Saturday, 5 May 2012

Day 59 - Cape Hawke to Elizabeth Beach

Back on the road again this morning......I caught a taxi from Forster town center to take me along the route I walked yesterday to the intersection of The Lakes Way and Cape Hawke Drive. It felt odd being in a car but I didn't want to walk that section of road again and there wasn't a bus going when I wanted it. The taxi driver was chatty, I asked him for his thoughts on Forster, he said "it's heaven's waiting room!" He was no spring chicken himself and looked like he was getting ready to queue up. He said business was tough because there were too many taxis on the road in Forster, seven during the day, and not enough work to go around. That ratio makes for good service though, when I called for a taxi I waited less than a minute for not one but two cars to turn up.

I had three or four kilometers to walk on The Lakes Way before I could turn off onto the gravel road that cuts through to the beach. The speed limit on this stretch was 100 km/h and the road verge was small and thick with weeds. Not the most fun 45 minutes I've had on this trip! The looks on the faces of the drivers as they sped by me seemed to say "What are you doing you nut case, get off the road!" I tried to counter this by arranging my face into a look that said something like "Hey, slow down, fill your case with nuts and come to the beach!" In the end though I had so much debris blow into my face that when a car passed I turned my head away grimly.

I was very happy to see the gravel "escape" road leading east to the beach. I don't know if it was just the contrast but Seven Mile Beach looked like the most beautiful beach I've ever seen! The sand here is white with an extra shimmer of something silver in it which makes the clear waters radiant colours of turquoise and aqua and ultramarine. I wandered onto the beach with my shoes off and noticed something odd about the was blank, faultless, there were no footprints on it, none at all, on the entire beach as far as I could see! I've walked on a lot of beaches these two months with no people and few footprints but because the overnight tide here was a high one it cleared Seven Mile like a massive etch-a-sketch. There were no animal tracks either, until I showed up.

Seven Mile Beach is part of Booti Booti National Park which is the traditional home of the Gathang people. For them Booti Booti apparently means "lots of honey". I love this, I think it should be adopted into English, ie, "What would you like on your toast, sweetheart?" "Booti Booti please!"

To get around to the next beach, Elizabeth Beach, there is a wonderful track which winds its way around Booti Hill. The forest here is like a fairy glen, with all types of palms and ferns, bonsai trees and lichen encrusted rocks. Every growing thing has been trained and twisted by the sea winds into curlicues and arches with an oblique stunted canopy. I needed Nath with me to identify most of the trees but I could recognise one of them, the Brush Box, by its smooth salmon bark with a rough base and big glossy leaves. In inland forests the Brush Box is a tall and elegant tree but here by the sea its form is entirely altered. The tree's natural urge for upward growth to the sun is challenged by the forces of the prevailing winds resulting in a flowing tangle of branches much like seaweed or hair in a current of water. Even on a still day the trees form is sculptured evidence of the irresistible power of the ocean.

The Booti track led down onto Elizabeth Beach, another gem. I made my way to the caravan park and was given my first ever "single" discount on the price of a site for the night!

Cape Hawke to Elizabeth Beach - 16 km

Lifesabeachwalk total - 529 km

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