We leave the volcano trail alone for a few days to explore the varied waterways around Nelson. The first attraction is the mighty Glenelg River, running unspoilt through the wild country of Glenelg National Park and stirring up boating fantasies and fantasies about a long walk. The 250 kilometre Great South West Walk track keeps intersecting our road, disappearing intriguingly under trees along river or coast.
Or at least I think we are leaving the volcano trail. Then I reread my guiding brochure. The limestone gorge the river runs through was cut downwards by the flow as the broad limestone plain was slowly uplifted by the force of very deep underlying magma. There is no escape from shaping forces.
The river meets the ocean at Nelson. We sit in the chilly wind with a paper bag of chips, watching people fishing, rugged up in coats and beanies, before we head out to the bushy headland, the ocean and the long empty beach.
As the day wears on in greyness and intermittent drizzle, we walk through wetlands that are seeking Ramsar status, across a boardwalk, along well-marked tracks, on detours to bird hides (spotting a lurking fisherman and a bevy of swans), and back to the starting point as the rain comes down.