Thursday, 12 March 2015

TOD Tour, Day 30 - Minnie Water & Yuraygir NP

Our second full day near Minnie Water in Yuraygir NP was spent in perfect weather: warm, mostly clear skies and a gentle breeze blowing in from the ocean all day, the later aspect taken full advantage of by our site immediately bordering on the back of the beach.

An enjoyable synchronicity is starting to creep into days when we aren't moving on. I usually catch the sunrise, waking Sue only if it's a good one and then make myself a cuppa and settle in with a book for a couple of hours until Sue rouses from her increasingly elongated nocturnal habit. "Flight Command" by Air Commodore John Oddie is the current volume, my third book in seven days. There is evidence of space beginning to yawn in my book box.

After breakfast, I prepared photos for the blog and then we explored the walk to Rocky Point, which lies to the south between Minnie Waters and our campsite. It is a small section of the Yuraygir Coastal Walk, a four day hike of 65kms along the seaward edge of the park, which extends from Angourie (near Yamba) in the north, all the way to the southern most point of the park at Red Rock. Yesterday we sighted four walkers at the Minnie Water shop, of a slightly older vintage than our own, laden with packs and those fibreglass walking poles.

Before leaving our campsite, we both went to visit the smelly, fly-frequented, composting toilets, whose long drop had become quite truncated, judging by my knowledge of the time it takes objects to fall under the effect of gravity. Emptied and replaced, the large plastic tanks under our toilet station seem to be in year seven or eight of a three year cycle. Whilst working through the business required as quickly as possible in order to avoid flystrike, I heard a kettle whistling and thought it remarkable that someone else in the camping grounds had one like ours. We returned and a neighbour explained he had rushed to our van when the whistling of our kettle didn't cease, couldn't get into the locked caravan and so turned off the gas at the bottle rather than risk another fire. Meanwhile, another set of neighbours set out on foot to find us and had covered 2kms before turning back. After our galley fire yesterday, we seem to have made our fellow campers nervous.

Our little effort was about one 65th of that and included a detour onto a secluded, rocky beach and headland. Sooty Oyster Catchers and a lone Little Heron were working the rock pools and shallow waters for food and the four metre rock-faced cliffs weeped rivulets and miniature waterfalls where mosses eked out a difficult existence. Here the footing was sea-weathered, rounded rocks in all sizes from a fist to the annoying pebble in your boot. Shells were crushed further under our tread as we picked our way carefully over the uneven surface. Evidence of humans intruded on nature, even here: the rounded lens from reading glasses wedged firmly in a crevice; a pair of sunglasses as that big catch was landed; and the obligatory scraps, strips and bags of plastic which seem to invade all of these wild places beside the sea.

Back in the banksias and paperbarks which partitioned the track, we could hear a noisy Perron's tree frog and few others we couldn't identify by their calls. Naturally, I have a couple of apps on my phone for such occasions.

After our walk, we returned to the Minnie Water shop for hot beverages whilst I filed a few days worth of posts, uploaded photos and changed maps. I also caught up on emails and other messages which bank up when you are absent from the electronic highways and byways. Sue forced me to have hot chips again.

As I had left our lactose free milk behind before going to the shop, I drove back to camp. The lure of a mocha can do that to a man. When I got there, a third set of neighbours was peering into our van windows and quickly backed away as I drove up. Clearly making excuses for their proximity, only moments of conversation elapsed before they asked where Sue was and followed up with "and is she all right". They seemed reluctant to accept she was in good health and waiting for me at the shop, preferring to believe that I had murdered her or at least locked her in the van after some other heinous deed. Raised voices the previous evening over a matter in which Sue had broken the Geneva Convention and several other United Nations resolutions and tried to cover her misdeeds by burning the van down, had led them to suspect I was not to be trusted. I'm not sure if they were relieved or disappointed when we returned both laughing after our coffee.

Now into the early afternoon, we drove out to the other village of this area of the North Coast, Wooli. Well, not the only one, as Sandon River ten kilometres to the north over either a rough dirt track, or the more preferred route along the beach.

Many years ago, in pre-youngest child days, we had spent an Easter at Wooli, in the simple two room fibro shack owned by a cricketing mate. Our memories of days playing on the beach with our first two children, with very little money to do anything else but eat, living an idyllic existence on nothing much but goodwill and clean air, came flooding back ... as did our recollection that there wasn't much to Wooli and what there was ... well, it wouldn't take long to tell.

Nothing has changed.

We did however see those same four walkers in Wooli, hot sweaty and looking with unexpected chagrin at their backpacks which seemed to be sitting innocently on a park bench whilst their owners stood. Inappropriate priorities there, surely?

The river is very pretty.

For the second day in a row, I was barked at by a Jack Russell. Whilst the dog at Tree of Knowledge Lookout yesterday was called Jack, this one had the curious name of "You Little Bastard".

We did get to the bottom of the Tree of Knowledge - please understand, not literally, for the tree doesn't exist. It's a metaphor. The only sticking point is that none of the locals really knew what the metaphor represents,  until a long haired, stout, fat-bellied scratching local, with a good grasp of the Queen's kitchen staffs' english, assured us it was named for the group of old fishermen who gather there, on the top of the hill above the boat ramp and talk shit. Not my term. Just reporting what Sue was told.

Back at our campsite, we read for an hour until the magic time of 4pm - that's the exact time at which the sun will no longer give you cancer (reference Sue for further information) - and then went for a swim in water too shallow for sharks. As I imagine even small sharks could do me unacceptable damage, this was water we could still stand in ... and not get our knees wet.

It was substantially refreshing.

It was after this invigorating experience that I lost my sundowner virginity, when we were invited to have drinks with some neighbouring caravaners. I know how it sounds. You're thinking "he's gone over to the dark side!" It wasn't like that. These were really interesting people and we swapped stories about where we have been, our children, politics, showed them our fold up bikes and exchanged business cards and it all confirmed my worst nightmares of becoming a GN - still can't say the term - until he dropped in the conversation that he had escaped the former East Germany by jumping from a moving train in Berlin. Had I been in possession of sharper wits, his reference to celebrating when the wall came down wouldn't have made me think he was talking about an episode of The Block. Absolute show stopper!

I have to admit, I enjoyed the conversations but as yet, I'm trying to ignore the consequences of my actions.

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