Sandy Cape (very sandy)
We are posting this now because when we wrote it we had no internet access.
2 April 2012
We have just pulled up in Stanley after a great couple of days at the end of the earth. It’s called that because it is a wild and rugged coast directly in the path of the roaring 40’s trade winds that haven’t touched land since South America. It was a spot I had wanted to visit before we got to Tassie, and one I was attracted to as access is via a 4×4 trail and along a rugged isolated beach. This was the reason why we wanted to travel in Landy rather than kit out a van which probably would have been cheaper, but could not carry us over the rough stuff.
We picked up the required permit from the park ranger at Arthur River and also got warnings of quick sand and pictures of sinking vehicles and then headed south with great trepidation to Temma where the track started. We let our tyres down and the first 12km or so was a fun single track through old dunes, water holes and small rocky sections. We passed little sandy bays and headlands and found a nice grassy patch near a rocky bay to set up camp for the night. Dinner was a unique amalgamation of chilli and fresh salmon from Nathan the day before. We were lucky as there was hardly any wind, but the coast looked as though it was a rough and unforgiving place, even so there was evidence of aboriginal life all down the coast with some huge middens. Apparently there are also rock engravings down that way too, but we couldn’t spot them. It is pretty humbling to know that people have been living in this isolated, wild little spot for thousands of years.
The next morning we continued south and the track spat us out onto a small beach with a creek flowing across it into the sea. This is where the phantom quicksand may be lurking so we both jumped out and walked all the way across to check, we thought it was a pretty good surface, but we weren’t exactly sure what we were supposed to be looking out for. The ranger said look out for sand that has water just underneath the surface – pretty hard to spot from the car we reckoned! We picked our route over the wet sand and seaweed and through the flowing water and up the far bank, our first bit of beach done, maybe we can do this. The track carried on along the coast for a while before coming out onto the beach again, this time 11km of beach along Kennith Bay lay before us. It was a thrilling sight as we drove down towards it with big dunes on one side, a wide flat beach that sloped fairly steeply into the waves on the other side.
The wind was racing out to sea and blasting the sand along with it. This was the big test and we were nervous. We had been told that the wave worn sand was often the best place for hard sand. We started off on the flat section above the zone of breaking waves, it was fairly good going but soon got soft, and even though we were in low range 3rd/4th with a heap of revs our momentum started to falter, as we slowed my heart rate raced, and I thought I should head for the harder sand by the sea. I swung around to the right and felt the soft sand get deeper as we headed for the top of the slope down to the water, we weren’t going to make it! I swung back to the left and luckily found a patch of slightly harder sand, this gave us the momentum to head for the water again and we got over the crest of the slope down to the waves and my nerves calmed a bit as we hit hard packed sand by the waters edge. It was a nervous ride down the bay trying to pick a line between the water and the soft sand above, a couple of larger waves caught us and we ended up having to drive through them. We managed to stop on hard sand at all of the river crossings and test the way ahead on foot, we mostly crossed the flowing water just above or where it met the sea.
As we made our way up the beach we could see a ute up ahead and when we got close a relieved looking youth jumped out and headed towards us. The two guys and a happy as larry dog had been stranded overnight when they stopped for a walk and couldnt start their car again. They were pretty lucky as the high tide had come up to within a couple of metres of the car overnight, it would have been a long, cold, sleepless night! We tried to tow them to the harder sand to give them a jump, but we soon started sinking down and going no where, we managed to get close enough to jump start them. With a shove we got Landy back onto the hard sand and they looked glad to be running and finally heading for home.
It was a great feeling of relief and exhilaration when we finally pulled of the beach at Sandy Cape. We still had to return along the beach, but we knew what we were up for now and had our tracks to guide us back. It was a hairy time picking our way along the top of the waves, knowing all too well that if we did get stuck then we wouldn’t have long before the sea got us. A less heart racking trip to do with two vehicles I guess.