05-06/08/2006 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay
Trip report by Rachel
After a hurried pack this morning we managed to make it to St Leonards station in time to get the 7:58am train to Town Hall. The rush proved a little unnecessary as we had 9 minutes until our connecting train at Town Hall. An hour later we arrived in a cloudy, grey Cronulla where I made a quick dash for a coffee while Tom investigated the ferry. Again a rush to the ferry proved unnecessary as it didn't leave on time. Nevertheless we got to Bundeena at 10am.
During the short wander from the ferry wharf to the start of the National Park my calves were killing me already. I hoped that wasn't going to be the same for the rest of the trip. Fortunately my calves settled down once we were walking on the flat track along the coastline.
The wind was blowing pretty fiercely and we were walking directly into it which made the conversation less and a bit more effort then normal. The clouds have been darkening out to sea for most of the first hour on the and we wondered whether we would escape the rain. Fortunately the rain hit after we made our crossing of the lagoon at Big Marley. The sand swallowed my legs to my thighs as I crossed meaning my rolled-up trousers ended up saturated - unzipping the bottom section at least meant I didn't have to wear wet clothing. Tom threatened to make the crossing without even taking his shoes off - I was pleased when he was foiled in the last few steps and had to resort to crossing in the same method as I did. Shortly after that crossing the dark clouds broke over land bringing a cold relentless rain for the next couple of hours. Fortunately my rain coat did a reasonable job at keeping me dry. Sadly because of the rain we didn't want to stop for long to look at the beautiful rock colourings and formations along the way.
We were both pleased when we arrived at Wattamolla in time for lunch. Even better the rain had pretty much stopped though we grabbed a picnic table under a tree just in case. The corned beef which Tom had made the previous day went down a treat in our sandwiches.
Soon we were off again with some talk of perhaps trying to push on to Otford and finish the whole thing in one day. The weather cleared as we went further south to make for pleasant walking conditions. So pleasant and so intent on our conversation we managed to miss a turn off after Curracurrong and found ourselves some way off the coast. Fortunately it was just a matter of taking a path a bit further along to direct back on target - with only a 1km or so of unintended walking. We got to North Era Bush campground around 4:30pm.
I was keen to keep going to Otford buoyed by a sign post indicating it was only another 6.5km. Tom was developing blisters and having done the walk previously knew the terrain we were going to encounter and was less enthused. We ended up camping - finding a reasonably sheltered spot on only moderately damp ground (unlike the puddles everywhere else). We were joined by a group of 20 school kids who must have had a much less pleasant night then us camped in the open in the brunt of the wind.
With no port or soup on the menu we quickly got on with dinner. After which Tom commented that our campsite was similar to Frog Flat on the Overland Track. I agreed but said at least there were no possums! Quickly clarifying that he hadn't seen a possum had he? Tom said "well no, but you might want to turn around". To my shock a wallaby I had spotted when we arrived had sidled up and was a couple of metres away, obviously enticed by the smell of our dinner. Unfortunately, as is so common with frequently used campsites, this wallaby was far too tame for its own good and was not easily discouraged. Eventually Tom chased it off though that didn't stop it returning a while later just to make sure it wasn't missing out on any food. One of the reasons for the walk was to see the moon rise over the ocean but we were a bit too early in the lunar cycle - the full moon not due till Wednesday and so the moon was well and truly up before the sun set. Without a fire (they aren't allowed in the Royal National Park) there wasn't much to keep us up so we retired to the tent fairly early - with impeccable timing as the rain returned not long after.
The next day we had hoped to make the 11am train from Otford as they only come every 2 hours. This meant we hoped to get away by 8:30am which Tom assured me there was little chance of not happening. I'm not sure what would've happened if I hadn't woken him up as by the time we got away it was 8:36am. The section of walk on the second day was more challenging (though not particularly) with a lot more ups & downs. The erosion was also pretty bad on sections of the track with a lot of mud making going slow. In one section the path was over a metre below the banks around it! After puffing our way through Palm Jungle up to the ridge line (having encountered at least 40 day walkers on their way in) we did a time check. It was 10:13am - only 45 minutes to get to the train. The book had written about The Otford Pantry and its wonderful apple pies which we had been hoping to sample (not that we knew whether the Otford Pantry still existed or not) but there was no chance for that anymore. We kept up a brisk pace along the fire trail and path until we finally came out on Lady Wakehurst Drive. Fortunately signposts to the station were obvious and we stepped up the pace down some fairly steep paths to get to the station at 10:52am. 5 minutes to spare! Perhaps not the best way to finish the walk but otherwise we would've been waiting till 1pm to leave (though had the Otford Pantry been open that would have meant a lot of apple pie!)