Saturday – Enormous death waves of doom
We’d secured a campsite late on Friday night, after driving down from Melbourne. I woke up alone in my little blue tent on Saturday morning, and felt compelled to get up and check out this place. I’d never been to the Prom before, despite many plans being made. I wandered out across Tidal River with my camera, and did a loop up and over to the Norman Bay lookout, then down back to camp, worried I’d be late, holding the others up. No such problem, a few people were beginning to get out of bed, most of them were still asleep.
Mikey the grim paddling reaper
Much time, and sorting things out. Finally the hikers left, off to do the Prom classic loop. The kayers – me, Alex, Mikey, Dave and Shaggy – were looking dubiously at how windy it was. The surf was going to be too high for us to do our planned overnight trip. We decided to haul the boats down to the beach and test out this whole sea kayaking thing. Mikey and Dave in one double, Alex and I in the Dagger double, and Shaggy in a single. The surf looks enormous; we just jump in the boat and start paddling. Huge waves keep breaking on me – stuck out the front of the double, my deck is crushed in on me. I start taking on water, as my deck flops around helplessly. I can’t stop paddling for long enough to put it back on. It’s intense, the waves are huge, even when we’re out past the breakers, we’re going up and down so far, the front of the kayak rises me up and then dumps me down again, to be faced by another huge wall of water. Shaggy was dumped by the surf a few times, and couldn’t make it out. The guys in the other double are out here too though. We decide to go back to shore.
David and Mikey setting out again
Alex doesn’t want to head straight back in though. The waves are huge, and he’s worried about dislocating his shoulder again if we get dumped. Instead we take the dubious ‘easy’ option of finding a place to park the boat on the rocks. After a failed attempt that nearly sees us being smashed onto the wrong rocks, we ease ourselves into a relatively quiet spot, and jump out, pulling the boat out of the ocean’s reach. I feel the wind as soon as we get out, and pretty soon I get cold, as I’m soaking wet. I find a spot to curl up in the sun, Alex finds the other guys to bring the boat back in – neither of us really feel like it now.
So, no kayak touring. We head up Tidal River instead, to see what is there. Mangroves mainly, and then a dead end. Back to camp, we collapse on the grass, before deciding to hike over to Squeaky Beach for a boulder. We finally return to camp, cook dinner, drinking port, beer, cider. Alex and I sleep out on the grass, it’s a nice night.
Alex's disembodied head lying on a granite slab
Shaggy's pseudo crack-jamming
Sunday – Surf and sun
The next morning the wind is hardly there. I wake up gradually, with the German children from the campsite nextdoor curiously wandering over and asking their family questions about what on earth we’re doing outside in our sleeping bags. The guys get up, we breakfast, and we decide to head out and play again – the idea of doing an actual tour is raised, but the wind forecast doesn’t look great for the afternoon. So, we go through the routine of hauling the heavy boats back down to the river again, then down to the bay.
David and Mikey playing in the baby surf
The surf is pleasantly small, and we all get out without a problem, then spend some time surfing. Well, Alex and I only ride one wave in, then he doesn’t want to play that game anymore, and I take photos of the others surfing. We retire to a sunny cove for lunch, then drive over to Whisky Bay for a quick boulder (and geocache).
Shaggy and Megan playing jellybean challenge
We drive back to camp at 5, and discover the hikers are already back, with mango all over their faces. Time passes, the weekenders leave, and the rest of us (Alex, me, Alicia, Sofia, Kurt, Corey) go up to the lookout to cook dinner as the sun sets.
Sunset dinner (L-R: Kurt, Sofia, Alicia, Alex, Corey)
Monday – Afternoon strolls in Victoria
Monday morning is windy. Everyone sits around trying to work out what to do. Eventually the hiking crew decides to head up Mt Oberon, I talk Alex into walking across to Sealer’s Cove at least. We’d been thinking about doing the full Prom loop, but Alex kept complaining about his sunburnt back, and it being too late. We drive up to the Mt Oberon carpark, and set off through the burnt bushland by midday. The wind isn’t warm, but as we hike we warm up, even running a few sections – although as we’re just wearing Chaco’s, the running doesn’t go for that long. In no time at all, we’re at Sealer’s Cove. The decision had pretty much been made by then – we’re going to do the full loop. We walk across the beach and up, arriving at Refuge Cove by 2.30pm – two yachts are moored there, but it isn’t looking much like a refuge at the moment, the wind is making it thoroughly choppy. As we draw closer to Waterloo Bay, the bush is burnt again. The view down to the ocean shows orange rocks and blue ocean, peeking out between black trunks and green regrowth. We don’t stop at Waterloo Bay, instead keep hiking to the east, on an unpleasantly sandy trail that makes walking difficult.
Alex heading through rebuilt boardwalk in a burnt section near Waterloo Bay
Sections of bridge through swampland have been burnt by the fires, and recently replaced. Flies swarm all over us – it’s the first time they’ve made an appearance. We keep walking, up onto a sand dune ridgeline, then finally to a junction, and start the final 7km back up an unexciting 4wd track back to the Mount Oberon carpark. By now the Chacos aren’t feeling quite so comfortable – there are a couple of chafe spots, and the distance seems to take a lot longer to cover. We keep hiking up and up. But finally, the car. 35km and 7 hours later, we’re back.
Megan with the Roaring Meg sign :)
Back at camp, we find the Mt Oberon crew is still here – we’d got a text message from them saying they were going to go home, and not stay for Tuesday – the weather forecast wasn’t looking very good. We all decide to leave, but first, a shower, filthy feet are washed, and we load up the boats. Then a long drive back to Melbourne.