Greetings from Western Australia! It has taken a while coming, but here is the first posting of my Bibbulmun Track attempt; Section One – Kalamunda to Brookton Shelter.
Friday, 27th September 2013: Day 1
I was up and out early; no fanfare, no send off. Kevin, Sue and James were at work, and Cameron was sound asleep in his pit; it all seemed a little anti-climatic for my 50th birthday.
After my train and bus ride, I arrived in Kalamunda and wandered to the Perth Hills Visitor Centre to sign the log book for the walk. The staff there were extremely supportive and I even got my photograph taken for the next Bibbulmun Track Foundation newsletter. They asked that I come back at the end of it all and tell them my thoughts on the trail.
I wandered to the Northern Terminus of the track, lingered a while in the hope a passer by could take a photo to mark the occasion but alas I had to suffice with a lonely shot of my bag propped up against the sign.
I set off at 11:15 am, it was to be a short day to acclimatise to walking with a heavy pack but I was soon feeling it in the midday heat. I figured it would take a while to get away from built up suburban areas, but was pleased to see this was not the case. From the terminal, it was through a small section of scrub to Spring Road, where you veer right, descending passed an old golf course and down a creek towards Piesse Brook.
I was delighted to see, contrary to what I had been told by some bloke at the airport, the wildflowers were out, and it eased the mind having something beautiful to focus on, making the labour more bearable.
Add to that, the streams were running nicely, and that was a comfort.
When I climbed up from Piesse Brook, I took my first break half way. This was bloody hard yakka!
The struggle eased when the track levelled out a little, a gentler incline through the Jarrah and Marri Forests of the Kalamunda National Park. Good paths, though, and the regular waugals and signage kept me from straying.
I crossed a dirt track named Fern Road, the first access point for day walkers and an escape route for those wishing to bail on their Bibbulmun thru hike.
Back into woodland, I managed to bump into some tourists taking a camel ride. I was nearing Paul’s Camel Farm, on Pauls Valley Road, where I was intending to take a break. The farm has a cafe, and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity of a cup of tea, a slice of cake, and the use of a proper flushing toilet, especially as this was to be my last for a week or so.
Fed and watered, I continued on, through a shady patch of Banksia, across Asher Road, and then a descent to my home for the night. 45 minutes from the camel farm, and I was at Hewitts Hill Hut.
Now, before I embarked on this adventure, I envisaged that one of my biggest challenges was going to be spending nights alone on the track. To my utter amazement I had spent four of my five nights alone on the Overland Track, and I had not slept all that well. For my first night on the Bibbulmun, however, I had no such worries, and when I arrived I found I had the company of Diane and Erica, two Aussie bushwalkers on an overnight from Mundaring Weir.
I took the lower bunk in the shelter, and began an orderly routine that, all being well, I would be undertaking every night for the next two months; unpack, set up my sleeping arrangements, wash and change into camp clothes, collect water, cook, eat, chill out and then sleep.
First impressions of the campsites and the three sided shelter systems were favourable. Sure, it meant the the local wildlife could wander in, on this occasion a cocky magpie who had taken an interest in my cooking. I was also impressed by the drop toilets. I was soon to find that quite a few of them were kept supplied with toilet paper, by the track volunteers, although I wouldn’t depend on it!
The nights, at this time of year, close in quickly, and I was soon in bed around 7 pm, with my Kindle. There was just time for two more arrivals, though, a father and son, who took the bunk above.
Saturday, 28th September 2013: Day 2
I slept little, it would take a few days to get used to a routine, and was out on the trail at 7.15 am. There was a touch of mist early on, as I made my way to Mundaring Weir.
As I approached the weir, my SPOT batteries ran out. They were rechargeables, and not up to the job, obviously, so I had to think of a way to get off the trail and get some new ones!
Luckily, Diane and Erica caught up with me at the weir and I asked them to give me a lift to a town with a supermarket. Mundaring did the trick; a rush into Coles supermarket, and then the two ladies kindly dropped me back at the track. I will always be grateful for their help!
Onwards, I met a group of four, Paul and his son Nathan, and Tony and his son, Mitch. For the rest of the day, we were to bump into each other.
I lunched at Ball Creek Shelter, and then onto Helena. As we neared the end, we passed a group of thirteen, and mindful of the shelter space, we stepped up the pace to beat them to the hut.
It was great to have company once again, with Tony, Paul etc. but the thirteen turned out to be a bible group and their religious rants and singing weren’t appreciated. Once again, when the light disappeared, about 6:30 pm, those in the hut were tucked up in bed, whilst the bible group carried on around the camp fire, holding a little prayer session and sing song. Not really appropriate given they were in mixed company.
Sunday, 29th September 2013: Day 3
Set off at 7 am, first one out. First obstacle of the day would be Chinamans Gully, a rocky descent.
Chinamans Gully was a tough climb out; up to 300m before descending to the Helena River. Then came a gradual ascent that was more to my liking.
Got to Waalegh about 11:15 am where I had some lunch. The rest of today was fairly flat. Two blisters were beginning to form on each little toe, but they hardly hampered my pace, and I had the beautiful wildflowers to distract me.
I arrived at Beraking at 2.15 pm. Cold and breezy, I spent the afternoon eating. The bible club turned up and because of the weather, quite a few of them opted to squeeze into the shelter and it was very crowded come dinner time.
Monday, 30th September 2013: Day 4
7:15 am, on my way after saying goodbye to Tony, Paul, Nathan and Mitch; good company for two days.
On my way out, I spotted my first kangaroo; always a special moment, but sadly, no photo. No matter, I was thoroughly enjoying the riot of yellow that was lining my way on this section!
By about 10:20 am, I was surprised to be passed by Tony and Mitch, going at quite a pace to Dale Road, where they would be picked up. Despite its name, Mount Dale isn’t such a climb, and it was pretty easy.
I lunched at Mt. Dale Campsite and the remainder of the day was flat and no dramas, but hot in the afternoon sun. I arrived at Brookton Campsite at 1:45 pm. With the bank holiday finished, this was to be my first night alone.
I was in bed by 6:30 pm, as the sun set, and read for a while before dozing off only to be awoken around ten by a barking noise; not that of a dog, but of some bush animal having a bit of a territory dispute.
To be continued…