We were up and packed and showered and breakfasted and on our way by 8am. There was a large kangaroo looking back at me through the cabin window as I was having my morning cup of tea. I had taken a short walk down to Kioloa Beach, and cannot say that I was very impressed. Josh would say “One beach looks just like another after a while anyway”. There is an old store opposite the caravan park, but it looked very closed and may not have been operating for some time. We started off walking on roadside north of the town for a stretch, but the traffic was light and there was a good verge, so this was quite pleasant. A concrete path began about 4km down the road, just before we reached Bawley Point. It was still in the process of being constructed, so maybe the plan is for it to go all the way to Kioloa, which would make this stretch very easy.
We stopped for coffee at the Bawley Takeaway. Just as we were putting on our packs on again, a woman came up to us an asked if we had walked the Camino. She had spotted the shells on our packs and was eager to tell us that she and her husband were about to do the Santiago pilgrimage in three weeks time. Sean is, of course, the only one of the three of us who had done the Spanish Camino, so he was able to converse intelligently on this subject with her. But we also told her what we were doing. I asked if she was a Catholic, and she replied that she was. She said she had attended a “home mass” celebrated by Fr Michael from the Milton parish at Bawley Point recently. Later we were to find out that these “home masses” were a part of the priest’s plan for reaching out to lapsed Catholics in the remoter regions of his parish. There is another, more “trendy” cafe not far up the road, called the Bawley Beach Cafe, at which we just bought some water so that we could use the toilets. This would have perhaps been the better place to stop for coffee, but if we had, we would not have met Larissa.
Just as we were exiting the Bawley Point settlement and heading out onto the beach, we passed a house that had a most unusual garden ornament: a five foot high model of a church or chapel. There was no inscription to indicate what it was supposed to signify – maybe it was a building of some significance to the owners of the property. In any case, Josh decided that as this was the first church we had come across today, we may as well say our prayers there. So we sang Regina Coeli and the Our Father from the other side of the fence.
A short bit of bush walking brought us onto the beach for the first time that day at Reedy Creek. In deference to Josh’s preference for avoiding precipitous cliffs, we didn’t take the loop track onto Nuggan Point, although I would have liked to have seen the views. Just before we got to the mouth of the Creek, I saw a small pile of what looked to be pale smooth pebbles on the path, but on closer inspection turned out to be seeds. They appeared to have come out of a red fleshy pod, but I couldn’t see any trees around from which they may have fallen. Perhaps a bird – eg. a large cockatoo or something – had carried them there. I didn’t recognise the plant at all, so I souvenired one of the seeds to bring home to see what it might grow into… Like all the other creeks and inlets we had planned to cross on this trip, the mouth of Reedy Creek was also “closed”, that is, you could cross on the sand bar between the two heads. However, an added complication at this point is that the track ended in a dead end over the water. It appears as if the last part of the sandy head over which the trail had once led had collapsed. We made our way down the rather steep sandy bank, trying neither to slip or fall over with our packs on our backs, and made it onto the beach without having to retrace our steps to the last pathway. After crossing the mouth, there was another bit of bush walking over Meroo Head to Meroo Beach. There is a very nice campground at Meroo Beach – it would be a pleasant place to return to at some time in the future. We walked on the seashore here for about 1.5kms to Termeil Lake. This was our last bit of beach walking for this year’s journey and will possibly be the last bit that we have to do on the entire pilgrimage (although we will be walking along the coast next year quite often). After our first lengthy walk on the beach from Lawlers Creek north of Narooma on our way to Bodalla, we were glad to see the last of it. It has been very hard on our feet and lower leg muscles. To celebrate , Josh broke open the last bottle of the Ahornberger Landbier left over from last night. In the absence of cups, we all took a swig from the bottle.
Now it was just a short walk up to the campground and then on the road and track that lead into civilisation again through the back of the Lake Tabourie community and out onto the Princes Highway again. We stopped for lunch at the Tabourie Tuckerbox on the Highway, but despite the advertising, we were informed that the kitchen was closed – Josh couldn’t even get a milkshake. They other two bought the pies and sausage rolls in the warmer. They didn’t look very appetising to me, so I just had the prepackaged sandwiches. These were okay, but the bread was drying out a bit. The date on the package was yesterday – and Sean surmised that perhaps the date was not the day the sandwiches were made on but their use-by date. He may have been right. While having lunch, I rang the Premier Motor Service bus company and booked tickets for Sean and I to return to Eden next day. It cost $75 for the two of us, but his was a concession, so I am guessing the full price was probably $40-$50.
From here we continued to walk towards Ulladulla on the Princes Highway. We passed some holiday homes facing directly onto the Highway, in what I would have found to be very unpleasant circumstances, but their backs faced onto the Tabourie Creek, which was, I suppose, the attraction. With the trucks and cars roaring past us as we walked on the footpath, I passed one fellow digging in his front garden. “Ah, the serenity!” I said to him – and he had the good grace to laugh.
After crossing the bridge over Tabourie Creek, we found that there was a good stone track running all the way along the highway about fifty metres to the right. This seemed to be a service track for an underground power line, and it provided us with easy smooth walking out of the way of the traffic all the way to the Stony Creek crossing. From there we were following the footpath into Ulladulla. I rang ahead to Therese who was meeting us at the Holy Family Catholic Church that it was our plan first to visit the Post Office and then to call into the local pub, the Marlin Hotel before coming to the Church. She quite understood and said they would be waiting for us at 5pm. The folk at the Post Office were very friendly and got out their special picture postage stamp (“We hardly ever use it!”) to stamp our passports. The pub was very ordinary and neither particularly comfortable nor with very good beer on tap (I think we had Fat Yak again), and the patrons looked at us with a good deal of suspicion.
Around at the Church we were warmly welcomed by Therese and Greg. They opened the Church up for us, so that we could say our final prayers of thanksgiving and completion of the journey there. Then we all bundled into their four-wheel drive for the ride out to the Milton Church where we were to have tea and spend the night. The food was in the back and smelled delicious. As we were driving up the highway on this 7km section of road, they were pointing out that we would have no difficulty walking on the side of the road coming back tomorrow, as the verge was very wide in most places. The sun was setting as we arrived at St Mary Star of the Sea Church on the hill on the other side of Milton. This pretty little church is beautifully located with the scenic backdrop of the green rolling countryside. Greg told us that it had all once been rainforest before the settlers came. There is a bell tower next to the Church and a “poustinia” out the back also – which Greg said is offered to homeless people as they come through the town. Inside the open church, the sanctuary lamp was all that lit up the interior.
We were shown into the “Parish House” which used to be the presbytery in the old days. The priest, Fr Michael Dyer, now lives in the old Josephite convent next to the Parish House. The parish house not only had the secretaries office and the kitchen and meeting rooms, but several bedrooms. Sean and I shared a room and gave the other to Josh. The guests for the evening meal were beginning to arrive, but we wanted to shower and make ourselves a bit respectable first. When we came out, we found that Greg and Therese had been joined by Michele, Deidre, Dianne and her husband Tony. Fr Michael came in soon afterwards. We had an enjoyable meal together, followed by conversation on both the themes of pilgrimage and ecumenism (given my role at the Archdiocese of Melbourne). We kept the night short, however, firstly because we were tired, and secondly because Fr Michael invited the three of us to join him for mass early in the morning before he set off about his parish visitations. The invitation to return next year when we recommence our journey was extended and kindly accepted. We closed the evening in prayer and with a blessing from Michael before heading to bed.
Planned distance: 28.91km
Measured distance by actual route (Gaia maps recording): 29.15km
Distance by iPhone Health data: 29.5km
Steps by iPhone Health data: 38,178 steps
“Flights climbed” by iPhone Health data: 22 floors
Up and Down: 204m (-185m)
Highest altitude: 56m
Beach walking? Yes
Highway walking? Yes (but with side track)
Hours on the road: 9 hours
Distance covered from Eden: 299.92km
Distance covered from Fitzroy: 989.92km
The pictures for today can be viewed here on Google Photos, and here are the maps: