Eighty Mile Beach. A vision splendid. Which is odd because there was nothing to see. To the west is the Indian Ocean and on the evening of the 20th August it was as still as a fish tank, with scarcely a whisper of a breeze to ruffle it’s surface. To the east, a sand dune no more than three to four metres tall, topped with low lying scrub stretches away and out of sight in both directions. In between is a beach which at low tide must be close to a kilometre across and at its steepest an incline of not more than one percent. In the sky there truly was not a cloud. So as you can see there was nothing to see and yet we could not look away as the sun slowly made its way down toward the horizon creating a vast palette of changing colours on the canvas of beach, sea and sky.
I kept telling the kids life doesn’t get any better than this, but then Oliver reminded me of the little bowl of strawberries topped with cream that Emma surprised us with after dinner one night at Barn Hill. I must have made a similar comment on that occasion and Oliver wasn’t about to forget it.
People come to Eighty Mile Beach for months on end and you can’t even swim! Too many sea snakes, sharks and rays which by all accounts pose a threat even in the shallow waters. But you can fish and you can collect shells. Quad bikes with fishing lines strapped to the front whizz their way up and down the beach, mostly (note mostly not exclusively) manned by the men folk while the ladies scour the beach for what appears to be an inexhaustible supply of shells. At least that’s what I thought before I went for my run this morning.
While I was enjoying being the only only set of footprints on this massively wide and never ending beach without even so much as a four wheel drive in view to break me from my rumination, I couldn’t help but notice that the further I got from the van park the thicker the concentration of shells. I ran 7 kms out before turning back, which leads me to conclude, according a bell curve that 90 or so percent of nomads won’t walk more than 2 km either side of the beach entrance. So if you want cracker shells, set your sights on a 6 to 8 km round trip.
At 2.25pm I figure I’ve got another 35 minutes before I head back to the beach to soak in that splendid nothingness.
Emma here. The return to the beach did occur and again it was pretty special. We’re unsure how many sunset photos we can manage, it’s the same yet different every evening.
Anyway on practical matters, the nothing-to-do-ness of Eighty Mile Beach was perfectly paired with cheap washing machines (only $2 per load, we’d been paying up to $4) and I think I managed 5 loads to wash almost everything washable in the caravan. Greg’s run also enabled Oliver, Amy and I to come up with a surprise for Greg. While he was gone I checked if Oliver knew how to take off his training wheels, he had ridden without them for a while in summer but had a few stacks and lost confidence and he was still convinced he needed them! Anyway the DIY nature of Oliver took over and he expertly located the ratchet set and removed the training wheels himself. The rest is history as they say and Greg was really quite surprised.
The resident grey nomads were really lovely to the kids here. One of them gave the kids some animals made from glued together shells, apparently unless you have a licence you cannot sell shell products, so they just give them away. That evening at the beach they spent the whole time shell hunting for the same types so they too could make shell doggies. Good thing Greg brought super glue. Another nomad gave them each three enormous shells he had found about 30km down the beach. This confirms and adds to Greg’s earlier hypothesis… The further you go the bigger the shells get. We have carefully wrapped them, here’s hoping they make it home.