Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Australia Story (p9), Rocky Bay Revisited

The end of my five month Australia 'vacation' was right around the corner, and I had time for one more trip as long as it was close. I also had a tent and sleeping bag by this time. The sleeping bag was a good blanket where I lived, so it had plenty of use. The $18 tent hadn't been used yet. I knew of the perfect place to get some use out of it.

The plan was simple: Camp out at my favorite beach -- Rocky Bay. It was the first nude beach I went to, and the only one with a sign to warn the textilers. It stays windy enough to blow away all the creepy crawlies, and wasn't far from civilization. With my first visit, I had already scoped out the perfect spot for a tent. It was sheltered by a tree and a large rock right at the back of the beach. (See image below...)

I loaded up my backpack for a night of camping, and took the bus to the ferry terminal. Once on the island, I walked to Picnic Bay which is next to Rocky Bay. On the way I noticed that there was a man sunning himself, probably uncomfortably, on the little rock in the first picture. Good, I thought, I'll have someone to talk to.

I had a big meal at Picnic Bay since I only had a few granola bars in my backpack to hold me over for the night. I hiked out to the beach, and found that I was alone there. I stripped down and laid on my towel for a while under the tree. I didn't want to be too overt, since the ferry was going through twice hourly and there was an occasional observer at the lookout point. Despite all that, this place was paradise! The cool sea breeze canceled out the blazing heat of the sun, and there were no insects or people around to bother me.

Camping is illegal in Australia, but is rarely enforced because the beaches are rarely patrolled. Camping here was a bit risky since the tent was visible from the ferry, assuming that they noticed it and cared enough to call the cops, and that the cops felt like hiking down the hill.

About an hour before sunset, I cleared fallen branches and pitched my tent under the tree and behind the big rock. I put rocks in all four corners of the tent and had my backpack in the corner where the wind was blowing from. I put on my clothes (just in case something happened, and to stay warmer) and crawled in after the sun went down.

The night sucked! The wind picked up and I was questioning the stability of my tent for the entire 11 hours of darkness. If I got any sleep that night, I didn't notice. The moon was bright and the scenery was beautiful, if only I wasn't getting sand-blasted. Tenting is always rough at night, so I didn't let it get me down. I was eagerly awaiting sunrise.

The first signs of light came when the wind died down. I already had my clothes off when I unzipped my tent. While putting on my shoes, half-way out of my tent, there was a thump about six feet in front of me. I looked up, startled, and saw a rock wallaby staring me in the face. We gazed at each-other for a moment, and it turned and hopped away. Wow! The wallaby was in the tree right above me, and I was just face-to-face with it. Nevermind the claws that it could've attacked me with -- I was amazed!

After I stood up, I looked around and could see wallaby tracks around in the sand all over the beach. I also looked around for people, before realizing that it was 6 in the morning. There probably wasn't anyone awake yet. So, I had fun with this.

I wondered all around the beach taking pictures. It was warm enough to be nude, but not too hot to stay out of the sun. I really enjoyed climbing around on the rocks that separated the halves of the beach. I've always enjoyed this, but doing it nude was so much more fun. Nobody was around to see me in this wide-open spot, and nobody could be offended by my liberal use of the camera. I only covered up and hid a bit as the ferry was going past. Once it was light enough, I took down the tent so I wouldn't risk getting in trouble.

By about 10am, I decided to start my journey back. My backpack was hanging in the tree, and I had just put my pants on when I saw a group of high-schoolers (1 guy, 2 girls, textilers) coming down the path and taking pictures with their cell phone cameras. They didn't take pictures of me, but probably would've if I was still nude. I thought it was odd that they were here -- it's really a place that you have to want to get to. There isn't an easy path, and it's out of tourist radar. (I later found out that high-school was out, and thousands went to Maggie to party as I was leaving.)

Clothing was unpleasant because it was quickly filled with sweat when I was out of the wind. This wasn't a problem on the beach due to the wind and the lack of clothing. When walking home, I also realized that my life was changed again. My parents and friends noticed a seemingly unexplained new interest in camping and being out in nature after I returned. Australia was the first place where nature was truly fun to be in. I've been hiking and camping as much as I can ever since.

This camping trip was the perfect closure to my time in Australia. Finally, I was able to really enjoy nature, and enjoy a picture perfect nude beach.


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