On the way to Fitzgerald River NP, we detoured into tiny Hopetoun to top up the water tanks. I also ran into the local pub to grab a bottle of wine. Rarely in my life have I been glowered at and been made to feel so unwelcome for obviously being an outsider. Glad I wasn’t wearing my pink lame hot pants! It was only a short drive into Fitzgerald River NP, and we found a spot and set up. A quick chat to some grey nomads confirmed an uncomfortable truth – that they love these out-of-the-way places over bigger more commercial van parks because of the peace and quiet, read ‘NO KIDS!’ That night we were swamped with flying insects of all shapes and sizes, including a few healthy sized spiders and several scorpions near the van!
The next day, after my trusty double pluggers had broken (1), we were intent on doing a full day’s bushwalk. So with no access to a weather forecast (or the date), we packed cameras, water, lunch and snacks and headed past Hammersley Inlet to the beach. We’d only gone about 500m before the complaints from the boys set in. ‘Why was it so sandy?’, ‘Why did the path go up and then down, why was it not flat?’, ‘why was it so hot?’, ‘why did we have to walk at all?’. All good questions, but as the mercury climbed (we discovered later to 43 degrees) (2), so did everyone’s frustrations. We eventually made it past the inlet to the beach, which was funnelling a cruelly hot northerly across the open sand bar. We found some respite from the hot wind amidst the shards of rock littering the beach, all horribly sharp and seemingly driven into the sand at violent and uncomfortable angles.
At least tempers were cooled as we ate lunch with the boys splashing in rock pools. We all eventually had another dip in a more secluded part of the beach before heading back to camp.
About 30 yards into the return trip, one soul came off my beloved Scarpa, quickly followed by the other one. Both boots failing within 10 yards of each other after 15 years of faithful world travels (3)? Hmmm. When we got home, we found that the gas had run out and the fridge was now off (4). I switched bottles, but we could smell gas (which has been an ongoing problem). Soon, the other bottle ran out (5). What was going on? I grabbed the bottle, jumped into Betsy and gunned it into town to grab the most expensive gas refill in the known universe (6). When I refitted the new bottle, we could still smell gas, so thinking we’d get it sorted in Albany, I grabbed the boys and the rods and headed to Hammersley’s Inlet for some hopefully relaxing fishing. After jagging both rods and losing tackle (7), we went back to camp to find some friendly campers helping Kris by trying to dismantle our gas regulator (the source of the leak – naïvely I’d only leak tested the bottle connections and regulator top). In summary, the regulator is stuffed (8), but at least it has been tightened to leak less. So, on this 43 degree day, with so many things that went wrong, was I being jinxed? Later, Kris pointed at the calendar, Friday the 13th! Triskaidekaphobian’s unite!