Continuing my Bibbulmun Adventure and in this third part I am accompanied by Dropbear, heading from Mount Cooke shelter to my first rest day in the town of Dwellingup.
Thursday, 3rd October 2013: Day 7
Dropbear and I were up at 5 am and on the trail forty-five minutes later. We took advantage of the cool conditions and refreshing breeze to climb Mount Cooke, where the visibility was perfect!
Today was a long haul in thirty degrees so we wanted to get the bulk done with before the worst of the sun. An early start means we saw a few kangaroos, and I even got a picture!
We reached Nerang campsite at ten, and stopped for twenty minutes. We met our first South to North End to Ender, named “Bird”. I envied that he was just five days to the end of his journey, especially in this heat.
The 16 kilometres to Gringer Creek had to be the worst; flies bugged the hell out of me, and I choked on one. I even had the first tick on me, although it hadn’t buried its head to feed on my blood yet; Dropbear wasn’t so lucky!
We made it to Gringer Creek by half two; a great effort. After a freshen up I wandered to the North Bannister Roadhouse on a spur trail, to pick up the first of my food drops. Had a cup of tea, and a thirst quenching iced tea.
In the evening, Dropbear lit a fire and we had a clear night for some great star gazing.
Friday, 4th October 2013: Day 8
Up at 6am, I found myself cornered by a spider in my bed. A quick fumble for my head torch, I made sure it wasn’t a redback before snapping one of the strands of web, and seeing the rest hurtle up to the ceiling, with the spider!
Off at 7am, saw three more roos, doubling my count to six. We crossed the Albany Highway; strange to think that a car journey of a few hours would see us at the Southern Terminal, as opposed to fifty or so days.
It was an easy unsealed vehicle track to the foot of Boonerring Hill, with an abundance of opportunities to snap some wildflowers. We also saw our first Wedge-tailed Eagles, being harassed by some crows.
The climb up the hill was exerting, but I had my legs in now and each ascent is getting easier. The summit is reached by a spur trail, and we dumped our packs to visit the top. I’m sure the views are great, but we only got to see some wet stuff heading our way, so we made a hasty retreat to our bags and the rest of the walk.
We descended a rocky and unkempt part of the track, and made our way to the next lump in our way; Kimberling Hill. At the end of a day, this seemed a never ending ascent, but finally it dropped to White Horse Hills campsite. Just as we arrived, at 12:45pm, the rain began.
There was one other camper; Ritchie. He was walking from Dwellingup to Kalamunda. He was a colourful character; he had already walked the track, had many tales of his jobs catching reptiles and snakes in the Pilbara, digging test holes for a mining company, driving across Australia for the hell of it..
We spent the afternoon chatting, reading, eating, drinking coffee. In the evening, Ritchie expertly lit a fire and tended to it constantly, whilst he spun his yarns on relationships and life.
Saturday, 5th October 2013: Day 9
A double hut day and 30km to tame. Up at 5:20 am and away in the mizzle nearly an hour later.
Turns out Kimberling Hill wasn’t finished with us yet, and had a second lower summit. Had the weather been good, it would have afforded a great photo opportunity, but my camera stayed safe and dry in my rucksack.
All day, rain came and went, but the trail was good, using old vehicle tracks.
We were up at Mount Wells shelter at 10:15 am. This is the only shelter on the entire track that is fully enclosed. It was former accommodation for those who attended to the fire watchtower that sat beside it. It wasn’t very welcoming, though, and I was glad I had decided to skip it. We stopped for an hour, for lunch.
With 15km left to go, as we descended, we were both beginning to feel niggling pains. Dropbear’s was more worrying, as he suspected it might be shin splints. We slowed our pace and enjoyed the scenery, which was far better (apart from the scar of the Boddington Gold Mine) than our last double hutter to Gringer Creek.
We arrived at Chadoora close to four in the afternoon; by far our longest day.
Already there and with a fire going, was Graham, a 61 year old out for a ramble from North Bannister to Dwellingup. He was pleased to see us because he had someone to take a look at a tick he had on his back. It was a big bugger, but there was actually six! Dropbear had a go at removing them, and was partially successful, before having to attend to one of his own! So far, I have escaped this joy; maybe they don’t like my pommie blood!
As the evening went on, the weather brightened and we had our thoughts on the walk into Dwellingup tomorrow.
Sunday, 6th October 2013: Day 10
Off at 6:15 am, a misty morning with plenty of wallaby sightings. By the time we had reached an old railway line, the sun had appeared and it promised to be a pleasant stroll into town.
However, after we took a break at Etmilyn Siding; a station platform, the trail took a turn for the worse.
Between here and the old township of Hollyoake, the path was the most overgrown we had encountered and our march through the bush was made all the more frustrating by the flat railway line that stayed between 3 and 30 metres away. But the purist in us kept us on the right path and when we got through the worst, we took off our shirts and did a quick tick check; thankfully all clean!
At Hollyoake, things were more sedate.
We strolled into Dwellingup just before midday. Dropbear said goodbye as he made for a telephone, whilst I went to the Visitor Centre to sign the log book. I thought I might see him again, but our paths didn’t cross, and hopefully he’ll find me on Facebook and we can go for a beer in Perth at the end of all this, as I really enjoyed our few days together. I know he’ll be in the log books, so I hope he leaves a way to get in touch; stupid of me not to get a contact number.
The rest of my day I settled into the Dwellingup Chalet and Camping Park, went to the Blue Wren Cafe for a steak burger and chips, and got my washing and food ready for the next leg in a couple of days time.
Monday, 7th October 2013: Day 11
Wow!, getting up late, well, 8:30am anyway, had left me with the feel of a hangover! I was missing the track and eager to be on my way.
The idea of an extra rest day had lost its appeal; well at least if I was to spend it in Dwellingup. No disrespect to the town, but it is sleepy and I was restless here.
I had a number of tasks today; Send a few items, back to Perth, that weren’t used on the first 202 kilometres so would not be needed for the rest. Go shopping for new socks and some other items that need replenishing such as food, and also ring Collie to bring my booking forward one night. All done without a hitch, I considered going about midday, but in reality, there were still a couple of items to do; charge camera batteries, headtorch and my Kindle.
Late in the morning, I wandered to the Visitor Centre to use their internet, but found it was shut on Monday and Tuesdays. I was definitely out of here tomorrow!
Late afternoon, a cyclist arrived at the park; Sean was 61 and doing the Mundabiddi Trail, a 1000km cycle route from Mundaring to Albany. We got talking and ended up down the Community Hotel for a couple of cold ones and dinner at the Blue Wren.
To be continued…