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Adventures on a bike; sometimes on foot

GOW: Day 1 – Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay

The weather the morning we departed was perfect. Blue skies, a slight chill in the air to keep us cool while we settled into this loaded walking thing. Our hotel was about a kilometer past the tourist information centre and we thought it might be nice to try and find the official start line in order to get a photograph. We wandered up to the tourist information centre but I assume we were on the wrong side of it. Anyway, when we were faced with the prospect of exerting any more effort to find the start sign, we decided we didn’t really want it that much and settled with a photo of some other random sign that was good enough.

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The first section of trail was reminiscent of a lot of the coastal fat bike touring i have done. Connecting sections of single track wound around headlands, sometimes between houses and sometimes seemingly in the middle of no-where. It was really pretty and very engaging walking. There was always something to see around the next corner and Gea was loving the chance to perv on all the little B&B’s that dotted the trail as we walked along.

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From the guide book – it had a whole bunch of numbered ‘decision points’; junctions where you need to decided if conditions are safe enough to enter the beach. Reading the guidebook it indicated that high seas and high tides can make sections impassable and imagining what those sections might look like at home, was very different to reality. It seems i have been inadvertently riding through ‘decision points’ all my life as I enter beaches. They really were no big deal. Of course they could get way out of control in big surf, but at that point blind Freddy could tell it would be dangerous. On any normal day, they are just a beach track well above the high tide line.

Decision point

Decision point

 

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We wandered around bays and inlets as well as perfect coastal single track for a couple of hours before reaching the climb that marked the ascent to the Elliot ridge campsite. It is the first official hike in campsite of the walk and would be where people taking the 8 day option would stay, however since we were doing a double day, it was our destination for lunch and a break.

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The climb to get up was a long uphill slog set in a thick forrest with enormous gum trees. Perfect for spotting Koalas. So to distract myself from how much my legs were hurting, I spent my time looking for Koalas in the trees. It didn’t take more than 10 minutes to actually find one and Gea was extremely happy to be able to see her first Koala in the wild. Even if it was a long way away perched way up in the canopy.

 

The Elliot Ridge campgound wasn’t exactly inspirational, in fact, i would probably describe it as the least scenic campground of the trip. We set up the stove and made a coffee and ate some lunch – the salmon and cheese wrap that was going to become the staple of the day. We lazed around for an hour or so before deciding it was time to kick on and pleased with out decision to do a double leg on the first day.

The guide book suggests that the next section is basically a walk through eucalypt forrests and I can confirm that it is as advertised. It had been a reasonably wet lead up to the walk, although I wouldn’t say it was torrential, however what the guide book didn’t mention was how much water to exepct across the tracks through here. Picture fireroads made of slurry, which have been traversed by thousands of people so that the it is churned up the along every possible part. Wet socks were the only outcome for us wearing salamon trail runners. So it was very slow going as we tried our best to pick where we put our feet to minimise how wet our socks got. We stayed dry for several kilometres before finally taking a mis-step and getting squelchy socks. In hind sight, Hiking boots would have ensured we could plod along without a care in the world, however for the remainder of the trip, i’m not sure they were necessary.

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All around us in the canaopy of the giant gum trees we could hear koalas grunting. I think we spotted another 1 or 2 through this section although we heard half a dozen more but weren’t able to find them.

Around 6 pm we made it through to Blanket Bay and were very glad to be done for the day. Talking to some other hikers, their GPS indicated that they had done a couple of bonus kilometers over the 22km the guide book had stated for the day which went a little way to explaining why i felt so trashed.

We set up our tent, made dinner and a cup of tea and played some cards that night as we watched the sky slowly progress through sunset. The tent we were using for anyone our there that is a gear head was an EPE 2 man tent that i purchased several years back for the fatbike odyssey. It was the lightest 2 person tent that i could find for under 200 bucks and it has been used quite a bit and has held up very well. I like most things about it except that it isn’t really a ‘stealthy’ tent. This was the first time i had co-habited in the tent and it was tight, but for the 5 nights that we were on trail, it was fine. If we were spending months on the trail, you could probably justify a tent with a slightly larger footprint that had a vestibule and more vertical walls, however why spend the money when you can have the fun of configuring a custom vestibule using tarpology. In fact, my sea to summit poncho tarp was the standout bit of kit on this trip. It was used as much for sun shade as it was for rain and it was hung in a myriad of different configurations every day. It was something that was a last minute addition to what i was taking and the thing i was most glad i brought.

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Just on sunset, as Gea was walking through the adjoining carpark, she almost tripped over a koala who was meandering through the carpark and the look of joy on her face as she came running to grab me was unabashed. It was pretty cool and highly unexpected after spending all day looking for them to then nearly trip over one.

Anyway, the rest of the evening was uneventful. We settled in for the night and slept like the dead as we had well and truly earned it.

Links:

Preamble

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

 

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