Week of madness combined with lack of discipline, I hope this was worth the wait! Before I start rambling, though, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS! to my cousin Sarah Jo on her second child. The family can always use more girls. . . also a quick ta, yo, to all ma peeps what said Happy Day.
With my birthday coming up + the long weekend provided by Australia’s annual ANZAC commemoration, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to test out our car payment + get out of the city for a little while. . . so we load up on gorp, instant noodles + cocoa, punch the TRIP button + head out for Innes National Park on the Yorke Peninsula. The drive out of Adelaide is shite – once you’re past the zombie-traffic of Main North Road you get miles – er, kilometers of livestock farmland. . . but nothing beats that feeling of leaving an urban center + getting your roadtrip on.
The ‘Been exceeds expectations (+ the speed limit) no worries. We make the 300+ km drive around the bend from Adelaide to Innes in under 4 hours, enjoying the scenic coastal beauty – “Oooh, salt mine!” “Look, they’re burning off the farmland!” The Peninsula is a wealth of fertile land, so of course much of it is given over to crops, but as we approach the tip more + more the local flora is filling in the view. Strange to compare what greenery is here to what it is in Oregon or Alaska, but it is lush in its own way. Besides, the Seuss trees + scrub just drive home the point that I’m not in Kansas anymore.
First sign welcoming us to Innes: TOTAL FIRE BAN NOVEMBER 1 â€“ APRIL 30. Arriving at the Visitor Centre a friendly park ranger signs us in for three nights ($7AUS car entry + $4 per night) + she gives us a handout on Kangaroo ticks – they don’t cause paralysis, but be aware! The ranger then suggests we check out the Shell Beach campsite, “. . . it’s lovely.” Back in the ‘Been + winding along the park road we take note of the lighthouses-this-way signs as we drive to our find our campspot. We pass the big-with-showers site, + run out of paved road, bumpy chalk dust from here on out. “Don’t be precious, gun it!” Wonder at the locked campsite as we pass. “Next time, there for sure.” Stop at Shell Beach. Small spots, nice but right on top of your neighbors. The only one left is tiny + practically in someone’s kitchen. We decide to try the next site, Brown’s Beach.
Brown’s Beach is the fisherman camp, as we are soon to discover. It’s very quiet, being nearly empty. That’s all we really want, so we unload next to a dune + pitch tent under some eucalyptus trees. I notice a sign talking about all the things you can catch from the nearby ocean. Our car is emitting fresh bread smell + the locals waste no time saying hello.
Mum tries to escape with our trash, I think the oily croissant bag was too much to pass up. We stash it in the boot + go for a little walkabout. Over a hill there is a carpark for easy fisherperson access, with a steep path leading down to the beach. The beach itself is just gorgeous. Soft tan sand + crystaline blue water. The weather has been kind so far, + the day is warm + still. We’re both sleepy, + some of us have been driving all day, so we decide to go back to camp (assuming the roos haven’t run off with the ‘Been) + take a nap before supper. We notice two camps over they’re happily burning an open fire. Good on ya.
When I wake up from an awesome nap set to the sounds of crickets + wind, the sun is getting ready to set but the moon is already high in the sky, + it greets me as I get out of the tent. ‘relia is getting our cook on – soup + rolls are on the menu. Hot cuppa tea follows as the sun dissapears, leaving us with moonlit dunes. We head back to the beach + encounter two fisherman testing their luck on the steep path, eski + rods in hand. They let us go first, so they can have something soft to land on should they tumble to their doom, I guess. Aurelia + I pick a spot + try to get some moonlight shots as we marvel at how clear the night sky is. The waves roar + crash, the foam bright white against the dark, + the world seems very far away for a little while. . . Farther along the beach a group of fisherman occassionally signal with a flashlight to the two fellows we passed, who are slowly stumbling along in the very soft sand, cursing + laughing. As they pass by we decide to explore the cliffs a bit, since the light is so good.
We go as far as the next cove before the way seems dark + treacherous, passing what I take to be a seaside temple down where the foot of the cliffs meets the water, suffering quite the beating from the ocean waves. “Heck, if I were a druid I’d be down there raging with the sea!” As we survey the next beach, wondering if we could risk the rocks in the dark, I notice that out on a big rock below us there appear to be a group of young people enjoying a smoke, so we duck out of site along the cliff edge + curl up to watch the sky + listen to the waves until we get sleepyheads.
First breakfast at camp is always cause for celebration. Everything tastes better under an open sky! Share a banana while the press-coffee, porridge + soy bacon warm up. The day promises to be lovely. After we wash up (salt water tap, of course) we gather up the gorp, a couple of apples + some water, + we head off along the path we partially explored. My seaside temple is a lot less three-dimensional by daylight. Pretty much flat, in fact :/ . . . but the view is breathtaking anyway.
We walk the stretch of beach, sinking past our ankles in the soft sand as cool clear water washes over our feet, while not far away the Undertoad makes itself known. More rock hopping, daring leaps with pauses to admire tide pool anemones. We rest a bit on a nice big rock surrounded by deep water + mollusks hanging out at the waterline. Around the bend are some pretty wild rock formations, lots of deep ravine action – “You jumped that?! *_* ” + funny water-carved bits, secret half-caves.
We pause for photo-ops beneath the spooky washed-out hole under a bunch of little rocks that are sort of naturally cemented in place. . . does not look very sturdy. The next beach has two occupants already – two large black birds sitting on a dune slowly being encroached upon by the ocean. The beach ends with a sheer cliff, + it’s getting rather hot, so we find a spot of shade + eat our apples while we watch the brave (perhaps crazy) birds as the waves loom higher + higher. “Where did they go?” We blink + they’re gone, + then the next wave swells right over their dune. Birds 1, Ocean 0. We make our way back, discussing that tomorrow we should hike the Gym Beach trail, which is a campsite in the park that you have to otherwise drive to from outside. I marvel at how violent the waves are pretty much the whole way to camp. No Swimming indeed.
Back at camp, some new neighbors are powering up a generator, making a horrible din. We eat lunch (tofu pups + smokey cheese). There is much cheering + applause when the generator noise ceases. I can’t resist the lull of the warm afternoon air + the now-quiet camp, + enjoy another dreamless nap. The day is getting long, + we make a plan to have supper out at one of the lighthouses. We both have a funny feeling about leaving camp, but there’s nothing of real value in the tent so off we go in the ‘Been, back to the West Cape lighthouse. It’s a little hike in, when we pull into the car park a few people are coming back from the trail, + there are a few spaced-out kids in a van listening to psychedelic rock. We toss our hiking stove, utensils, some pasta + a bottle of wine in my backpack + head for the lighthouse as the sky goes orange. “Allow 20 minutes. . . we may miss the sunset!” But we don’t.
Maybe they meant 20 minutes for the round trip.
The lookout is incredible, with views of islands + coves + open ocean surrounding us, + surprisingly, no wind. Best of all – no one else is there. The lighthouse is cute, looks like a thermos stuck on the cliff. We set up kitchen on the flat convience of the helicopter pad at the end of the little sidewalk from the thermos.
Full moon rises as the sun sets. Just a perfect evening. Easily one of the most romantic things I’ve ever experienced. *swoon*
. . . but all things must come to an end, + is it just me or do good things tend to end with retribution? Cautiously driving back to Brown Beach, eyes peeled for night friends, we return to find our campsite blazing with light + pumping tunes. Access to our tent blocked by a boat + three sport utility vehicles. I step out of the ‘Been + approach what is clearly a fisherman’s rave + try to suss the sitch. “We couldn’t fit anywhere else, bro.” “No, I imagine not. You have a boat.” Aurelia is less diplomatic, but luckily so is one of the less fish-oriented members of the invasion party, a crusty-punk in training named Alex. “Why don’t we move our jeep so you can pull in here, + then come have a drink with us?”
A casual comment “We didn’t even know this was a national park!” let us know that these fellows didn’t pay the after-dark self-registration entry fee, + of course they have a dog with them. But, tequila can be a strong peacemaker in troubled times. I only wish everyone at Brown’s Beach had been bribed + not just bombasted. “This is Aussie hip-hop!” Anyway. The night grew late as our fishy friends tackled up + gradually made their way to the beach. Not everyone was into the fishing, of course, several of these guys obviously just looking for a new place to do the same old. We get a little bored of the conversation + walk up the hill to get a better look at the insane halo that has gathered around the full moon. I try to photograph it but it refuses to be caught.
When we get back to camp it’s all quiet + dark, yay. Aurelia sets about making some tea, but before long the serenity is demolished by a the return of a few of the new arrivals, one of whom is not in the least interested in fishing or getting in touch with nature. “Do you think it would piss anyone off if I turned the music back on?” We try to get some sleep, but are disturbed frequently throught the night by shouted obsceneties + the occasional rock thrown at our tent. Some of the fishers return, but even they are unable to get the jerk to “STFU!” Very early in the morning they break camp, for fear that the rangers will bring hell down on them for the night’s antics. The loudmouth cops a lot of “What is wrong with you?!” from his friends but I don’t think it will sink in – he was all about being the black sheep.
They’re long gone by the time we’re up, + I am a little, no, a lot dismayed at the state of our camp. Mom always taught me to leave a site better than you found it, + I take that to heart, having spent a good deal of time picking cigarette butts out of the sand the entire time we’ve been at Brown’s Beach. Now there are twice as many as there were when we’d arrived, + everything smelled like beer. The day is overcast, + the breeze seems to always be blowing from the long-drops. Even the insects seem stirred up, the red ants + bees coming out to see wtf is up. We decide to just move on.
Gym Beach is neat, with a few tree-sheltered sites along a cliff overlooking a sandy spot that’s safe to swim, but of course, being the tail end of a national holibags long weekend, the only nice spot left is this one:
So we take lunch – instant noodles – while we laugh at the folks camping in the scenic view roundabouts, right on the edge. Great view, certainly, + not a bad spot if the wind is kind. I find a few more camping areas to try on the route home. Stop in Ardrossan for small town charm, coffee + snacks. As we sit in the park at the water’s edge we marvel at the view of Gulf St. Vincent from the other side. “That’s home, across there. . .” The next campsite is decent, but no facilities + people with raging fires gives ‘relia the willies, + so we leave Yorke Peninsula behind. Aurelia insists on one last-ditch effort at a caravan park in Port Wakefield but it’s not meant to be. So we cut to the chase + roll on back to Adelaide.
Next time we’re going to the desert.