Afternoon – 4 April 2017
Returning to Lock Sport Causeway carpark; unloaded the bike from the back of the D-Max, checked all the gear, then placed a hot cross bun in the bike pouch where the Garmin GPS previously used to be located. I had a larger pack for this section to carry camping gear. It was 36km to the entrance, that linked the northern Gippsland Lakes to the ocean, so I intended to stop for the night and rough camp in the dunes behind the beach. I would meet the Lake Entrance water taxi at Drew Jetty just south of the Entrance the next day.
In strong southerly winds, I commenced my journey north from Lock Sport at 11:15, without my trusty Garmin GPS. My iPad a poor substitute for the Garmin but at least it could provide some basic reference points.
I stopped for my first break about 4km along the beach, away in the distance I could make out a very tall communication tower. I started using this as a reference point, not such a clever idea, as it seemed like for ever to get level with it. The tower was situated about 500m back behind the tall dunes, something to do with the bass strait oil rigs I guess. I stopped for a long break had a swim and then tried to climb up through the scrub to the tower. About half way in, I realised the thick dune vegetation was not passable, so I stopped short and took pictures. The trek back down to the beach was harder than the trek in and after a few scratches and bruises I found my bike again; alone on the beach. I rinsed off again in the wild surf. This section of beach was particularly laced with rips and shoreline currents so I was extremely careful entering the surf in such an isolated location.
I was pushing mainly above the high-water mark again using patches of shells for traction where possible. About 2km north of the tower I saw child size footprints in the sand, below the high-water mark. I looked around the area for some time but could not find any adult size tracks. These were the first signs of human presence since leaving Lock Sport, being one of the most isolated section of Ninety Mile Beach.
However up the beach I then:
- Found a can of Fanta, so I drank it.
- Found a fur seal sleeping, so startled it.
I was having a really good time, I was reporting in regularly on the hour every hour keeping Joanne informed of my progress and welfare. At 17:30 I found a track leading off the beach, walking down the track for about 400m I came across the remote settlement of Ocean Grange. Normally the only access to this settlement is via the lake system by boat. I looked around, took some pictures then walked back to my bike. After contemplating my progress for that day and what remained to reach Lake Entrance, I decided my best option was to set up camp for the night.
After hauling my pack and bike up over the steep dune track, a sheltered area at the back of the Ocean Grange settlement became my camp for the night. The whole time I was there I did not see anyone, but later that evening it became obvious people were living in the vicinity. Around 10pm I was woken by the sounds of nearby partying and fireworks. My last check in with Joanne was at 18:00. Joanne had already made it into the township of Lakes Entrance, and had booked into a modest motel 100m from the post office jetty where I would be arriving by water taxi the next morning.