65k! You're having a laugh.....

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
Trip End Mar 23, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dan had found a "little" walk he fancied. 65km along the coast of the Yuraygir National Park. I'm pretty sure Dan was ready to "wing it" but Helen and I did a bit of planning work and worked out that if we were going to do this, we had to:

1. Park up in Grafton for five days
2. Catch the bus to Yamba and camp there overnight
3. Catch a local bus to Angourie
4. Walk for four days
5. Arrange three deep river crossings
6. Catch a bus back from Red Rock to Grafton
7. Plan our food supply to suit the (rare) availablity of shops
8. Not drink alcohol for four days (due to lack of supply)
9. Carry everything we might need to wear, sleep in, cook with, eat (until we reached a shop), shelter under etc...
10. Make sure the tides were in our favour for the impassable sections...

Surprisingly, we decided to do it anyway.....

We did one, two and three without incident. Yamba was a delightful little town with the bonus of finding a small hostelry where we drank beer. The bus transfers worked perfectly and we commenced on number four.

Hello British Ordnance Survey! If you're out there, any chance you could put a price in for mapping Yuraygir National Park please? The Aussies haven't got a clue! If neice Vicky had been here, I don't think she'd have even started as we had no worthwhile map, directions or anything useful at all. We actually struggled to find the start of the track.... But we did, and we were away. 18km was the plan for day one. It started gently with a stroll along a lovely sandy beach. Then it headed inland. Dan led us into the first "rainforest" section and was enthralled by the crickets jumping out in front of him. So enthralled that he offered Helen the opportunity to lead so she could see them. At which, we appeared to enter "spider country".... Almost instantly, Helen was encased in spiders webs and, I have to say, close to tears. So against my better judgment, I offered to take the lead. And regretted it almost instantly. Now in the UK, I have no problem with spiders but I have to say that In Australia, I haven't a clue! I don't know what the difference is between a Huntsman and a Cathedral City for goodness sake so what qualified me to lead, I have no idea..... I soon worked out the benefit of a big stick to wave to knock these enormous critters off their head level perches. I must have had the look, I guess, of Doctor Livingstone as I bravely led my team through this treacherous terrain. We were all VERY, VERY glad when, after half an hour or so, the path popped out onto a nice sandy beach where we feasted on a fine lunch of sandwiches prepared the night before.....

The vague instructions that we had suggested that we should head back into the wilderness for the next section. Sod that, we all thought, and headed off along the beach.... We followed the beach South and hoped that we would be able to get to Greycliff camping ground without having to trek inland to find the prescribed path. And we were making good progress. Eventually, we saw the grey cliffs in the distance with what looked like people and tents on the top. We knew that was our next marker and it was close so we stopped for a break at Lake Arragan where Dan had a quick dip and we all had a rest. While we were doing so, it started to rain. We could see it coming in from the sea in the East and we knew we were going to get very wet. We did! We managed to get our wet weather gear on at the bottom of the steps up from the beach and when we climbed up the cliff feeling very damp and bedraggled, we realised that the people and tents that we'd seen were actually kangeroos. And they were fearless! They really didn't give a toss that we were there taking photos of them. Good result!!!

We thought we might camp here but there were few facilities so bearing in mind the rain, we headed for a proper campsite at Brooms Head. Checked in, erected tents, had a little doze, went to the bbq area to cook dinner and it hammered it down! So much that we really worried that our cheap tents would be awash. I don't know but I reckon there must have been two inches of rain fell in an hour... But we were all dry and secure and we survived the night - in bed by about 9pm....

The mood was good in Brooms Head campsite despite the rain as we'd discovered that the following days trek was just about entirely beach walking. Fantastic! No rain forest spider traps to deal with.... So we set off along the first of the two beaches which I had in my mind was 5km long. It looked about that as we could see the end of the bay up ahead. It was 8km and we did it in two hours giving us half an hour to wait for our river taxi. Dan decided that we'd been ripped off paying $10 each to make this 50 metre wide crossing so he jumped in to prove we could walk it - and disappeared completely. It looks like it might have been deeper than it was wide. We waited for the taxi boat!

The second beach was a touch longer than the previous one at 10km. And this one had hard sand, soft sand, stones, rocky outcrops, jellyfish, driving wind, sunshine and occasional rainstorms. Oh joy! And did I merntion it was 10km long? The legs between breaks got shorter and shorter. Helen developed blisters on the soles of her feet and was forced to walk along a sandy beach in her trainers. By lunchtime-ish - yes, we were still making fine progress - we were stopping for rest about once an hour - and reducing.... By about 8km, Dan was 150 metres ahead of me and I was 75 metres ahead of Helen. I had had enough and there was no way I was going to catch Dan to stop him so I lay down. No, I didn't cry! Helen reached me and did she offer words of encouragement? No, she lay down too. It was at this point that we made a management decision to abort.... Dan saw that we'd disappeared from view so launched into rescue mode and went for a swim. We thought that was a sound idea so decided to walk and join him. He got out of the sea. We went in anyway and he joined us. A great swim. No jellyfish, no rocks, loads of big waves coming from all directions. Best swim yet! We were revived! Then we told Dan we weren't going any further and he said "thank God for that" or words to that effect....

We dried and dressed, barely made it to the next campsite location at Minnie Water and headed straight to the general store for refreshing cold drinks. "What time's the next bus to Grafton?" we enquired. "No bus service here, you need to walk" came the reply. So we got a pitch at a fine local campsite, swam in the pool, drank beer, showered, ate home made chicken burgers and the works, slept until the crack of 6.15am the following morning and scrounged a lift on the school bus back to our car in Grafton....

We'd covered 38km and I'm sorry we didn't finish the walk but, as Dan said, no doubt the sea over the next 27km would be entirely similar to what we'd already seen.....
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