24 February – 27 February 2019 | Days 7 – 10
Kilometres 198.1 – 318.2 >>> 120.1 (74.6 mi)
I did have a surprisingly good night, despite some noisier campers around me. I packed up early in the morning and wandered back to town in search for a cup of coffee.
I found one at the Blue Wren Cafe on McLarty Street. I took a takeaway and sat on a bench (on the street rather than inside the cafe) to catch a few rays of morning sun.
Later I walked across the road to the IGA for resupply. The ladies behind the counter were super friendly and clearly aware of hikers. They’d even just ordered in freeze dried backpacker meals and gas canisters to be prepared for future demand when the season begins again. I was mightily impressed and was sorely tempted to get some hot food for the road. Alas, their gas canisters were the massive 450 gram kind that’re probably great for car camping, but murder for a gram-counting ultra-light hiker.
I do carry a BRS 3000T stove that weighs only 25 grams. My 750 mL titanium mug takes up a 100 gram canister on the inside plus some of my other cooking utensils and thus gas doesn’t take up too much space. A small 100 gram canisters lasts me more than a week as well, so I really don’t need a bigger one. I guess, I’ll skip the warm meals.
Although … having gas would enable me to have hot coffee in the morning too … hmmmmmm …
Oh well, clearly not desperate enough yet.
So I left temptation behind and made it on to the trail by around 8:30 am. I was soon swallowed by the bush and it was good being outside again.
After I’d crossed Nanga Road, bizarrely, I entered a pine forest plantation. It was sort of weird and felt a bit out of place in Australia, but the smell made me homesick for the Pacific Crest Trail.
There were also Raspberries growing. I wasn’t sure if, when, and what kind of chemicals they’d been spraying in the plantation though, so I didn’t pick any. Raspberries also reminded me of the PCT and I reminisced for a while.
After this excursion down memory lane, I soon entered proper Aussie bush again and the grass trees were a welcome sight.
Every now and then I even got glimpses across the valleys beyond.
I arrived at the Swamp Oak shelter at around 11:20 am and enjoyed a brief break and replenished my water supplies. Less than half an hour later I was already back on the trail. I was feeling good and the weather was great for hiking.
The trail was easy and I made good progress. The trees provided good shelter from the sun and it was a beautiful day.
I arrived at the Murray shelter at 4:30 pm and decided to have an early stop. Dookanelly shelter was 17.4 km (10.8 mi) ahead and I would’ve ended up arriving there in the dark. What’s the point. So I relaxed and enjoyed the sounds of the bush until it was bedtime for me. As usual, I had the site to myself.
I hit the trail at 7:20 am the next morning and was keen to get a few kilometres in. The trail wasn’t very nice to walk on though. It was quite densely overgrown in large sections and my legs got scratched and shredded by thorny plants. Not pleasant.
I arrived at the Murray River bridge at around one o’clock and was quite pleased to see that it was actually a pretty one. The new one had been finished in late 2017. It replaces the historic Long Gully bridge that was destroyed during the Lower Hotham bushfire in 2015.
After following the meandering Murray river for most of the afternoon, I crossed the Harvey-Quindanning Road at around four.
Shortly after I walked under the Worsley Alumina conveyor that’s transporting bauxite from the Mount Saddleback mine to the refinery. It’s making an awful racket and you can hear it for miles before you even see it.
It took some hiking before I was surrounded by nothing but the peace and quiet of the bush again.
I made it to the Possum Springs shelter by about 5:30 pm, had dinner, and went to bed soon after dark. Still haven’t met a single person on the entire trail.
The next day was pretty uneventful and I just put in the miles. I made it to the Harris Dam shelter and stayed the night. The next morning I was reasonably excited to get into town. The last couple of days hadn’t been overly pleasant hiking and I was a bit tired of the densely overgrown bush.
I made it to the trail intersection that leads into Collie at noon. It’s almost three kilomtres (1.8 mi) to town from here.
My first stop, after reaching civilisation, was the Caltex service station on the Coalfields highway for some cold drinks. While I was enjoying my refreshments, I did some research on my phone and decided to stay at the Collie River Valley Tourist Park. It’s not exactly central, but cheaper than other options. So I walked over there and organised myself a cabin for a couple of nights. I felt like having a zero.
Later I walked into town, did some grocery shopping, grabbed a six pack from the bottle-o, and then retired into my little cabin. It was nice having a shower – and a cold beer.