Date: Tuesday, 06 November 2018
Start: Portland Police Station, Portland
Finish: Cubby’s Camp
Daily Kilometres: 20.1
Total GSWW Kilometres: 20.1
Weather: Windy and partly sunny with light rain in the evening
Breakfast: Toast and peanut butter
Lunch: Meat pastie and vanilla slice
Dinner: Minestrone soup, dehydrated spaghetti bolognaise
Aches: Tired and sore all over
Highlight: Finding an empty campsite
Lowlight: The first kilometre when my pack seemed to weigh a ton.
Pictures: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
On the five-hour drive down to Portland from my sister’s holiday house in Malmsbury, where I stayed last night, it rained almost incessantly and occasionally torrentially. Oh well, I knew that I wouldn’t get away with a dry nine-day hike in coastal Victoria. Then, miraculously, as I drove into Portland the rain stopped and the sun emerged. I parked outside the Police Station, which I figured would be a safe place to leave my car parked for nine days and went in to the front desk just to make sure it was OK. I told the officer what I was planning and he grinned and said he hoped I had my gaiters. I said no, and asked whether the trail was wet. “No”, he said,……….”Snakes!” Apparently there was a 60km trail race along the trail on the weekend and a lot of snakes were seen.
It was just after 2pm, when I finally started walking, a bit later than I hoped given that I had 20km scheduled for the day. The sun was shining and a strong westerly wind was blowing raising whitecaps out to sea, but the clear green seas in the harbour were calm with a gentle surf breaking on the very white sandy beach. The police station was to the south of the CBD so I walked north along the harbour passing along the way the official start of the Great South West Walk at the Visitors Centre. My pack felt very heavy and uncomfortable, and as usual at the start of a camping hike, I wondered why I was there. I was carrying four days of food, so the pack wasn’t light, but there was no ice axe, crampons or bear barrel as I carried on the Pacific Crest Trail last year.
Anyway, after a few kilometres along the urban coast of Portland, I started to get my rhythm, though it was still hard work and felt very slow. I left the working and historic harbour behind as I followed the low cliffs northwards. The scenery was pretty, without being spectacular, but there were some boring stretches, particularly a long roadwalk behind the rocky shore.
I was pleased when the well-marked trail turned northwest away from the coast and the remainder of the afternoon was a generally pleasant mix of rural and wooded gently rolling countryside. There was some more roadwalking and some short overgrown and wet stretches, but there were also beautiful single-track walking through eucalypt forests, especially towards the end of the day. I reached Cubby’s Camp five minutes after it started raining, and was pleased to find the shelter empty and had the new hiker’s campsite all to myself.
It was 7pm and the light rain persisted for 30 minutes, during which time I decided pitch my tent in the front of the shelter. The ground was hard, but it meant I could be sure of packing a dry tent tomorrow. I tried to remember my super-efficient PCT routine as I set up camp, but still wasted time here and there. There is a water tank and toilet at the campsite, so it really is a bit luxurious. I didn’t get to bed until after 10pm once I had done my journal and done some emails, but I only have 24km scheduled for tomorrow, so will sleep in if I can.