My sister and I have enjoyed many walks on the East Coast of Australia, but now it was time to visit the West. We heard of this track called the Bibbulmun and thought that was for us. At 1000km's long we wondered which bit we should walk. The Bibb Track website was helpful, as was the "Highlights of the Bibb Track" tour. The section we chose was amazing and we where incredibly lucky to have fantastic weather. We'd ordered the map book - The Southern Half, and with that we set off walking....not really sure what day we'd finish up in Albany but loving every minute.
Day 1 Perth – Walpole
Checked out of our slightly slummy hostel at 8:15 and caught the free blue bus to the train station and found platform 3. Secured our train/bus tickets for the long trip to Walpole. We still had close to an hour before the train left so we took off to a coffee shop and read the trashy mag’s on the Royal Wedding to fill in time. Train left on time at 9:30am and apart from Beth popping an ear drum, almost and also thinking the train was doing loops it was a journey spent reading the newspapers. Into Bunbury at 12pm where the bus was waiting a mere 10 steps away. This is service. We would have taken off sooner but driver was looking for “Mr. Henderson”. Shouted his name out on the bus “Mr. Henderson” and than he was searching around and then back on the bus “Mr Henderson” and then – Mr. Henderson is actually on the bus! Driver frustrated. That driver took us as far as Greenbushes and then the comedian bus driver got on and took us the rest of the way. Stopped at Malingup for a 20min break and spoke to two ladies also doing the track but starting at Northcliffe and ending in Albany. We listened to an audiobook on the walkman MP3 player most of the way. Another Bubbles Unbound book – was a good way to pass the time looking out the window. Mostly farm land – lots of cows and little poddy calves – sheep and a few lambs. Country looks dry. Got into Walpole at 4:20pm ish. Butcher closed, so went to the IGA in search of mince. We bought bacon – no mince and then walked the 2 ½ km to Coalmine Beach. Got in just on 5pm. $27 for an unpowered site. Great toilets and small but excellent kitchen. Cooked the “dinner winner” packet – ½ of it, with the bacon and ½ a tin of kidney beans and some peas. Topped off with parmesan and it tasted okay actually. We are going to have it tomorrow night too, just not with the bacon. There are people here cooking dinner from Newcastle, Brisbane and Sydney. No other walkers that we can see so far. In bed after watching a bit of telly at 8pm
Day 2 Coalmine Beach – Franklin River
I slept remarkably well last night and woke and got up at 7am. The luxury of a shower to start the morning – so nice. Had breakfast of porridge and cup of tea and fielded more “crazy” comments and weird looks from the camper van contingent. A meagre attempt of drying the condensation off the tent and Beth swapped a book at the office book swap, we both pee’d twice in ½ an hour and left at 9:20. Walk taking us along the coast for about a km before heading inland.
Gradually climbing up 200m to Hill Top Lookout where we were eager to start eating from our huge stash of food. It was just after 10am and ½ a power bar each and our nutella wraps went down a treat. Great lookout over the Nornalup Inlet and to the islands where the waves were crashing – impressive. From here it was 2½ km hike to the Giant Tingle Tree – 24 m in girth and although it didn’t look too impressive from the back, as we had already been walking past some pretty big trees, from the other side it was huge.
More food was enjoyed here – some biltong and a chat to the couple we’d seen at Hill Top Lookout. We continued on past more massive tingle trees and now some pretty big Kairi pines and soon arrived at the top of Douglas Hill without actually ascending? Here the track twisted and turned for a bit before going down toward Franklin river. The map and notes seem easy enough to follow. At 1pm we came to a road (dirt) and with only 2½ km to go we stopped and ate the last of our lunch – a vegemite and cheese wrap. Was just what I needed to make the final push to the shelter and Franklin River. Those last 2½ km seemed to take an age, our heavy packs not getting any lighter and we were keen to see what these huts were like. At 1:55pm we arrived at what is the prettiest of places. A hut right on the river and seems we have the place to ourselves too, which is lucky as we have spread ourselves out. Sun is on the deck so socks and boots put out to air. We took off down to the creek for a dip – water cold but not icy. Hung out a washing line to dry towels and air our clothes. Spent the arvo reading the hut books and the “Bibbulum News” magazines. Sun was getting lower so at 4:50 we started to cook dinner and a hearty meal it was. Had the left over “Dinner Winner” packet with the remaining kidney beans, tomato paste and onion. Didn’t look like enough so I added in some rice and made mash potato for the bottom. It was A One! Pretty bloody tasty – I must have commented on that about 4 times. In bed after playing cards for a while at 8pm. Read and then listened to the possums playing. Set the tent up in the shelter so we have a critter proof bed.
Day 3 Franklin River – Giants
Despite the critters fluffing about all night, we both slept okay and got up at about 7.20am. A fine morning it was too, the sun coming up over the trees and all the steam coming off the river – nice. Emptied the contents of the tent and popped it in the sun – lot of heavy breathing = condensation. We were mid breakfast and along pops two women. Beth says, wow you left early! They’d got a lift to the road about 2km down the track and are also going to be staying at Giants tonight. We kept eating, peeing and cleaning and drying the tent and were ready to leave at 9:20 when up pops Fred. The girls had told us he’d possibly be coming along our way. He’d left Walpole at 6:30am!!! Slightly weird bloke, we left him at the shelter and took off. First landmark was Sappers Bridge about 50 minutes down the trail. Built by sappers in 1982 when the old bridge washed away. Powerbar time for us and just when we were ready to leave again and were reading the track notes, along comes Fred again and his slightly wayward comments. He zoomed past us, and we took it easy. Today only 15.5km so no rush. Walking past more tingle trees today and their knobbly knots and huge trunks and also Kairi trees and jarrah. Large trees. Crossed a couple of good bridges and thought we were at todays “lunch spot” but we weren’t so pack back on and about 30 minutes later we finally came to THE Foot Bridge. Book said rapids and rocks. We saw the rocks and the stagnant pools of water, but enjoyed the vegemite and cheese sanga just the same. From here it was about 5km to the Giants Tree Tops Walk. We were lamenting over the fact that we could run that in 30minutes, yet it would take us 1½ hours today. With vegemite in tummy I set a mean pace up the hill, stopping only to admire all the interesting varieties of fungi. Before we knew it we had crossed the highway and then reached the Giants Tree Top Walk. Tour at 2pm – 50 minutes away. So enjoyed the use of their soap to wash our hands then the generous globs of nutella Beth had put on the wraps this morning…. and she wonders why I leave half of it on my face!? Phones work here so we communicated with the world and then bought tickets to the walk $10. Discovered the tour is for the forest, not the tree top walk so we gave it a swerve. Walk was amazing, up in the lofty heights of the trees. It is 600m long and between the platforms it swings with the wind and it is hard to walk in a straight line. Beautiful, unique and interesting but was glad to be off it. Like seasickness with heights! We resisted the icecreams on offer and did the last 1.6km up and then down to Giants Campsite. The 2 girls – Holly and Christine are here and Fred. The girls have mozzie nets, we have put our tent up again in the shelter. Fred is unprotected from the vermin. We were all busy with dinner prep when in walks 4 women from Freo, out for a couple of nights and out for a good time. They got dropped off at the top of the hill. So we all shuffled over and made room for everyone to sleep. Then back to cooking Nasi Goring for dinner. We had pre soaked our mushrooms when we make hot chocolate and now we cooked the rice. A bit over a cup went into the mushroom soaking pot and we boiled it for a while before taking it off to absorb for a ½ hour and played cards. Opened the bowl ½ hour later to find a very, very full pot of rice. Holey dooley, how are we going to eat all that? We’d also put in some mixed vegies. More boiled water was needed and more soaking required to cook the rice. Eventually it was deemed cooked enough and I added the nasi goring satchel of paste and we halved the bowls and fried them off to finish the process then began to chow down. The taste was okay, the mushrooms where surprisingly good, it’s just we had SO MUCH rice. Fred, weird Fred who played the radio and beep beep beep on his camera/phone all night finally had some use – we fed him! He was happy, we were even more happy. Off loaded a lot of rice, he said it tasted better than his dinner too. I saw his dinner and I was hoping that ours would taste better than his! After dinner we played euchre and talked to Holly and Christine. The Freo girls cooked dinner at the outside table and set fire to something, lots of laughing and wine at their table. We were 4th and 5th to bed tonight, read our books for a while and then lights out and ear plugs in at 8pm. Didn’t even hear the Freo troupe come in.
Day 4 Giants – Rames Head 19km
Lots of early, early activity. We were warned but at 5:30am it was clomp, clomp, chhhhh sound of air coming out of pillows/thermorests. Was a bit much to take. At 7am we rolled our eyes at each other and got up and Holly and Christine and Fred had all left. Freo girls up now too. We must have been more efficient this morning as we got away at 8:30am, walked thru more forest. Those beautiful tingle trees. Crossed the South Coast Highway and then followed the old railway path for a while, our first taste of sand walking. Still saw a few more tingles before leaving the big beautiful trees behind.
We were looking forward to Nut Lookout and our first snacks for the day – we walked straight past it, realised and then dropped packs and ate the powerbar. View still good. Next landmark was a granite rock, for first lunch – 3km away. We missed that too and ended up stopping on the side of a gravel road. Vegemite and cheese sanga never tasted so good. Biltong good too. From here we were in the sand and along a ridge and banksias and coastal plants on either side of us and …finally views – further then the next tree – we can see the Southern Ocean. Arrived at Conspicuous Beach at 12:30 and found a lovely little lookout to enjoy more generous nutella wraps. Beautiful day today, not windy and we’ve even got the sunnies out. Stunning. Left that spot at 1pm with 4½ km of up to go to get to Rame Head. First a walk along the beach….ahhh soft sand – tis hard work. BL found the track off to the left and we went off and over more dunes. About to go up, when BL had an emergency. Doug came out and she lightened the load and up we went. Up over Conspicuous Cliff. It wasn’t too bad actually, just up, up, up and we’d done it in no time. Saw the hut and then eventually made it to the very beautifully placed Rame Head campsite. Holly and Christing all ready in, Fred has double hutted. We are all pleased about that. Holly particularly – she has been with him for a couple of weeks. Straight down to business and the “plan”. Water is a premium, it’s in the tank, but we have decided if we don’t announce our plan we might be able to get away with it. We used 700mls (Beth’s water bottle) to go and have a bath! Oh, it felt so good and I didn’t even use all of mine. So, so good. Didn’t wash last night, so today it felt so, so good.
On the way into Conspicuous Beach we were fantasising that is would have a beach shower and then we added a Mr Whippy van, a chairlift and a masseur. They were but dreams.
The Freo girls turned up about 2 hours later with Chelly who Holly had done a lot of nights with. She and Holly are E2Eer’s (end to enders). Lots of laughs in the hut tonight with 9 women occupying it. Tonight’s dinner is tortellini pasta, mushrooms, peas and we had the dehydrated egg – scrambled on top with parmesan and fried shallots. It was a dinner winner. We have nearly used a whole thing of gas, but the food has tasted good. In bed by 8pm.
Day 5 Rame Head to Peaceful Bay
If you can’t beat them…join them. So when H and C got up at 5:30am, we waited till 6am and got up too. Used the last of one gas cylinder almost making the porridge. Got a ½ full gas cylinder off the girls from Freo, should be right to get to Denmark now. “Plenty of gas”. Left Rame Head at 7:50 after enjoying a beautiful sunrise, we made good time and got to the powerbar stop – the Gap at 10am. We have got high hopes for Peaceful Bay providing us with lunch and many, many other luxury items and accom. The Gap – what a place to enjoy morning tea – it was spectacular. Actually the whole day was, down from Rame Head to the ocean and then we walked along it to Peaceful Bay. Lots of rocks and plenty of evil soft sand walking, thankfully in short bursts. Came across a big group of day walkers on the ‘Best of the Bibbulmum Walk’. We’d seen it on the web site and used it for ideas. They told us about a group of seals around the next beach. Lots of them too, all we could see was their flippers – they were all in the water. We knocked off the last 6km stopping only for a pkt of chips and arrived in Peaceful Bay to see C and C at the Caravan Park general store. A quick reckie of the shop provided some disappointment. No powered milk. Oh no and no porridge. We left that dilemma and went in search of the backpackers. Half way up First Avenue and a lady stops in her car and says “where are you off to?” She says – you were due yesterday. Beth says we haven’t booked. She is very flustered and says – I’ll meet you there. What the? Seemed an age, but we found the “chalet” and backpackers’ and were initially less than impressed. $80 a night for h and C’s room (they booked – for today) so we say we can share, okay then, then find out it is $40 EACH still!!! This place is old, tired and ewwie, so we decide to walk back to camp ground and pitch the tent. Back at the shop, a more detailed look at what’s on offer and we had a pie and sausage roll for lunch (it was not quite the steak sanga with the lot that I’d been dreaming of, but still filled the gap) camp site was $18, and once there, we picked our spot and then set about washing us and then our clothes. Then we plonked ourselves down on our mats next to the tent and watched them dry on the line we’d strung up in the sun. Was touch and go for a while but then the sun came out and eventually – after a lot of watching we got them dry – all those knickers, as the sun dipped below the trees. While we watched washing dry – a riveting pass time it is, we rang thru our dinner order at the shop (this task needed to be done to ensure fish and chips for dinner) and then not long after I took the 2 minute walk to shop for an icecream and a restock of supplies. All up including dinner and treats we spent $60 in that shop. Bought more nutella ($5.50) 4 choc bars (we are sick of muesli bars), pkt of weetbix, a litre of milk and a tin of milo! We have made friends with our neighbours in their camper trailer and their electric fridge. So we have put our milk in there and they have given us a little 200ml UHT for tomorrow. That should stretch the powered milk supply (which is low).
Met H and C for fish and chips at 5:30 at the shop. One girl working there and out comes our pkts of dinner. Went outside and opened them and for $5 each we got 2 medium-sized fish each and loads of chips. And it was good. Yummy. The nutella cost more than a serve of fish and chips! Go figure?! Went back to the campsite and had a cup of tea at Lorraine and Terry’s (the milk holders) place, as pre arranged earlier. Terry has done a lot of hiking in Tas in the 70’s so we spoke about that and of holidays past. They are from Victoria. In bed by 7:30. Sorting out stuff and setting both mine and BL’s alarm on our watches for tomorrow.
Day 6 Peaceful Bay – Boat Harbour.
BL woke with a start – you’ve wreaked my watch – I rolled over and ignored her. She’d read 11:45pm and thought it was dawn – held onto that pee till dawn and soon realided I hadn’t ruined the watch as at 5:55, my alarm went off and 10 minutes later Beth’s went off and up we got. Beth had a shower, I couldn’t be bothered. Packed up and grabbed our milk from the fridge next door and enjoyed the taste of real milk, heated up our 4 weetbix each and then finished off a great breakfast with real milk in our cuppa tea. Finished the pack up and got away at 8am. We’ve chosen to knock off 2km from todays hike by waking the road for the first 15 minutes. Then inland we went for about 1 hour to Irwin’s inlet. There we faced a dilemma….walk straight across the sandbar and knock off 6km of walking and then walk the beach for a bit longer or walk inland and canoe across and then over the dunes to come out half way along the beach.
We debated the two choices for a while, the pro’s and con’s of each?? Um, ahh. In the end we chose the canoes. Because – 1) when we looked at the track in Brisbane, the reason we chose this section was because of the canoes and 2) we bought all this extra food and we needed to work hard to eat it all? So we turned our backs on that sandbar and walked on to the canoes – adventure bound.
Took another hour and a bit to reach the inlet crossing and there was only one canoe in the shed, we could see 5 in the shed on the other side. We were beginning to regret our decision when we had our shoes off and our legs in the mud, but after adjusting to the filth we got on with the job. Took Beth’s pack over first – flopped in the front and off we paddled. Dropped off the pack and collected a canoe and went back to get my pack – upside down flop into front of canoe and poles in the back and back across we rowed. Had a power bar before we started canoe shuffle and enjoyed our vegemite wrap after the canoe shuffle. I had put my shoes on and Beth was still drying her feet when we saw Chellie arrive on the other side of the crossing.
We yelled out to her and then Beth paddled over to a very grateful Chellie. Chellie didn’t even complain about Beth’s wayward steering across the passage! It was 10am when we finished the shuffle and about 10:40 when we took off, leaving CS to her mint chocolate bar. Up and over dunes, but not too sandy. Mostly hard under foot, only a couple of tricky soft sand ascents. Finally made it over the last dune and hit the beach right on 12pm. Time for more food – its all about the food. The km’s and the food. Ate the biltong and nutella wraps while we watched the waves break. To our left where some people surfing – we’d seen them in the distance and though they were seals – then dolphins and then we saw the surf boards! After I’d taken a picture of them! (it was the black wet suits that tricked us). Just as we were leaving Chellie appeared. We left her to enjoy her snacks and off we went to conquer the last 11km. Feeling pretty good about our decision so far. A km up the beach, we left the beach to go over a headland and then back on to soft sand again – oh so draining . We did find some harder sand near the breakwater – but you had to be vigilant. Came to Little Quarrel Beach and saw Boat Harbour in the way off distance – we had a lot between us and it. It was a lot of short up and overs, some on the beach, some over dunes and some over cliffs. The soft sand….oh so sapping of energy. That and this bush that was along the track that was ripping shreds off Beth’s bare legs.
I didn’t particularly like what it was doing to my arms either. 11km – 3 ¼ hours – it felt like a bit longer. Two stops, one for ½ a muesli bar and the other stop saved to savour the Cherry Ripe we’d spent a fortune on at the Peaceful Bay shop and the reason we’d not done it the easy way and walked over the sand bar. Maybe some regret had sunk in now when it felt like we were getting no closer and Beth was getting more and more worn out. Eventually and I mean eventually – after seeing many a fine view to the coast and to inland we finally came to “the” 4WD track that marked the “1km to go”.
It still felt like we were going backwards and Beth’s sighing had increased in frequency. We crossed the next 4WD track which signified 300 meters to go but with no sign of the hut a big sandy hill in front of us, the excitement was hard to muster. Would we ever make it??? We did! Beth flopped down on the shelter floor and that’s where she stayed, trying to sort her shit out while I enjoyed a 700ml of water wash. She was only revived by both a wash, a lie down and read and a cup of hot chocolate/milo. H and C were already in, they’d taken the sandbar option and they still thought it was a substantial day. Alf is here too, he arrived not long before us, we’d seen bloke foot prints on the track all day today. He was in the campsite last night too, just near us, but was long gone when we got up at 6am. I thought considering the day, we had done – bravo to us. CS arrive about 30mins later looking like BL had when she’d got in. Ahhhh, those sand dunes we all lamented. Tis amazing what food and chatting can do to ease the pain and thoughts that you’d be still walking in the darkness. We enjoyed a lovely night, till bed was called by all but Beth and me at 6:30pm!!! We played cards for a bit – like 20 minutes before retiring to read at 7pm. Dinner tonight was asparagus and leek risotto – Ainsley Harris. We spent quite a bit of time on the track today discussing it actually. Chellie had got eggs from the place she’d stayed last night so we knew we had 2 boiled eggs to have tonight. So it was risotto, instant mash (good helping of it) peas and we put coconut milk in it, as we have plenty of it and not much of the normal powered milk and the two boiled eggs. It was yummy too. We have eaten well and not gone hungry yet either. BL’s call on using just one pkt of the risotto was a good one too. Boat Harbour shelter positioned on top of a hill. Hard to see the ocean from shelter, but is a short stroll away – one I will do in the morning. Too tired and busy cooking and writing in this tonight.
Day 7 Boat Harbour to William Bay
We have the H and C alarm clock back, so even though ours were set and ready, we didn’t need them. Eyes closed and trying to ignore for a while before getting up at 6:15. We are getting better at this pack up job as we left at 7:30am. Not having porridge to cook helps too, we have weetbix instead. H &C left first, then Alf then Chellie and last again was us. The first 9km was first down to the beach x 2 and then up, up and up over dunes and finally to Hillier Lookout. A lot of blood and sweat happened between B.H and Hillier though. We were 5 minutes down from B.H hut, which by the way, the view was literally 1 minute from the hut. Anyway we were heading to the B.H beach and Beth was admiring the view and contemplating more sand walking when all of a sudden she’s on the ground – scrapping her left knee along the gravel. No tears, she sucked it up and washed it off with water from first her water bladder and then spat it on her knee – nice! Did the job.
We soldiered on and up and over and about an hour later Beth put a bandaid x 2 on it and left the rivers of blood streaming down her leg both for effect and sympathy and instead of spitting water on her leg again.
We stopped just shy of 9am for a half a powerbar each that saved us and while we were enjoying it (actually today’s bar was pretty awful) we spotted Alf in the distance and then the bright green/yellow pack covers of H and C. With renewed energy it wasn’t long before we passed H and C and we only got to Alf at the top. He was popping painkiller pills and then caring on. We dropped our packs and then went up to the trig point; a few spits dropped on us so we had our gortex on and put pack covers on our packs. Need the gortex for the wind, but no more rain dropped on us all day. Trig point had lovely seat to sit on – what luxury. Enjoyed the vegemite and biltong here.
Came back down off the small detour to see H and C had just arrived. The top meant exactly that – 9km done and now down to Parry’s Beach just under 3km away. Dreaming once again of the Mr Whippy van and buying goodies at the shop. We were there by 11am. Parry Beach campsite was gorgeous. Here you could spend a few days – looked like a couple of people had too. We walked on thru the site and came to the beach and the loos. Beth did a bit of clean up on the blood river and I went down to the shop. I asked a bloke who was trying to run me over, where the shop was – “no shop here”!!! What the!!! where is my ice-cream? Where is the frozen seafood I was buying for dinner to have with a red curry? Not here!!! We were not depending on these items – they were luxury treats, but still!!! Onwards and upwards and onto the 7km of BEACH WALKING!!! SEVEN KMS…..ahh. It was 11:30am and off we went – to the sand. Leaving the beach at the same time as us was the ranger in a 4WD. We asked him if he was going our way and he said – don’t you want to walk? So that was a NO in the form of a lift. So we started walking and we watched him drive off up the beach. Sand hard, then soft and then soul sapping soft then thankfully hard for a while. About 3km knocked off by this stage and all’s going well. About ½ km later and the life was slowly being sapped from us – the soft sand will do that to you – in an instant. We threw the packs down and took a break – and a wee. Looking at the limestone cliffs not far off which marked the 4km down mark. With packs back on and cliffs in site – more soft sand made the journey seem endless. A couple of dolphins frolicking in the surf took our mind off the task for while. Eventually made the cliffs and then the next land mark was the corner before the end beach. More dolphins to see and a couple of fishing boats to see to take our minds off the task again. Rounding the bend to the final beach was quite narrow and as I daydreamed a big wave come up and gobbled me up. I tried jumping up the other sand ledge above but it was no use. – went to my knees and the second wave behind splashed me up to my waist. Thank goodness we are nearly at tonight’s hut. Went past some people fishing and then finally came to the end of the beach – THANKGOODNESS. Next obstacle in our way – massive step up to get off the beach – with pole against it to help. No way could we do that with our pack on – off loaded it and Beth held it while I got sand all over me trying to get up off the beach. Took a photo of Beth achieving the task a little more graceful than me.
Time for a savoured mars bar reward. Only 2km to go – exciting except it was up Tower Hill. First along a 4WD track, then hit the main road and then up the never-ending hill. Lots of twists and turns and no sight of the top. Each crest of the hill – hoping we were at the top. So close, yet so far away. It was only 1 km and even though we thought we’d never make it – we did – to find no one else here??? Where is everyone? Arrive in at 1:30pm. Pretty pleased with our effort. With no one else here, our packs soon exploded and we managed to spread our shit all over the platform. Quickly set about having a mini wash – that was SO GOOD. Then we put up the tent shoved our stuff in and along came Alf and Chellie. When we got to the hut first, we thought, did we miss the shop at Parry’s Beach? Has everyone enjoyed café lattes and ice creams? No, but CS and Alf had stopped and chatted to some campers and been served a cuppa and Chellie even got an icecream! About an hour after we arrived H and C arrived. We all lamented about the never-ending beach and the wicked step up from the beach and then never-ending hill! So nice to be in another brilliant Hut. Full moon tomorrow, so it looked good tonight coming up over the hill. This hut is in a gully, I’m sure there is a view just up over that next hill – but it will have to wait until the morning. Dinner was another winner. Mushrooms vegies, pasta, and tuna tonight. Put a bit of coconut milk in it too. Parmesan and shallots on the top – we have eaten really good. All the dishes clean and away by 6pm. Cards, then bed. Another early start tomorrow and then Denmark – a town – so shower, omo and meals with knives and forks to come.
Day 8 Tuesday William Bay to Denmark
Rain and heavy rain at that on the shelter this morning. It is a tin roof, so it doesn’t take much to make it sound intense. But it was heavy in bursts. We didn’t need the H and C alarm clock – but we got it anyway. I can’t seem to drag myself up out of bed at 5:30am. 6:10 is about as early as I can manage. Beth has a headache this morning so I had to make the sanga’s for today. Decided we’d be in town for lunch so I just made a nutella wrap for us each. Apparently I was stingy on the nutella. Everyone left gradually, Beth and I the last to leave again. Not too efficient this morning either. Up at 6ish, gone by 7:40am. Made it 1 minute up the track to a sign with a camera on it, so turned off and found the rock.
What a view – smashing. Could see the mist over Peaceful Bay, The Gap and could see all along Massoroti beach (the never-ending torture) from yesterday. Gorgeous. Oh, and leaving later, we were the only ones not to get wet leaving. The rain had stopped and it was turning into a lovely day. So then the real leave time was adjusted to 8am, as lots of photos taken on the rock. The walk down off Tower Hill was beautiful, lots of granite rocks, lots of views and minimal sand and hills going up. Also quite a few kangaroos and the ever-present mushrooms. Apparently autumn is the season for mushrooms and they are everywhere. We arrived at lights beach at 9:15am – Beth made a bee line to the very handy toilets. Beach was beautiful, so protected, wanted to have a swim if it wasn’t so chilly. We sat on the lookout and enjoyed a mars bar. B lamenting we had 7 km to go to get to the road, I re read the map and corrected her – we have 2.7km to the road. We are planning on doing some road options today. First though, we had to get to the road and this involved a short up and to more terrific views through to Albany and then down through some cow paddocks and over 2 stiles.
Forgot how tricky stiles can be with a pack on. We decided to walk around Mt Hallowell instead of going over it. We have our reasons, but it mainly boiled down to two. a) can do it, don’t have to prove it and b) can go around it easily and want to enjoy a half day in Denmark. As soon as we got to the road we checked for phone reception – none. Walked about 30 minutes and got signal and when we failed to get Graham from the hostel to collect us, we called Denmark cabs. Oh yeah!!!!Road walking sucks and we had a further 10km of it ahead of us. Serina from Denmark cabs came in less than 5 mins-terrific. Best $15 I ever spent. Graham at the Blue Wren YHA a friendly fellow, room and washing $71. Twin room which after we’d both showered and done the washing now looks like a laundry. Spent $1 on drying the undies and socks – the rest of it is synthetic. Shower was cleaned just before we used it, and after I used it and Beth had too, I pulled a huge clump of hair out of the drain – am surprised I have any hair left actually? Just as we finished all the chores, Alf came in looking like a drowned rat. Tough old nut he is, he set to work doing his chores and we took off to see the town, walked past the bakery and it looked sooooo gooood. Beth’s suggestion of a café a much better idea, as we got a burger each and sat and read the paper – very relaxing – very “I’m on holiday” mode. My vegie burger tasty, B’s beef burger was dry and tasteless apparently. Next we did the shops over – there weren’t many and then bought more gas – cause we use a lot of it and then to the supa IGA – I had stars in my eyes – wow- look at all this food…after the meagre provisions of Peaceful Bay – this is a mecca. We are now fully stocked up on everything we needed including a load +++ of powdered milk. Back to the hostel where we started to sort our stuff out and then decided we’d go back into town – walked 5 steps out the door and the heavens opened on us! Turned around and went back in and that’s where we stayed till dinner. C had come in by now and said Mt Hallowell was tough+++ and she got lost coming down and then the walk through town was dire. So glad we didn’t do it. Out to dinner with everyone and Larry (Christine’s husband) and Rob from hostel who is walking the other way to us. Spent 20 minutes adjusting Rob’s pack this arvo – he is most grateful that it now fits. Very nice meal at the pub too. I had the chicken schnitzel and it came with mushroom gravy which I thought a little weird but I gobbled it all up no problem. Everyone a lot more relaxed at dinner. Late bed time – after 9pm!
Day 9 Denmark – West Cape Howe
Up at 5.55am in our little room, that no longer looks like a laundry after we spent another $1 and dried the synthetics off for 10mins last night. Everything already packed and ready – even water bladder is full of tasty Denmark water. All that needed doing was a quick shower and then a huge bowl of cereal. We bought a pkt of our favourite cereal so needed to use it. Gave some to Chellie too and packed the rest away to take hiking. Rushed around and at 6:30am we were more or less ready when Clarrie the taxi man arrived. He’s a character so we had a very joyful journey out to the start of the track. Clarrie dropped us off at Eden Rd and drove the hard-core CS and Alf off a couple of kms away at the real start of today where the boat would drop you off (If it was running). With Beth and I having nothing to prove, we were not feeling guilty and once the packs where out of the taxi, I brushed my teeth (ran out of time at hostel), we pee’d and then took off, got about 5 mins down the track when we saw a beautiful sun rise in motion. Many pics taken and googled at for a while and then off we went. Found the fence, turned rt and saw a long fence going up and off we went up that track and the hill. About 15mins up the hill I checked the book and thought this doesn’t match up with the distance and where the Nullaki hut should be, we powered on regardless and about 10 minutes later Beth saw a marker and the track. We soon realised our error and while BL got out the “Doug” again, I powered down the track to find the hut. We weren’t staying at it, I just wanted to see where we’d strayed. Beth followed and after about 10-12 mins of “just around one more bend” – we gave up our quest to write in the book and went back up the hill and found our packs. Quite happy that we had somehow fortunately found the track. Phew. Up and over more hills and down and up and up and down some more. We had the map and to be perfectly honest – we really had no idea where we were all day. Map directions not that clear, lots of crossing of 4WD tracks which are usually mentioned on the directions but today – not so. Added to that – we knew we were the first ones on the track today and with rain last night the footprints are not as clear. Lots of great views though and these handy little seats to sit and admire them on. The seat was just a plank, but then behind the plank was another plank that was just the right height to rest your pack on.
Perfect. We enjoyed a muesli bar at one particularly nice vista. Thought we’d walked further then we actually had and were keen to see the beach and the GRAVEL ROAD. That’s where we wanted to enjoy the ham rolls we’d made. Up and over and down and around and over and one more ridge (7 times all up) and still no road. Stomachs growling so stopped at a vista seat and had the rolls. Shorter day and I wanted to enjoy mine so got out the cooker and heated it up. Was worth the effort too, even though it rained as I was doing it! Rain today – on and off, but nothing too hard or long or bothersome. Just the on and off of gortex about 3 times. We did eventually find the beach – thank goodness and out came the reward – after bush bashing thru scrub – cutting Beth’s legs to shreds – a picnic chocolate bar – yummy! Followed the road for a bit without pack on to find track, but decided safer option was to bush bash back to track. The stretch between one of the vistas and the beach was about 2 hours and for about an hour and a half of it we saw no waugals or route markers – was beginning to wonder if we were lost again. A look at the map said that if we were lost, we’d eventually have to collide with the road at Dome Point! But …back after the bush bashing – we went about 15mins and low and behold that gravel road come up – you beauty! And the correct car park for Lowland beach too. Dropped packs and went down for a look. Phil and Neens had caught up to us here – we’d seen them from a distance all day. . With just 4.3km to go, so about 1 hour 20 you’d think – yeah – not long now. But it was up and up and up. Left achilles feeling it today, so the up and up and up was endless. It’s funny – it seems to go on forever and then you get into the hut and soon forget how long it took. The hut – was just around the next bend when I’d predicted (this is a first) and what a spot it is.
It is in a little sheltered area but a short walk to a picnic table and you can see West Cape Howe. What a view. I thought it was the bomb, but while we were cooking dinner (actually soaking or rehydrating) CS and I went up behind the shelter, up another track and got there just in time to see a fantastic sunset. Full hut tonight and 2 tents up. Dinner tonight was Nasi Goreng again. Only ¾ cup of rice and that was plenty. Had mushrooms, dried vegies, biltong and fried up a real onion. The flavour sashay was a little too intense, probably could have done with half of it. Softened it with coconut cream powder. Another hearty dish and another winner. Everyone in bed by 6:30pm reading. Beth and I played cards first. Reading the hut book as bed time story – lots of snake sightings!!!
Day 10 West Cape Howe Hut to Torbay Hut – 16 km
Beautiful morning, stars out over night and woke up to watch the stars rise from the comfort of the sleeping bag. We weren’t the last to leave today – we probably beat P and N by about 20mins. What a stunning day today was. Really – it was beautiful. Views at every turn and the added bonus – for once – we were travelling the best direction – ie, a little bit of gentle up and then down most of the way. And…most of the walk was along ridge lines…and – we didn’t even have a massive hill to summit to get to the shelter. Great day. .
Oh the views today and the ease of walking was so good. Apart from all the customary wee stops two girls walking can make, we stopped quite a few more times to eat and take in the wonderful views. Not a patch on yesterday when we didn’t know where the hell we were all day – today we had the map and directions sorted and waguals everywhere and others footsteps to guide us. The best stop we enjoyed today was on top of the third granite rock – it overlooked Albany and the wind turbines and everything we have ahead of us. Enjoyed a Cherry Ripe here. From that beaut spot it was only 3km to the end which we conquered in under an hour. Set off at 7:45am and got in at 1pm. A front is supposed to be coming in tonight unfortunately. But for now we are enjoying the half day and beautiful settings/surroundings bright blue skies . Sat up at the picnic table on the hill in the arvo, swapping stories and having a great laugh. Down the hill for dinner as it was getting chilly. Tonight’s dinner was another top one – probable one of the best. Tortellini pasta with mushrooms, vegies and tuna. Put some mash potato on the bottom of the bowl and with the trimmings of shallots and parmesan it well and truly hit the spot. Played cards and went to bed to read, lights out at 8pm.
Day 11 Torbay – Hidden Valley 17km 5 hours
A check of the weather last night – a couple of times told us that a front was indeed on its way to us – so windy and rainy day greeted us this morning. Such a contrast to yesterday. We also have the added trepidation in knowing we have to cross Torbay inlet! So when the H and C team stirred, Beth and I got up too. H and C first to leave as always, then Chellie. Beth and I doing a fine job this morning and ready to leave after 1¼ hours. We have switched to weetbix instead of porridge and not only does it taste better it’s less labour intensive in the morning and far +++ easier to clean up. So with full shell gear on, off we trotted, left out from the hut – on a mission – catch up to the others. Full steam ahead. First down and around to cosy corner camp ground and thru a she-oak forest and before long 2½ km were done. Then down some steps to the beach. Picnic tables and BBQ’s here and a bin. So off loaded a pee and our stash of rubbish. Onto the beach the others can just be seen. 3km and sand softish but more hard stuff then soft, so not too bad. Then we went around a headland over and up some rocks very carefully, another pee then full steam ahead 2km to Torbay inlet. Caught the others (H and C) at the inlet – just. Chellie had arrived and was scouting out for the best place to cross. Tide on its way in and the current running fast. Time to check it out first. C and I striped down to bra and knickers. I’m raring to go and check it out – this is what you come here for!!! So in we go, arms linked. It was about knee to thigh deep for most of the it, up and down gullies and flowing strong, just near the other side it went over undies and then we’d made it – brilliant. And quick victory wave and then back we went. Was harder coming back at first and I thought – oh shit- but then we’d past that bit and the rest was okay. Besides Christine – who refused to subject us to her undergarments at 63 years of age – the others followed our fashion and a group pow wow came to the next step. C had on shorty Holly’s pack, Christine in hers, Beth had hers and I had hold of a pack liner which was full of everyone’s dry clothes, gortex and gaiters. Off we went – arms all linked. Some ahhs and ohhs, and slow downs and up and down those gullies but all in all very successful. Holly, Chellie and I went back over to grab the left over bits. My pack and shoes and all the poles I secured under the lid of my pack. Chellie had her pack and shoes and Holly was in the middle – her head just under the poles. Another successful crossing and victory claps and congrat’s and hiippooray – we’d done it. Rain not too bad when we crossed but it started to pick up when we were putting on all that gritty sandy gortex. Ewwww. And gritty sandy socks in wet shoes! Fun, never had so much fun!!! New waterproof hat doing a bonza job. Started walking up the beach, looking for the off shoot – very hard when peripheral vision is low, decided it was time to check the book (by this time any other day we would have pulled it out 15 times at least) we needed to walk to the end of this beach – 1½ km. Right…. head down and of we trot. Fortunately the wind is mostly behind us and to our rightish – propelling us along. Cannot imagine what going the other way would be like to endure. At the end of the beach there was an up, up boardwalk/stairs to surmount – that got the heart started and warmed us up which we desperately needed. At the top we enjoyed real luxury – a whole muesli bar each!!! Wow. And we enjoyed it under a small gazebo like shelter out of the rain. Waited until Holly and Christine caught up and then with hypothermia about to set in we set off in the wrong direction – Holly pulled us back and then we where off – again – “lost but making good time?” Beth saying that time will warm you up – then correcting it “time and keep moving” and that will warm you up. Only 9 km to go from here. To add to the “danger” of today we even had to go through a rifle range. Big sign says – keep out then little Bibb track marker pointing us in that way? Little fear today me thinks. Only in it for about 20 minutes and then came to the “diversion”. They are building more wind turbines so we had to leg the last 2km on a soft sand 4WD track and I think that most of it was UP. Still, we were revelling that we’d rather be here then at work any day. Beth calling Chellie and I Pollyanna for all our “thankful” comments. Beth adding ‘I wish it would hail on me so I could be thankful I survived”! Ha ha Beth. On reflecting over more dunes in the driving rain and high winds that nearly blew you over she did eventually think “I’m so thankful there are no leeches”! Well done. I was most thankful that at 12:15 Chellie announced from the top of yet another sandy hill that we’d arrived. Oh-yeah. The three of us arrived to an empty hut so immediately downed packs and chose a private spot each to strip off and wash all that sand off us. It was amazing the difference 3 litres of water (cold at that) can do for the soul. No more sandy grit. Put on 2 thermals and a vest and puff and long thermals and day long pants and felt much better. Starving by this point too, so heated up our nutella wraps – soooo tasty. The others on our tail so put up the tent in the shelter and chucked our gear in just as H and C turned up and then Phil and Neens and about 5 minutes after that. Hut looks like a laundry, particularly as Neens and Phil and Anna crossed with clothes on. Everyone getting changed and sorted.
Beth and I heated up a hot chocolate which I then accidentally spilt on the platform. Cleaned it up with both our towels and then rinsed them out – lucky it’s the last night. Beth selflessly gave me half of hers. Thanks, and it did the trick to warm us up the rest of the way. Spent arvo in the sleeping bag – lots warmer. Dinner tonight was in three parts – we are using up the remains. Mash with vegies, then scrambled eggs with the left over vegies and water in pan and then aspag risotto. I can honestly say – we’ve eaten well and it’s been tasty. Parmesan and fried shallots help too. Played eukera with CS before dinner before heading up the hill to see the sun set. Weather was bad all arvo, till just before sunset when it cleared a bit. View on the hill was to where we’d been and of the other wind farm. Beaut. All the clothes have a good chance of drying as it’s blowing a gale here. Not too bad under the shelter on the platform though. Usual 6:30 to bed for all but Beth and I , played cards then bed.
Day 12 Hidden Valley – Albany
Last day today for everyone – excitement all round. I convinced Beth to get out of bed when H and C got up telling her we would be cleaner earlier! Always concerned about how dirty she is. We have really been enjoying our weetbix for breakfast and today we could use as much powered milk as we wanted – rationing over! Am beginning to have an unhealthy affection for powered milk. We got away at 7:30am, today is a much better day then yesterday, couple of squally showers around but aside the blustery conditions – not much rain. All gear (except shoes) dried out sufficiently overnight.
Clear day meant multiple photos, pees, and map checks ie slower progress then the speediness of yesterday. Yesterday we had beach walking with the wind behind us pushing us on and we had H and C in our sights so we wanted to catch-up. Today progress seemed very very slow. It seemed to take us forever to get past the wind turbines. Nearly got knocked over by the wind a couple of times too. Good views back to Cape Howe and the added delight of seeing rainbows a couple of times too. Also views to Albany which despite heading in that direction it remained too far away. Stopped and booked a hostel for tonight on the way and Beth got out Doug for the 4th time on this journey!!! We eventually reached the main road at 12pm and decided we’d give this road walking to Albany a go! To cab or not to cab? We gave it about 30 mins before we’d seen enough of the harbour and Albany getting no closer so called a cab. Another well spent $15. Hostel is great – what a find. Lovely garden, lawn and flowers and friendly atmosphere. Room like a fridge but looks comfy. Had a shower – oh yeah – it was fantastic+++ The filth is gone. Now we needed some new clothes. All our nice stuff is in Perth, we wont see it till after our slow road trip via Pemberton, Margaret river and Rottnest Island. Headed up the main drag and went to the BIG shops – Kmart, Best and Less and Target. Bought a new bra, undies and after looking at myself in the mirror in my hiking pants – I decided – new jeans. Also product for hair, soap, razors etc. Beth got new shirts x 2 after a search that was sending me batty. Eventually called it an end and we found a pizza place for lunch. Took forever and tasted average. Disappointment. After lunch we headed to the tourist info place and signed the book to complete our walk. On our way out we saw P and N walking in at 3:30. MISSING. Went and cleaned up room and sorted gear did some washing and rearranged stuff into “camping” my pack and all others Beth’s bag and then headed to the steak house for dinner. Had really lovely dinner with H and C, Larry, P and N, Chellie and Adra (her friends niece) and Alf. Food great too – had the “horns and prawns” – great butter chill and garlic sauce on it too. We even met “team Foley” who we’d been one day behind the whole time. Was great to put a face to the name on a log book. Was a lovely evening and a nice way to finish another walking adventure. Back at the hostel I found my missing sock from the washing, yeah….I don’t need to borrow Beth’s anymore. So very exciting and a nice end to the night. In bed after 10pm!