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Days 23 to 26: The Great Ocean Walk (Part 2)

Last time I left you, we had our final supper as The Meryls (Eliza, Fraser, Jamie, Annabelle and I) on Thursday night and gone to bed.

Friday 20th

We woke up and had a slow morning packing up, eating as much leftover food for breakfast as we could, and consolidating what else I would take with me. Gemma arrived to pick everyone up amidst this activity and after delaying as much as possible I bid my farewells and thanks to everyone, waved them goodbye as they drove away, shouldered my pack and continued on.

The schedule denoted an easy 10 km today over very little change in elevation, and I decided to take my time. I stopped for lunch at the halfway mark of 5 km, and munched down on leftover goodies like avocado! I shouldered my pack again and checked my watch to discover that the 5 km and lunch had only taken an hour! In less than another hour I was at my next camp on Cape Otway, after taking a brief stroll through the lighthouse keepers graveyard and passed by the lookout. I set up camp and went down to see the lighthouse and maybe get a coffee in the cafe, but was disappointed to discover that entry to both areas was $20! Instead I sat down and ate some more, wrote some postcards and eventually went to bed quite early!

It must have been too early because I tossed and turned for what seemed like hours until in the dark I heard some voices approaching. Thinking I might know who it was I listened carefully and pretended to be asleep as my dear friends Claire and Raidy (more of my co-leaders at Wollangarra from 2016) discussed whether or not they should wake me. Eventually I heard a soft voice coo: "Tristaaan", so I yelled "AAAAAAHHHH" and we all laughed and had a lovely reunion! I managed to stay in bed while they set up their tarp, then carried me over so we could all talk the night away and fall asleep next to each other.

Saturday 21st

We were due to meet our friend Andrew ("Foss") (2012 staff at Mittagundi, sister organisation to Wollangarra) at the lighthouse entrance in the morning so we packed up early and had breakfast while waiting for him in the carpark. A cheerful face that had been sitting in a car approached us and asked what we were doing, so I told him about the project and sponsors. It turns out that this lovely fellow, Charlie, had attended courses as a young person at Wollangarra and his family had provided alpacas, including the current alpaca Bollinger way back when! What a small world! He told me about a project he would like to do in the future, walking to raise awareness for Aboriginal equality and I promised I would join him for a leg of it. What a legend!

Foss arrived, so we packed and re-packed and Claire and I set off, Claire with her bicycle to make it easier on her gnarly foot. Foss and Raidy drove a car to the next campsite and back again, then caught up with Claire and I.

We intended to stop for lunch at Parkers crossing, expecting to wade through the river at waist height because we arrived later in the day, but luckily found only ankle-deep water! This was when I experienced heaven, for lunch was a feast. Hummus, goats cheese, corn chips, avocados, cucumbers, white bread and rye, butter, miso, salmon, hot chocolate... In short, all my heart's desires! We continued on after Raidy and Claire went for a quick swim, finding ourselves at Blanket Bay campground what seemed like a short time later. We set up camp under two tarps, went for a walk on the beach, then pulled out a guitar from the car and sang together until we decided to have some dinner (even though we were still full from lunch!). This is when I experience heaven for the second time that day, as we fried zucchini, capsicum, onion, eggplant and mushrooms on a barbecue to join felafel, hummus and avocado in an amazing pita wrap. We were all stuffed and decided to go to the beach to walk it off, finding ourselves singing and harmonising again to the backdrop of the crashing waves. We are now known as the Blanket Baes, record in store soon. Bliss!

Sunday 22nd

We had a slow morning waking up, nonetheless I got another treat with breakfast muesli: yoghurt! Claire and Raidy left after breakfast and Foss and I got on with the day, walking up, up, up through tall, wet Eucalypt forests (the track was extremely muddy). It was a great opportunity to spend some quality time with a great friend and beautiful man. I couldn't have asked for anything more!

On the way we met Mowemma and Sandra; the former well aware of Wollangarra through her son who worked in outdoor education and kind enough to give a donation to the project. We also met two people who had sold everything they owned apart from what was on their backs and decided to spend the rest of their lives walking around the world, raising awareness for mindfulness in our lives. If I remember to name of their project I'll let you know - what an incredible journey!

Reaching our campsite early in the afternoon, we ate a delicious lunch featuring heavily in butter and decided we weren't done with walking for the day, so continued onwards.

After descending through the tall Eucalypt forests and clambering over many seaside rock formations (during which I rolled my ankle, not seriously) we arrived at a clearer area where we decided to set up camp and eat dinner (Ramen!) facing an incredible ocean and sky. I fell asleep midway through our conversation... sorry Foss!

Monday 23rd

Another slow morning with a delicious breakfast, again featuring a lot of butter and bread and overlooking the ocean and sky to which we fell asleep. We also found the world's supply of slugs had decided to join us for the evening and had attached themselves to EVERYTHING. No matter.

The morning was uneventful really as we passed through Marengo and into Apollo Bay, where we found Foss' car that Raidy and Claire had left there, picked up my trusty cart from Maryanne at the local IGA where Gemma had left it and then ate some lunch together and enjoyed a beer. And so ended the incredibly fun, picturesque, iconic 100 km Great Ocean Walk!

I bid Foss as much of a heartfelt appreciation, thanks and farewell as I could muster, reassembled and repacked my cart, then headed to the ocean for a swim. Next I spent a little time in a local cafe charging devices and writing up Part 1 of this post, then gathered myself and set off for the afternoon. I intended to do between 5 and 10 km before setting up camp.

After around 5 km I passed through Skene's Creek and heard someone yell "What are you doing?" I look around and found myself talking to Charles, who turned out to be the owner of the local Skene's Beachside Caravan Park. We got to talking and he offered me night's stay free of charge. I was initially hesitant to accept as I was on the short end of my distance goal for the day, but my right shin was hurting and the thought of a warm shower and chance to wash some of my clothes at the same time clinched the deal. I did just those things, made myself some dinner, posted Part 1 of this post and fell asleep. Thanks Charles!

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