Beaches: Nelson to Lake Mombeong Camp (23km)
I decided to get up at 6:30am in order to beat all the campers to the showers and bathrooms. Two hours later I had packed up and was ready to leave the campground. I was just really looking forward to camping in more remote places again.
Just before I left Nelson, I met another hiker who had completed the beach section from Portland to Nelson — the opposite direction of what I was about to walk — and was now looking for transport back to Portland. He told me a lot of good things about the walk, and also mentioned a few cafés I would pass during the final days, which made me feel better about walking with a nearly empty gas cartridge.
The first half an hour was about walking alongside the road down to Ocean Beach — the roaring sound of the waves could be heard from far away. When I climbed up the stairs behind the dunes up to the viewing platform, the sun came out. When I finally saw the ocean it was one of the greatest feelings on the trail so far. Finally arrived at the ocean. I really enjoyed the forest and river sections, but I just love being close to the sea with a fresh salty breeze.
The GSWW would now more or less follow the beach for several days. Walking on the beach is absolutely beautiful: the water, the sea birds, the fresh air, flotsam and jetsam, the vegetation on sand dunes, I love it all. But it can also be very tiring to walk on sand for hours with heavy luggage. It’s a constant challenge to find ‘the best line’ through the sand, that is, finding out where the sand is best to walk on. On dry sand, your feet sink in quite a lot, which costs a lot of energy. Wet sand is usually better for walking, but you always need to pay attention to avoid being hit by the surf, which can leave you at least with wet boots for the rest of the day.
After about 10km I arrived at White Sands campsite for a quick lunch break. The campsite is still marked as an official GSWW camp on my map, but not actively maintained anymore. It’s a charming location, but the entire camp is slowly being swallowed by the sand dune behind which it is located. I think you can’t even access the toilet anymore because the sand is so high already.
After White Sands I had a few problems finding the track. According to my map, the track turns inlands at White Sands, leaving the beach, but the track was nowhere to be seen, so I continued along the beach. One or two kilometres further down the beach I then picked up an inland track which led over the sand dunes, passing many places with large shell middens — signs of Aboriginal heritage, possibly thousands of years old.
Again I saw fresh emu tracks and followed them for a while, but sadly didn’t see any emus. But finally I managed to photograph an echidna.
After passing McEarcherns Rocks and Nobles Rocks there was another short section to walk on the beach. Soon I arrived at a junction where you get the choice between walking the last third of the day’s walk on an inland track, or continue along the beach. Since it was very windy on the beach and the tide was rising, I decided to take the inland route.
The vegetation was very interesting on the inland route and it was easy to walk with few wind, the downside however was that it was very hot, and often the track was a bit overgrown. I encountered more snakes and spiders on this short section than on the entire walk so far. I constantly walked into spider webs that were spun across the track — annoying on the one hand, on the other hand though I enjoyed knowing that I must have been the first person to walk this track in a while, which added to the feeling of remoteness.
I felt relived when I finally spotted Lake Mombeong in the distance. After around 7h of walking, including a number of breaks, I arrived at the campsite. Again I was the only camper, but the GSWW walkers camp is just next to a larger bush camping area operated by Parks Victoria, and a few places where still occupied by Easter campers.
No rain water tank at this site, just bore water taps on the Parks campground.
The walk on that day reminded me a lot of beach sections on other walks I had done in the past, such as Prion Beach on the South Coast Track in Tasmania, or Johanna Beach on the Great Ocean Walk.
One unexpected issue with the Lake Mombeong camp was that the walker’s campsite was literally covered in millipedes, they were everywhere: on the ground, on the walls of the timber shelter, on the table and benches, it was really annoying. Later back home I did some research and found out that it was the so-called Portuguese millipede which was introduced to South Australia by accident and has since developed into a pest and spread across other states too.
Wildlife seen: Echidna, various snakes, Sea gulls, Oystercatchers and other sea birds.