April 9th 2017
campsite amongst machinery – Riverton
Total distance: 1835.9 miles
It was a nice warm night in our tiny tent site by the old machinery. We went to bed so early and we were asleep quickly so we woke up early. Colin and Sandy were awake at 6am and they were doing a lot of rustling. They were trying to be quiet but our tents were so close they may as well have been inside my tent, so I was awake too.
They left about an hour before Crusher and I left. There was 10 miles of forest still to get through and it was most likely going to be muddy. After 5ish miles there is a shortcut and an exit from the forest which leads down to Riverton. Crusher was considering taking that exit and I didn’t blame her at all as she doesn’t have to put herself through all of this like we have to. A lot of ‘TA hikers’ probably take the short cut too.
There was a lot of mud and a lot of downed trees, one particular one involved a precarious walk around and under a tree right next to the giant ditch which I fell into. It was my most spectacular fall of the trail so far and thankfully I wasn’t hurt and there wasn’t anyone around to witness it. I was however covered in quite a significant amount of mud all along my right side. I climbed out of the ditch, stupidly on the same side of the tree so had to attempt the manoeuvre again, that time more successfully. And the next 8 miles passed in pretty much the same way. I continued to slip and slide and curse my way through the muddy forest. This area was mined for gold by the Chinese in the 1880s, they created a water race, which is the great big ditch that we are now following. I can’t explain it in any other words than those that were used on the sign, which said ‘the first serious gold miners at Round Hill were the Chinese, who tunnelled and sluiced the terraces and gullies using water directed at the clay faces. Seams of gold bearing gravels were then washed down a race into a sluice box which trapped the gold in its riffles made of bars of wood or iron.’
I was tiring of the forest and was longing to be out the other side and done with it, I felt like it was constantly trying to pull me back, to trap me. I felt like Harry Potter in the Goblet of Fire. In the clear parts I tried to pick up the pace as much as I could to make up for all the sketchy areas. I thought it was over when the trail broke out of the trees, it lead me through some dense ferns and I wondered which was worse! The ferns didn’t last for long and I was back in the forest again. Eventually the trail widened and became smooth and easy to walk on. This last mile or so was a popular day hike that took people past the old mining stuff so it had been worked on and maintained, although I didn’t see anyone on the trail. I was able to move fast and when I got spit out the end of the forest I felt like I could breathe again.
A short dirt road walk followed by a couple of miles on the highway got me to Colac bay. Sandy and Colin were waving at me from the window of the tavern and were eating ice creams when I got inside. It was 1pm already and I hadn’t stopped to eat so I was starving. It was a Sunday and this place was super busy without enough staff. My cheese and pineapple toasty took half an hour to arrive, but it was delicious and I inhaled it in about 4 bites.
We all left together and the beach walk wasn’t quite what we were expecting, the beach was full of pebbles and the sand was soft and slow going. The tide was high and it pushed us up on the sloped bank. We followed the trail that took us up and over, in a windy way, around the headlands, climbing up through fields and bashing through bush. We went through a field of cows and through a tunnel of gorse, it was just like being back in the Northland! After the challenging coastal track we joined a nice smooth path that took us up a short hill to a car park overlooking Riverton.
We had another half an hour cruise into town on dirt and paved roads. I got rid of my rubbish in the bin at the car park and my pack was super small and as light as it was going to be so I flew along.
We headed straight for the supermarket in town, I satisfied my soda craving with a $1 soda and Angie and Rebecca came to meet us. Rebecca has found work in Riverton and a place to live so it looks like she will settle down here for a while. The guy she is moving in with, Scott, his parents own lots and lots of farm land, as far as the eye can see, with 900 cows and lots of other animals – ducks, alpaca, goats, sheep. Rebecca is house sitting for his parents while they are away and Scott invited us all to stay there for the night, which was really nice of them.
While we all showered and got our laundry on the others made us dinner, vege curry and coconut rice and it was delicious. With a glass of wine and a thick banana milkshake for desert it was one of the best meals I’ve had on the trail! It was a really nice evening, and I felt totally relaxed as I sat in a pink robe procured from the bathroom and a dog on my knee and a cat at my feet.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.