That said, I don't remember the last time I had to work so hard for a shower. This is an eco-lodge, after all, and during a crash course in backcountry hydraulics, Misha explains that it takes 40 hefty cranks to pump enough water from the holding tanks for a good five-minute solar-heated spritz. As the group takes turns heaving and ho-ing, I can't help but think there's some essential life lesson to be learned from generating your own shower power (to say nothing of the wisdom gleaned from using the lodge's surprisingly elegant composting toilets, which are shared by the guests). By the 27th pump or so, even the Baron seems to be getting into the eco-spirit. How could he not?Once the pumping's done, lathering up in hot rainwater inside the sleek stainless-steel stalls is a little like splashing around in a summer downpour.
We base ourselves at the lodge for two glorious days and nights. The first afternoon is spent frolicking at the impossibly beautiful semicircle of beach seen from the sundeck. Following a group swim, Michael shows me the finer points of beach cricket, a game that, as far as I can tell, involves whacking soggy tennis balls and sidestepping poisonous jellyfish carcasses. Fortunately, the only spectator is a happy fur seal sunning itself on a giant red boulder. The day winds down in the cozy living room after a dinner of local opah fish, portobello mushrooms, garlic potatoes, and flash-fried greens, all prepared by the guides in an outdoor fire pit under the gentle glow of solar-powered lamps. Jo even whips up a perfect lime tart and old-fashioned brownies for dessert. Later, those who are up for it take flashlights and head out on a nighttime safari through the steep lawns to spot the kangaroo-like pademelon and the adorable spotted-tailed quoll, a diminutive wildcat.
The truth is, just when we get into the rhythm of life at the lodge, we have to leave. Two nights is enough time to rest our aching soles, but it's hardly enough time to linger at every tide pool and scuttle up every sand dune, as we would like to do. Of course, a short stay seems appropriate considering Latona's ethos of moderation. And it's long enough, certainly, to have had an effect, even on a non-hiker like me. As we take that final stroll back to the van—a mere hour along an easy path through hilltop eucalyptus trees—the restored wanderer inside me wants to keep walking and walking along this gorgeous coast. I do know one thing: If a devil ever crosses my path again, I'll definitely follow it.
Bay of Fires Lodge, Mount William National Park; 61-3/6331-2006, fax 61-3/6331-5525; www.bayoffires.com.au; open October—June. The four-day, three-night trip costs $771 per person and includes all meals, accommodations, guides, and some equipment.