November 3, 2022
PARRY BEACH / MAZZOLETTI BEACH
I’m looking at Track Map 7 (Walpole region, d’Entrecasteaux National Park to Greens Pool/Elephant Rocks) to see how many more gaps there are in our hiking of the Bibbulmun Track. We do half-day and day hikes, as return walks from an entry point – and by that method have covered the Bibbulmun on Track Map 8 (Denmark to Albany, our local area) several times over, and about half of Track Map 7 so far, since the pandemic began and we had to cancel a planned hiking holiday in Tasmania – our other favourite place in the world.
And much as we love Tasmania, and much as that was supposed to be our first trip out of the state in the ten years since we started Red Moon Sanctuary, and a reward for the years of backbreaking work, including five years building our own strawbale eco-house, on top of managing 50 hectares of conservation reserve and a smallholding on which we grow a lot of our own food – and much as we were disappointed that we could not go because of the pandemic, our alternative adventure has just kept on giving. That’s because there are hundreds of kilometres of incredible tracks we’ve never set foot on before, right here on the South Coast – and despite the fact that we’ve lived here for so long and are regular hikers. We had just previously never spent much time regularly hiking west of Denmark.
So on Thursday last week, we utilised a day off to fill in a gap in our west-of-Denmark hiking project. We had to be in the mood for it – because it was a loooooong beach walk. The beaches here are spectacular, but neither of us enjoy the monotony of walking through uninterrupted sand for hours on end. We prefer walking on twisty-turny, uphill-downhill tracks through varied terrain. My favourite seaside hikes involve lots of little beaches and headlands you have to climb across to get to the next cove, and sections in the dunes and heathland above cliffs etc – like the walk from Peaceful Bay to Point Irwin and beyond.
But this time the stars appeared to align themselves correctly for us to take on the long beach east of Parry Beach village. We set out to walk along the beach for as long as we could enjoy it, then turn around – and knew that at the end of all that, we would especially enjoy our customary ice-cream stop at the Meadery on the drive home. Because ice-cream never tastes better than when you are hungry, thirsty, hot, bothered and have a tongue that’s hanging halfway out of your mouth.
So here’s the walk in the other direction from the week before, when we headed west over the rocks. (That section documented here!)
You can see the access ramp to the beach near the right-hand side. There is a small caravan park hidden in the dunes a few hundred metres back from the beach entrance, at which I’ve been wanting to stay one day, since I first saw it. We’ll have to get our trusty old tent back out of storage behind the staircase one of these days!
These are a few snaps taken just as we started walking, towards the Parry Inlet crossing.
The dog always enjoys the waves at the seaside. Being South Coast with a full fetch right to Antarctica, we get larger-than-life waves; also breaking one set behind the other, simultaneously. Since first arriving at this coast at the age of 22, I have never been able to enjoy “ordinary” seas again – I was so imprinted by the power and grandeur of the Southern Ocean in my first year here that this, from henceforth, was the ocean I loved best of all.
We found the Parry Inlet crossing unremarkable – just a small channel to wade with our boots off and pants rolled up to the knees. I took no photo of it; we were busy with conversation. After that, we continued on barefoot, allowing our feet to get a proper sanding and intermittent salt-water treatment.
We walked and walked; and then I remembered to take a photo, looking back – from a position in the bay that now allowed a view to Point Hillier.
At this point, past the channel crossing, the place bears the name of Mazzoletti Beach – although I would like to know its Noongar name.
Looking in the other direction, the view east extends around the bay (name of William Bay) over to Greens Pool, behind the rocky section, and some way from there the two wind turbines that power Denmark. We’ve walked the entire track to the east of Greens Pool – we’ll just have to go down to the tourist road at that end another time, to walk into our lunch stop on this hike and then back again, and a little the other way and back again, to close the last gap in that direction – an easy half-day undertaking.
At this stage the sand began to get very rough, with much shell grit, as it often does in the middle of a bay where the wave refraction tends to wash the fine sand towards either end of a beach. So after 20 minutes of this, and sinking in a lot besides, whether walking down by the water or up closer to the dunes, our feet began to feel flayed, and our enthusiasm waned. We had thought of going as far as the gap between the big dunes you can see up ahead in the previous photograph – the far dune is quite eroded and looks beige from lack of vegetation. If a track had veered up through there into the dunes, it would have been tempting to keep walking, Bibbulmun or not.
But we needed to stop for a drink and snack at this point. We watched an end-to-ender walk on ahead of us as we sipped from our bottles, and ten minutes later he still hadn’t reached the gap between the dunes. So we looked at each other, and called it a day. It was high noon, the UV was extreme, no shade for our stop, and no time for continuing down a beach. The shell grit was clinging to our feet; we couldn’t shift it all off so our socks went on over it. If unprotected skin is exposed too long at that time of day and year with all the reflection coming off the sand, you end up not just with sunburn, but with large blisters and sheet peeling. Ask me how I know… I learnt that lesson back in 1999, when I lived at Goode Beach in Frenchman Bay and spent half an hour sitting in the sand in long sleeves, sun hat and shorts with bare feet, facing the ocean as I wrote a short poem. Next morning my shins and feet sported the worst burns I’d ever had.
Photos from the walk back:
We called it a day when we got back to the car. After 10km of beach walking, no further exercise or adventures were required, and we made a beeline for our ice-cream stop, where we are getting to know the shop staff well enough to talk about music and drama with them. When I highly recommended the new Irish series Bad Sisters, she chatted to a friend and then came out to where we were eating the ice-cream to tell us her friend had watched it too, also highly recommended it, and would have personally killed the antagonist in the story with an axe! …well, that makes yet another potential axe-slayer, yours truly included, for a case like this. In systems rigged by sociopaths and misogynists to prevent such people being made accountable and being stopped from inflicting their misery on others henceforth, maybe we need to overhaul our ideas of how justice is to be obtained, instead of hoping “authority” will procure it for us.
No ice cream photos were taken – for a sample of that, see the last instalment of these hiking diaries. However, I do wish to record that Brett had one scoop of ginger and one of passionfruit, and I one of passionfruit and one of my trusty old favourite hazelnut. We aim to try out at least one new-to-us flavour a week. I don’t normally enjoy passionfruit very much, either as a fruit or in cheesecake etc – but the look of it was good enough to tempt me, and I was not disappointed – this was a really great flavour, with an almost citrus tang that was wonderfully refreshing after a hot walk. Since I’m forever deconstructing food, I went back to ask if there was any citrus admixed to this variety – and there wasn’t; apparently the secret is just lots of fresh passionfruit pulp. The shopkeeper beamed ear to ear though, because it turned out she’d personally made that batch and because it was the first time I really loved something with passionfruit in it!
November 10, 2022
WILLIAM BAY / MAZZOLETTI BEACH
One week later, we returned for a lightning visit to complete the beach walk from the other end, starting at William Bay.
This was just an easy walk down from the car park, mostly on a vehicle access track.
The Pimelia ferruginosa still have some pink in their displays but are beginning to fade and make seed.
Soon we had views over the bay.
The waves rolled in impressively.
We now entered a foot track to descend to the beach. I much prefer walking on these; it’s more of an immersion experience, plus I find vehicle access tracks unaesthetic.
Up and over the primary dune:
There were interesting things on the sand…
The dog gnawed at the carbonised wood, which seemed to have been part of a jetty once. It would be interesting to know how it fell into the ocean and ended up washed up on this remote beach.
Soon Brett and I arrived at the large double dunes we’d seen from the other direction the week before, but turned back from. The eastern dune was part limestone cliff and quite photogenic.
The foreground plants are Coastal Pigface and their berries are edible “bush tucker”.
We now turned into the gap between the two large dunes and tracked back about 50m to find a nice place to have a picnic lunch.
And what a nice picnic spot it was – sheltered out of the breeze, with a brilliant view, soft sand to sit on, and the sun warm on our skin on yet another unseasonally freezing spring day – not that we were complaining, since it’s far more comfortable hiking weather and means you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to get your hike in before the heat and extreme UV of the day begin.
A great spot to eat your refreshing carrot/cheese/lemon juice/chilli hiking salad, and then chill out a bit. Here’s the view of sea spurge against the western dune ridge, from a supine position.
…and then we backtracked, with a bit of water play and fossicking along the shoreline for interesting objects and patterns.
Near the beach exit was some driftwood…
Brett picked three nicely sanded pieces for his knotwork practice before we ascended back up the primary dune. He went ahead, with the camera, to capture from on high the climb up with the handy rope that is in place to help hikers navigate the steep uphill.
All right! The rope actually made that ascent fun. And that’s quite enough photos of me for a while, so we won’t be taking many of my personage on the next hike.
After that, we descended down the primary dune into the swale…
…and came back up the secondary dune, on top of which are perched granite tors characteristic of our granite coast.
Those you will see more of next week, when we close the gap in the other direction and ascend to Tower Hill, and from there make our way to the lovely and remote Hanging Rock, which we haven’t been to in 18 months.
Traditional ice cream stop at the Meadery on the way home: I had hazelnut below, vanilla on top – Brett had double coffee, followed by a flat white! And then it came out that he’d had iced coffee muesli for breakfast, followed by a coffee to go in his thermos mug en route…
November 18, 2022
WILLIAM BAY / HANGING ROCK