No More Camper Trash

Moonlight Head to Wreck’s Beach – 8kms

Thanks to some guidance from our accommodation host, today was going to be an easier day, and therefore, a sleep-in was something we were both looking forward to, especially as we would be in warm, comfy beds.

Not to be. At 7:15am, the smoke alarm started screaming through the place, shooting us both upright in bed. In my grogginess, I tried to think of what we could have left on, until just as suddenly, it stopped and I realised it was the batteries warning of low battery. I am beginning to wonder if there is a bit of a sleep conspiracy happening on this walk. Half an hour later, the alarm went off again, so we gave up the beds and got up for breakfast.

A toaster! A microwave! Fresh cold juice! What luxuries. With so many breakfast provisions, I happily made poached eggs on toast, eating it in the comfort and serenity on the decking overlooking the garden. We were even rewarded with a couple of kangaroos hopping by.

After a wander around the amazing property we were staying on, we collected our packed lunch and were on our way.

Our host had advised us the previous night, we could actually walk straight down the road from the property and rejoin the GOW, but cut out the small portion of intense climbing and descents.¬† Ange and I had taken one look at each other and I knew we were both happy to take this option. Yesterday’s walking had been brutal and we had niggles we were worried would cause us to be unable to finish if pushed further.

As we headed off, Ange had a spring in her step and was extolling the virtues of a shower. Her words – “I’m no longer camper trash.”

I can openly admit, camping is not for me. I need a comfy bed and a daily wash. I certainly enjoyed the evenings drinking a glass of wine and being outside, but I can hire a cabin and still enjoy those things.

I had felt gross without the shower, but hadn’t considered myself to be camper trash! For every day of camping, Ange had not complained and seemed to be taking it all in her stride, until I heard her utter those words. It seemed she hadn’t been as zen as I thought.

To rejoin the walk, we had to climb through one electric fence and step over a second one via a ladder. Given Ange’s previous days of klutziness, she wasn’t taking any chances and removed her bag and threw this and her poles straight over the fence before climbing through.

I shouldn’t have gotten so over confidant in my lack of klutziness to this point. I climbed up the ladder and threw my leg over to jump to the other side, with my pack on. Managed to miss the step, fall backwards on the ladder and had a sudden wondering of how electric the fence was.

Our host had told us about a farmer in the area who tries to run the hikers over, so I wondered. Was this his fence? Does he amp up the juice running through the fence to catch out clumsy hikers like me?

All of this played out in slow-motion, but in reality, seconds. Fortunately, as I was falling back, being pulled by the weight of my bag, I managed to put my hand out and grab the wooden pole (thankfully not the wire fencing) and stop myself going further. I was able to get across unscathed and even better, Ange had been looking the other way and missed the whole thing. ūüėĀ

Throughout sections of the GOW, there are boot cleaning stations to prevent the spread of a fungus that is killing native plants, especially the grass trees. You are supposed to brush your shoes back and forth over the stiff bristles and then dose them in a liquid.

As I put my right foot in to brush it, I pulled my foot back, but found I simply had no strength in my legs to push my foot forward in the tight bristles. After 6 days of constant walking and the day before being a brutal day physically, my body was feeling the toll. In that moment, I felt very grateful that today would be an easier day.

After making it over the fence without being electrified, I stepped into an oasis of beautiful forest, with a stillness created by the sounds of birdsong, the breeze gently flickering the leaves, trickles of water, the cicadas and the Eucalyptus oil crackling in the sun.

I know this sounds contradictory (and I have a dear friend, you know who you are, who would tell me if there are sounds, it is not still), but as soon as I stepped onto the trail, I felt cocooned. The sounds were straight out of a meditation playlist.

The scenery has been so beautiful all the way along, but this section seemed to resonate with me more than any other. I felt like my senses were heightened, seeing and hearing everything. Either that or I was relaxed in the knowledge that when I finished today’s walk, I didn’t have to set up camp afterwards.

I even saw this fabulous funghi and had to climb halfway up a tree to get the photo.

There was a moment I also forgot where I was. I looked out across the gully and for a second, I thought I was hiking in the Blue Mountains in NSW.

But just as quickly, the landscape changed and you were reminded of where you were, with the glittering ocean peeking through the trees.

It was at one of these viewpoints where Ange stopped to take a picture… and dropped her pole over the side. She took one look at me and told me not to say a word. Fortunately, it didn’t drop far and as I stood by laughing as Ange had to lean down to get it, I failed to remind her about me standing on the rocks at the beach, dropping my pole and having to scramble down to retrieve it – on Day 1!

Again, the landscape changed. This was all in just a few kms. No wonder Australia is so strict and highly protective of its unique environment.

All of this was leading us to Gables Lookout. Just when I thought the views couldn’t take my breath away any further, we stepped out onto Gables Lookout.

After the cocoon of the forest, stepping out onto that ledge exposed us to the raw power of nature. Storm clouds were rolling in and the wind was whipping up a frenzy. You could understand how the trees were no match for this power, giving the windswept look across the coast.

As I stood there, staring out at the sheer vastness of the area, I wanted to yell into the wind and have it carry away the sound and with it, take away the pain of losing Bree. Each step I have walked on this journey, I have had Bree with me, but I have also carried the loss.

Sometimes that load feels light and I think of Bree with love, fondly remembering things she did or her bright and challenging personality. Other times, I am painfully aware of the life and experiences that she and I missed out on because her life was cruelly cut short.

No amount of yelling is ever going to change that, but for a brief moment on that lookout, it sure felt like I could give it a go.

A short break turned into lunch by the lookout where we chatted with some fellow hikers. I learnt my camping issue was the width of my mattress.

We met Marty, the husband of singer/songwriter Clare Bowditch and he told me as a side sleeper, his self-inflating mattress had a width of 10cm. My bed set-up didn’t even come close to that width and I am a side sleeper.

Marty left us pretty quickly as the storm was threatening rain and he was heading to Devil’s Kitchen campsite to set up before the rain hit. I felt relieved to not be camping, but feared it may be another rough night’s sleep for him.

Marty had slept at the Johanna Beach GOW campsite the same night Ange and I camped where we shouldn’t have. He said while the view was fabulous, the area was completely exposed and all night he had sand and dirt getting everywhere within his tent and the noise was intense, meaning he had very little sleep.

Feeling revived, we had just a couple of kms left to Wreck’s Beach and the wonderful knowledge of being a short car trip away from nothing but putting our feet up and relaxing.

I think it was the quickest I had moved all week.

The best part of this rest? Our accommodation had a Jacuzzi, so with glass of wine in hand, we both hopped in. Ange wanted to get a photo, so was attempting to set it up with a timer and then rush back to a seated position in the Jacuzzi. I could see it all ending in tears, (not mine, Ange’s. I’d be laughing too hard). I mean, what could possibly go wrong with positioning a phone (iPhone at that) on the edge of a Jacuzzi and quickly stepping back on a slippery surface with water bubbling away? ūüėź

Somehow, Ange managed to get all her photos without disaster, though not without loads of laughing at the attempts, and even managed to take this photo, looking calm and serene, belying the fact that just mere moments before, she was clutching the side for dear life, while bent over from laughing at herself!

Ange tells me she is not normally this clumsy, so the scientific question is raised. Is she actually normally this clumsy and just doesn’t realise, or does being around someone else who is klutzy (I shall remain nameless) aggravate your condition?

The warmth of the Jacuzzi and the glass of wine helped soothe the body and I was feeling nice and drowsy. Our dinner was delivered a little earlier and after packing our belongings once again for the early morning pick up, we were in bed.

It is surreal thinking it was our last night sleeping on the GOW. How quickly the time has gone.

That’s when it started to rain heavily.

I sent out my final request to Bree to give me clear skies on our last day of walking before snuggling into my pillow.

Hope she listens…

One thought on “No More Camper Trash

  1. Great photo of the two of you Karen. No your definately not a happy camper but do love your description of everything good and bad. I know Claire and Marty his Mum Jenny is a very good friend of mine. Its such a small world and another friend Samantha finished the walk the week before you with three girlfriends. The also went up in a red helicopter and got some amazing photos from the air. Looking forward to hearing more when you get home. Hope the weather was OK it hasnt been here. Sunny showery very cool and cold overnight. love and big hugs. xx

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