26 Apr 2021
‘The mozzies are bad.’ Announced the handwritten sign at the trailhead. ‘Cover up and use insect repellent. Ross River Fever has been detected in mosquitoes in SE Tasmania. ’
Damn. I didn’t bring the repellent. I always bring repellent. Why didn’t I bring repellent? We’ve packed light because we’re planning to run, and David was wearing shorts. We looked at David’s exposed legs. He suddenly felt exposed.
“Looks like the track is closed for a week, from tomorrow, for repair work” I said reading another sign. “So it’s today, or not at all.” I said looking back to David‘s legs.
“Maybe the visitor centre has repellent?” He suggested. We shrugged, rolled eyes and walked back to the car. Back along the narrow road to the Visitor centre. Repellent. Yes! Standing in the car park armed with two cans we crop-dusted ourselves. We really went to town, making sure nowhere was exposed. Top to toe.
Now, where were we? Ah yes, setting off on the Hazards Circuit at Wineglass Bay. 11.5k and we were planning to run the trail from Wineglass Bay, after the lookout (the red dotted line).
After a steady uphill climb for a kilometre or so, not bothering to stop at the interim lookouts, we neared the top of the saddle. The eucalypt forest gave way to huge granite boulders, a familiar sight along the eastern coast of Australia.
I was feeling fit and strong as we walked past other people red-faced and panting, sitting on a rock to catch their breath.
It’s a familiar view from the lookout, and as lovely as ever. Our honeymoon (1998) was the first time we visited this spectacular place, followed by our 20th wedding anniversary (2018). The system of boardwalks and viewing platforms was new to us. Much more organised and capable of coping with the crowds. Today there were only a handful of others around.
We could see the graceful white beach of Wineglass Bay, the next stop on our route.
It was a steep track down to the beach. Down uneven steps, around boulders and over roots. Down, down, down. It didn’t take long and my knee started protesting. Only a few minutes ago I was feeling fit and strong. Now, I felt like an invalid. I lectured myself for not keeping up with our strength exercises. “Use it, or lose it” I mumbled to myself.
“Hold up Dave, I have to stretch” Stepping up to a rock and stretched out my hamstring. “Gaarrrrhhh” I breathed into it, finding little relief. With my knee complaining at every step down, it felt like we’d never get to the bottom. But eventually we made it to beach level. As soon as we were walking on flatter ground the pain started to subside.
“I feel like we’re walking into one of my paintings” I’ve painted a couple of views from this beach. I’d almost forgotten that they were from here.
“Well, this looks like a good spot to sketch.” He said selecting a spot on the sand. I joined him and dug my fingers into my complaining muscle for a minute before pulling out a muesli bar.
People came and went, as we sat side by side quietly sketching. The clouds rolled over, the sun came out and the tide crept in.
“Ahhhhh!” We yelled in unison when a rogue wave washed up the beach and was about to slosh into our bags and paintings. We laughed and scrambled out of the way making another couple on the beach giggle at our predicament.
Relocating to higher ground, we continued sketching.
“Can I see?” A lady approached us with an embarrassed and curious smile. David held up his watercolour.
“I’ve only just started..” I held up my half finished sketch.
“It’s a lovely way to remember it, isn’t it. I didn’t bring mine with me but its in the caravan!” She looked excited to get back and start painting too.
“We better get going, Babe.” Surprised I looked at my watch, it was getting late. We still had 8.5k to go and about 2 and a half hours of daylight.
“You’re right, we better hustle” I agreed and started packing up.
We walked for about 15 minutes to warm up before starting to run. Amazingly the rest and stretching had sorted my knee completely. I felt fine, great even.
It’s a fairly uneventful track that cuts across the peninsula through the scrub and along some sections of boardwalk.
As we approached the dune before Hazard Beach, we came across a crew working to repair the coastal track – the reason this walk will be closed from tomorrow.
“You have a great job!” I said to the guys who were digging in the sand “Not trapped behind a computer, under fluorescent lighting.”
“Aw, that’ll be him next week” the older guy nodded to the young guy holding a bright yellow surveyance tripod “I have the best job in the world” he chuckled.
Down on the beach we picked up again and found an easy pace and settled into a rhythm.
The endorphins kicked in and a moment of pure joy washed over me. Here we are, we’re doing it! On an adventure, in a beautiful place, running and feeling great! In an impossibly good mood.
The northern end of the beach ended with a rocky outcrop that glowed pink and orange in the afternoon sun.
“Wow, we’ve just run the entire length of that beach, and I’m not tired.” David told me later. “We’re fit!” We’ve come a long way in three years, from our couch-potato days. What a journey. (We lost 15kgs each in 2018).
Plunging back into a pine forest, we enjoyed running on a bed of soft brown pine needles. We caught glimpses of a small cove through the wispy pine trees and followed an unofficial track down to the little beach.
Further along we came to another little beach, that is very familiar to us. One of my paintings is of this beach. It’s an important painting for me because I feel like I found the beginning of my style. A seedling of an approach. It sits on the wall in our lounge room.
This was painted a few years ago, when I was at the National Art School.
“Our secret beach” said Dave. He too has painted this scene a few times. “I remember the mountains being further away.” We looked out across the bay. He’s right they are much closer than they appear in the photos. “And its smaller too, I painted a long stretch of beach.”
We spent a few minutes exploring our secret beach wishing there was enough time to stay and sketch here too.
“One day, we could come back from the other direction, to paint.” I think we had a little less than 5k to go.
Back on the track and we started tracing around one of the Hazards, Mt Mayson. Uphill, up steps, I was getting tired and slowed down to hike the hard bits. Meanwhile David could keep running. Amazing.
“Is that your hubby, leaving you in the dust” teased a lady as I climbed up the steps to a rock she and her friend were looking out to the bay.
“Yeah, I just can’t run up the steps anymore” I said puffing. Knowing David always waits for me at the top of hills and keeps an eye out for me, I wasn’t worried. We also run and ride with whistles in case one of us gets into trouble.
“Have you run this track before?” She asked as we fell into step with each other on the rocky stairs.
“No, it’s the first time running it”
“What are you training for?”
I paused and thought a minute “To make it to old age” We laughed. “No reason, just trying to stay fit.”
It was a question I reflected on as I continued running. Why am I running? For the joy of it; for the endorphins; so that I can run more and further; to stay fit and to get strong; because I‘m still surprised when I can; so I can drink wine. For lot’s of reasons.
By the time we rolled up to the house we were completely exhausted. I don’t know how David had the energy to cook us a delicious meal: Salmon and broccoli pasta.
Tonight, I decided, was the perfect time to use the outside bathtub. A soak in a bubble bath watching the sunset over the Hazards, a super-moon rise, with a glass of wine.
This! This is living a three dimensional life.