Note from Ben: This is day 3 of a hiking trip guest post by Adrian Brewer, for Day 1; start here.
I woke up at around 0630 to a brisk, overcast morning. The night was peaceful and very quiet, just the sounds of the waves breaking the shore over the hill. It was a very nice way to leave this world into the land of Nod. It was cloudy but it had the feeling that it was going to be a hot day so the plan was to get away as early as I could before the really hot weather come about. I tried the creek water again but it hadn’t improved overnight, it was still yellow in colour and still had that plastic, greasy taste to it. Still it was better than nothing – I think. I boiled it again, just to make sure and made porridge and coffee with it for breakfast. The coffee was ok but the beauty of coffee is, if you make it strong enough, it will kill any taste.
Breakfast – it was nicer than it looks despite the creek water
I broke camp and packed up, leaving at around 0830 for a long walk along the beach again to the start of the track which would take me to Little Oberon Bay, Norman Point (the peak of the mountain before me) and then to Tidal River and home. Once I found the track it was relatively easy to follow and a slight uphill grade made the decision to leave early a good one. It was still quiet with only a few birds singing in the distance.
Not long into the walk and without notice, a small wallaby about a metre and a half high leapt out onto the track about 5 metres in front of me. I don’t know who got the biggest fright, me or him!! He didn’t like the look of me I guess as he soon took off up the track and headed into the bush. I kept the drinking of the creek water to a minimum as it really was bad and planned to make a cup of tea when I reached Norman Point, about 4-5 kms ahead. The track meandered along the edge of the mountain allowing some awesome views of the ocean and bay to be had. There was some quite spectacular stuff for most of the way.
Oberon Bay from half way up the mount
I arrived at Little Oberon Bay, mistaking it for Norman Point. It just didn’t look right until I consulted the trusty map. The track here goes along the beach and can easily be lost and it was quite a scramble to get up the dune to find it again. I had a bit of a breather here and found a sand borne riverlet on the beach. It was small but flowing and the water tasted so sweet. Never had I tasted something so nice. My creek water was down to about ¼ of a bottle but I kept that as I now knew it was relatively safe. I filled my other 2 bottles with the new river water and headed off again.
Finally I arrived at Norman Point after a very steep climb up granite steps and a stony track. It damn near killed me! I dropped my pack off at the edge of the track and laid down for a good ten minutes catching my breath and relaxing a little. I was sweating like a pig – it was hot, no shade, no wind save a very minor gossamer breeze that would at times gently pass by – and it felt good. I got my faculties back together and pulled the cuppa gear out, set up the stove and made the best cup of tea I have had in a long while. Having plenty of water now and being only a few kilometres from Tidal River, I felt I could afford to splash out and make a full cup instead of the usual rationed half cup. Even my mum never made a cup of tea as nice as this one was!! I boiled the rest of the river water up just to be on the safe side
View from Norman Point – just makes you want to go diving…
I walked the 300 metres down to Norman Point Lookout but it really wasn’t worth the trip, not a lot to see and certainly nothing that couldn’t be seen from where I was before. Break time over, it was back to the track. I stood still for a few minutes before I headed off and just listened. There wasn’t a sound. No noise, no wind, no clouds, just me and a thin mist on the mountain. Perfect.
I left the top of Norman Point, feeling good that it was primarily all downhill from here. I met quite a few people going the other way towards Little Oberon Bay, at one stage it was like Bourke Street!
Now, this type of place and this time of year, one expects a lot of tourists and this being a touristy place, one should expect a lot of them – and there were a lot of them. But it annoys me no end when people put themselves into bad situations by either sheer stupidity or a total lack of forethought. Within 10 minutes I encountered two such instances.
A small family approached me – mum and dad with 2 little kids in those kiddie backpacks. All were sweating heavily as it was getting very hot. I guess, the way I was dressed would give the idea that I was somewhat self sufficient and the mum asked me if I had any spare sunscreen as they didn’t have any. That was OK as we all forget stuff at times so I took what was left of mine as I had given the rest away the previous night to the Swiss couple and handed it to them. What happened then surprised even me. Dad put it on himself, then mum put it on herself and then handed it back to me. “What about the kids?” I ask. “Oh” said mum “I guess we should put some on them” I told her to keep the cream as it had insect repellant in it as well and to smother her kids in it or they would be eaten alive by the flies and the sun. I wasn’t aware until then that little kids were obviously immune to sunburn and insect bites.
Then some five minutes later I meet this rather largish woman dressed in only a long dress, sandals and a hat and in an obvious state of distress. She sees me and immediately asks if I had any spare water. What? Are you serious? In a relatively polite tone I questioned her as to why she was where she was on such a hot day without any water and if she didn’t have any I strongly suggested she turn around and go straight back to Tidal River. She said she was with a group and they had the water. The only group I met was now some 150 metres further along the track so she had obviously lagged quite a way behind. I gave her my full water bottle for which she was quite grateful and I suggested I accompany her back to Tidal River or at least wait with her here until one of her group realises she is missing and comes looking for her – hopefully. She strongly refused all assistance. So what can I do? I only had a little ‘creamy’ creek water left but I knew that within an hour I would be at the Tidal River shop and could drink as much water, Coke, Gatorade as I could buy so I told her to keep my full bottle and to stop when she needed to.
I am by no means an expert but why is it that people put themselves in these positions? Wouldn’t it be obvious to take water on a hot day? To take sunscreen on a hot day? To not even attempt to walk up these hills if you aren’t physically capable? And why do I meet them all? Don’t even get me started of Four Wheel drivers, every time I take the old Land Rover out………………..
Well, I finally got to Tidal River; somewhat sore, very tired and very dry with the last of the creek water gone some 20 minutes back. I dropped my pack off outside the shop and within as many minutes, two Gatorades, two orange juices and an icy pole were gone! Cold and very, very nice.
I reported back in to the Visitors Centre so they at least knew I was still alive, dropped my gear off at the car and headed to the shower block, which was nicely decorated by some young budding artist with motifs of male and female anatomy. I knew then I was back in so-called civilization. To say the shower was nice would have been an understatement, especially seeing as my tee shirt hadn’t been off in three days!! Warm water cascading over a weary body really has no equal and then dry, clean undies, socks and tee shirt really top it off.
After that it was all over. My three days of solitude was at an end. The drive home was uneventful, thankfully but that’s when the real work began – unpacking, washing, cleaning and eventually putting it all away until next time. Mmmm, I wonder where that will be to? Now, where is that map book…………………?
Note from Ben, Thanks again to Adrian for his trip report and great read. I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.