It rained all night at Little Beach and the condensation inside my tent was so dense that with each wind gust the tent skin flapped and it rained down on me. It made me a bit soggy but I didn't care, I was snug as a bug in the super warm sleeping bag my mum lent me for the last week of the walk. It's heavy at 1.5kg but worth every gram. Weenieism has been abandoned for warmth.
I woke to a weak sun with barely any heat in it. I reluctantly left my sleeping bag and pulled on my walking shorts, looking hopefully at the sun. Today's walk would see me reach the end of the central coast and be in full view of Barrenjoey Headland and the Northern Beaches of Sydney. The beginning of the last stage of the trip. I grew up in the Northern Beaches and it was here that I was sick for so many years, I still think of it as "home".
The central coast is separated from Sydney by the largest obstacle on my whole walk, Broken Bay. Broken Bay includes the end of Pittwater and the mouth of the Hawkesbury River with Lion Island in the middle of it all. I could see the lighthouse on Barrenjoey Headland getting closer and closer with each bay I walked.
The Bouddi Coastal Walk hugs the coast and passes through some exquisite bush and beaches. Coming from a spot in the bush just off the path I could hear a chours of birds, Currawongs, Whipbirds, Whistlers, Shrike-thrush, and Kookaburras, all whispered and repeated over and over, it had to be a Lyrebird practicing his performance. I paused at Maitland Bay for lunch and soaked in the colours. I've never noticed before but the colours themselves here are unique and feel like "home". Orange and white sandstone, olive and blue grey bush, bottle green shallows and indigo depths. At Putty Beach there were fifty or more Port Jackson Shark egg cases still soft and pliable. All empty of baby sharks though, I checked.
At the Cafe at the southern end of Putty Beach I met Helena. She made a generous donation to ME/CFS Australia and told me all about a local guy, Andrew Cadigan, who is just weeks away from finishing a walking circumnavigation of Australia in memory of a friend who died of Leukemia. I bow down to him, he has done 14 000 or so kilometers in 521 days. Not on the beach but on the roads pushing a pram with all his gear. It makes me feel lazy! There are crazy people everywhere doing awesome things for charity. When I tell people what I'm doing with Life's a Beach Walk, a common response is, "Oh yeah, well, I know a guy who......" My favourite is the 90 year old man rollerskating to Canberra from Sydney while pushing a kid in a wheelchair to raise awareness of people with disabilities. Brilliant!
From Putty Beach I walked up along the Bouddi Ridge and out to Box Head. All along the ridge grow Angophora trees. The angophora grow in intimate relationship with the sandstone, often with their roots in a small crack or a simple divet in the rock. The trees are reluctant to give way to the stone and frequently rest against or embrace the rock and alter their growing form to accommodate their solid partner. This closeness produces strange swellings and odd angles.
Just before I reached the end of Box Head there is a sign which reads, "Danger Cliff Edge", it isn't an exaggeration. There is nothing between the path and the sheer sixty meter drop to the ocean, dramatic! From the very end it feels a bit like the end of the world and for me it felt like the end of the walk. Once I get across Broken Bay I'll be in Sydney and home. Even though I have another thirty kilometers to go to get to Manly the challenge feels achieved.
I quietly whispered to myself "I did it!"
Far down below I could see a magical little gaff-rigged ship sailing across Broken Bay. It was my brother Mikey and best friend Bee coming to take me across to the other side. We arranged to meet at Wagstaff and sail to Pittwater when the conditions were good. I sent them a text message saying "look up" and stood as high as I could on a rocky outcrop above the water waving madly. They saw me too!
I met up with Mikey and Bee down at Wagstaff just as the sun was setting. We moored up for the night in the still bay. My tent had a night off as I crawled into the "sister annex", a small sea berth Mikey made especially for the occasion. As I got into bed I could hear the creatures of the grass bed making strange nocturnal noises amplified through the wooden hull. Eventually I was lulled to sleep by the gentle movement of the ship in the water and dreamt of sailing.
Little Beach to Wagstaff - 15 km
Life's a Beach Walk total - 750 km