pools, there were already many people there some swimming, some just taking pictures and others sitting down enjoying some lunch.

We went out with our cameras and took a few pictures of the pools, and I got Lauren to take a photo of me swimming in the figure 8 pool. The water felt amazing after sweating on the trail for two days. After cooling off we headed back to where we placed our bags and sat down in the shade for a couple minutes to grab a bite to eat.
After I finished eating I wanted to go and take a few more photos so I wandered back out to the pools and tried taking my photos around the people that were out there too.
When I was just about to decide I had enough photos and I was going to return to grab my things I took one last photo, stood up and then out of nowhere a large rogue wave hit the side of the shelf where we were all standing and proceeded to wipe out the majority of us.
Me of course being one of the people that was above one of the pools got hit a little stronger getting wiped off my feet and pushed along the rocks. With my phone in hand I ride to keep it out of the water while watching where the wave was taking me trying to brace myself for what I was about to encounter. I raced across the rock face, being pushed into a couple other people barely standing as it was and dropped into one of the pools. The wave was still pushing strong enough that it swooped me right out of the pool, scraping my back in the process. It then pushed me across a little further stretch of rock and into one of the shallower pools where I finally came to a stop. A little shaken I got onto my feet and examined the damage, my phone was wet, my fingers and arm were bleeding on my right side and it felt as though my back might be as well. I wandered back over to Lauren who was sitting on the side and watching it all happen. I cleaned myself up, it turned out my back was only just scraped, no blood, and I went to check on the people that the wave pushed me into.
Everyone seemed okay just really shaken by the wave, I gave them some alcohol wipes to clean out their scrapes and began to pack up my things.
The thing that got me the most was watching people who didn't really get hit by the wave go back out into the pools as if nothing had just happened.
All in all, I was perfectly fine and thanking my lucky stars that nothing worse happened.

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With only 5 kilometres to go we were getting excited to be off the trail.
Our feet were both quite sore and with the additional kilometre and a half to reach the rock pools we had already extended our day from 8 km to approx 9.5 km, which only brought us to the end of the trail, not the train station in Otford.

A pleasant surprise after a long stretch of climbing uphill through the palm jungle, we reached a flat stretch of land and soon the trail opened up to a fire trail.

Before we knew it we were on the home stretch and all we had left was the last hill to descend before reaching the parking lot.

We had finally made it!! We had completed the trail, start to finish, 30 km in 2 days. Happy yet exhausted we took a photo beside the sign and began making our way to the station to catch the train back to the city in order to meet our bus to Melbourne on time.

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After a tricky few minutes of organizing, trying to figure out when the next train came in order to make it into town on time. I asked one of the guys sitting on the bench when the next train was to arrive. It turned out it would be there in 2 minutes. We hopped on the train thankful that we didn't have to wait longer as time was beginning to crunch and we were getting worried we wouldn't make it on time.

Little did we know as we were arranging our bags for the bus ride, that the train we were on stopped at the next station and we needed to transfer trains if we wanted to make it central station. As they announced it I was buckling up my bag, but Lauren still had a few things out of her bag, so we scrambled in order to grab everything and hop off in time before they shut the doors on us.

In the end everything worked out and we made it on time for our bus with a few minutes to spare so we grabbed a sandwich and chips (crisps) from the 711 and got on our bus ready to do our overnight adventure.

An hour in the driver turned on a movie called McFarland, I ended up staying awake through the entire film, although right after I attempted to sleep.

The bus was quite chilly with the air on, and even though the seats reclined I found it quite difficult to relax enough to sleep. I eventually ended up curling up in a ball in my seat and getting a little bit of rest.