We had a long day ahead of us and once again we didn’t get going as early as planned, but we didn’t bat an eyelid, anything that prolonged the trail at this stage, was welcome. With 38km to go before the end of today and about 90% of that beach, we got on with our second last day. Lauren and I still had 90 Mile Beach burnt into our feet, never mind the backs of our minds. Lizzie had listened to us give out about the sandy seaside slog previously, leaving her apprehensive about the distance we were about to undertake over said terrain. But, at the same time it was a new experience for her, and we both relished our first day of walking on 90 Mile, a rush on the senses; the sea air, the crashing of the waves, even the local bird life diving for scaley unfortunates in the deep blue.
Starting out on Colac bay walking on the sand was tough, with little choice we trudged through the soft sand at a slope of about 20 degrees rolling towards the sea. After the last few days I could feel my legs burning already, we were only a couple of kilometres in, but I kept the concerns to myself, I didn’t want to put doubt in anyone else’s mind or to start thinking about my calf acting up. Though, looking back on it now, our priorities were a bit skewed, but we had a party to get to, meaning we couldn’t not make our target destination for the day.
Sinking as much as we stepped we reached the head between Colac Bay and Riverton. It was up and over the panicky sheep covered hills to a short forest track that would unveil a view of Oreti Beach and even Bluff in the distance. Bluff was barely visible, it rose over a haze that rendered the end of Oreti Beach non existent. If it wasn’t for Bluff it looked like we might be walking for a lot longer than the 48 hours we had expected to finish within.
We strolled down the hill to the centre of Riverton for lunch which consisted of our favourite baked products. We also savoured a range of cold liquid products and got a couple bags of sucky sweets to take our minds off the marine monotony ahead. Acid Drops and Brandy balls were the choice of the day, and it wasn’t long until the combination of E numbers and sugar had us intoxicated like kids.
Oreti is like a chopping board, wide and flat. Kids of all ages race by on scramblers and 4x4s, scoring the beach like knives cutting the sand. Deserted car wrecks rudely protrude the horizon, pointing towards the sea with a rusty glow off the surrounding sand. In the far distance there are people, too far to recognise, but we were talking to them in no time. We had been told about the Oreti River, Rich Peters had completed that section already and warned us that the water was up to his chest in his attempt to cross it. Rich was a tall guy too making the thoughts of the river crossing more than daunting. We arrived however when the tide was well out, meaning we only had to splash across the river, gratefully cooling down our hot feet.
We walked for a while without our boots on, which was nice, but our pace had slowed dramatically. With our boots back on we continued down the infinite sandy haze. At this stage though I still felt great, not something I could usually say after walking about 30kms in the hot sun. The camera was out, and I was literally running about the place taking photos of everything, I not only felt good, I felt strong. With an unusual level of desire to remove my pack and sprint up the beach as far as I could, I decided against it, I’d only have to go back and get the bloody thing after all.
The beach was getting more populated meaning we must be near the exit. Cars were appearing and disappearing in the near distance, our exit point. People stared at us like we had just walked out of the sea “Where have you walked from?!” the gawkers yelled, “Cape Reinga!!” I retorted, drawing faces as profound as the trip we were close to completing.
Like a magic tractor we turned into a road, making our way to our holiday park destination. Beach Road Holiday Park looked a bit grim on the outside. Run down chalets echoed across the site like the wrinkles on your granny’s face. After a ring of the bell, we got a very warm reception from the staff, and found that just like Sloth from the Goonies, the chalets were a lot nicer on the inside than on the out. After hobbling down to our room and sitting down we were very happy to peel our shoes and socks off after a long day. Hot showers preceded a hot adhesive like dinner and several cups of tea as we wound down physically and mentally before our last day.