This trip was a last minute decision. Was I running away from Sydney for a bit? Yes!
The forecast for my first day was 42 deg and a total fire ban. Yikes! I removed a dinner from my stash (I wouldn’t be able to use my stove during a TFB) and would instead buy a sandwich from the Visitor’s Centre.
The driver for my transfer wasn’t the most positive – he seemed alarmed by the (small) size of my bag, tried to discourage me from a side trip I was planning to do, showed disdain when I put on my running shoes (are you really going to wear those the whole way?) and made me sort out my bags in the carpark on a searing hot day while he sat up the front with the air conditioning blasting. (I wanted to do everything inside but he wanted to get going). Bleh.
I hung out at the visitors centre in the air conditioning for a few hours. The ladies at the desk were super lovely and helped me whittle away the hours. They too were surprised by the size of my pack and were keen to hear my secrets.
It was still over 40 degrees when I started at 16:30, and it certainly felt like it. I enjoyed reading the various info boards, containing so many facts I didn’t know. I didn’t see any platypus at the water holes, but I wasn’t surprised by that. I saw two feral pigs at reflection pool though.
From 6pm was a good time to be out as a lot of wildlife were around (roos, wallabies, goannas, many birds). It was also a little cooler and lovely trails so I started running.
I made it to camp before sunset, and it was pretty darn gour-met. Filtered water, evening lighting (even of the toilet cubicles), lounging/viewing seats, etc. Plus the cooking/dining area is well away from the sleeping area, which would minimise disturbances for anyone wanting to head to bed early. Not that I had that problem with 24 tent platforms for one tiny tent! (No other starters today – so I was going to have camp to myself every night). I was very relieved when a cool change came through at 9pm. Another one would have been good ;) I was too hot in the tent, but there were too many sandflies to sleep outside the tent.
Day 2 started abruptly with the ranger pulling up to clean the camp kitchen and toilets at the ungodly hour of 08:30 ;) So I got up and went for a lovely 9km run out to Sandy Creek and back. Good dunes and saw some of the rare “Hoodies”.
Back at camp I packed up and got going just after midday. Next stop was Snake Lagoon and the Rocky River mouth. Thankfully I didn’t see any snakes, but I did enjoy the creek and beach.
The rest of the day was really nice coastal walking and the water was a lovely teal colour. I saw a lot more hooded plovers, but no dolphins or seals, and good beach caves with muddy stalactites.
No bugs at camp made for an enjoyable lounge around in my underwear 🤣 Managed to extract myself from camp and watch a lovely sunset back at the cliffs too.
Day 3: No early morning visitors – or so I thought. Ran the trails around to Weirs Cove & Admiral’s Arch. Just stunning!
Many seal colonies at the Arch – including many New Zealand fur seal pups. Spent ages watching a juvenile seal play in a rock pool below and managed to leave just before a tour bus pulled up.
Back at camp I saw that someone had been in and left a protesting note for National Parks (against development/lodges). As I was packing up camp an older man popped by and wanted to have a chat (was glad when he left – he was acting very weird).
Back on the trails I popped out at Remarkable Rocks. Pretty cool and rather like the Devil’s Marbles/rocks around Uluru. A swarm of tourists though so I was happy to get back on the trails.
A ways on a barking noise caught my attention so I made my way to the edge to be rewarded with a view down onto yet more seal colonies. Like maybe 50 seals? These ones were way more active. Lots swimming, fighting, feeding, sleeping. A treasure to watch.
I stopped at Sanderson’s Beach on the way to camp but it looked pretty rough so a dip would have to wait another day. At camp I noticed the extra details – each campsite has it’s own plant symbol engraved in many things (seats, posts, doors). This campsite included a deck for star gazing. With bonus bees hanging around inside the taps, giving me a fright most times I used the water!
A toilet stop during the night (too much bedtime tea) was rewarded with great star gazing despite it being overcast when I went to bed.
Day 4 had good coastal adventuring around to Cape Younghusband and yet more seals far below.
Then had some nice inland trails to run, but no real views as it was private property for a fancy Lodge that diverted us well inland for a few kms. When I got to the coast I cut back east by the cliffs for some sterling views and rock formations. Came across the lodge – I understand the protesting notes from yesterday more now. That coastline and those beaches should be for everyone :(
Lovely swim (finally) at Hanson Bay in beautiful clear, teal water. Then up the river, with black swans on it, to my final campsite – themed tea tree.
I’m pretty certain that I witnessed an ant training camp on this final night – they were broken up into little groups and fighting one another (no ant was noticeably injured). I wandered up to Edward’s Hut for a look but it wasn’t very interesting.
Up early for the final day I ran the 7.5km to Kelly’s Cave arriving well in time for a cave tour (included in the trail permit) before my pick up at 11am.
The tour was excellent. I’ve been in a number of caves but I still learnt some new info.
Great, organised walk. Wouldn’t really call it wilderness but it was fantastic. I def appreciated having guaranteed water at camp each night – the shelter, level tent platforms, toilets, etc were all a great bonus.
In reflection, if I had my time again is do this walk in winter – when the whales are traveling past and you can have a fire (they provide the wood).
And here a picture of what was in my pack on the final morning (i.e. minus food and my shoes that ended up in the pic)