Written by Mark
This 70km hike was completed over the Labour Day long weekend (12-14 March 2016 – I delayed writing it in part due to some potential trouble, details below!). The weekend was organised by Jens. Mark, Jon and Vanessa did the hike whilst Jens, Rick and Simon went fishing and then camped and grilled the fish (that they “caught” in the supermarket using a $20 bill as bait).
Jon, Vanessa and I started the hike at Paradise Beach, a short way north east of The Honeysuckles. We walked along Pines Track at a decent pace as we planned to meet the boys in Loch Sport in the afternoon. We had cleverly left our main hiking packs in the car and smashed through the 20 or so kilometres in no time at all and beat the boys to the pub where we stopped for lunch.
After lunch the two teams parted ways again, this time we were carrying our hiking packs. We continued through the town of Loch Sport and took the Stockyard Hill Causeway back towards Ninety Mile Beach and then on to Ocean Grange Track. We saw our first snake and also a couple of Nessy-looking “monsters” out at sea.
After a while, with our full packs (and plenty of water just in case), the sun was quickly dropping and so we decided to start looking for a nice sheltered campsite. It didn’t take us too long before we found a nice big dune that protected us from the ocean breeze and we had plenty of good ledges to sit on and watch the ocean! Not a bad first day – we estimated that we had managed to get through 30+kms, which is good because the next few days were going to involve a hell of a lot of beach walking!
On Saturday we awoke early to some beautiful ocean views, but with a full day of hiking ahead we were soon packed up and ready to go. We set off along the beach and after a short while we arrived at a small hamlet on the inner lake called Ocean Grange. We definitely got a few weird looks from the locals, which we guess were “who the hell are these guys and where the hell are they going?” … We nodded, smiled and continued on our way back to Ninety Mile Beach for the third time to continue with our epic beach walking day. In general, walking along the beach is fun for a bit but soon gets boring and tiring. We also stopped taking photos because they essentially all look the same!
We stopped for a lunch at… you guessed it – THE BEACH! We set up camp at… correct – THE BEACH. We ate dinner at… I think you are getting the picture. To say we were starting to get sick of sand by the end of the day was an understatement but we knew we had to smash through the kilometers so we could meet Jens and Simon (Rick was leaving a day earlier than the rest) at a reasonable time at the pier opposite Lakes Entrance. But enough was enough and Vanessa told us that it was time to set up camp. We were all bloody knackered and we soon were off to bed to get our rest in for the all important day three!
The views of day two lingered into the start of day three. Vanessa in particular was starting to tire of it. We looked at the map and saw that there was a trail/road further inland and we decided to cut in and try to find it. We stumbled across a bit of a path and also found something that looked like a gas line. Anyway, we decided it was a good spot for some lunch. Just as we got out all of our lunch ingredients things really started to kicked off.
Two guys rocked up and gave us a load of grief telling us that we were trespassing, terrorists and that we were in massive trouble! They even started filming us on their phones. Jon must have been hangry because he was acting pretty tough and being a general nuisance, Vanessa was trying to calm things down and show them on the map the road that we were looking for and I was sat there slicing cheese.
They were trying to scare us by saying “you wait until the boss gets here” so we did. Eventually an old man rocked up and seemed a bit nicer than the two thugs and told us in nicer terms to fuck off back to the beach and that there is no trail inland. So, we went back to the beach and did as we were told.
After a while of walking down the beach it started to rain and we found a viewing platform with a roof so climbed up and started to get ready for lunch. Before long the old man, I think his name was Neville, was there saying “I thought I had told you to go away” and our hearts all sank – here we go again!
Anyway, we chatted for a bit and after a while the hostility levels dropped and by the end of our 20 minute chat (and our lunch) it was borderline friendly. In fact, he told us that we could use his toilet, fill up water and walk along his drive instead of on the beach if we wanted. Success! We finally found the road we were looking for all along.
We walked along his path for a while but eventually we ended up back on the beach. We cut in when we reached a fire trail to the north coast of the peninsula. We followed it around a bit, walked through an airfield and eventually found the jetty where Jens and Simon (in the boat) finally found us! We had made it. What a relief!
What happened next was particularly funny – the tiny boat that Jens and Simon had rented was a real old banger and we struggled to get the engine back up and running. However, when we finally did Jens was stood on the jetty. With these boats once the engine starts it just starts moving. Jens moved quicker than I have ever seen him move before and jumped off the jetty into the boat. A wonderful dive – we all gave him 10 out of 10!
Overall, this hike turned out to be quite the eventful weekend and the hike wasn’t very interesting. We were more than happy to see the end of the beach and sand for quite some time.