Last night I had the best night’s sleep for several days. When I rose at 6am, there was no pain from my leg, and when I got up in the morning, I found that I could at least walk on it, although my calf was still tender and I was still limping. Massaging emu oil and Voltaren into my calf seemed to help, as did the Voltaren tablets after breakfast. So I was much encouraged and confident that I could manage today’s 22km walk.
We left the Milton parish house at 7:45 to walk down to the Brown Sugar cafe where Sean had arranged to meet Rae, the woman who offered to drive us to Conjola. I needed to go to the chemist, to buy medical supplies recommended by my myotherapist – an inner sole heel support and a Tubigrip bandage for my leg. Sean enjoyed his shot of “really strong coffee” as usual, and Rae and her husband Neil joined us just before 9am. We were all very disturbed by the shocking news of the fire at Notre Dame in Paris – my thoughts kept going back to this throughout the day.
Rae and Neil drove us back to Murray Road at Conjola where Margaret and Virginia dropped me yesterday afternoon. We bade them farewell, and set off toward the hills to the east through a quiet farming area with horses and cattle, crossed the Conjola Creek and then started the ascent up the hill on Bendalong Mountain Road. There were a number of nice houses on the side of the hill taking advantage of the beautiful view over the valley. We met a woman named Sue with her dog named Zoe. Sue was from Camden in Sydney and was here housesitting for a friend. She pointed to one of the houses with a great view of the lake below and said “That one is a holiday house for rent”. I began making plans to come back with Cathy…
It was a steep climb – the top was about 160m and we reached that in under 2kms. I found that by the end of this, my leg had adjusted to the walking and I was keeping a good pace. From the top of the hill, the road led along the ridges, so no more steep rises, in fact, a general descent after a bit. At the end of Bendalong Mountain Road, we came out onto Bendalong Road proper, which leads down to the village of (wait for it) Bendalong. There was a fair bit of traffic on this road, about one vehicle every 15 seconds, but not as busy as the Highway. After a little bit we veered off again, this time onto Cedar Road and then onto Blackbutt Road through the Conjola National Park. The surface was gravel and sand generally, and only three cars passed us. The vegetation was varying and pleasant. We stopped at about midday to eat our lunch – dolmades, kransky, Camembert cheese, fruit, Turkish bread – all good. A glass of wine would have been nice. The weather was about 23 degrees and sunny, with a nice sea breeze blowing.
Josh was texting us all the time as we were travelling, keeping us informed of his progress on the bus from Sydney. He got off the bus at Wandandian and began walking to Sussex Inlet at about 2pm, figuring he would have a 15km walk along Tallawalla Track and then Sussex Inlet Road. He told us later that this was a rather boring route.
At 2pm we had arrived at the “Cuddy Cafe” in Cudimurrah, the southern settlement of Sussex Inlet. The girl in the cafe told us that we should not walk on the road into Sussex Inlet, but take the path/track that went between the road and the shore line of Swan Lake. This was very nice, but, even though we had only walked 19 or 20kms, we were both getting tired and were slowing down.
We followed the path right into Sussex Inlet, entering town on Thomson Street past the school. An interesting fact about Sussex Inlet is that due to the creation of series of water ways on which the holiday houses are built, the town is actually technically an island – whether you enter from River Road as we did, or from Sussex Inlet Road as Josh did, you have to cross a bridge. Sean and I walked along the grassed area on the shore of the Inlet, past the RSL Club and around to the Marine Centre.
Outside the centre was Wayne, his workmate Mike and friend Bill. They were sharing some beers and smoking cigarettes in the sun, as Bill threw a ball for their two dogs, Rocky (a red kelpie) and Obi (a Koolie). These two dogs were quite obsessed with chasing the ball. Wayne very kindly offered us a beer and we sat and talked for about three quarters of an hour. As I sat, I noticed the pain in my legs coming back. Wayne’s wife Viv and Mike’s daughter Jodie drove us around to the Cedar Pines Caravan park where Wayne and Viv have their caravan. This is a standard sized caravan with a double bed and a lean-to lounge room with a double bunk in it. Sean and I took the bunks and decided the snorer could have the luxury of the big bed inside the caravan.
Josh arrived about quarter of an hour later, we had our showers and went around to the RSL club for dinner. On the way, I dropped into the pharmacy and bought an ice pack. Following Josh’s lead, we all had the duck Thai soup – probably not the best choice as the duck was complete with bones. We had our passports stamped by the guy at the front desk where we checked in. Tomorrow we must get Wayne to add his mark. I tried calling Cathy but we lost coverage after about 20 seconds of talking. The phone coverage is very patchy here.
We wanted to get some grocery shopping done, but it had shut at 7pm. It will open again at 7am. Another “Wayne”, who we have dubbed “Wayne 2”, wants to meet us in a local cafe for breakfast to interview us for the local Sussex Inlet newsletter, so we will have time to do our food shopping in the morning.
By the time we got back to the caravan, my leg was aching. So I did all the lotion and massage and cold pack business, and restrapped my leg with the new strapping I bought this morning in Milton. While I listened to Josh and Sean natter away, I wrote up this blog.
We walked about 23km today from Conjola to the Marine Centre. We did this in about 6 hours. It was a good start, and I am very, very glad to have made it thus far, but I am also very much looking forward to sleeping!