Australia Moorland Walker

The Bibbulmun Track – Denmark to Albany

The final section of my End to End of the Bibbulmun Track in aid of Epilepsy Action: Journey’s End..

Thursday, 14th November 2013: Day 49

Rest day in Denmark: sent my tent, tablet, clothes, extra food, and various other non-essential items on to Albany, and my pack was now considerably lighter. I organised my taxi to the jetty on the other side of Wilson Inlet, seeing as the boat no longer runs, despite continued advertising on the Track Foundation website and in the shelters. That left me with little to do but lounge around, sampling the cafes of Denmark and a couple of pints in the hotel.

Friday. 15th November 2013: Day 50

Clarrie, the cab driver, picked me up at 6 am. It was a half hour drive round to the other side of the inlet. Clarrie reckoned that 95% of walkers get dropped off at the Eden Road turnoff for a couple of kilometre walk into the Nullaki Shelter, and it was only the conscientious few, like me, that went to the jetty where the boat service used to run to and the track actually continues from Denmark. There is no excuse really as the road is sealed to this point and easily accessible.

Jetty on Nullaki Peninsula

The track takes you along the inlet shore, and in the first fifteen minutes I had disturbed two Tiger Snakes and a colony of pelicans.

Pelicans on Pelican Point
Black Swans on Wilson Inlet

I passed through the Nullaki Wilderness Gate; designed to keep non-native fauna out, it also means no residents within the area can own a pet.

Nullaki Wilderness Gate
Fence line off Eden Road

I reached Nullaki shelter at 9am. A quick top up of water, and it was on to West Cape Howe.

Nullaki Shelter

The going was easy on good paths, with some great views inland of the inlet as far as Mount Barker and even the Stirling Ranges. In addition, the wildflowers were good too!

Porongurups in the distance
Lake Saide

By 10 am, I could see the ocean again. I had another encounter with a Tiger Snake, saw my first Bobtail Lizard of the trip, and enjoyed plenty more wildflowers on this section.

Tiger Snake
Looking to West Cape Howe
Bobtail Skink

I moved along the coast, down towards Lowlands Beach, but the track stayed inland, crossing the unsealed road that gave access to the beach, and then climbing up over the South Downs to West Cape Howe Shelter, arriving at 1:30 pm.

Lowlands Beach
Lowlands Beach
West Cape Howe Shelter

I was tempted to triple hut, but thought I may be pushing my luck, so decided to stay and double hut to Muttonbird Shelter tomorrow. I went up to the viewpoint above the shelter, and got one of the highlights of the whole journey, looking East to West Cape Howe. Stunning!

View from the lookout above West Cape Howe Shelter

Felt good today, and the lighter rucksack made me think I could be in Albany by Sunday, assuming I could get across the Torbay Inlet sandbar the next day without the need to divert!

Saturday, 16th November 2013: Day 51

Where to start in this day? I was up at 4:30 am to see if there was a decent sunrise from the viewpoint; there wasn’t. I set off fifty minutes later, with few good views at first, as the track wound its way through the shady valleys and avenues of bushes.

Thankful for stairs in the dunes
Stunning coastline
Two roos

At around 7:30 am, I got my first sight of wind turbines; that signifies the run into Albany, and a pivotal moment for those doing the North to South, a realisation that you were nearing the end of your journey.

First sight of the Albany Wind Farm Turbines
Shelley Beach
Easy boardwalk
Melaleuca woodland
Shelley Beach Road

The scenery improved, with views of Shelley Beach, and after crossing the road of the same name, and over a granite hill, Dingo Beach could be seen.

Granite slab
Granite slabs
Albany Wind Farm
Looking back to Dingo Beach

I was at Torbay Shelter by 9:20 am. I didn’t stay long and made my way down to Perkins Beach.

Perkins Beach
Perkins Beach

The track stretches 4.1 km from one end to the sandbar of the Torbay Inlet. The sand was firm close to the surf and was a pleasant stroll. A couple of people said “G’day!” and “Congratulations” which further instilled the belief I was on the home straight.

The sandbar was closed and a good 50 m wide, so no wading today, and it was now a further 3 km to the end of the beach.

Torbay Inlet seasonal sandbar
The end of Perkins Beach

Steep stairs greeted me at the end, but no test for me now, and at the top I got a beautiful panorama of the last couple of hours walking.

Looking down at Perkins Beach
More stunning wildflowers

Muttonbird Shelter was not far over the cliffs from here, and I arrived by 1 pm. I unpacked, made a cup of coffee and began settling in. A day walker came in for lunch and as we chatted I realised I was ready to continue.

By 2 pm I had packed up and was off again on the 11.7 km stretch to Sandpatch Shelter. This skirts the wind farm, and there are constant views of the turbines, as well as some great vistas of the Southern Ocean.

The final stretch of coast
Coastal views below the wind farm
A short stroll to the end remains
Nearly there!

On my final few kilometres of the day, I also got to see a young Dugite, my last snake of the walk.

Last Tiger Snake
Passed the wind farm

I arrived at Sandpatch Shelter by 4:40 pm, tired but elated I was now only 12 km from Albany. The hut was empty, and I spent my last night on the Bibbulmun alone. Thoughts inevitably wandered to the next day.

Sunday, 17th November 2013: Day 52

Up early, last day

I awoke at 4:30 am after a draughty night; not by choice but by a realisation that the winds had died and the mosquitoes were feeding on me en masse!

My Exped Synmat UL sleeping mat was seriously compromised now as the inner walls were failing and making it uncomfortable to use with my quilt.

Last breakfast
My mattress had just about had it!

I tried to faff around and delay my departure, mindful that it was a Sunday and the Information Centre at the Southern Terminus might be closed, but still I was gone by 6:10 am.

Sandpatch Shelter

I said goodbye to the Southern Ocean and over the cliffs and down to Princess Royal Harbour, with my first views of my destination; Albany.

Coastal mist over Princess Royal Harbour
First view of Albany

Still a way to go, though, the track takes you around the harbourside and then along the base of Mount Melville.

Boardwalk beside Frenchman Bay Road
Princess Royal Harbour
Bird on a post
Frenchman Bay Road
Some final shady woodland

As I walked along Grey Street, a cyclist stopped to say “Well done!” We stood on the kerbside for ten minutes as he asked me about the Bibb, a genuine enthusiasm and interest in my journey that touched me and gave me an enormous sense of pride.

Grey Street, Albany
The Brig, Amity

Down Parade Street, you reach the Brig Amity, then a short walk alongside the rail tracks, you come to the Information Centre and the understated Southern Terminus sign, arriving just before 9 am; I was finished!!!

I stopped, and for a few moments I had no idea what to do next! Eventually, I wandered over to a man sat in a van in the car park, and asked him to take a photo of me at the end.

Ahead of schedule!
Southern Terminus, Journey’s End

As he did so, Mikey turned up! He was staying across the road and had come down to sign off at the Information Centre as it had been shut when he finished yesterday. It was good to see a familiar face and share the moment.

We both logged off, then after a short while hanging around talking to the lady in the centre, we departed. I wandered off to find breakfast and then my motel, whilst Mikey went back to his hotel as he had relatives to visit. If we couldn’t get out for a drink in Albany, we’d catch up in Perth.

So that was it. 52 days, 8 days quicker than planned, and I had loved, loathed, adored and cursed this track. It had tested me but I had not been found wanting, I was genuinely going to miss it, and the people I had encountered along the way!

The adventure is over!

I now had a long break to look forward to, and some contemplation of the next adventure for Epilepsy Action!!! 🙂