Saturday, December 19, 2009

Josh's Arrival

At this point I’ve been in Australia a few days and loving every minute of it. It seems as though Mallory has seen a lot more harsh and dry climates than I have seen so far. I was surprised to find that the southeast corner is a very mild, green climate. The first day I arrived it was pretty hot, around 40 degrees Celsius, which translates to somewhere close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But by the next day it had dropped down to around 20 degrees Celsius, a record-breaking temperature drop for Melbourne. The last few days it has been pretty cool. We have both had some really good time to catch up since I’ve been here. It’s been great. We spent some time walking around St. Kilda, ate at a nice Italian Pizza place and had a couple beers back at her cousin’s, Ian and Mae’s apartment. I was surprised I didn’t seem to be slowed down too much by jet lag; I guess I was just too excited to get here.

We are exploring one of the more remote areas of Wilson’s Promontory, in the very southeast tip of continental Australia in Victoria. This National Park offers (or at least what Victorians will tell you) the best beach walks in the world. We would both agree that they are pretty spectacular. We ended up in this part of the park by chance rather than going to more popular areas like the lighthouse and squeaky beach. In the process of trying to figure out how to use the GPS in the car for the first time, I put my finger on a random point in the Park and got directions to there from Melbourne. It ended up directing us to the trailhead for the Five Mile Beach walk, which ended up being a really cool hike.

It is an 18 km walk from the parking lot to the beach, during which time we ran into only one other couple hiking the other way. They gave us some useful information on the area and informed us that there was no one else out there. We walked across some beautiful rolling hills, part of which boasted some a really incredible granite boulder field. I discovered the non-biting “hitch hiker” flies common to this area that hung around us by the hundreds on the hike, but apparently wanted nothing more to do with us than catch a ride on our packs. Although they were a bit annoying and would occasionally make it towards your eye sockets, obscuring your vision, Mallory helped me get used to them by explaining that, by comparison to the blood-sucking mosquitoes, or “mozzies” as they are known here, the hitch hikers are certainly friendly.

Our stay at the beach was great. The weather ended up being a bit cool for Mallory’s taste since she’s gotten used to the oppressively blazing hot sun that dominates the barren landscape of central Australia, but it was a welcome transition for me, coming from the beginning of winter back home. Five Mile Beach was exactly what you’d imagine it, five miles of uninterrupted white sand beach bordered on either side by rough, rocky coastline where the mountains run right down into the ocean, as if to isolate and protect this little paradise from the rest of the world.. It was a beautiful spot and in the 3 days we were there we only ran into two other people who camped for a night on the beach and left the next morning. There is a loop that some people hike that visits several nice beaches similar to this one, but we decided to make base camp at this beach and explore the surrounding area for a couple days instead.

There was a really cool stream on the north end of the beach that feeds a really dark brown water, filled with tannic acid leached out from the swamps it was filtered through on the way out, into the bright, blue-green ocean water. The surf there was one of my favourite places to sit and watch the surf. You could watch a wave come in that would on one end crash into the rocky shore where seals liked to hang out. The rest of the wave would end in a beautiful shore break that had a distinct dividing line down the middle that separated brown and blue water. It seemed a bit weird at first drinking dark brown water form the stream, but that kind of water, that appears black in deeper areas is supposedly some of the cleanest drinking water you can find naturally. The acidity prevents harmful bacteria from hanging around in it.

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