So we have had an introduction to this walk, then on day 1 we walked Boyd's tower to Saltwater Creek, day 2 we walked Saltwater Creek to Hegarty's Bay, and now we are doing Day 3 : Hegarty's Bay to Mowarry Point - start 11:50am arrived at campsite at 5:15pm (elapsed 5hrs 25mins) - 9.5k
As mentioned in the previous post, we had gone to sleep thinking that on Day 3 we would continue on towards Green Cape Lighthouse and sleep at Bittangabee Bay. However, the soaking of the youngest child's last set of dry clothes, while collecting water for the day, was a final straw moment. Instead, we decided to cut short the walk and turned around and walked back towards the car. My 14 year-old-son, probably at the request of my husband, carried my pack across this rocky start to our walk.
The bay at Hegarty's Bay is rocky and involves a bit of climbing up and down. I was actually in much better shape than the day before and could have made it across this terrain easily enough but the transaction all took place very quickly and it seemed churlish to insist. Particularly as I had been in such poor shape the day before.
The rock formations were interesting with the layers and folds and rambling colours. There was only a very small beach in this bay and the path back towards the car heads up from the back of the beach.
The water would have been quite cold but it was crystal clear and looked enticing.
While the boys escorted me across the rocky bay, Tess had gone on ahead. When she asked could she go on ahead, we said that was fine because we hadn't experienced her as someone who would bolt away out of our sight. After walking for about twenty minutes we bumped into the only people we ever saw out on the 4-day bushwalk. How different from the Prom the year before when we bumped into dozens and dozens of people and in fact, an entire year group of high school students from Doncaster College was out walking around the Prom (probably hundreds of teenagers and dozens of teachers). We checked with this couple whether they had seen our daughter and they confirmed a sighting as she had walked past them. They were keen to ask us how old our children were, and how much they carried, and how long had we walked. After our replies, they said their daughter was only 4 & a half and they weren't sure when they could start overnight bushwalking with her. They had left her with relatives and were out enjoying a day walk. When we got home, I checked and it seems Tess was 5 years old and 3 months when we took her on her first overnight bushwalk.
After leaving this couple, and walking on quite a way, we started to get anxious about not catching up with Tess. In the end, Tim thought it best to drop his pack at our lunch stop and then rush on ahead to see if he could find her. He eventually caught up with her just before Saltwater Creek beach. If you recall, it is 4km from Saltwater to Hegarty's - so she'd walked the entire thing on her own without company. After finding her, he had to tell her to wait, he then walked back to find us, put his pack on and walked back to where Tess was waiting. It had rained a few times on the walk from Hegarty's back to Saltwater, so we all felt confident that we had made the right choice. Heading home was looking and feeling just right.
We walked back into the campsite at Saltwater creek at 1:50pm and unlike our previous experience when it had been full, there was now only one lone campsite in use and one car in the day walkers parking spot. Tim wandered over to the campsite and asked about tweezers for some of the ticks we were still carrying. Thankfully the family had some to lend us and we put it to good use. After this first aid stop, some snacks, some topping up of water, at 2:30pm we then walked back out of the campsite and into the bright sunlight. This had been typical of the whole trip - rain, drizzle, grey skies, then clearing, blue skies and warmth, then back again.
Tess and Tim walked on ahead and Nick kept me company, chatting away about his computer games which he clearly was missing. I've spent a bit of time watching him play his latest game and it is quite complex and involves a lot of strategy. He plays online in a what is referred to as a military, science fiction, real-time strategy video game. I don't have much wisdom to offer in this pursuit of his, but I'm more than happy to listen and ask questions and make the occasional (probably very lame) suggestion. He usually rapidly corrects me and explains why that wouldn't work.
Sometimes, I couldn't help myself and had to stop and look, and then photograph the flowers. Through the drought years, we did a lot of walking and I swear I never saw fields of wildflowers like this. As soon as I'd finished my moment with nature, I'd catch back up to Nick, and then we'd be back on the topic of computer games.
About an hour into the walk from Saltwater Creek to Mowarry Point, up on the headland, just off the path, we caught up to Tim and Tess. They had stopped by the side of the path to watch this echidna desperately try and ignore us.
He was snuffling around, pushing the logs about, looking for ants and insects to eat. When he became aware of our presence, he attempted to roll himself up into a discrete and spiky bundle. We really enjoyed just standing and watching him. I don't suspect he had reciprocal feelings. Eventually, we left him in peace to go about his business and we wandered back along the path and started thinking about where we would spend the night.
Tim and I both had vague memories of potential campsites that we had passed on that first day of walking to Saltwater Creek campsite. One of those sites looked really pleasant to Tessy but was not so appealing to the others. We pressed on. The next site was just too exposed and the wind was getting fierce in the late afternoon. So we pressed on. Then we came to a fantastic little spot. It was flat, with shelter from the wind, and a lovely view out into a small bay. Perfect. It was 5:15pm so we set up tents, got dinner organised and then built a campfire. The funniest moment of the whole trip happened later that night.
It was a full moon on the 11th October, which was the night we spent at Mowarry Point. There had been a small boat moored in the bay and I had vaguely absorbed its presence and wondered what it would be like to just park a boat and sit for hours. Then at about dusk, it took off and pulled out from the sheltered spot where it had been, and headed out to sea. At the time I thought, ah the fisherman is heading home. He probably needs to be home before dark and I imagined someone at home, waiting for him, possibly anxiously, possibly without much focus or thoughts about the absent fisherman.
A little bit of time passed and it grew completely dark. We were still sitting up by the campfire chatting and enjoying the full moon on the ocean, the open skies and the stillness of the evening. Then all of a sudden I noticed that the boat had lights on and that they were in fact fishing. They hadn't gone home. I'm not sure why I got really excited but I leapt up, smoke got in my eyes because as I stood up the wind blew a bit of smoke my way, so I darted around trying to avoid the smoke and shouted 'Prawning. That boat is prawning'. My family were at first alarmed by my behaviour and also leapt up and moved away. Then when they realised what I'd said...that I'd made some reference to fishing...not to being on fire...they started teasing me.
It is still a mystery to me why I got so excited. And after I got home and did a bit of research, I'm now not sure that in fact the fishermen were prawning. It seems that ....
It is worth having a look for prawn activity, particularly after a flush of rain, about 5 days after a full moon. Prawn numbers and activity tend to peak around the 8th or 9th day after the full moon. If this period coincides with warm weather and northeast winds, all the better.
Various legal recreational methods are used to harvest prawns throughout Australia, all far less detrimental to our fishery than most of the less target specific and often destructive commercial practices.
In some areas dragnets are also allowed and again are a highly effective method of recreational harvesting. But around the Sydney region and most of the NSW coastline, the only legal method of prawning is with the use of a single hand, dab or scoop net. It might sound a little restrictive but it can be a very viable way of prawning. Submersible lights are significantly better than above-water lighting when scoop-netting prawns. Balmy summer nights spent chasing pairs of brightly glowing eyes around a still estuary can offer very therapeutic benefits – and those sweet pink morsels of flesh are the grand finale.
And according to this site...
Prawns are active mainly at night, remaining buried in the sea-bed during the day.
Prawns, like other crustaceans, moult their shells during growth. This usually occurs around full moon. Feeding varies during the various stages of the moult cycle, with prawns ceasing to feed around the time of the moult. This results in prawns being less catchable at times of full moon. Also, because prawns have soft shells after the moult, catching soon after the full moon can lead to a high proportion of soft and broken prawns in the catch. When fisheries managers determine opening dates of prawning seasons, these factors are taken into account.
So, if the recreational fishermen on that boat were excitedly or calmly 'prawning' on the night of the full moon, maybe they should have waited a few more days. Or maybe in fact, it was some other type of night fishing with lights. Anyway, the next day, my family were still teasing me about the excited campfire prawning dance.
It was certainly a more lighthearted evening than the glum and gloomy campfire the night before. And I was glad to offer my entertainment services for the sake of family wellbeing.