BT Day 5: Parry Beach to Peaceful Bay 143km (32km)

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It bucketed down last night. Lucky for me I had a restful sleep and was awake at quarter to midnight. I heard the first few drops of rain and they were big drops. An indication of things to come. I made a snap decision to pack down camp and take shelter in a picnic hut that had 3 walled sides. No later than 10 minutes from hitting bed again tucked away in a corner the rain come down in droves. Heavy sheeting rain right through the night. A good decision to move for sure. The ‘tent’ I have with me is not really a tent, more a tarp than anything. It can be battened down close to the ground to keep you dry enough but in really heavy falls like last night, rain has a tendency to bounce off the ground and up under the small awaning. I strayed completely dry in the picnic thingy.

My routine has become to get away by 7am just as the sun rises. This gives me 9 hours or so of walking to 5pm and an hour to set up camp, cook dinner and wind down by 6pm when the sun has disappeared for the day. Averaging around 3km/hr plus breaks and lunch I can just squeeze in 30 km or so for a day. Any more and it’s pushing it to get everything squared away before the sun is down. Not sure that I could push too much more with so few hours of sun in the day. The trail would have to be of pretty good quality. It certainly wasn’t today. Not the best time of year to be walking with shorter days but I’ll take it nonetheless.

It was a shoulder to the wheel kind of day today on a monotonous track of ups and downs over sand hill after sand hill all day.

The wind was howling a gale off the ocean all day as well. You switch off to the constant wind in your ears and only before aware of its presence again when passing through a sheltered gully where the wind cuts out and silence fills the air. They are only short respites though until up and out of the other side of the gully.

The monotony of the day was only broken towards the end on hitting Irwin Inlet. The physical track stops and starts on either side of the inlet with the official route over water in sit on top kayaks. The parks service provides 6 kayaks and paddles stored in small open ended sheds, 3 on each bank. It’s an easy crossing to do and I thoroughly enjoyed the short section of water – a chance to rest the legs and let the arms do the work. There is a slight logistical challenge though. Three kayaks are meant to stay on each side so for me being one up meant three water crossings. The first to get across. The second to tow another boat back to the opposite shore . And a third journey across to get back to my pack and be on my way. I thoroughly enjoyed the paddle even though it was relatively short. From shore to shore it’s only about 100m.

From the western shore it was another 7km or so to Peaceful Bay. These kilometres did not come easy and I was pushing to get there before the caravan park office closed for the evening at 5pm. I made it with 15 minutes to spare, got checked into a camp site and ordered the worlds most expensive but most tasty fish n chips. Fresh beer battered snapper and a cold lemonade to wash it down. I essentially had fish n chips last night as well, well maybe not chips but tuna and instant mash – it’s sort of the same thing right?

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