Updated: Aug 11, 2021
Hike and Spear is a type of survival mission that I created to combine my favourite Hobbies of Spearfishing, Hiking, Wild Camping, Foraging and Adventure. The concept goes like this. I get dropped at a location with all my spearfishing and camping gear. But for a bit of a challenge, I have minimal food. Often just Soy, Wasabi, Salt, Pepper and perhaps some cooking oil. I then have to use my skills of spearfishing and foraging to provide myself with a feed. An excellent survival concept that I have been doing since I was a young man. These trips are solo trips, but I have gained the experience required for these trips throughout my life from experience growing up in a military environment and natural love of the outdoors.
I would highly suggest that those attempting these trips ensure they have the skills and knowledge needed before setting off, ideally with a buddy if they haven't undertaken multi-day hikes before. They can be dangerous as you will find yourself battling the weather, ocean, dangerous creatures such as sharks, snakes, dehydration, fatigue, shallow water blackouts, isolation and poisonous plants and fruits. It's essential to know your limits.
With that all being said, wahooo we are finally back with a hike and spear trip. We are kicking it off with a New South Wales Hike and Spear trip on the South Coast of NSW.
Day 1 of Hike and Spear South Coast NSW, Australia
Very grateful that the grandparents dropped me off. But the track I was familiar with a couple of years back has deteriorated, and I would suggest a 4x4 to get to the starting point. Once dropped, I have a fair few km in front of me to get to some ground I could spearfish in. Many of this coastline is Marine Park, so it's essential to check and see what you are and aren't allowed to spear/forage.
After navigating through some incredible, Bush I made my way through to some stunning bays. Before finally appearing at a spot I could spear. Keen to get in, I quickly got some water in me to hydrate before gearing up and getting wet. The vis was milky on the surface and got worse on the left-hand side of the bay, so I swam over to the other side and began looking for Eastern Rock Lobster. It didn't take long before I found some tasty crays.
I grabbed a sea urchin for some uni, a tasty treat on the way out of the water. I then headed back to the land to eat my seafood lunch. I got stuck into the crayfish raw, given how fresh it was. I cannot believe just how yum the flavour and texture was. I highly highly recommend it. But please only eat rock lobster raw incredibly fresh as it has bacterial growth far quicker than a fish would and can spoil and make you quite sick within hours.
After mixing up some soy and real wasabi, I dipped the tail meat into the pot and ate like a savage. It just felt right and tasted as good. Next, I split the urchin and harvested out the uni (reproductive organs of the urchin). I enjoyed these by myself. Sea Urchin is a much sought after seafood in east Asia, and I can see why they are as creamy as oysters.
After packing up, I made my way north until I found a lovely headland with some kangaroos. After hanging out with a couple of roo's and giving one amiable fella a scratch, I moved up a seemingly never-ending beach. The temperature began to drop, but the colours the setting sun produced were just incredible.
I eventually came to an open estuary. After umming and arrrring for a bit, I decided to put the bag over my head and cross the estuary to set up camp. Freezing cold water came up to my cold nipples. Haha I made it through some awkward footing in the uneven and knee-deep sand whilst crossing, but I made it.
When I set up the tent, it was already dark, so I quickly stripped off and got into my sleeping bag to warm up.
15kms underfoot today
1 Eastern Rock Lobster + 1 Sea Urchin for Lunch
45mins/ish spearfishing/ocean foraging
Roo's Encountered and epic underwater life.
Day 2 of Hike and Spear South Coast NSW, Australia
After having the tent battered by the wind for the entire night, my sleep wasn't what I hoped. Needless to say, I was warm. I packed up the camp in my boxers as my shorts still weren't dry from the day before. I made my way to a dive site that I had found on google maps weeks before setting off.
Stunning views and a nice walk to the dive site. The water was protected from the powerful westerly winds that had wreaked havoc in NSW. I was starving at this point. So I didn't waste any time getting wet. Suited and booted, I jumped into the water to get myself a feed. The first ledge I had a look under had a cray, not much of a puzzle, just a quick snatch and grab.
As I was diving without my catch bag, and now knowing that one cray wouldn't be enough to suffice for the day, I decided to hop out, drop off the cray and hop back in. The GoPro was acting up, recording on and off randomly, which was frustrating. Still, I enjoyed the dive, plenty of excellent sea life around, abs, urchins, lobsters and more. I found a nice ledge that held some fat black drummer. I lined up a shot boom pulled the trigger. The shot tore straight through the fishes head. But there was still something fighting on the end of my spear. As I pulled it out from the crack, I discover that I've plugged a drummer after all, just not the intended target. I keep this on my line and have a look for another fish. I'm bloody hungry at this point, and I'm definitely thinking with my stomach.
I try searching for some personal favourites, but sadly I can't find any of the sizes. I had a few runs in with some bream, but I didn't feel like a bream. I wanted a fish that crumbs up nice. I went looking for another drummer and poked my head into another ledge to find a Wirrah Cod. I lined up the shot and boom headshot. Straight to sleep. Satisfied with these two fish, I decide to have one last look for some crays before hopping out and bingo another one for the bag. This guy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time as his friends were unreachable in their holes.
Just like that, I have enough to feed on for the day. This is a late breakfast, a timely lunch and a future dinner, and I'm stoked. I fillet these fish with slight difficulty on a rocky surface. I immediately miss my cutting board for filleting. As I am filleting the drummer, a vast white-bellied sea eagle flies over the top of me, then continues to do a few laps and watch me from a distance. Such an epic experience with nature, I threw him the fish frames, and he swooped down and carried them off to feast upon.
I move spots to stay in the sun. I simply add some tandaco fish seasoning to my fillets and pan-fry them. Absolutely delicious at this point. It had been almost 24 hours since my last proper meal. Words cannot describe how good this tastes. Immediately my energy is restored, and the empty hole in my stomach is filled. With that, I pack up my bags and head onwards. I was hoping to get to a spot to set up camp to dive first light in the morning. To do this, I had to get wet. The tide was high, so I removed my boots and walked along the pebbly beach, lucky enough to spectate some dolphins playing in the surf. As I made my way around the cove I came across some kangaroo's just chilled. I had been inspired once again to just lay down and relax, let the feet dry before putting my socks and boots back on to continue. Moments like these are what I love most about Hike and Spear trips. Its the relaxing after good exercise and being surrounded by wonderful nature and sights, incredibly grateful to be here and witness such a sight. Australia really isn't the wrong place to spend a winter at all.
Alright back onto the hike, we go, making my way around a few days. I get sick of going up and over each headland, so I decided to go around to try and save some time. Today Poseidon favoured me. I didn't need to get wet, and I made it around the headlands. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared behind the mountains before I had a chance to reach my intended camping spot. So I settled for an isolated, beautiful bay just before it. I just managed to set up my tent before it went pitch black. I quickly got stuck into setting up the cooking equipment and cooked off the whole cray tails. Just some salt, pepper and chilli flakes to season. Absolutely delicious, and I went to bed with a lovely warm, full belly feeling like Winnie the Pooh. After a honey binge, I fell asleep pretty rapidly.
10.4kms underfoot today
2 Eastern Rock Lobster + 1 Wirrah Cod + 1 Black Drummer
90mins/ish spearfishing/ocean foraging
Roo's, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Dolphins, Echidna encountered and epic underwater life.
Day 3 of Hike and Spear South Coast NSW, Australia
I woke up to a spectacular sunrise but whilst capturing it, I discovered that my GoPro was acting up. Something happened during the sunrise timelapse, and from that point on, the GoPro was acting strange. But regardless, I was high on life for this dive. It felt beyond good to be out in the wild. A bit of hiking and the odd climb meant I could continue for the rest of the hike. Boy, I was starting to miss sugars. Bear in mind, at this point, I had walked over 25km carrying 30kg+ and diving, energy levels were low, and it's such a shame I'm in a national park and can't get stuck into some tasty wild foods that would bring me back, anyway, rules are rules, and onwards we go. I come across an island with some mysterious creatures out the front of it, which could be dolphins, seals or sharks. So I go closer for an inspection, leaving my big heavy bag behind to come back for later.
When I get about 120m from the mysterious shapes, I could see that they were two seals hanging around and bobbing about. After making some noises and failing to gain their attraction, I assessed that this part of the ocean wouldn't be too spectacular for the final dive. With that in mind, I decided to try one last bay over to see if I could find some sheltered great vis.
I navigated around the headland via a track that was absolutely beautiful and well worth the additional 45 mins it added to my route. I stumbled across some Lilly Pilly Berries, always a welcome snack on a hike and spear good sugar content. However, they dont taste great, and they are more than bearable I did rediscover the proper way to eat them to avoid the sour off flavour.
Finally, I made it to the beach. I holed myself up in the corner, geared up and got wet. I was really after something spectacular to wrap up the trip, and I had been too fussy. I ultimately came away with nothing. I was also quite conscious that whatever I caught would have to sit out in the sun for another 5 hours unless I ate it immediately, and I didn't feel like eating until after I got out of the water. This is important when you are on a hike and spear. You must never forget to think of your future self. Just because you dont feel too hungry now doesn't mean you shouldn't just take at least something.
Anyways I thought I was stoked to get a burger or something at a cafe, but when I arrived at the cafe, I discovered a sign that it was closed for a couple of weeks... buggar.
I then made my way in search of another cafe. Funny, I was craving something salty. I resorted to a caravan park to try and buy some chips, and then a friendly voice from behind invited me to have some cereal. You know he's a good guy offering cereal because the bad strangers only offer ice cream or sweets (lollies).
After having a good chat with Mick, the cereal hero, I discovered he's a Freediving instructor, loves spearfishing and is just an all-around great dude. Check out his website Drawn2Water if you are keen to learn to free dive or spearfishing in the South Coast of NSW. Mick kindly dropped me off at my collection point, and just as he drove off, the grandparents arrived to collect me. Perfect timing.
What a trip! I hope you have enjoyed the read. I will summarise the whole thing at a later date.