Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Catcher In The Rye: Bushranger Bay to Rye Beach

Driving west from Flinders on the Mornington Peninsular the road dips down and crosses Main Creek and enters a small corridor of native bush all that remains in this area of otherwise cleared farm-land. Doug let me out here at Bushranger Bay Picnic Area and continued north to St Andrews Beach (or actually Rye Beach - but that comes further along in the story). I headed off down the track to Bushranger Bay along a narrow track cut into dense coastal scrub. The density of the bush is a bit illusory here, however, as this corridor of bushland is only a few hundred metres wide and every so often cleared fields are visible to either side.

The track was surprisingly busy with all manner of hikers, some looking moderately fit, others grasping hiking poles (on a flat track?), others carting around the usual Aussie metabolic belly. But, at least everyone was walking and enjoying a sunny, if rather hot, Saturday. Soon, some pleasant views of the coast open up and a side track to the lovely Bushranger Bay is reached. It would have been nice to duck down for a swim, but Doug always finishes these through walks (he starts from one end, I start from the other) before me so I figured I should continue on. 

  Bushranger Bay

After about an hour I came out at Cape Schanck parking lot and strolled around the half kilometre loop that visits various viewpoints and also gives access to a stony little cove. It was very busy with people everywhere. Unfortunately, there is no connecting track to take you from Bushranger Bay track to Two Bays track which continues up the coast, so I had to walk out along the road to get to the track head. I strolled along this track - bristling with people carrying eskies, buckets, spear guns and more, so there must be many vehicle accessible locations nearby to the track - passing the occasional lookout and soon coming to a track that descended to Fingal Beach. 

The Victoria Parks sign indicated that this was an optional low-tide access to Gunnamatta Beach and seemed preferable to walking through the dense coastal scrub so I took this side route down to the beach. I did wonder if this would mean I would, for the first time on the twenty or so occasions that Doug and I have done through walks, not cross paths with Doug along the track. 

 Looking towards Cape Schanck

There were a lot of stairs descending to Fingal Beach which explains why so many people were huffing and puffing on their way up. The beach has nice rock platforms with rock pools and very clear water and it was pleasant wandering north around a couple of small headlands to the long sandy stretch of Gunnamatta Beach. 

Walking out onto the sand at the south end of Gunnamatta Beach I thought I might have a bit of a slog ahead of me as the tide was rising, a strong hot wind was blowing into my face and the sand was a tad soft. But, it all wasn't too bad, although it was hot, and I was soon walking past all the crowds near the two parking areas set behind the beach. 

 Rocky beach near Cape Schanck

We had agreed that Doug would park at St Andrews Beach which, according to my map was the next beach to the north so I thought I had only a couple of kilometres - maybe three - to go. I wandered around rocks at one small headland and then got to Boag Rocks but the tide was too high to stay on the beach so I took the short detour around to the south end of St Andrews Beach where, thinking I was nearly at the end of my walk, I had a swim. The water was gorgeous - crystal clear and wonderfully cool. Another half kilometre along the sand and then I strode confidently up to the car park where a sign said "St Andrews Beach" but no car awaited me. Not to worry, I thought as a track led off to the north, undoubtedly to another car park. But, no, it simply dead-ended near some expensive looking houses. 

I trudged back down to the beach, continued north, trudged back up the dunes again at the next beach exit - a small dirt road with a few cars parked - but no Hyundai with two kayaks on the roof. Back down to the beach, trudge further north, wondering what I would do if I couldn't find the car. About a kilometre or so north along the sandy beach another dense cluster of people indicated another parking lot although my map clearly indicated this was Rye Beach, not St Andrews Beach. Off I went feeling more confident that Doug would be parked at this beach as it seemed to be the first beach he would have reached in the vehicle. 

 Gunnamatta and Fingal Beaches

I was feeling a bit hot, bothered and frankly hungry (I've got into the habit of never packing food with me as I don't seem to need to eat that often now that I'm not a carbohydrate-crashing junkie) when I walked up the beach to the car park and was happy to find our car parked in the first row. It's always interesting when you drive the distances that you walk and paddle as you suddenly realise that you have come quite a long way self-propelled and it probably took me half an hour or more to drive down to Cape Schancks where Doug was waiting in a hot and very buggy car park. 

We still had to drive all the way back to Stony Point where we were staying and I was really feeling like a bit of food, but, it was hot, and Doug hadn't had a swim so we stopped at Flinders for another wonderful swim.
Pulling into Crib Point, we decided to fill the car up with diesel as we were planning to take the boat to Tasmania in two days and figured petroleum products would be a bit cheaper on the mainland. I know I was hungry and a bit dazed with the heat (it was about 34C and the once blustery wind had died to dead still calm) and I guess that is why I put unleaded petrol (almost 24 litres of the stuff) into our diesel vehicle. Luckily, I did notice before the tank was full and stopped immediately, and, that marked the beginning of a bit of a nightmare.

The service station owner could offer no help other than "push the car out of the way" and call the motorists association. Doug made numerous telephone calls - a bit challenging as we had quite poor reception - to every mechanic he could find but, it was almost 5.00 pm on a hot sunny Saturday and the only mechanic we got hold off said he could not help us until Tuesday and the vehicle would have to be towed to his garage. Eventually, we gave up, pushed the vehicle off to the side and walked 3 or 4 kilometres back to the small caravan park where we were staying all the way trying to come up with some solution to this problem.

 Point Nepean beach

We had decided to ask the caravan caretaker if he had a siphon hose and if so, I would walk back up and try to siphon the tank that night. If that worked, we would take the train to the nearest town and buy several gerry cans to contain the siphoned off petrol the next day. Turns out, Gary, the caravan park caretaker is a real stand-up bloke, very true to the typical Aussie stereotype of being quite resourceful. Along with his good friend Peter, he drove us back up to the service station, towed oir car back to the caravan park and helped us drain out all the petrol from the tank by removing the fuel filling hose and siphoning the two tanks. Gary did not have a proper siphon hose so we all got to take turns sucking on a piece of cut off garden hose. Unleaded gas is disgusting. 

Eventually, we got all the petrol out we were going to (not quite empty) and Gary drove us back up to the service station with three gerry cans which we filled with diesel and, finally, about 9 pm, we managed to drive the car back to our site near the caravan. 

Doug on the beach at Point Nepean

We had been planning another sea kayak trip the next day, but, when we finally finished with all these shenanigans we were too tired and stressed out to think about that so after a very late dinner we crawled into bed. I slept soundly but Doug was awake worrying about the car.

Next day, we cancelled our planned sea kayak trip as we thought it a good idea to drive about without the caravan and make sure the car was running okay. Doug and I both hate driving so the idea of going out purposefully to drive was a bit confronting but drive we did. All the way up to Point Nepean where we walked along the Coles track and out to Fort Nepean and Point Nepean (very pretty) and back covering about 150 km. We managed to burn up enough fuel to put another 10 litres of so of diesel in the car and we figure the remaining petrol is now quite dilute and are feeling cautiously optimistic. 

Surfside at Point Nepean

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