We had arrived late afternoon, with just enough daylight left to set up camp. Come dusk and there was a hubbub of noise from so many little birds all around the area; I couldn’t identify the species but they were black and yellow and very, very chirpy.
It felt like a nice, natural bush welcome and I think it’s great that the fauna in the area still stick around even though it isn’t as undisturbed as it used to be. Other species turned up as well, including a huge old man kangaroo who used to hop around the campsites in the breaking dawn, and bandicoots, who nosed our food and drink supplies. I got wise to keeping the food away (SO bad to feed native animals) but those damn bandicoots were so cute and sweet that I couldn’t resist putting out a plate of fresh water for them every night, even though it was my plate and meant I had to eat out of a mug from there onwards. I hadn’t put ‘pet bowl’ on my camping equipment checklist, for the very sane reason we weren’t taking a pet with us , but I can see that an extra bowl for spongers and moochers of all descriptions might come in handy in the future.
(The picture below is a bandicoot – or Qwenda – by the way. We have a lot living around us and the first time Wayne saw one, he came hustling back inside to say that an enormous rat had just sauntered casually past him!)
The next morning we eventually got up (it would be pretty much full light there at 4.30 am and I’ve always found it hard to sleep in natural daylight so there is a lot of waking and going back to snoozing, which cumulatively adds up to a late permanent rise) and started to think about the day ahead.
We went to the beach. Beach access was via a steepish cordoned off track through the sanddunes and it took about one minute to see the sea and about three to get there. And there was nobody else there: just this huge expanse of white, white sand and amazingly blue waters. I thought we had just got lucky with our timing, given that there other people camped around, but no. We only encountered other people on two occasions and I got so used to thinking of the beach as my own private backyard that I took up skinny dipping in the waves, my bathing suit wound around one arm, just in case.
We swam. The ocean was cold because it was the Southern ocean and not the Pacific but I love a cold ocean. I want to feel invigorated and tingly and alive when I emerge from a sea swim and the bigger the contrast between water temperature and that of the land, the more I feel that.
My husband liked the swimming but I was under no illusions that he would ever bother to even go in if I wasn’t there. He was very agreeable about joining me twice a day for a swim but on many days I would get up early and go and swim without him. I did that on Christmas Day and it created memories I will hold dear for the rest of my life.
The early dawn light as the sun slowly rose, taking the colours of the sky from pearl iridescent to blazing fire. The slap of waves, hard and defined, on my body as I tumbled and twisted and played in the water, sleeking through as any seal would. The taste of salt on my tongue and, afterwards, the warm breeze drying my skin to a salt encrusted patina that almost felt silky.
Our routine involved early morning tea or coffee, whilst reading. Maybe another nap. Then swim (often second swim for me) before it got too warm and then late breakfast/lunch. Late morning would be a camping beer and little bits of things for lunch: salami, crackers, cheese, dried fruit and tomatoes, olives etc. We usually only ate two meals a day but nibbled as required.
If we were planning a trip to explore the region or just doing something else, we would go late morning and get back middle/late afternoon. If not, (another) nap. Definitely another swim, maybe a walk along the beach as well, and then I would start dinner and we would have our sundowner of whiskey (Canadian Crown, of course!) whilst I cooked.
Wine with dinner and afterwards retiring to the tent when it got dark. For lighting our way around, we had hear torches but we also had a table lantern and I had entwined solar powered fairy lights all over our so we didn’t; both for the festive Christmas spirit and because it made it seem like twinkling stars. Often when camping we don’t bother to pull the tent fly over because we love to look at the stars and identify constellations. But here we did have the fly over because it would briefly shower each night and also because it made the tent cooler during the day. The fairy lights added seemed to contribute an air of happiness and even a little of that excited feeling you get when going to fairs or theme parks at night.
And there was reading. All day, every day. Books, electronic books, papers and magazines. I think I read at least fifteen books and Wayne probably five or six. Sometimes we would chat with others campers and we would talk places/equipment but we mostly kept to ourselves and were very content doing so.