Great South West Walk Day 1, Portland to Cut Out Camp, November 2021

My intention for today was to avoid arriving at camp by lunchtime, so I tried to force myself not to get up and start too early. I repacked my pack and of course it feels too heavy. What can I take out and leave behind to lighten my load? Do I have too much food? Maybe, but I don’t want to be short and feel hungry. I am taking coffee and tea which I normally wouldn’t but a morning coffee will help me to not start too early and enjoy morning camp a bit. I want to try to pace myself and go a bit easy early on to avoid injury. Hopefully giving me a better chance of actually finishing the walk. Let’s see how we go. What else could I leave behind? I decide nothing, it’s all needed, I think. I decided to take the tripod stand for my phone/camera. Let’s see if I regret that choice.

Ok it’s 8am, time to stop faffing and get into town for breakfast before checking in at the tourist information office. Then it’s off and walking!

Ready to go!

Today’s walk starts with an easy coastal section through Portland along a nicely mown path. I stopped and chatted with Helen Oakley a local of Portland who has a walking group called Trailblazers of Portland. Apparently a certain basketball team would not allow her to use the name Portland Trailblazers, funny that. She also let me know she was in the news a bit a few years ago when a property owner bulldozed a bunch of trees that were known to be the homes of a koalas and she posted a video of herself crying in despair about it.

Easy coastal section

I turned inland opposite the Henty Caravan Park and it feels like the walk is now starting properly. I stop to chat to a young couple coming the other way. They are finishing the full circuit today, their 10th day on trail. They suggest to me that the scenery gets progressively better in the direction I am headed, which implies that it got worse for them.

On a short road section approaching Bolwarra I come across two koalas making a lot of noise. One of them scoots up a tree and they both peer down at me as I make my way past them.

Keep walking human!

Gordon picks me up at our agreed meeting place and after a 20 min detour drops me off at an entry point to the Cobboboonee Forest Park. It is only a few kms walk to Cubby’s Camp and I arrive at 1.30pm. I have a snack for lunch but am not overly hungry.

It’s a fairly small campsite and there aren’t many suitable trees to hang the hammock. Despite my intention to not push it early, I decide to push on anyway. I’ve walked about 13kms so far and it’s 15kms to the next camp. It should take me around 4 hours. I am hoping the next site has better places to set up the hammock. It only 1.30 and I don’t fancy hanging around here for another 8 hours or so before bed. So much for my plan to take it easy today.

Cubby’s Camp

Not long after leaving Cubby’s I see my first snake. In the grass beside the track, light brown with hoops, maybe a Tiger snake? It was barely a foot or two away, I shouted in surprise and did a big high-stepping type jig. The snake stirred. I managed to take a couple of steps forward and quickly looked back. The snake had disappeared. It must have hightailed it out of there, apparently unimpressed with my antics. I would have liked to get a photo but I didn’t really want to go back too far to check. Best to just move on.

Not long after, maybe 15 minutes, I came across another snake. A Red-Bellied Black snake. This one I saw fairly easily, a few metres away and about to slither off the path into the bush. I didn’t hang around and just kept walking.

My third snake sighting was maybe 30 minutes later. As I rounded a corner of a fairly wide track I could see it at the corner of my eye. It paid me no attention and I was composed enough to pull out my phone to take a picture. There were a lot of twigs, sticks, bark and leaves on the ground to help disguise the snakes. But the curved shapes they make helped in spotting them. Three snakes within an hour and my heart was pumping! Hopefully that was the worst of it and not a sign of what’s to come.

Red-Bellied Black Snake or Copperhead?

Thankfully there were no more sightings for the rest of the walk to Cut-Out Camp. When I arrived around 5.30pm there were four other walkers already there plus a few family and friends of two of the walkers. I was happy there would be some company at the camp tonight.

The other walkers included Ryan and Erin, a brother and sister. Erin was fairly new to multi-day walks and this was Ryan’s first. Nothing like a 12 day walk to start with. I guessed they were maybe in their early 30s but found out later they are twins and about to hit 40. They have organised family and friends to visit them every couple of days for support and food! They are walking the full circuit.

Judy is an experienced walker and is doing the full circuit as well. Nigel is the other walker. He pretty much stayed in his tent so I didn’t get to talk to him. He has a Hilleberg tent, which gives him instant cred; it looks palatial!

I managed to find two suitable trees after scouting the campsite. Most of the trees are large gums which I’d prefer to avoid but that’s going to be difficult. There are a lot of ant holes around but being off the ground should be ok.

Cut-Out Camp and my bed for the night

I stood around the camp fire chatting with the others until around 9pm and then slept very well in the hammock. Survived day 1!

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