Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
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A walk in the park

Wilson’s Prom National Park is a big reserve in Victoria full of spectacular coastal scenery, with mountains, beaches, wildlife and fantastic flora. It has wonderful beaches and lagoons, and it is particularly characterised by the granite boulders that dot the hills and define the coasts.

My oldest Scouts had decided to do their Adventurer Hike to Five Mile Beach, which is at the more isolated northern end of the park. As we discussed possible options for things they might do for their hike, the thought of a beach appealed to them (never mind that it’s autumn), and the other thing that appealed to them — I think — was the idea of doing some of the walk in the dark. You see, the Prom is quite a distance from Melbourne, and Five Mile Beach is quite a distance from where we would be able to park the cars.

Thus it was that we didn’t even arrive at our starting point until just before 10pm, and the kids shouldered their packs (one of them with a plastic sandcastle bucket hanging from it) and headed off into the gloom. My fellow Scout leader, Matthew, and I set off about half an hour later. It was a fortnight after Easter, which meant that there was no moon, although it was a lovely clear night and so the stars were out in force with us so far from the city lights. Despite the lack of moon, our route was actually a good 4WD track, covered in white quartz and granite, and so it was easy to follow without torches. (I had tested this a few years ago, so I knew the Scouts would be able to manage it.)

Nearly 6km later (and getting close to midnight) we arrived at Barry’s Creek where we pitched our tents and fell into bed, knowing that we had broken the back of the journey out to the coast.

The next morning, after breakfast and packing up our tents (and giving the kids their first use of “Doug”, the bright orange trowel that’s a necessity in a place with no … ummm … facilities), we continued our journey towards the coast. The four Scouts set off first, since it was their hike and the leaders’ role was one of supervising, and again they made good time (the three older boys are 14, while the youngest girl is just 13).

We lunched just over a kilometre from the coast, and then made our way down to the beach: five miles of creamy sand and since it was not far off high tide we were well up onto the soft and sinky stuff which is a bit tiring to walk on. Fortunately we didn’t have to walk the full five miles, as the track comes out about 1.5km from the northern end.

There is a massive swamp that lies behind the dunes that fringe the beach, and it produces a lagoon that comes out at the end of the beach. There is a lovely campsite under some small trees which miraculously survived last year’s terrible bushfire; in the rest of the area there are skeletal burned trees and vigorous regrowth, but it will take a while to fully recover.

Having arrived at our destination in the early afternoon everyone was more than happy to drop packs and take advantage of the mild weather and glorious day to muck around and get wet to varying degrees. Two of the older Scouts got totally soaked, clothes and all; the rest of us were a little more restrained, but we all had a wonderful afternoon: fun, crazy, peaceful, and beautiful. I wandered around taking heaps of photos; it’s a lovely spot.

Dinner was appreciated, cleaning up less so, and then we went for a stroll along the beach in the dark, to marvel at the night sky. At least one of the kids saw her first ever meteor, and then there were a few songs before an early bed time (I’d brought along a paper I need to review, but my attempt to do this was half-hearted and short-lived!). It was pretty amazing to think that the six of us were the only people within 20km.

The nice thing about it being mid-autumn is that sunrise is not too early and so we got up and shortly before 7am were treated to a spectacular dawn with wonderful reflections at low tide. Needless to say quite a few more photos were taken. Just over an hour later the kids were on their way back to the car, with Matthew and I heading off shortly afterwards. It was a long haul — about 19km — and undulating to boot (“undulating” is a euphemism for tediously up and down, with particularly noticeable positive gradients for those of us with aged joints and lack of fitness), but we reached our destination shortly after 3pm.

The next tricky job was not to seize up while driving the car home … and the hardest job of all was to get moving on Monday morning!

There are two pages of extra photos, both linked to each other: one is of “odds and ends” and the other is a set of “favourites”.

1 comment to A walk in the park

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