The roadway above Opossum Bay beach being narrow and without public footpaths meant it was important not to day dream and for me to be vigilant for the occasional car. But Opossum Bay is a relaxed seaside village and even cars seem to move sedately.
I continued walking on the road from Opossum Bay beach until I reached a 50Km hour sign for cars, then I moved left off the road onto a well-trodden narrow track through a clutch of Casuarina trees and walked down to the next beach – Mitchell’s Beach. When I checked my watch, only 20 minutes had passed since I had left the bus. Yet already my head was filled with ideas and new information, and my heart was open with joy. The pleasure of walking in clean clear environments cannot be underestimated.
The winding track from the road finished on the sandstone rocks. After an easy few movements and a short distance, I walked onto the sand of Mitchell’s Beach. As I padded along the beach, a gentle breeze whispered across my face while the water lapped quietly onto the sandy shore. Silver gulls wandered around. Opened mussel and oyster shells strewn along the beach, were blanching in the sunlight. I marvelled at the various seaweeds thrown up at high tide, at the decaying ribbons of sea grass and at the fish eggs collapsed like bizarre multi-shaped condoms. The air was rich with the sweet and salty smell of dying seaplants. The water a soft greeny grey. Blissful.
When I come across a few bright orange starfish on the edge of the tide, I cartwheeled them into the dry sand at the upper edges of the beach. I was simply doing my tiny bit to reduce the infestation of these seastars (http://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/starfish/) as devastating invaders of our local marine environment.
From Mitchell’s Beach I looked directly across the Derwent River and could see the suburbs of Kingston and Taroona with the Alum Cliffs below Bonnet Hill between them. Strikingly, Taroona’s Shot Tower stood tall. Stunning.
A pair of footprints impressed in the sand let me know that someone had walked the beach earlier.
Mitchell’s Beach was edged with three to four metre high dunes with tussocky grass on top, which were gradually crumbling into the beach. Demarcations between dirt and sand strata were clearly visible. Towards the northern end of the beach, small seas of water smoothed grey stones provided a separation layer between the beach and the dunes.
A lone Dominican gull with his pure white tail, pale grey legs and small yellow bill flew off leaving me in charge of his beach.
I reached the end of Mitchell’s beach 40 minutes or so after setting off from the Opossum Bay shop. Again a rocky headland stopped me continuing but I couldn’t see a defined track up the hill onto the land at the top. Clearly people had found a way judging from a mishmash of bits of tracks. I chose the least steep section and was surprised when after my first steps up I slid back down. The previous day’s rain had kept the ground lush and damp, and it was clear that the soil included slippery clay. By a more careful choice of foot placements, I eventually reached the top.