Man vs Wild- Stephen Williams

Well i’m just back from 10 days of pure bliss in the South West of Western Australia. Been quite an eventful trip, with some pretty fantastic conditions for the majority- so no complaints there! Except for the fact I had to return….

So to start with I thought i’d share my little adventure- one that occurred in Cape Arid National Park- 100km or so East of Esperance. I packed up and set out with intentions of camping at Lucky Beach in Cape Le Grand NP. But with the wind in early, and not great conditions as such I decided to skip past and head out to Cape Arid, then return to Le Grand to camp. I had already had near perfect conditions in Le Grand 2 days previously so had got some pics I was reasonably happy with already.

My Hotel

So I put a bit of extra fuel in the car to get me out there and back- and then decided to pop just a bit extra in (which proves to be a good choice further on) and set off.
I checked out the campsites for future reference, did a marvelous walk around the headland to a stunning beach, then thought I’d try and seek out the dunes I’d seen some images of that looked very interesting. Not sure what dunes that was at though, I could see some decent one’s along the beach, but I wasn’t too keen in doing that alone with no knowledge on the tides. What to do, what to do…. Israelite Bay of course! I’d heard about this place and thought it was my kind of place. Upon looking at good ol Google Earth at home I think there were some others I could have checked out easy but that can be for next time 🙂

Did quick calculations in my head for time and fuel, no worries, taken into account a sandy 4wd track, no worries, there was a campsite out there anyway if time was getting tight so no probs… Off I go!

Well the first 5min of the track was bliss- nice soft sand, cruising at 30-40km easy. Then you get to the corrugations. OMG were they corrugations! A good 3-4inches deep, and at that distance apart you just can’t do anything, so crawling along at 10-15km I went…. and I went…. and I went. Headland after headland, must be the beach, no- just land to the horizon. I wouldn’t mind this but by this stage it was getting mid to late arvo, so would like to get there haha. Some sections would get better and I could pick up speed again, but then would hit more corrugations. There’s a few new sounds coming out of the cruiser I tell you! My stiffer suspension handles the big bumps and ruts fine, no probs- but makes it not so nice along here. Well by the time I get out to the dry lake and fly along the edge of that to make up time, it was now getting dark.

A track goes off that is well used, so off I turn as well, follow it along and eventually get to some ruins of the old telegraph line. I had a look around- contemplated setting up tent- but yeah…. I’m a chicken around old buildings by myself at night haha. So I kept going. Little did I know that this was about 100m from the turn off to my destination. I back tracked slightly, saw a sign post along another side track as I went past, but drove on to the next turn which I thought would then meet up at that intersection. Wrong again haha.

So as this track I was on was pretty used, I thought it was heading to the campsite, so I stayed on there and it kept curving around to the right- must be heading the right direction. There were some dunes a couple of hundred meters to my right, so I climbed up through the bush and water! Woo Hoo, can’t be far now. What a beach it was too. Looking around I couldn’t see any sight of the camp, but further along the track I was on, there was a bit of a headland with a nice grove of tree’s tucked away in the dunes. Nice- if I was going to camp this would be the place! So back down I go and continue, now in very fading light.

Around more, climb dunes, still near water- all good. Continue along more, by this stage it was a maze of tracks! But I kept heading that same course, using the main rule of navigation (when you have no idea where you are/going) by not talking any severe turns, and always remembering in my mind to the best I can the way back. Now were was that GPS of mine….??? Oh yeah, back in my house… bloody hell. So alone I go, nice track by this stage and then once again i’m near the dune. Up I go, water…. no. Land everywhere! I’m now somehow well away from the ocean, no where near my headland I was hoping to get to. Damn!

So common sense prevailed and I thought it best to turn round and get as far back along the tracks while it was still light, and I had the route roughly in my head. This is when the petrol started creeping into my mind, Now being 90 odd kms from the road and then 50 further to the nearest petrol station if I wasted much more time driving around there was a chance of not making it back out. Who knows when the next car would come along the track either.

Then as the sun was hitting the horizon, I came across a nice spot on the track that i’d be able to set up camp. It overlooked a saltlake, so that may be good for the following sunrise too- best scenario for me so far. Then as it got dark, I was all alone, no real idea where I was, my survival instinct kicked in- all those hours of watching Man vs Wild, and that man legend himself Bear Grylls, so off I go foraging for bugs, catching rabbits and finding water. Sorry… got a little carried away there I think. haha. No I cooked meself a nice feed, followed with peaches and custard… doin it rough I was! lol.

Then I had the choice, tuck away in my sleeping bag like a scared lil kiddy…. hiding away from all the bad creatures that lurk in the dark…. nah. Time to do some night photography. Well I did the photography before dinner, but it didn’t fit into the story too well that way 😛
I’ve had an image like this in my mind for quite some time actually, so it was a perfect time to give it a go. It has been a year of firsts for me so far- knocking off a lot of types of photography I hadn’t yet tried. So illuminating the tent with a low powered torch, winding up the ISO and doing a 30sec exposure this is the result. I even tried a bit of light painting to bring out the beast, which is the cleanest my cruiser has looked for years…. I can tell you this is an illusion as it’s filthy here haha. With the moon at half strength in the top right, that’s the other light source I was pretty impressed at the result. ISO performance on the 40D is still not great- so a bit of noise. But I think it’s only a small problem.

And yes- this is how I do my travel! No fancy hotels, posh cars… ppffttt, this is the way I want to be! My “lil yellow tent”, or coffin tent as it’s also called…. cops a bit of flack. But I can tell you that thing has seen more of our state than most people in Perth have! And it’s also tougher!! haha. I’ve also just ticked over 100,000km of travel in the cruiser, done in just under 4 years, so this setup is perfect for me. Considering it only had 125,000 on the clock when I bought it, I think i’ll be doing a few more years with this set up too.

Dolphin Cove

The other image is from the beach I walked round to. When I first arived it put up a stunning wave, perfect tube and holding form along the whole beach…. do you think it did it again?? Of course not haha. I waited for about half hour and then gave up. It’s Dolphin Cove for those of you wondering anyway.

Well that’s enough from me for now…. big enough post for you Charlene?? 😛

Stay tuned as I have plenty more to share, and from a personal point of view I think my photography went up a level this trip- so hopefully you’ll all agree! Hmmm…. back to work now tomorrow…. grumble grumble…

You can view more of my South West Coast posts here

If your interested in purchasing a South West image, please visit my site

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19 responses to “Man vs Wild- Stephen Williams

  1. Very nice 😀 sounds so so awesome

  2. Love that first shot Stephen, Ive been wanting to do some more night shots but I guess Im not lazy. Good story aswell, bit scary getting lost in the bush at night but all you have to do is relax and think. W.W.B.G.D, (What Would Bear Grylls Do).
    Dan

    • thanks Danny, yeah I was pretty happy with how it turned out hey. finally got to shooting the scene after it being in my mind for so long haha.

      and yup, the blokes a legend! i’m no prude when it comes to the bush- but I wouldn’t do a quarter of what Bear Grylls does 😛

  3. Nice story mate and good pics as well. Always good to get away.

    I wouldn’t do anything Bear Grylls does , he’s a nutter. I like the way he’s always out there by himself doing it hard, only him and oh yeah a couple of cameramen a sound guy a helicopter and a touring party of 15.

    • haha yeah sums it up pretty well.
      that’s what makes it even better- they’re out there in climbing gear, plenty of back up equipment, food etc- but he’ll still free climb up a bloody 100m cliff, or chomp down on some rotten deer hahaha. crazy! love that show!
      there’s another called survivor man that is just him- does his own filming as well. just not as extreme and the guy who does it isn’t anywhere near as cool as Bear haha

      • I watched the behind the scenes of survivor man, he actually plans it all out the week before with a crew, and then does it all over again the next week on his own. No where near as cool as bear haha.
        Dan

  4. You know I read your blog. Avidly 🙂 I liked this post so much I read it twice.

    That night shot with the lit tent and car interior is super evocative. That is exactly how it feels to be camping, that photo. Omigod I want to just pick up and go now.

    Kudos to you for going camping alone. It’s something Dan and I have always wanted to do individually, but problem is, if I’m packing up and heading out, he doesn’t want to be left out (part of this is worry for the health and safety of the Patrol). And there’s no way I’m staying at home while he gets to be out there taking it all in. It’s something I’d still like to do though, and soon, before I forget about it altogether. I’ll let you know if I ever get there.

    Thumbs up for the post again. Is Stephen vs Wild likely to be a mini series?

    • haha- i know you do, after all the comments about me not posting I just need to make some when I have posted 😛
      wow twice! really!!?? I wrote it and I was bored sh*tless just when I proof read it lol

      yeah I do all my camping alone pretty much- yeah a lot of times it’s in caravan parks. i’m always in the bush alone too, never a problem at all… that’s why I find it funny as hell that old buildings creep the hell outa me haha. had a couple of things happen over my life that I won’t go into but it makes me very uneasy at night when there’s a building like that.

      won’t be a mini series but if all goes to plan I’ll have an even cooler post and image in the near future though. I just need to get away and put myself up against the wild again 🙂

      oh, and get out and do a hike or something, some good places up in the darling range that you can get dropped off at and then picked up when you’ve done the walk. then you can camp alone 🙂

      • That might be a good start. It was something we were actually talking about over the weekend, this going camping alone business, and decided that we had to do it soon. Someplace nearby might not be a bad idea, though I feel the need to Go Somewhere to justify the camping, not just do it for its own sake.

        Re post – I’m a sucker for a good story. This was one.

        How was your first day back at work? 😉

  5. how’s things Stephen? Great story mate. BTW I don’t like camping near old building either. They could be full of ghosts from years gone by! And I too have custard and fruit for tea when I’m out under the stars.
    Cheers mate

    Dave

    • well well, who’s this fella!? 😛
      been a pretty good month for me, so plenty more tales and photo’s to come.

      you’ve sure had a fair stint up North man, looking forward to the wind down and seeing and hearing your own stories too 🙂

      good to see there’s someone else out there a bit wussy when it comes to old buildings haha.

  6. A great read Stephen ! It sounds like you travel light somewhat similar to myself.

    Happy traveling 🙂

    • thanks Tony- is there any other way??
      apart from being able to enjoy it and experience the places much better- 3 nights in accommodation is half my travel budget for a 2 week trip haha. So if I camp I get to travel more, simple decision for me 🙂

  7. Great read and photos Stephen.

  8. Love the camping pic stephen, That’s all you need most of the time eh. Nice part of the world you have been in to.

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