I had my first great sleep the whole trip and since the tent flaps weren’t bouncing against the tent I was excited to get out and see our beautiful camp before 7am had rolled around. I was up before anyone else in the camp and I made the most of it. The sky was cloudy but that didn’t matter, I walked down to the beach, stripped off my bikini and jumped into the cold water. The waves pushed and pulled at my naked body and I relished the event. To be alone in a place like this was unique.
Not long after I’d clothed myself back on the sand, other campers started wandering down to the water so I’d only just seized my window of opportunity. When I got back up to our posse Sheldan was already breaking down camp. I told him I was surprised since I was tempted to stay another night in such a picturesque spot. He said it had just been a matter of habit. We agreed to at least have ourselves a lazy morning before making any hard decisions. Sitting at the front of our camp facing the ocean, I made us bacon, egg and cheese wraps for breakfast. It was a lengthy affair cooking with my camping stove and pots but the result was well worth it and less than half the food stuck to the pans! Sheldan washed his food down with a coffee as we sat and admired the view.
Our neighbours arose behind us and we chatted with them awhile about the success rate of fishing in the area which was lower than Tom’s expectations. While we sat, I got the maps out and consulted the many tourist brochures we’d collected in the past visitor’s centre. Not long after perusing the options, we decided it best to move on so that we could get home to the farm with more than a few days to spare before flying to Brisbane. It was important to both of us to spend more time with Mum and Dad before saying goodbye.
Sadly, we packed up. I wanted to change my mind more than once, especially after Dom told us the weather was supposed to clear up in the afternoon, but Sheldan was rightfully firm and we continued our breakdown of camp. Dom gave us a good hint for a free camp in Esperance before we said goodbye, I just hoped our Falcon would be able to find their spot. There was no way we were going anywhere without one last swim. Bikini on this time, I made the short trip down to the beach and found myself a spot to swim away from the many fishing lines that had been cast into the water. I was rewarded by seeing a stripy tropical looking fish, though the image blurred through my underwater eyes. Goodbye camp, what a wonderful spot Betty’s Beach was.
Sheldan followed the ranger out of camp on the corrugated dirt road and put us on the South Eastern Highway. We’d been warned there wasn’t much to see between Ravensthorpe and Esperance and the tip was not wrong. The road was a light grey tarmac, the shoulders a reddish-brown and any views that might have been were hidden behind consistent green and grey brush. We made a feeble attempt at playing the numberplate game, then sank quietly into our thoughts, music playing in the background. It was a relaxing drive with only a couple of stops for bathroom breaks.
Two hours later we arrived in Ravensthorpe which was an essential stop for fuel, water and groceries. At the petrol station we were advised that town water was not desirable and that Hopetoun would have better offerings but everything else we needed we got. The country IGA had carpeted floors, a clearance bin (which we took advantage of) and cooked chooks for $16 (they’re normally $8 at a city Coles or Woolworths). We bit our lips as we paid the high prices for country produce but assured ourselves we were now stocked for the rest of the trip.
We quickly snacked at the back of the car before we carried on to Hopetoun (not a typo) with the idea of enjoying a hot chook lunch somewhere by the water. The road into Hopetoun was much like the road to Ravensthorpe had been, only the closer we came to the big blue, the more the brush changed.
Hopetoun was a windy place with plenty of action from kids in the playground and cars parked by the boat ramp. We drove around a bit looking for a lunch spot and settled on the shade of a tree in the park. Unfortunately, the wind dampened the mood because it was chilling us to the bone and blowing our lettuce anyway. After that quick and dirty lunch experience we drove a short ways back up the main street to the visitor’s information centre. I spoke to a nice lady there who advised us on the best camp that would offer the most shelter and a cool 16km walk we could do the next day. We’d both been pining for an outdoors activity so it sounded perfect.
Plan in hand, we decided to stick around in the library for an hour to charge our devices and to do some writing (I managed to inspire Sheldan to write about his travel experiences). We blogged side by side for a while before an attendant came by at 4:05 to kindly remind us that the library shut at 4pm. Whoops! We thanked them profusely and went back out into the wind. We filled up our water at the public tap then I took the wheel to take us out to Hamersley’s Inlet in the Fitzgerald River National Park. It was a gorgeous winding drive through ocean bushland that was uninterrupted by a single structure.
Storm clouds loomed overhead, but they didn’t look like they carried much rain, we could only hope. At the end of the park road we came to Hamersley’s Inlet and I was disappointed to find that the campground wasn’t on the inlet at all, but set back amongst the trees. I figured out I was just pining for what we’d had at Betty’s Beach and anything we’d come across wouldn’t have been good enough. We parked up and I wandered down to the pay station to deposit $10 for the privilege of staying the night. After the camps we’ve had so far, I was happy to put down the dosh.
Just as we finished setting up, an official looking man in hi-vis came by and assumed we hadn’t paid and when he presented the sealed envelopes in his hand containing other campers’ fees, I explained our envelope had only just gone in the box ten minutes ago. That convinced him.
While Sheldan took a rest I did some washing to get my underwear supply back up to a safe level. With that done it was nearly 6pm and I was keen to head down to the beach for sunset. Sheldan was convinced and we set off with bags packed with a towel to sit on and some water.
At the trailhead, we found out the 16km walk we’d been planning for the next morning was actually 23.5km one-way so that ruled that out! Today’s trail took us through the bushes and halfway there I took my shoes off to enjoy the sand underneath my feet. We reached the inlet after a few minutes and it was underwhelming both in colour and in smell.
The beach that we reached a half hour later was not in any way underwhelming. The clouds made for a dramatic scene a we walked against the sand snakes whipping at our feet until we could see the blue of the water. What was amazing about this beach, apart from the fact that we were the only ones on it, were the jagged rocks sticking out of the sand in the shallow water.
I gravitated towards them immediately, amazed at how they got there and how imposing they looked against the dark orange band of sky below the clouds on the horizon. They were like the forgotten defense battlements of a war fought and lost long ago. Some were the deepest black while others stood out in orange against the white sand and light blue water.
Sheldan explored high ground while I stayed amongst the pillars of rock, admiring the angles they made with the horizon and looking at what lay beneath my feet. There were shells scattered across the sand, all of them purple, even the jellyfish I found were purple. Must be something in the water.
Around the next cove, the sand vanished from under me to be replaced by white and blue rocks and shells. Even though they were sharp on my feet I elected to keep my shoes off.
I walked up into the sand dunes to admire the fauna growing in a place where nothing should be growing at all. At the peak of the dunes I could see around to the end of the bay and the angry sky behind the mountains. It matched the angry jagged rocks at my feet.
Since the sun was already hidden behind the distant peaks, we figured out we weren’t going to get a sunset so we started heading back. Once out of the wind and in the ocean bush, it was just warm enough to take our jackets off.
Camp was quiet when we got back with most sites finished with dinner and winding down for the night. Thanks to our late lunch, neither of us were really hungry so we just had a few biccies and cheese to tide us over till morning. We stayed up talking until it was dark, incredulous that the sky above us was clear and full of stars after such a cloudy day.