Stage 14 - Green Cape to Wonboyn

One thing that I like about the South Coast is that even when it is bleak and raining, you know that the next day may be bright and sunny. Today was such a day. Mike and Trish drove off up the long gentle climb on the dirt road leading away from Green Cape through the heath and eucalypt forest; their destination was Canberra. We followed after on foot up the same road; our destination was the fisherman's paradise of Wonboyn Lake, home of the best oysters in New South Wales.

Early morning view from Green Cape across Disaster Bay

View across the heath to the shores of Nadgee

View from Disaster Bay Lookout

Along the way, a police four wheel-drive stopped and we had a chat with the officer who was newly posted to this area from the flat open rangelands of Coonamble, far west. We shared our appreciation of the magnificent landscapes of the South Coast and parted company. For the first time in our lives, our names were written down in a policeman's notebook, even if it was just to record an encounter on a country road with a strange pair of walkers.

At the Disaster Bay Lookout, we stopped to take in the panorama down the long stretch of beach toward the entrance of Wonboyn Lake and the Nadgee National Park beyond. Then, following the good advice of Sandy from the lighthouse, we doubled back 200 m and found a rough and fairly well hidden track that went directly down the steep slope from the road to the beach. This saved us quite a few kilometres on our walk - thanks, Sandy.


Descending to the beach at Disaster Bay
Emerging on the beach, we found ourselves in the familiar position of having a leisurely stroll down an isolated, sun-drenched strip of sand with only the seabirds for our company. The jutting prow of Baycliff marked the entry of the lake and, on reaching it, we turned inland across the dunes to the lake shore itself. Just as we arrived, a boat pulled up and I asked for verification of directions to Wonboyn village on the opposite shore and upstream. We got talking about our trip and Rick and Shirley offered to take us across in their boat - all we had to do was wait an hour while they did a little surf-fishing from the beach. That was an offer no-one could refuse, so for an hour we lazed in the sun on a dune looking back up the pristine waters of Wonboyn Lake.

The opening of Wonboyn Lake to the sea


Lunch in the sun near Rick and Shirley's boat

Some images of the beautiful tree-lined
Wonboyn River

Rick has been coming to Wonboyn since he was 6 years old, knows the lake and the surrounding areas extremely well and is obviously passionate about them. When he, Shirley and Shardin, the old sea dog, came back, they not only took us to the village boat ramp, but gave us a guided tour of the lake and the beautiful tree-lined shores of the Wonboyn River, as well as several good tips for the next stage of our walk in Nadgee. Thanks for your help and the great tour, Rick and Shirley.

The town and cabins at Wonboyn are nestled in a superb bush setting, surrounded by tall eucalypts, and are home to a variety of colourful birds. It would be a great place to spend a rest day after our four solid days of walking and to prepare for the next and last major stage of our walk - the three day crossing of the Nadgee-Howe Wilderness Area to Mallacoota.

Red-browed finch

Larrikin lorikeets

Wonga pigeon

No not a ground parrot - just a grass parrot
So near yet so far ......

We were sitting in the front seats of the bus heading home from Eden to Wonboyn with Reg the bus driver and a host of children chattering away behind us. Never in a thousand years would I have thought that our coastal epic would have included a ride in a school bus, but here we were.

I have rarely mentioned the array of minor injuries - blackened toes, scratches and cuts from rocks etc - that are inevitable on such a long trek, but two days before we arrived at Wonboyn, the fair Nello started to experience pain in her left shin. It gradually worsened and the morning after we reached Wonboyn, it was very difficult to walk on without causing severe pain. Stress fracture, tendon damage, shin splints who knows, a visit to the doctor was necessary. Having no car in Wonboyn well off the highway while the nearest doctor was in Eden, 35 km away, posed a major problem. We found out from the Wonboyn storekeeper that the closest thing to public transport was the school bus, which we caught at 7.30 am the next day.

The thought of ending an 84-day trip only 3 days from the end was disheartening and many scenarios and plans crossed our minds on that slow trip into Eden. Finally we decided that the choice came down to two possibilities; if there were a risk of more or longer term damage, the walk was off, if the prognosis was just pain for 3 days, we would go. I listened attentively as the doctor made his examination as I had also developed a minor shin splint, though not as painful as Nello's. What a pair of crocks - falling apart at the end!

The diagnosis was a severe shin splint, the treatment - rest, ice and anti-inflammatories, the prognosis - painful, but unlikely to lead to any further damage, the decision - we finish the walk!

Not being completely masochistic and inflexible, we have spent another two days in Wonboyn, so that Nello could rest her leg, apply lots of icepacks and allow the Voltaren a chance to reduce the inflammation. Two days is a long time to wait, but the treatment is working and she can now walk without a great deal of discomfort. The large high-pressure cell and associated fine weather is still over us, so tomorrow we limp out into the Nadgee Wilderness, where we will disappear off the radar screen for the next 3 days before reappearing in Mallacoota and the end of our walk.

Wish us luck!

It has been a hard day at the office for us

Nello reverts to being a schoolteacher while recuperating
- now if only children were that attentive!