Main Beach is on the ocean-side of Minjerribah, some 15km (9.5 miles) from where I am camped. From the Point Lookout Surf Club, the beach stretches out before me as far as my eyes can sea. Stand up paddle boarders are surfing just off the point behind the breakers. I enjoy watching them gently move over the waves, occasionally catching one until it dumps. It doesn’t look as fast or agile as surfing but I can’t believe the skill the riders show in staying upright. A few 4WDs are parked down the beach, mere specs on the horizon. I guess perhaps the fish are biting in some gutter down there or maybe they are catching bait on the low tide.
I take off my cycling shoes and carry my bike across the rock shelf that leads to the beach. After a tentative start I realise that the only way I will stay upright is if I keep up my momentum and avoid turning. Without shoes my seat is slightly too high but I don’t want to waste precious pippi-hunting time with fiddling to fix it. Besides, I’m sure my calves can do with a good stretch. Over the next two hours I will perfect my technique for running and jumping onto the bike, rather than climbing aboard and trying to pedal my way out through the sand.
The bike looks pretty cool parked in the sand with nothing by beach around her. I’m not sure this is what her designer or builder had in mind. Though I think they did want us to take the bike on adventures.
It doesn’t take me long to find my first pippi of the day. It’s probably been close to twenty years since I found my last one so I am slightly surprised to remember what the little mounds look like. I have a few false alerts before I find a rhythm. I find about a dozen pippies on my 8km ride down the beach and another ten on my way back to the point. There were more but I decided that twenty-two pippies was plenty to feed me tonight.
I don’t have a bucket with me on my trip so I had to improvise a way to carry my stash. Two bidons and my chaff bag did the trick nicely. I used the chaff bag to shade the first pippies I caught while the sun was still blazing and then put the later ones in a bidon on my bike frame.
I’ve never eaten pippies before. They are usually considered fish bait, not dinner. But a mate recommended I give it a go and I have not been disappointed. They have a fantastic flavour thought I did overcook some of them out of an abundance of caution (next time I will listen to YouTube when it says to take them off the BBQ as soon as they open). Pippies do contain a lot of sand so you need to purge them. I found the three hours between catching and cooking them to be just about perfect. Another hour and the later ones I caught would have been a bit cleaner. I changed the sea water in the bidons about five times during my trip and again on my return to camp. This seems to have encouraged the pippies to spit their sand out so I’m not feeling grit between my teeth (the odd one is a bit sandy but must have been the ones I caught later on my return leg).