Campsite Elevation: 192ft/59m
Total South Coast Track Mileage: 30.2km/18.8mi
We reported back to Par Avion this morning and thankfully clouds lifted just enough to fly out today! It was a smooth ride in the small bush plane that held eight people including the pilot. We even each got our own earmuff headsets to hear the pilot and also all the chatter with technical stuff from the control tower and the other plane ahead of us. It was a first for me flying in this type of plane and was a fun experience. Griggs loved it as the plane was similar to what he’s flown before in his hours he’s put into getting his pilot’s license.
The flight was about an hour long and flew pretty low below the clouds at about 1,500ft/457m. We flew right over the South Coast Track and followed it pretty much getting a preview of what we’d be walking. It was surreal to be flying over Tasmania. I felt like I was seeing those views they show in the credits at the beginning of Survivor.
We landed on a small dirt/sand runway at Melaleuca, which wasn’t a town so much as a basic launching point for a couple hikes. There isn’t a road in, but some choose to hike in on the Port Davey Track, which saves you the $300AUD/$238US to fly, but is a bushy muddy track that takes at least 3 days and we heard just isn’t worth it. About half the people we were with were doing the South Coast Track. There is also a shorter one called the Southwest Coast and something that is more of a guided wilderness camp out of nearby base camp. We started hiking at 10:40am mostly on easy boardwalk for a couple hours towards the coast.
This track is known for being muddy and remote, but we will be benefiting from some trail improvements with lots of boardwalks to avoid the mud. We quickly found out, it was much faster going than we anticipated, and we may have brought food for many more days than we thought we’d need. We thought maybe the 85km/53mi could take 5-6 days, but now it looks like we might finish in 3 days. Much heavier packs than we need. Time to start eating. I know some may say we are doing this too fast, but we are just walking and not pushing. It’s not our style to walk half days and lay on the beaches. We enjoy them as we walk, but it’s cool outside and we don’t feel the need to stop and lounge on them.
It was a relaxing day with portions of beach walking and the rest a bit inland. It’s been quite dry out here lately, so the areas that could be muddy aren’t. We managed to keep dry feet and even removed our shoes for the three river crossings towards the end of the day.
Griggs doesn’t carry camp shoes, so he was able to use my flip flops I could toss across to him on the first two, but the final crossing was too wide. He attempted rock hopping and got his feet wet just before we got to camp. Man, so close!