The Memory Sandwich

Have you ever had a memory sandwich?

Let me tell you what a memory sandwich is but first let’s walk to Crescent Head.

The east coast of Australia is one of my favourite paces in the world. From the Queensland border to Newcastle is my favourite section of the east coast. Between South West Rocks and Point Plomer is possibly the most beautiful stretch of coast in the world. In Australia 2 places draw me back more often than any others, Thredbo and Crescent Head.

As a kid my family spent summer holidays in Arakoon National Park near South West Rocks. We went walking around the headlands, beaches, bush but mostly played in the surf. It was here Dad taught me to count sets. He was a surfer in his youth and i occasionally watched him watching the ocean. He also taught me to let the salt water hold me and float over the swells when I was about 6 years old on a holiday at Noosa. I am not a surfer but I love watching the Ocean’s patterns, it is comforting.

The beach to Arakoon is littered with ruins from the convict gaol’s jetty and I found a big old ring bolt, possibly petrified dinosaur poo or a rusty croissant.

The walk from Trial Bay Gaol to Smokey Cape Lighthouse is spectacular. It is medium to hard with very steep sections for climbing and traversing. It passes some small coves and gullies on the way before finishing at the lighthouse picnic area. It is inside the national park so there are no garbage bins, please carry out everything you carry in to help keep the place beautiful for the next visitors.

By the time I finished cooking dinner it was dark and storms were coming in fast. There was a very brief spell when the rain lightened enough to get the hammock up. It was an awkward set up using two branches on one tree but I was warm and dry and nodded off watching the 3 beams of light rhythmically passing over like counting sheep. Youtube link to Smokey Cape light sequence in storm

By this stage in the walk I was running ahead of schedule so it was possible to walk half days. From Smokey Cape to Hat Head was a half day, arriving at 11am. On the way I found a heap of huge ancient middens, mounds of white shells and bones discarded from Aboriginal camps. I stopped for an hour to watch the birds, gangs of seagulls walking down the beach catching sand crabs, oyster catchers sleeping in wheel ruts, scores of terns standing on their stumpy little legs, one leg, sitting on the dry sand crests of the scalloped beach looking out to sea waiting for a shoal of fish to swim by. After a while they behave as though I’m not even there.

When I arrived at Crescent Head I found an empty picnic table and laid out all my camping gear to dry. This is a ritual most days. If I start early my gear is packed away wet with dew and condensation which needs to dry before setting up that evening. A few people near by watching me were talking about how the homeless are ruining the place, with raised voices so I could hear. I thought of engaging them in conversation to chat about walking around Australia but chose to tune them out and enjoy the view instead.

I had an appointment in Crescent Head for a leg wax with Kate at Beauty and the Beach. It was still too warm for winter insulation. Kate transformed me back into an hairless ape again.

At this stage I hadn’t decided where I would camp but being familiar with the town I knew of a few places I could hang my hammock, quietly free camping where nobody would notice me. As Kate and I chatted, the plan to stealth camp came up, and Kate came up with a better plan. She invited me to be her guest for the night!

From being shamed in the park for being homeless that morning to being invited into the home of a compassionate human who was a stranger hours earlier. That was not how I envisaged the day to pan out 🙂 I love these surprises and I love being reminded everyday that this world is full of kind, caring, generous people. The next morning Kate packed me a Memory Sandwich for lunch and some healthy wholesome snacks!

A Memory Sandwich is a sandwich made from dinner leftovers. As I ate the sandwich the flavours brought back memories of smiles, laughter, stories and great company. Thank you Kate! You are a Trail Angel!