Heysen Trail. Tunkalilla Beach to Waitpinga Campsite

Day 3, Wednesday September 14, 2011

Woke early and rose to witness a pearly sunrise from the beach rock formations below my campsite. Probably the unusually loud ocean noise and the strong moonlight on the tent may have had something to do with that (the waking early). In any case, it was a magnificent place to be at dawn. Also of note re sleeping: my WM Ultralite sleeping bag is too warm for these temps – the weather didn’t get below 10C minimum on any night and I often started the night lying on top of the bag with the temps into the teens.

Tunkalilla Sunrise
Tunkalilla Sunrise

Once packed and fed, I set off down towards the eastern end of Tunkalilla beach (the whole beach is about 4.5km long) and eventually followed the signs leading off the beach and up behind Tunk head. And I do mean up! The sign at the bottom says ‘walkers follow fence’ and the fence goes straight up a grassy slope about as steep as you can reasonably climb. My GPS recorded 110m elevation gain in 300m.

Walkers follow fence
Walkers follow fence 🙂

Steepish...
Steepish…

At the top of the slope I was rewarded with a short downhill section and then a steady uphill climb through cattle pasture with good expansive views of the countryside. Eventually, this bliss was replaced by despair as the path dumped out onto a hard roadwalk for 4-5km and past the Balquhidder campsite. Balquhidder has no facilities or water. (Update: as of December 2011, facilities have been installed, the tank should have water after the next rains) There was a somewhat dirty and slow running creek there, so perhaps you could use it with a filter and steripen, but as it was still too early to camp I just stopped for lunch and pressed on. The camp area itself is pleasant enough, and there are trees so I expect one might hang a hammock there too.

What followed was a long, sometimes steep, grassy track walk through farmland, cow paddocks and alongside a creek to get back to sea level at a rocky beach known as a breeding ground for Hooded Plovers (of which none were in evidence, although I did see some on Parsons beach a bit later)

Peaceful cattle
Peaceful Cattle

Hooded Plover sign
Hooded Plover sign

Some more more cliff edge trail walking followed and then onto Parsons beach, Parsons lookout and Waitpinga beach and then the Waitpinga campsite. Ever since I hit the first beach I had been seeing fresh footprints in the sand, and they got fresher and fresher the further I went. I caught the owners at the Parsons beach lookout – another school group that had started at Balquhidder that morning and were apparently making a hard slog of the beach walking. The lookout had toilets and water. The water tank had 2 taps – the bottom one yielded rusty water and the top one clean and fresh but very slow running, maybe not a lot of water in the tank!

Waitpinga campsite is well laid out in a grassed area behind the dunes. Tank water available and pleasant tasting from a masonry tank. Toilets (a bit smelly) and trees. Yes, probably could hang a hammock here too! I set camp amongst some trees to shade the moon and the lights and had a pleasant nights sleep.

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