I’m going to hike the Le Tour du Mont Blanc that lies in France, Italy and Switzerland this June 2016. As part of my training, I decided to do The Great North Walk of Sydney to Newcastle. Section by section and only the ones that are accessible by public transport on both ends of the route. Not camping, just an all day hike on most weekends. Mapping my tracks, taking photos and writing travel diaries along the way.
Day 5 – Newcastle to Teralba
What am I thinking? The forecast for the day is rain, big surf and strong winds! But I convinced myself that this exercise will be a good simulation of what could happen on my upcoming Tour du Mont Blanc hike this June. At least here, I could stop and go home if things goes awry.
Note: This is the second time I did this route. My first attempt had no “Map My Hike” GPS record. Also, most of the photos here was from my first hike as well, so don’t get confused.
The weather was very calm at 4AM in the morning. The starting point (or ending point if you’re hiking it the “proper way” of south to north) of The Great North Walk is at the tower, that us locals affectionately call “The Big Penis of Newcastle”, as it looks like an erect dick. I parked my car around Hamilton train station, three kilometres away from the starting point because I will be catching the train from Teralba and the local government tore down the Newcastle train station for “development”. Audiobook for the day is Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne.
As soon as I stepped out of the car, it started raining. Oh great, you’re pulling this shit on me now Mother Nature? I decided to hike this route with the “indestructible” Senz Storm Umbrella to see if its useful to bring this to Europe.
When I got to the Obelisk, the wind picked up hard. Though my umbrella was very persistent not to crumble. My only gripe is that it is small and therefore the lower part of my body were starting to get wet. Looks like I won’t be bringing this to Europe any more. I proceeded to King Edward Park and saw several people doing exercise with their fitness instructor. I thought to myself this people are nuts, but then I looked at what I’m doing and laughed. I’m just as insane as them! The wind are now blasting heavily and the rain completely soaked my shorts and shoes. I power walked towards the sheltered picnic area to wait out the rain. I can see the waves pounding hard all around the Newcastle Beach and can hear its power from where I am.
About half an hour, the rain subsided, the wind weakened and I continued walking towards Merewether. The year old ANZAC Memorial Bridge was a nice addition to the walk. The scenery from here was magnificent. You can see the beautiful beaches from Bar Beach all the way to Merewether and on the other side, the grungy interior of the city with its centuries old industrial economy still present. I’m living in the city of the biggest exporter of dirty coal to the world! Such contrast, Beauty and the Beast as the old saying goes.
It started raining again when I got to the bottom of the cliff going towards Burwood Beach. It rained hard and the wind was going berserk. I decided to wait it out by squatting down like a Slav 😀 with an umbrella on top of me. By now, I am starting to regret my decision to walk in this kind of weather. Ten, twenty minutes passed and the rain did not stop. In fact, it got somewhat stronger. I’m feeling a slight symptoms of hypothermia as I am only wearing a cotton T-shirt and short and I’m in a static position. Wet and cold and in the state of delirium.
A disturbing sight is unfolding in front of me. The tide is rising and the waves are getting closer and closer! Fuck me, I don’t want to be in the news tonight. I’m in the bottom of a cliff with no way of climbing up. So I bloody run towards the beach as fast as I can, jumping from rock to rock, ignoring the wind and the deluge. When I got to the beach, the rain stopped. Hahaha, very funny Mother Nature. When I finished cursing to the gods, wind blew hard. I was getting sandblasted!!! Like a million ants biting my exposed skin. Hurts like hell. My main concern is getting sand in my eyes. I was shielding my face with an umbrella, with the brolly trying not to succumb to the fierce gale. This morning just keeps getting worst and worst.
Finally, the weather became calm when I got to the Glenrock area. A relief that I was desperately waiting for as I got sand all over my body and I’m very sticky because of the sweat and salt that I got from the beach. My socks and shoes are soaking wet. Funny thing is that I was wearing a “Waterproof” socks, What a bloody ripoff, I want my money back. Anyway I’m just happy to be bushwalking the inland forest.
Be aware that the trail is a mix of “wilderness” and city surroundings. Eventually, as it is a part of the route, I got to Charlestown Square, a shopping complex. I don’t usually think of this, but it is a welcome sight to me as I needed to buy my well-deserved coffee. I’m sure I smell funky amongst the civilised society of Charlestown shoppers.
The Warners Bay part of the walk was a charming area with its fine footpaths along the lake and well maintained garden. I had a few minutes rest sitting in the bench and disgustingly pulled the whole dead toe nail that is hanging precariously from my toe. I think now is the best time to pull it as the nail is soft because of inadvertently soaking my feet from the rain. Sorry for the video 😀
1PM and I am already close to my final destination of Teralba. Wow, I did well despite the trials and tribulations of my interesting early morning walk. 30km in 9 hours, that’s an achievement. I can honestly say that I’m much better person, at least in terms of fitness. I learnt a lot today. Think first before taking action. Such a simple ethos but none of us follows. Assess the situation first before proceeding. As they say, we learn from our mistakes and today and my previous weeks of hiking was a life lesson for me.