181114 – Back to Portland

Day: 009
Date: Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Start: Trewalla Camp
Finish: Portland
Daily Kilometres: 35.6
Total GSWW Kilometres: 254.1
Weather: Mild and partly sunny with a couple of patches of very light drizzle.
Accommodation: My brother’s in Geelong
Nutrition:
    Breakfast: Muesli
    Lunch: Trail mix
    Dinner: Fish & chips, icecream
Aches: Feet sore and very tired
Highlight: The early morning beach walking along the deserted and wild Bridgewater bay.
Lowlight: The last 10km to Portland past the aluminium smelter.
Pictures: Click here
Map:  Click here for Google Map

Journal:

I woke at 5:30am with the intention of being on the trail before 6:30am, but it was one of those mornings – couldn’t find my headlamp, dropped everything out of one of my rucksack pouches, had trouble with one of my contact lenses, and so on. I finally got walking about 6:45am, thinking that the omens for the day were not good. At least I didn’t find a tiger snake in the toilet as noted by a camper who passed through a week ago!

It started to drizzle soon after I started walking, but not enough to justify a rainjacket. In fact, as I walked along the wild and deserted beach in the morning light with the drizzle on my back it was quite pleasant. Near where the trail exited the beach was the empty remains of a giant freezer container. I’m guessing it must have fallen off a ship. Not something I would have wanted to sail into if I was a yachtsman.

The climb off the beach up some high sand dunes was brutal and really got my heart started for the day, but at the top the trail levelled out nicely through some coastal bush and I met some very large kangaroos grazing quietly, until they heard me. From there, the trail followed the cliff edge through coastal scrub, interspersed with some nice little mallee tree glades, and often gave spectacular views back towards Cape Bridgewater and out to sea.

Eventually I reached the Cape Nelson lighthouse, which I believe is still operating, though, unfortunately, the cafe there was not. I was now starting to focus on finishing and in the distance could see the Portland Aluminium Smelter which I knew was near the hike’s end. Alas, it took a very long time to get there, though the section of trail known as the Enchanted Forest, featuring fairytale-like wiry trees and shady glens hugging the base of the cliff, was interesting. Here, I met two women and a young boy walking in the opposite direction, and one of the women had just seen a brown snake on the trail and was quite stressed, wanting to know if I had seen any. I hadn’t today and tried to reassure her, but could tell the boy was going to be on a tight leash for the rest of their walk.

After the Enchanted Forest my hike became a trudge. The closer the trail got to Portland, the less interesting the scenery became, and when it began finding its way through a wind farm and then around the perimeter of the aluminium smelter I just wanted it to be over. Of course, once past the smelter, it took longer than expected to pass through outer Portland to get back to the Police Station and my car, which I was very happy to see, just before 5pm. I covered a lot of ground today and tried to maintain a good pace, so I guess that explains my fatigue.

I would say that the 15km of the GSWW either side of Portland can be missed, but otherwise, the GSWW was a great little hike passing through a wide variety of typically Australian terrain with lots of Australian fauna on well-marked and well-maintained trail. The campsites were “luxurious” with good shelters, toilets and water. I only saw two other GSWW hikers in the whole nine days which was surprising, given the trail and facilities. I guess much of it is scenic rather than spectacular, and it is a long way from the big cities.

I’ll now drive back home via Geelong and Melbourne where I will catch up with family, getting to Terrigal late on Friday.

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