After we lost Jessie, the house seemed haunted with her spirit. The routine of my days was disrupted. My morning walks were aimless wanders through the woods. I'd turn around expecting her to be behind me, but she wasn't. Riding home from town, I'd look up at the house, wondering if she had seen me and would be waiting on the water tank to greet me, but the driveway was always empty. Evenings, the "sock" stayed in the cupboard - no one wanted to play tug a war. As always, we went to the woods for solace.
Sign at Harry's Hut
I wanted to go the Budawangs, but, four years later, Doug still has not forgotten our minor epic there, and, as the forecast was a bit mixed, we settled on a walk in the Nadgee where the forecast was significantly drier. In early 2013, only a couple of months after the Budawang incident, Doug and I walked from Wonboyn to Mallacoota through the Nadgee Nature Reserve. It was a wonderful trip taking us through dry eucalypt forest, wet rainforest, dense coastal heath, and finally along a wild and lonely beach.
On the moors near Mount Nadgee
Merrica River Crossing was familiar, although this time we drove into the Nadgee rather than walked. The reserve was, as often seems the case, deserted. We headed out on the main fire trail, but, instead of turning south down to Newtons Beach, we continued along past Tumbledown Mountain to Table Ridge. Table Ridge undulates up and down eventually climbing to almost 500 metres near Mount Nadgee. After a couple of hours walking through eucalpyt forest, the trail emerges into drier heath land and a view of Gabo Island to the south east, and Mount Nadgee to the west. There was a tremendous number and variety of wildflowers along the way.
Past Mount Nadgee, the trail turns and follows Daylight Ridge down into increasingly wet and lush forest to the dark tannin stained waters of the Nadgee River. A big log provides easy access to Harry's Hut on the south side of the Nadgee River. It's a quiet and secluded spot, but popular with mosquitoes, midges, and red bellied black snakes. Doug bravely took a dip in the river, while I gingerly avoided the sleeping black snake to get water for tea. The evening passed quietly, enlivened only when the black snake woke up, slithered under the door of the hut and went inside, right when Doug wanted to go in to read. I took refuge from the bugs in the tent, while Doug carefully crept into the hut making sure the black snake was not curled over the door frame waiting to drop on him.
Well fed on the rodents that live in Harry's Hut
It rained overnight, and a drizzly mist was falling in the morning, the woods shrouded in wraiths of fog. In full rain gear, we followed an overgrown track out to join the main Wilderness Coast route near Impressa Moor. The track through the moor is getting increasingly overgrown and we were soaked through by the time we emerged on to the lonely beach near Little Creek. This is where we camped the first night on our last trip and it is beautiful as ever with a small lagoon behind the beach and a tiny steep sand spit wedged between rocky headlands.
The weather dried out as we walked through the forest and took a side track out to the south end of Newtons Beach. Walking out on to Newtons Beach was a classic Nadgee moment: dingo tracks ran along the beach sand, the hills behind the coast were shrouded in clouds, dark green woods backed the beach, the ocean was clear, and the only sound was the crash of the waves onto the beach. We had that delicious feeling of complete isolation that comes when you are privileged enough to enter a wilderness. We made tea at the north end of the beach on some sandstone rock platforms, then reluctantly re-entered the forest, hiked back up to Tumbledown Mountain and back to "real" life where a sociopath had become the most powerful man in the world.
Crossing the Nadgee River on a huge tree trunk