Aire River to Johanna Beach – 14kms.
The camping experience is quite simply, ruined by being in a tent. After such a lovely evening, the sleep was almost non-existent.
There was a school group at Blanket Bay who also turned up at Aire River and while our location was fabulous for us to enjoy an easy set-up and relaxing evening, it proved to be costly for sleep due to the parade of unsupervised teenagers that walked by, flashing their lights into the tent and talking as though it was the middle of the day until 2:30am!
Boy, I feel old saying that, but I was ready to strangle someone due to a severe lack of sleep. While Ange slept through some of it, I spoke to other people in the campsite who had also been affected and were sharing the same views about the kids roaming freely around.
Adding to the lack of sleep was an inability to get comfortable. Ange had a spare inflatable mattress, however despite having all mattress layers inside my silk liner (4 in total), I was slipping off all of them.
Eventually I pulled her mattress out and crashed asleep at 3am. When I woke, I was grumpy from a lack of sleep and was so stiff and sore, when I fell out of the tent and tried to stand, the best I could do was a hunched, half stand, leaving me feeling like a shrivelled, 200year old woman!
My grumpiness was not improved by the discovery of ear plugs in a little bag that had obviously been there from the Camino. Two nights of camping with noise keeping me awake and I discover ear plugs on the last night!
Ange decided at this point the situation called for wearing her happy pants.
In the packing up today, I found the lost mattress strap and instead lost my down jacket cover. Ange lost her chair seat cover and somehow a tent peg. I have finally found someone worse than me at putting things down and losing it 5 secs later!
As we set off on the ridiculous hill up to where we were supposed to sleep for the night, I felt brightened by how lucky we were not to have to climb it the day before with our gear when we were hot and tired.
We were on our way again…. until Ange started to walk the wrong way. We came to a sign pointing left for the GOW, so Ange starts walking off down the right!
I think my mouth fell open at her appalling sense of direction before laughing and pulling her back. Made a mental note at that moment to pay closer attention to signs if she was walking in front.
Much of today’s stage was very coastal and what I imagine people would envisage when thinking of the Great Ocean Walk.
It was constant ups and downs on wooden planks. While I am slow on the ascent, I can zoom down, whereas this is where Ange slows.
At one point, during another climb and the sandy soil sucking my feet down, I started having a conversation with Bree, telling her I was done with walking in her memory. Next year, I plan on lying on a beach. I started giggling out loud from the conversation I was having with her, imagining her telling me that she would have preferred lying on the beach from the start. When I questioned her on why I was camping then, I heard her say “geez mum, what would have made you think I would have camped?!”
I think the heat was making me become a bit delusional because I began to giggle at everything after this.
Just when our feet were starting to drag, we turned a corner and the scenery abruptly changed.
We found a seat in a cool gully to stop for lunch. It was so nice to stretch out, take the shoes off and lighten the load. While we sat there, a number of walkers passed by. It was the most people I’d seen on the trail so far.
I became highly jealous of one of those walkers once we started to walk again. Not 10mtrs from our small seat, one walker had come upon a bench platform and set up a picnic for his lunch, wide enough where we could have lay down and stretched our backs.
Just as quickly as the scenery had changed before lunch, it changed again. It is mind boggling how diverse the flora is in such a short area.
It probably was a good thing we didn’t get to that bench first. I may have not wanted to leave and we were up against the tide to get across Johanna Beach and cross Johanna River before high tide, which was due in 90mins.
We hit the beach and had to walk 1500mtrs across sand before the river crossing, so pushed hard. It turns out we needn’t have worried. Below is what we had to cross, so we pulled off our shoes, walked across and collapsed on the other side.
Once across the beach, there was a short, steep climb up and we found ourselves in the Johanna Beach car park. This is where things went a little awry with our trailer support.
Our instructions said our trailer would be left in the car park near the toilets. It also said it would be 300mtrs to the GOW camping site. We were in the car park, and shortly after, saw the toilets. No trailer.
Ange rang the walking company and left a message. While we were waiting, we had already made the decision we were going to park ourselves in this campsite rather than the GOW one so we could be close by to the trailer again.
Not to be. Turns out there was another car park 500mtrs up the road. There is no worse feeling after a day of walking thinking you are at the end to discover you still have further to go.
We finally came upon the trailer and horrifyingly, it was in the middle of both campsites. We had a choice of either trudging 500mtrs uphill to the GOW campsite back and forth with our gear or 500mtrs back to the main campsite.
Ange decided on option number 3, set up camp in the day visitor area where we weren’t supposed to camp. I definitely was not going to argue. I was as tired as Ange was. I did have a fleeting thought of us rickshawing the trailer back to the first campsite, but Ange already had her drop sheet on the ground. (When I shared this thought with Ange later, she laughed hard at me and told me I would have been doing it on my own!)
It was our best set up yet, with far more time to relax. We even got to play a card game.
Feeling far more revived after dinner, we walked up to Johanna Beach lookout to see the sunset.
Back at our unofficial site, I had boiled some water to take up to the toilets and attempt a proper wash down. I had been using body wipes to clean my body, but even this wasn’t cutting it by day 3 of no shower and I felt gross.
One of the nearby toilets had a bench seat, so I locked myself in there, stripped off and washed myself down with a cloth, soap and warm water from the Jetboil. Despite not being a proper shower, it felt like the best shower ever. I felt clean afterwards.
With darkness descending, it was time for our hot chocolate and bed. I’m hoping bed set up number 3 and ear plugs will be the winning combination.
I figure at this point, I am so tired, anything I try has to help and if not, it is the last night of camping. Happy Days!