Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Wild West: 3

Oh dear! this has taken far too long, and everyone has probably lost interest now. But I need to finish up this account of our tramp up the West Coast with Tarkine Trails.

In some ways, it's not a bad thing that there has been a gap between the last post and this one, since our experiences at Sandy Cape were in a bit of a different category to the previous days. Remember that we had been walking through lonely places, meeting only one couple since being dropped off at Pieman Heads. So even though we had been walking down 4WD tracks you can probably imagine our feelings when a group of tiny blobs in the far distance resolved themselves into a pack of trail bikes and quad bikes. They hurtled past and we waved politely, if unenthusiastically, and tried to forget about them, but now our wild beach had fresh tyre tracks along it.

Not just our tracks in the sand

As we approached Sandy Cape (and it's a long, long approach) we could see signs of civilisation; first the lighthouse, then a small shack or two, and as we trudged along the final beach, we were overtaken by an old and decrepit HiLux. The driver stopped to chat, and so we met Troy and Rusty, two Sandy Cape "locals". Troy, from the north west coast, has been coming to Sandy Cape since he was an infant (and his father and grandfather before him), while Rusty, who is from Hobart, makes an annual trek to spend a few weeks there each summer. They were impressed with our walk, and noted that we were a bit short of water. They also spoke magic words: "D'ya like crayfish?" (Much nodding of heads). Anyway, they disappeared only to return shortly with two jerries of water, and a huge cooked crayfish!

Oh yum.
(No disrespect to Simon's cooking)

Clare knew just what to do

Sandy Cape camp

As it turned out, this was not our last experience of the kindness of strangers that day. A little later the quad and trail bike guys returned, and also stopped to hear our story. When we confessed to having walked from Pieman Heads they were staggered: "What d'ya want to do that for?" (Pause) ".....and how d'ya get your beer?" When we admitted that we had no beer they went into crisis mode: back to their camp, returning swiftly with a six pack, just in case we might have fainted away in the meantime.

They came back later (after we had eaten the crayfish for hors d'oeuvre, and then our dinner) to ask whether we liked abalone. More nodding of heads, but our friends doubted our ability to cook abalone properly so they whipped out a small gas stove from the back of their 4WD and proceeded to melt butter, add garlic and feed us fresh-cooked abalone in large quantities!

Rusty and Troy arrive to take us over the dunes

Troy and Rusty took some of our party out in their 4WDs that evening to check the cray pots and see the sights. In the morning they were back, and insisted that we all climb aboard so that they could take us on a tour of the dunes, and then drop us off where we were to picked up by our vehicles for the drive out (thus saving us an hour's walking). After some very professional driving we arrived at the summit of the dunes, looking inland to a lake formed where the mobile sand had blocked a stream. Troy's brother showed what could be done on a quad bike over mobile sand. Amazing skills.

On top of the dunes
They were high. It was windy.

Rusty in his Range Rover
(Shamelessly stole this pic from Gayle. It's so good)

Troy's brother on quad bike
The marks disappear very quickly in the wind

There he goes!
And he came back up at immense speed

By the time we left Sandy Cape in our own 4WDs to the way to meet the bus at Arthur River we had come a long way from our first meeting with the trail bikes back down the coast, both literally and metaphorically. It was quite clear that these guys had just as strong a feeling for the place as we did, even though they might enjoy it in a different way, and we left cogitating about the challenges in involving all of the stakeholders in the management of this fabulous coastline.

Well done, Team
(Left Rear: Katie, Jean, Alastair, Clare, Hamish, Greg, Gayle, Erin, Heidi. Front: Simon, Darvis, Hiraly)