I woke up late this morning to a blue day and a slightly reduced wind. Today was to be the first of the river crossings I'll need to hitch a ride across or swim, the Sandon River. Sandon is a beautiful 8km walk away along Brooms Head Back Beach to The Breakaway. The low tide today was at 3pm and to make the river crossing safest I'd wait till the river was low and slack, so I had a leisurely start to the day.
Wide sand and blue sky, perfect! It was good to be walking again! Just as I made it to Sandon a 4WD roared up beside me and stopped on the beach. A man thrust a torch out the window and said "You forgot this!"
It was Darren the Brooms Head Caravan Park manager who had just driven the 8kms along the beach from Brooms Head to bring me a torch which he assumed I'd left behind! Now that's service! Either that or he just wanted any excuse to go down to the beach! It made me grin from ear to ear either way especially because the torch wasn't even mine. I'd found it under the bed where I was looking for my sunglasses, which have a nasty habit of trying to escape, and left it on the bench but forgot to tell Danielle that I'd found it. Darren tried to give it to me anyway but it weighed a ton so was no use to me, I was mightily touched by their thoughtfulness though. Good people!
As I got to the river boat ramp I scouted out the potential for lifts to the other side. There wasn't a single boat on the river which was running out fast, pushed along even faster by the wind which was now being channeled along the river at a fine rate!
At this point I met a succession of people, all strangers to one another, who came together and triggered a series of events that not only got me across the river but that also gladdened my heart with the goodness of humanity, made me contemplate the transformative nature of pilgrimage and illness, taught me a bit about patience and the power of thought, gave me a few good laughs, some cold fresh fruit and a spring in my step for the next leg. My heartfelt thanks to Paul, Simone, Jane and their friends for a magical couple of hours. An extra big thanks to Paul for having a unique soul, the will to help out and a fishing kayak!
Safely across the Sandon River I continued south on the Sandon Back Beach. It seems all the most beautiful beaches are unnamed and get called "Back Beach". This one was no exception, wide hard sand with a roaring powerful ocean pounding the shore and sea creatures abounding.
Coming into Illaroo campground in the afternoon the wind picked up again and the gusts blasted my legs from underneath me as I took each step. The sea eagles were unperturbed, one bird was hovering almost motionless in the wind just above the dunes. An eagle hovering, what a sight! But it felt good to get to the shelter of the campground and get out of the wind!
One of the things people, usually women, often ask me when they realise I'm walking on my own is, "don't you get scared?" The honest answer to this question is, sometimes......
The way I deal with it is to be organised, realistic, cautious and systematic. I always know my tide times and I know what to expect with the terrain from topographic maps. I don't walk at night and I'm careful where I put my feet! When I get to a new campsite I wander around and check it out, looking for a warm friendly couple or family to camp near, introduce myself and set up camp, then I sleep soundly. This night I met and camped near Dianne and Ken, a lovely couple who took good care of me. I've never failed to find warm people with a welcoming smile and interest in what I'm doing. Being out in the world the way I am right now reaffirms that there are good people everywhere you go!
Sometimes anxious thoughts come into my head, I just accept them and keep going, they always pass. Very occasionally I get a "funny" feeling, I trust it and move on. The only fright I've had on this trip was this night at Illaroo when I had an invader in my tent! As I lay drifting off to sleep I felt something run across my arm and back, it was a mouse that had chewed a hole through my tent and helped itself to my dried fruit! Little bugger!
Today was a glorious day full of amazing places and wonderful people, I feel so alive and grateful that I'm well enough to have this experience.