Five Mile Beach, Wilsons Promontory
I’m going to take a step back in time and recall my first ever overnight walk. In doing so, I would like to acknowledge Hiking Fiasco, who’s blogs about his trip to Five Mile Beach brought back these memories of this hike, negating years of therapy trying to recover from it.
Planning your first overnighter has the innocence (or ignorance) of not knowing what walk to do. It was a decision between Five Mile Beach – a long, dry, unsheltered dirt road – or Sealers Cove – a track winding through fern gullies and rainforest. Being a hot summer’s day, we chose Five Mile Beach, The reason being that it didn’t have any hills where the trek to and from Sealers Cove does. Ignore the fact that is longer, hotter and … well, we didn’t know.
On your first overnight hike there is also the pleasure of not knowing what you need and so not knowing if you’ve forgotten something important, like water, until you develop the thirst for whatever it is you’ve forgotten, like water. Luckily, we became thirsty not long after setting off, like within a couple of hundred metres of the carpark, and a quick retracing of steps saw me scrounging through the detritus in the boot for any sort of water container. Luckily I owned a fairly clapped out vehicle with a leaky radiator and so had a bottle of water in the boot for topping up the car’s cooling system. This was some time ago now and younger readers may not know this, but once upon a time bottles were made of glass. As such, they were quite heavy. Plastic bottles did exist, and we had one small one with us, but it contained an essential camping requirement known as Tawny Port so emptying the contents to allow it to be used for water was not an option. And so, with one whole litre of precious water, we headed off.
The track starts off through low heath scrub. The vegetation was interesting, and the way the track just faded into the distant horizon made a spectacular view. This thrill lasted around an hour, after which the vegetation was less interesting and the way the bloody track just faded into the distant horizon ... Eventually we had some respite as the track wound down to Barry’s Creek and we realised from being in the shade just how hot the sun had become. We stopped for some tucker and briefly considered camping the night but decided against calling it quits so early in our hiking careers. We moved on, back to that bloody track just fading into the distant horizon.
StKilda Junction – eventually – and we would now leave the road and head to the coast. Our spirits rose as we walked across the causeway to what is truly a magnificent beach. Feeling that we were pretty much at the end of our ordeal, we set off along the sand and noticed that the creek – where the campsite and fresh water would be found – was at the end of the beach, near the bloody distant horizon. We also learnt that walking on sand is not fun; probably even less so after a long, long road bash.
The beach was empty and, despite the pain of walking on soft sand, glorious. We made the creek and a campsite was easily found. I wasn’t sure if we were in the right spot – there weren’t any official signs – but a tent peg struck poo and toilet paper so I figured this must be where people camp. I wandered upstream, found a spot where I could get freshish water, and we ate, drank Port, and considered it a good day.
We awoke early the next morning to strange sounds around the tent but soon realised it was our muscles groaning at the thought of walking back. “Be brave”, we told our weary bodies over breakfast, “there is only a thousand kilometres of beach and a million more of road to hike”. We set off. The tide was out, the sun low and the day’s heat still waiting to pounce (which it did, later, when we were on the road) making the beach walk pleasant. After the beach section, we crossed the causeway to the road where the walking became CENSORED and CENSORED. As the sun rose, the hiking became even more CENSORED, but, I am pleased to say, there were no tears or blisters, only sulky silence and the trudge of boots on gravel. And the CENSORED track fading into the CENSORED horizon.