THE ELUSIVE THYLACINE

30 May 2021.  Ocean Beach, Strahan. Tasmania. 

“She’s a beast!” Chuckled David. We’d parked next to the only other car at the beach, a Jeep Cherokee, and were standing in front of them both. Admiring. Comparing.

We’d momentarily considered buying a Cherokee, but decided we preferred the Ford Everest. Bigger, more ground clearance, cheaper and we think, better looking. 

Ahh Kenny Everest, we love you, you big beast!     

“Right, let’s run!” 

A path cut through the steep and narrow gap in the dunes, down onto the beach. Looking back to the dunes both the car and trail were hidden. 

“How will we know where the car is?” wondered Dave. It was a good point, the dunes looked suspiciously similar. Looking around I found a stick and engraved huge letters in the sand. 

“As long as we’re back before the tide!” I giggled. 

A couple of days ago we rode north, so today we headed south on Ocean Beach. Tasmania’s longest beach. 

We walked side by side for a few minutes while we warmed up, accompanied by our elongated shadows.

“We’ve been so lucky with the weather!” I said taking in the blue sky. Being Western Tasmania I was expecting wind and rain.  

Ocean Beach is an interesting mix of black and white sand swirled into patterns, punctuated with coloured pebbles. The sand was wet right up the to line of dunes so we were keeping a keen eye on the tide. 

The plan was to run at our own pace for 5k or 30 mins, which ever was the soonest, and then turn around. We would meet on the way back.

It was time to pick up the pace and start running. Though the sand was wet, it was fairly firm and a nice surface upon which to run. 

I could keep up with Dave for a few kilometres but eventually I fell behind and settled into my own pace. Breathing in the sea air, enjoying the sound of the ocean and the feel of the sun at my back.

By the time I reached a broad shallow creek, David was a speck in the distance. The creek was a beautiful colour, a tea of Burnt Sienna reflecting the blue sky. 

I walked up and down it’s bank trying to figure out the best place to cross. I didn’t particularly want to run with cold, wet feet on a sandy beach.  It was too wide to jump, too deep to tiptoe through. 

I pulled out my phone to call Dave to say I was turning back. No reception. Doh! I tried the walkie-talkie function on my watch. Unable to connect. 

Okay. Time to get wet. 

I waited for a wave to roll back out to see and suck a load of creek water with it. Backing up, I sprinted toward the creek engaging my best long-jump moves.  I sailed across in the air and landed with two dry feet on the far bank. Result!

Don’t be ridiculous: I got soaked.

Running on, I noticed I was finally catching up to David. Oh wait, he’s running toward me.  I checked my watch: 35 mins and time to turn back. 

This time when I reached the creek. I didn’t alter my stride and just ran straight through. Which I should have done on the way out. Chuckle. 

Dave soon caught up to me and filmed us running for a minute. Tired but determined.  

“Did you see the paw prints” David said pointing them out as we ran. “There’s no other footprints. Is it wild?” He wondered. 

He’d been imagining it was the elusive Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger). It’s rumoured there may still be a few alive.  The paw prints were quite big and deep with long claws. There was also 4WD tracks in the sand, maybe a dog was chasing the car? Like Loki does in Instagram. It’s a mystery.

“You don’t need to wait for me, go at your own speed.” I didn’t want to hold him up. He jogged alongside me for awhile and then stepped back into his own speed. His long legs carried him into the distance. 

Tiring by now, I fought to stay in a run. Every time I felt my body about to fall back into a walk, I pushed against the urge. I’ve read that when your body is tired your brain can push you another 30%. I was testing the theory.  

I did walk for a few minutes here and there to rest the muscles, but was able to push on. 

A pair of huge sea eagles cruised over head. In the distance, I could see a shiny black Jeep Wrangler doing donuts in the sand. ‘Bogan!’ I thought. ‘Who does donuts anymore?’ 

I could see David had stopped. He must have reached the car park. Finally, I’m nearly done. I checked my watch, 1k to go! 

Just before I reached David, I ran over the Jeep’s donut tracks and thought ‘this actually looks like fun’ I chuckled to myself. ‘What’s the harm?’

I stopped when I reached David, who was standing next to the engraved ‘car park’ sign. We’d beaten the tide, then. 

Done! That job is, done!

“Good Job!” Said my cheer-squad as I stopped my RunKeeper app. 

After a quick last look around at the setting sun lighting the dunes with a golden glow, we headed back to the car.

“This is the beach where the massive pod of pilot whales beached themselves.” I said to David pointing to the sign. I remember that. It was devastating. 

In September 2020, about 460 pilot whales were stranded. The rescue effort saved about 111 of them, but many were washed back to shore again. It was the worst mass stranding in Australia. 

Back in the dunes we read a sign that told us about the fascinating short-tailed shearwater birds that breed here. These amazing little birds (Tasmanian Muttonbird) migrate from the Northern Hemisphere in a round-trip of some 30,000 kms!  

Get this: “…the adult birds leave on their annual migration in early April. The fledgling chicks remain in the colonies for another 2-3 weeks, before making the long journey alone.

Whaaaaaat?!!!  How do they know? How do they know (a) where to go; and (b) that they’re supposed to go somewhere?

What a strange and amazing planet!

6 thoughts on “THE ELUSIVE THYLACINE

  1. What an amazing beach for your run. Not the best for surf I would imagine.

    Good choice to prefer the Ford Everest. Jeeps are notoriously unreliable, problematic and very expensive to maintain. For some reason, some people believe the name Jeep to be a status symbol. It might have been a very very long time ago, alas no more.

    Like

  2. Beautiful, just incredibly beautiful! I like your pictures of the stones in the water … but those paw prints – hmm, that would have me running as well (and I’m no runner 😁)!
    My husband always tells me, when we do long distance hiking and I say I can’t walk any further, that when you feel that way, you’ve only used 10% of your body strength (apparently something he learned in the military) … but I’m not so sure about this 😬 … however, I’ve always managed to finished those long walks …

    Liked by 1 person

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