Continuing my Bibbulmun adventure, after a couple of zero days, it was time to complete the section to Balingup.
Tuesday, 15th October 2013: Day 19
After three nights in a comfy bed and two days without so much as lifting my rucksack, this morning came as a bit of a shock. I left Colliefields about 6:45 am, said goodbye to the owner; she has been very friendly and I would recommend the hotel.
I retraced the long spur back out of town to the track proper, headed up and over to the Collie River. A nice place to stop and swim if the weather were more amiable; today was grey, with a touch of mizzle in the air.
In the first hour I reckon I had to adjust my rucksack about four times, the back just wasn’t playing ball today and the pain was a concern.
At Mungalup Road, I came across an example of what I might expect further south. The fallen trees made my traversing the path impossible, and I had to give it a wide berth.
A little later, I stopped to take a photo of the track, when out of the bush, came my first emu. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to get it in the frame!
Carried on down to Mungalup Dam, another rest spot if the sun were out. No matter, it marked that I was over half way to camp and despite my aches, I was making good time.
Across Lyall Log Road, I ascended a small hill where I woke a couple of roos. They were still a bit dozy and in no hurry to hop it. They had me in their sights and just watched until I had tired of staring and moved on.
Down to Yabburup Brook, it was a short climb up to the Yabburup Hut arriving at just after midday.
Felt very rusty today; made a mental note to not be tempted into taking more than one day rest at a time.
Settled in for a peaceful afternoon. Seems, looking at the log book, my extra day saw me passed by another End to Ender and Dropbear is 4 days and out of sight with a mammoth 40 km day from Harris Dam to Yabburup! There are a couple just three days ahead I may bump into but it is unlikely and depends on the number of rest days they will take. For now, I expect this to be another solo section unless someone catches me up.
Wednesday, 16th October 2013: Day 20
A night of rain, sounded worse because of the tin roof, and I set off with it still in the air, but dissipating. Soon, it was a really pleasant walk around Glen Mervyn Dam, and I was in warm sunshine on the hill down to the Mumballup Tavern.
The tavern was open, and I got myself a coffee from the landlords mum, who also let me charge my phone while I was drinking it. She was a chatty old girl; didn’t like Kookaburra’s as they were not indigenous to WA (I did not know this!) and they were killing all the native birds.
I left, thinking I only had a 5 km walk to Noggerup Hut, but I didn’t account for a 3km realignment that took you along an old railway track with more Kangaroo Paw’s that you could hope to see! I also found myself being attacked by a magpie, which, when reading the log books, seems to be a common occurrence.
The path eventually turned left and it was a lengthy climb up a road to join where the original alignment went. I was overheating in the sun at this point, so took plenty of rests in the shade.
Once I had rested, it was a straightforward walk into Noggerup Hut. And I have company! A 64 year old ex pom called Andrew; the guy who overtook me whilst I lounged around an extra day in Collie. He had taken a couple of short days, and stayed at the tavern the previous night. Looks like our schedule matches for eleven days, to Pemberton, assuming he continues. Nice chap, apart him being a Manchester City supporter!
Spent the evening around a good camp fire and was in bed by the heady hour of 7:30 pm!
Thursday, 17th October 2013: Day 21
A good walking temperature today, but I have been having problems with my rucksack. Now that I have lost weight, it constantly needs adjusting and it can take most of the day to get it just so.
Today, I took breaks every 45 minutes to ease the pain on the shoulders and back, and I wasn’t performing at top speed.
Apart from that, the scenery varied little from previous days and there were a few more hills than I bargained for, as well as evidence of the track having been churned up by trail bikes.
I got into Grimwade at a quarter past two, so, in reality, taking into account a later start, and it was nearly 22 kilometres, I reckon I did alright.
One thing is for sure, I am eating well and I reckon this could be the first section where I walk into town with no food left on me!
Andrew arrived an hour later, so he made good time too. However, he is questioning why he is doing it and bemoaning the same scenery. I kept reminding him that it wasn’t far to Donnelly River where the big Karri trees would change the vista. If his wife doesn’t bring his tent to Balingup on Saturday, a tent is a must for one night of the next section, I fear it could be the excuse he is looking for. I hope he manages to get over this slump and stay on track.
Personally, I’m still enjoying the wildflowers I see, and the wallabies and kangaroos I disturb as I make my way through the region. But I can see how it could be difficult; I had my own demons one day out of Dwellingup!
We sat round the camp fire chatting until about 7:30, and as we got up to head for bed, there was a light approaching. A twenty year old named Mikey, from Perth, staggered in, in a bit of a state. He had decided to double hut and do a near 40 km day, but in the afternoon he sat down on the track for a rest and fell asleep! He had no idea how long he had been there, but it ended up with a frantic hour and half walk in the dark.
Friday, 18th October 2013: Day 22
A long 22.5km today, and a sting in the tail. The track had some ups but mainly downs. There were some great wildflowers, and some vistas of open farmland and orchards that were a very welcome change from the forest. I saw another two emus, although they spotted me over 500 metres away!
I even wasted ten minutes trying to find the trail at one point. Thinking the worst was over, I had descended to Grimwade Road and the signs disappeared and the map was wrong. I headed up and down this unsealed road looking for a sign, but nothing. In the end I returned to the sealed road and walked a bit further along and found the track heading south in a different location.
This was the last hill. I made my way up there, it wasn’t a steep ascent, and it afforded some more great views of the Boyup Brook valley and beyond.
The walk down to the brook was steep and a killer on the knees, I was relieved to reach the bottom. Now a near 4km stroll along the brook into Ballingup.
Arrived in Ballingup about 2pm, and first stop was a cafe for a beef burger crammed full of beetroot, tomatoes, lettuce, cress and grated carrot, with a side order banana milkshake!
As I sat waiting, Mikey wandered into town and I was surprised he almost caught me. Turns out he had took a shortcut down Grimwade Road, and later, I found out Andrew had done the same, but by mistake!
Booked into the Hikers Hideaway, comfortable and cheap, for 2 nights, then headed down the pub. In the evening, Andrew’s wife had arrived and I went down the Balingup Tavern with them for a meal and a couple of glasses of red. A satisfying evening. Mikey planned to head off tomorrow so we probably won’t meet up again until Pemberton to do the section to Walpole together.
To be continued…