|Conditions were a little on the wet and wild side today, this is looking back along the coast towards Levy Point.|
With the weather looking a bit dodgy this Saturday I decided against heading into the hills, instead I decided on a bit of a road trip down to Warrnambool, well at around 4 hours each way I suppose it was more than a bit of a road trip. Leaving home well before first light I enjoyed watching the new day dawn through a rain splattered windscreen, still sitting in the ute sipping my coffee with the heater cranked up there were probably worse places to be I suppose. The plan this morning was to re-walk another of Mr Chapman's strolls, the Levy Point Walk, my main memories from walking this walk last time were of the heavy rain that I had to endure, looking out the windscreen I wasn't overly confident that today wouldn't be a repeat.
|Time to start walking I suppose, I was not really enthusiastic this morning.|
Pulling up at a waterlogged Thunder Point Car Park I pulled on my boots in-between showers, as I break out in a sweat at any ambient temperature above single figures I figured that I may as well start the walk without my water proof jacket on and take my chances with the passing showers. Setting off my first issue was to find the track, last time I'd walked it in reverse (yeah, I mean anti-clockwise instead of clockwise, not me walking backwards). Soon enough I was on track and heading in the right direction towards Middle Island, the walk along here above Pickering Point is a mixture of cliff top tracks, board walks, and steps, the one constant though is the views. Rounding Pickering Point, Middle Island was just across the water in front of me, this little island has a small resident population of penguins guarded by Maremma dogs, made somewhat famous by the Shane Jacobson movie Oddball.
|Heading around Pickering Point with Middle Island in the distance.|
After crossing the Merri River at the inlet I started a bit of a convoluted route up stream more or less following along beside it's grassy banks. Initially my river side ramble had me passing through the outskirts of the Warrnambool, sometimes on the grassy verges of the river, sometimes on foot paths beside suburban roads and sometimes on shared paths. Now I've got to say that the Merri River isn't the most scenic river that I've ever seen, sometimes it looks more like a brown canal than a pristine river. What it lacks in scenery it makes up for with wildlife though, as it leaves the outskirts of Warrnambool the river side track passes by a series of wetlands and while not quite Kakadu there were still quite a lot of water birds around.
|Crossing the substantial bridge near the mouth of the Merri River.|
After an hour or so of riverside rambling my route deposited me onto a bitumen road, the go here was to follow it left towards the Levy Point Car Park and the coast. Thankfully the bitumen road section is only very short and I was soon passing through the car park and making my way through the dunes to the beach. It was as I crested the dunes that I realised that my luck with the weather was about to run out, the dark clouds looming up from the south west promising rain that they soon delivered, such is life. Dropping onto the beach though I had a bigger concern than a little rain, the sand on the storm ravaged beach was incredibly soft and I had about three kilometres of it to trudge along, and trudge is indeed the right description for walking this beach.
With my head down I slowly inched my way towards Levy Point, with each step sinking 6 inches into the sand this was pretty slow going. Levy Point provided a little short term relief as I rock hopped around the point, but I was soon back on the sand as I walked the length of Shelley Beach. My beachside ramble was made even harder due to the fact that I'd managed to time my beach walk to correspond with a fairly high tide and a large storm swell. The go along here was to keep as close to the water as possible but have all my cat like reflexes on full alert for the inevitable sprint up the steep beach to escape the odd rogue wave washing up the sand, not something my old calfs appreciated really.
|Looking south west I could see that I'd soon be getting wet.|
With some relief I eventually arrived at the low limestone cliffs that signalled the end of Shelley Beach, climbing up onto the low cliffs I gazed back along the coast at the wild beach, appreciating it more now that I wasn't ankle deep in it. This next section back to the Thunder Point Car Park was really good walking, the track alternating between the open cliff tops and the coastal scrub a little inland. Taking a short side track to the south I arrived at a lookout above Thunder Point, the lookout not only providing for a great view of the churning waters of Bass Strait but also of my ute, yep just like that the walk was coming to it's end. Descending back down to the car park I washed my sandy boots down in one of the many large puddles of water in the car park before strolling out to the car park lookout and taking a photo down towards Pickering Point and Middle Island, I'd taken a photo here this morning but the overhead conditions now made for a slightly better photo I think.
|As if the soft sand wasn't bad enough I also had to contend with the odd rogue wave washing high up the beach, lucky that I've got Feral cat like reflexes ;)|
I walked 11.6 kilometres this morning and climbed 138 metres, now if it wasn't for the very soft beach then I'd almost class this as a easy walk but you can't ignore the slog along the soft sand so a medium grade is what I'll go with. This is walk number 3 out of the house of Chapman's Day Walks Victoria book. This is a nice little walk that is probably best suited to a warm day, although the wild weather does hold it's own appeal for me. Now I've already mentioned the sand but it was fairly hard going, sinking ankle deep at every step, I'm not sure if it's a trait of the beaches down here but when I walked the Great South West Walk a little further along the coast it to was incredibly soft, only thing was back then I was carrying my over night pack and I spent 4 days walking along the beach!
|Looking down to the car park from the lookout above Thunder Point.|