Written by Lucie
A long weekend means a chance to get a few hikes done. The northern and southern Prom teams met at Tidal River for a quick night time walk on the beach and some sleep before setting off on their respective adventures.
On the way to the beach we came across the first wombat, happily wandering along on the edge of the undergrowth. Down on the sands the headlands wrapped around on both sides, creating a horse shoe around the soft sand. The light house blinked at us from across the waves. The moon was so bright that the white caps on the water were clearly visible and we cast strong shadows on the sands. The air smelt like salt and seaweed and the only sounds were waves lapping at the coast, insects in the bushes and a wombat slowly moving as it grazed…
Five Mile Road car park to Tin Mine Cove, 19.2 km
Day one of the northern loop started with a short drive to Five Mile Road car park (past kangaroos!). We wanted to (sneakily) drive down the road to the junction with the path to Lower Barry Creek so that we could shave off some non-coastal four-wheel drive kilometres but the gate was locked. So, we got out, shouldered our packs and set off.
It was actually a really nice walk. There were beautiful views of sand dune and distant beaches. The weather couldn’t quite decide if it was sunny of drizzling but that gave us a rainbow or two to look at and the air was warm. We came to the junction with the walking path and set off into the bush towards Lower Barry Creek.
The bush had been recently cut back on this stretch of path, which made walking and navigating much easier than on the previous Northern Prom hike (ahem! Blog?). However, it wasn’t long before we found the first few leeches on our legs.
We stopped at Lower Barry Creek Camp (9.7km in) for a snack and then continued along the track quietly optimistic. It turns out that this frame of mind was a mistake. From the Creek Camp to the beach (probably about 8km) it was bush bashing all the way. ‘Ow, ow, ow! Goddammit, ow. Where’s the track? Ow! Spikey bush! Where the heck is the marker?!’ [repeat] At one point we found a little green snake… I wonder what else we nearly stepped on?!
We thought we found a nice, non-spikey lunch spot but it turns out that it was swarming with mosquitoes so we continued with our trackless, blood-drawing bush bashing and stopped for lunch in a relatively mosquito-free area with a view of the hills to the south. Yummy food spurred us on for the next section of ‘ow, ow, $*&@!’ and navigation was essentially keep wandering along a bearing and hope you’re heading in roughly the right direction. Even though the walking track was completely overgrown you could usually tell if you were way-off because it felt different underfoot. We still had to just keep following a bearing and hoping for the best here and there though. Fortunately with pretty good success! Unfortunately we can’t say the same for another group of people who we saw miles ahead, then heard off to our side and later saw miles behind us. Hopefully they got out okay!
Finally, the tall bushes started to thin, the ground got a little sandier and we eventually reached the beach! It hadn’t been very far in distance but it took a good few hours to navigate.
The walk along the beach was amazing. The sun was starting to drop over the water and we followed the tracks of emu, macropods and wombats. A few kilometres further up the beach the sun was getting quite low in the sky and we were tired so we decided to camp on the beach just two kilometres shy of Tin Mine Cove. Apart from a sandy bed and a beautiful view this meant that Mark and Lucie were able to go for a quick dip in the ocean before it got dark. We also got to cook our pasta with ocean water (although there was a slight incident with a spilled pot of bolognese!) and listen to the ocean throughout the night. The sunset, stars and moon rise were simply stunning.
Tin Mine Cove to Five Mile Beach, 17.5 km (+4 km for water)
Mark and Lucie got up at dawn to make a water run to the small inlet at Tin Mine Cove (Jon offered but he always goes on water missions so we figured it was time to give him a rest). The sun was rising over the hills whilst the moon, still very bright, was setting over the ocean and the sky was full of pinks, oranges and purples.
The walk along the beach was spent admiring the sunrise and attempting not to stand on any of the tiny crabs that were everywhere. The water situation wasn’t amazing but after navigating dead branches to get up stream a little bit and with a bit of patience we filled to capacity for the coming days, knowing that water further around was scarce.
Back at camp we had a leisurely pack up and then got on the track which was very pleasant for about a kilometre. Unfortunately, after about a kilometre it started to get quite overgrown and with raw thighs from the previous day more bush bashing wasn’t really high on the priority list. Oh well, fortunately the bushes were nowhere near as extreme. This was especially lucky because we met two groups coming the opposite way and needed to pass.
After traversing the northern outcrop of the Prom we sighted the beaches on the eastern coast and pretty soon came to the ‘lighthouse’, which was just a metal scaffold with some solar panels. From there down, the cliff path had a handy rope you could use to semi-abseil down the steep bank to the beach. It was another gorgeous beach and again we were happy to be out of bushes.
We hiked along the beach for a few kilometres and then stopped for lunch and a swim. Vanessa surprised us all by being the first to strip down (really fast too!) and run into the water squealing with delight. The water felt amazing. It was calm, clear and bright blue. Lunch was also amazing.
We eventually decided we should keep hiking and did a little bit more on the beach before coming to a rocky headland. The people we had met earlier in the day said ‘keep on the coast until you see two cairns, however our maps showed the path going inland. This caused a fair amount of confusion for the next hour.
We had a poke around in the bushes but decided there wasn’t a path inland and started rock hopping around the headland. Rock clambering was a bit challenging, but fun, although we were worried that we had missed the path, given what was shown on our topo map. Also, the next bit of rocks opposite us looked rather precarious.
We were at a point where the bushes were a little sparse and so we decided to poke around and see if there was a path. Lucie wandered uphill a little bit, then Jon decided to ditch his pack and do a proper investigation, leaving Mark and Vanessa on the rocks below. Jon pushed in a few hundred metres but didn’t find anything path-like, then he and Lucie played a bit of Marco-Polo so that Jon could find his way back down through three thousand spider webs.
After the unsuccessful path finding mission we continued rock hopping and eventually came across two cairns. Looking uphill from this point there was more pink ribbon than we’d seen over the last two days combined! I guess we really should have trusted those other people more, but it just looked so sketchy!
We hiked steeply uphill, the trees festooned with pink marker ribbon. The bushed had been recently chopped back to make a path but the branches now formed the path and with the steep slant it was actually quite hard to walk on.
We crested the headland and dropped back down the other side to Johnny Souey Cove where we found ourselves back on the beach and in the company of a group of kayakers. This is another potential campsite but we pushed on back uphill and into bushes (fortunately also recently cleared). This was prime wallaby territory and we saw a few bounding along as we hiked. The views over the water and islands to our left were gorgeous, and the hills on the right were layers of greens and greys in the slowly sinking sun. It was a lovely stretch of the hike, if only we hadn’t been starting to get quite so tired.
Over another headland we reached a very steep downhill section to reach the ‘creek’, which turned out to be a still body of water that doesn’t quite reach the ocean, and is a heck of a lot wider and deeper than a creek. After more rock hopping to find a suitable place to ford the water we reached the Five Mile Beach camp, set up our tents and had (an uneventful!) dinner.
The moon that night was incredible – as it rose over the ocean it was huge and a deep orangey-red and there were so many stars! We stood on the beach for a while gazing up before turning in for the night.
Five Mile Beach to Five Mile Road car park, 18.4 km
We woke on our final day to find mist shrouding the water and a gorgeous sunrise coming up on the headland and the beach.
Jon was water boy and waded out across the ‘creek’ to find a tiny stream coming down the hillside. The water looked a bit questionable but Jon filled up using the makeshift tap someone had made with half a plastic bottle. We made sure to treat this water.
We set off along the beach as the sun fully rose and then turned off to our right back inland. We quickly came to a fork in the path but realised it didn’t matter which way we went as it was actually just a small loop for vehicles to turn around.
And so started the long slog back along Five Mile Road. Not the most interesting or pretty thing to walk down but it was okay. We did get some nice views of the hills and later the ocean and we leap-frogged a group of three guys a couple of times when one party stopped for a snack. Not much else happened though. It was surprisingly hot and there was no shade, just constant up and downhill on a four-wheel drive track.
We were very happy to reach Lower Barry Camp, and then the turn off for Lower Barry Creek Camp. Closer to the car park are a few other lookouts and we could tell we were getting close when we saw day walkers including one group pushing a buggy/stroller/pram.
The last little bit did get a teeny bit of excitement when Mark and Lucie saw a tiger snake, about a metre long.
At last, we found the X-Trail! And more importantly, a nice shaded picnic table where we could have lunch before the long drive home.
Total Ascending: 920m
Total Descending: 920m
Total Distance: 59.1km
Edit: It has come to my attention that I forgot to mention Jon and Vanessa’s new tent. This was the first outing of their new MSR Hubba Hubba and they would shut up about it, especially on the first night!
‘Oh my god, have you seen our new tent… wow, it has two vestibules… it’s so spacious in here… I love this tent… don’t get it dirty… I have so much space… I think we need to match the red with the red… we must fold this exactly back the way it was before we took it out of the bag… no, turn it around, we’ve got red with grey at the moment… two vestibules..!’