River: Pattersons Camp to Nelson (20km)
I tried to leave as early as possible because I expected a long day walking to Nelson. Throughout the day I also had to make several breaks because the weather constantly changed and sometimes it would turn from sunshine to strong wind and rain within minutes.
From Pattersons Camp the track continued to follow the river, often high on the cliff edge, offering plenty of great views down to the river. I could watch a lot of people in fishing boats, canoes or doing water skiing. I also saw a few kangaroos on the track in the morning.
During the day I really started to look forward to arriving in Nelson. I was planning to have a rest day, and the second half of the day’s walk didn’t actually feel very exciting. Very little wildlife and hardly any birds. Surprisingly it was here when I spotted the first echidna on the track.
At some point the track crosses the border to South Australia and later, after maybe 2km, crosses it again back to Victoria. On the small section between is Hirths Landing, and on the opposite side of the river was Donovans Landing. It looked like a small fishing village or settlement, right at the river. Since it was the Easter weekend, there were plenty of people having a great time.
Maybe I was there at the wrong time of the year, but from Hirths Landing on the vegetation felt increasingly barren. As I came closer to Nelson I also encountered more and more people on the track, mostly mountain bike riders. It’s not great when you’re walking along ridges and you constantly have to look out for bikes coming your way on a narrow walking track.
Just before Simsons Camp, the official GSWW camp just outside Nelson, there was a large area of burnt grass trees. The trees must have burnt and then developed flowers afterwards as a result of the fire.
I stopped at Simsons Camp for a short break when the rain got stronger. I knew it was only 2km away from Nelson, and I was determined to walk on. I was looking forward to staying at one of the commercial campgrounds, to have a hot shower and a good meal.
When the rain stopped I walked on to Nelson. Strange to be back in civilisation after a week in the bush. I went to the visitor centre and asked for vacancies on the campgrounds in town. They referred me to Kywong Caravan Park, about a kilometre away. So more walking, on top of the 20km I had already walked.
At the caravan park I booked in for two nights on an unpowered site, surrounded by weekend campers. Everyone agreed that the only real chance for a good meal was at the local pub, so I went there after a long shower and once my camp was set up. Of course it meant walking all the way back into town, and back to the campground afterwards.
As a typical country pub, you basically get the choice between meat, meat and meat (well, not quite) but at least it came with a selection of salads and they were actually really good. I tried to simply eat as much as possible to compensate for the weight loss on the track.
I was incredibly tired when I returned to the campground, and was looking forward to my rest day. But I was also proud and happy when I realised that I had already completed half the walk, and everything went really well so far. And the best sections were likely still to come.
Wildlife seen: Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Echidna.