Shelley Beach to Apollo Bay – 8kms
After what feels like not enough planning, suddenly today, I took my first steps on the Great Ocean Walk.
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of work, events and sorting to hopefully have everything I need to walk (and more importantly, camp) on the Great Ocean Walk.
This hasn’t left much reflection time in the lead-up to Bree’s anniversary. Ordinarily, this would fill me with guilt, as if it meant I didn’t care about her. Rationally, I knew that wasn’t the case, but we are very good at beating ourselves up.
Despite it all, I don’t have the guilt I have had in the past. I am here right now, because of Bree. My walk on the Camino seems to have brought me an inner peace and connection with Bree that has become a constant. It’s just there.
As I shopped, sourced and packed to survive my first ever night of camping, I have had numerous conversations with Bree, begging her to keep her sense of humour to herself and give me good weather. (So far, she has listened, though my drive into Apollo Bay in pouring rain last night must have had her laughing at me).
Yesterday, as I walked back and forth to the car packing my gear, my eyes kept being drawn to a grey feather outside my door. In an apartment complex with two doors to get outside, having a feather outside my door is rare.
Eventually, I picked it up. I felt like it was there for me. I started the walk today with that feather tucked in my bag. It is only now I have looked up the meaning of a grey feather and feel even more sure it was a sign for me.
Different websites had variations, but the general view was the same.
The road ahead is positive and it is a sign of returning to peace.
How comforting that is, to know I am on a path that will bring me peace and make me that little more connected with Bree once again.
The day didn’t start out that way. It was surreal, waiting to be collected to start the walk, while being flooded with memories of the last day Bree was here. It hasn’t been helped by the fact it was also a Tuesday all those years ago.
Everything is measured in the before and after. Everything I did with Bree before I went to bed and how life was shattered after I woke up.
It was a relief to finally start walking, though initially I didn’t feel like I was technically walking the GOW as we were walking backwards for this leg.
However as I walked, I realised it was a little like the journey of grief. Sometimes you go backwards to move forwards, but you’re still on the path.
And what a path it was. The sheer beauty took the breath away.
Despite the totally different location, this walk feels like a Camino variation. Ange has been tasked with making sure I have my walking poles after every stop (this was BC’s job on the Camino). I even have yellow arrows to follow!
There are some noticeable differences. Where BC and I happily munched our way to Roncesvalles on all the blackberries, here, the blackberries tease us with rich colour and plumpness, but with the knowledge they have been sprayed with poison and can’t be eaten.
Then there is the local wildlife…😐
I had a butterfly join me on the trail, fluttering in front of me for 20mtrs before finally moving away. It was another reminder I was on the path for Bree.
Not far out of Apollo Bay, we took a rest, lying on the grass beside the road. It wasn’t until we began to move again that I discovered we only had another 20mins of walking!
How nice it was to arrive and lie down on an actual bed. I appreciated it so much more, knowing tomorrow I will not have the luxury of a bed. Which also applied to dinner. It had a bit of ‘last supper’ feel about it.
Just before dinner, I walked down to the beach and let the waves wash over my feet. The icy cold sensation soon disappeared and I found my peace. I wrote Bree’s name in the sand and told her how much I loved her, just like I did on the last night I touched her.
Tomorrow is the after. The anniversary of losing Bree and learning how to rebuild my life. A life that has led me to this point right now.
The steps I take tomorrow are because of Bree. Not because she died, but because she lived.