22 Mar 2021
The oncoming car flashed their lights. Instantly we were on the look out for…something. An accident. A speed camera. Anything.
After a minute or two of winding uneventfully through the forest, still nothing.
“Why would someone flash their lights?” Wondered Dave out loud.
“It’s a warning…” I was starting to doubt it was intentional.
Emus! Three bewildered looking Emus were standing at the side of the road. A family I think.
“Ohhhhhhh” We said in unison.
“I’ve never seen them in the wild before!” I said excitedly.
“Me neither.” Dave said slowing right down and keeping out of their way.
The road into Wilsons Promontory wound through low dense forest under a watercolour sky. An old combi in front, surfboard strapped to the roof, reminding us the beach was near. And then the coast revealed itself, in turquoise spender.
“Imagine the colour under a blue sky!” It was so vivid under a heavy sky.
Provisions packed, we planned to hike to Little Oberon Bay and spend time sketching. The trail plunged into a belt of tea trees and tunnelled through the squat twisted branches. We were completely sheltered from the wind swooshing through the canopy.
Climbing around the southern end of Norman Beach views opened up along its wind blown plains. Ribbons of white sand streamed across the wet sand.
A lone surfer sat astride his board, facing out to sea. A speck in the ocean.
The track followed around the headland, over granite outcrops and through short twisted forest. Tea trees, eucalyptus, and pine. Through a gap in the trees we could see a yacht sheltering from the easterly wind.
“Have we done this walk before?” asked Dave “It feels familiar.”
“I’m not sure. Possibly…” In 2002 we did a multi-day hike. On the last night we decided to pitch the tent on the beach rather than the (sheltered) campsite. The wind picked up overnight and blew out the tent pegs. We filled the sleeping bag covers with sand and tied them to the corners of the tent. We didn’t get any sleep that night listening to the furiously flapping tent, but were rewarded with an amazing sunrise.
The next day we ran out of water and didn’t pass any running streams. We were so dehydrated that I can’t remember much about the walk out, other than David carried my backpack as well as his own to get us out of there. My hero.
And then we saw it.
Little Oberon Beach. A sea of turquoise framed with dazzling white sand, bookended with rocky headlands. Burnt orange speckled boulders, dark looming mountains and misty islands haunting the horizon. One of which is called Skull Rock.
Oh yes, this is the perfect place to spend the day sketching.
We climbed down to the pristine sand, I felt guilty for leaving foot prints. We chose a spot in the lee of the wind and made ourselves comfortable on the sand between the boulders.
A gull kept us company as we ate lunch. He was in perfect condition: no club foot or mangy feathers. His piercing stare watched us eat. Every. Mouthful. And he moved closer and closer as I finished the last of my apple.
Meanwhile David had started sketching and I hurried to get set up too. He’s typically finished a sketch by the time I’m set up.
Working as quickly as I could, I repeated our mantra out loud to remind myself “fast and loose”.
This is for two reasons. Firstly, to avoid getting bogged down in detail. I’d like to paint in a more abstract way, loose, and with energy; figurative but less detailed or realistic.
And secondly, to catch the light. On a blustery day like this, the light is constantly changing.
Engrossed in what I was doing, I didn’t notice the wind had picked up. Suddenly sand was blowing into everything, my ears included. I closed my eyes and hunched into the sandy gust. A layer of sand blew into my paint and sucked up the mixed colours.
But I was in a great mood- feeling grateful. Grateful to be painting on the beach, for this trip, for a year off, for everything!
By the time I was finished, David was busy beach combing. I stood up, dusted off and set about joining him.
We found a beautiful shell. The perfect artefact to remind us of this day.
A half naked man emerged from the water with snorkel and mask.
“Do you think he’s been looking for the octopus?” David joked
Wind blew down through the valley and blew the tops off the waves. We noticed little water spouts forming out in the bay. They didn’t hold up for long.
As much as we wanted to linger, the weather was closing in and it was time to turn back.
Climbing up through the dunes, sand whipped through boulders and sandblasted us. I struggled up through the deep soft sand between boulders with eyes closed, lips pursed and hands over my ears.
“That was difficult” I called above the wind to David, waiting at the top of the track.
It’s about this time on any walk, that we start discussing dinner plans.
“So, what are you thinking about cooking for dinner?”
“How does zucchini fritters sound?”
“Sounds good” I said picking up the pace.
Back on the track following the headland, wind blustered through the canopy. It came in noisy gusts, but we were sheltered by the vegetation.
“What do you think?” Asked David pointing to a detour to Norman Point.
“Sure!” I said following him down a rocky side path. We clambered down over rocks and roots until we came out on a rocky outcrop with a spectacular view. Wind whipped through the scrub down to the rocky headland being eroded by a relentless sea.
Just as we reached the headland south of Norman Beach, a misty rain started. I couldn’t tell if it was rain or low clouds, the mist was so fine. But it was moving fast.
Wind rushed through the saddle and pushed back at the waves. It was a strange and beautiful sight. We stopped in our tracks and watched for a moment.
From here it was a short walk back through the sheltered tunnels of tea trees before arriving at the car feeling wind swept and invigorated.
We love walking in the wind. It fills us with excitement, energy, and inspiration.