08 Mar

Bibbulmun – S6 – Pemberton

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7 March – 8 March 2019 | Days 18 – 19

Kilometres 553.5 – 612.7 >>> 59.2 (36.8 mi)

It was great having a lazy morning. I enjoyed a bit of a lie in. Eventually though, hunger drove me out of bed. I packed my bag and left the motel. It had been raining over night and it was still drizzling.

I walked back into town and went for a resupply at the IGA supermarket. I finally managed to be back on trail by twenty to eleven.

It was nice walking in the coolness of the rain and the forest smelled wonderful.

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Just outside Pemberton on the way to the Gloucester Tree.

Shortly I arrived at the Gloucester Tree. It’s a giant Karri tree that’s been used as a fire lookuout and is the second tallest in the world, at 58 metres (190 ft). There’s a platform one can climb to. I was keen to climb it, but the area was shrouded in clouds and fog and I wouldn’t have been able to see anything. I decided that I would climb it on my way back (my plan was still to hike the Bib yo-yo).

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The Gloucester Tree with the platform at the very top.

In the end I was lazy and only made it to the Warren campsite and settled down for the evening at night at ten to three. It continued to rain and it was really rather nice and cozy lying in my tent.

The next morning I was up just after eight was keen to put in a few miles.

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Crossing the Warren River via the River Road Bridge.

In the early afternoon I entered a large burn area that offered a pretty astonishing colour theme to walk through.

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Incredible orange colours after a bushfire.

I made it into Northcliffe at twenty past four. I stopped at the Northcliffe General Store for a quick resupply and some cold drinks.

I emptied a 1.5 litre bottle of ginger beer on the chairs outside the store, while I repacked my freshly acquired food. A small group of young local lads, probably 10 -12 years old, came by and they were curious what I was doing. We chatted and joked for a while, after I’d convinced them that I wasn’t completely mad. It was nice having some company for a change, even for just a few minutes.

Eventually I said goodbye to the boys and I made my way back into the bush. It was already ten past five and I wondered how far I’d walk today.

Sunset was at 6:44 pm today and that’s when I decided to stop. The next official campsite (Gardner), was still a little over 8 km (5 mi) away and I didn’t want to do any night hiking. So I found a sandy patch on the side of the trail and set up my tent. It was a slopy, but the sand made for soft bedding.

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“Stealth” camping about halway between Pemberton and Crowea.
06 Mar

Bibbulmun – S5 – Donnelly River

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5 March – 6 March 2019 | Days 16 – 17

Kilometres 475.0 – 553.5 >>> 78.5 (48.8 mi)

I woke up reasonably early and was on the trail by a quarter to eight. The forest here is beautiful, lush, and dense. It’s Karri tree country. Karris are Eucalypts and are among the tallest trees in the world. They can grow up to 90 metres tall. (Despite the similarity in name, they have nothing to do with the giant Kauri trees in New Zealand.)

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A bridge from a fallen Karri tree.

The trail meandered through the thick forest and I was seeing mostly green all day. Definitely green tunnel out here.

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Crossing the Donnelly River.

I reached Beavis campsite by five past five. I lingered at the camp table for a while, had dinner, and listened to the sounds of the forest around me. Once it was dark though, I went to bed quickly and fell asleep.

The next morning I got up even earlier and was going at half seven. Maybe it had something to do with Pemberton, my next town stop, beckoning at the end of the day. However, town stops have been plentiful over the last few days and I don’t think I was desperate for yet another one.

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On the Steep Road, a bit east of Beedelup Falls.

The forest was even prettier than the day before and I absolutely loved the sight of the Karri trees towering above me. Their trunks are surprisingly slender, considering the height of the trees. However, once you stand close to one, you realise that they are indeed massive trees. Absolutely beautiful.

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Giants of the forest.

The weather was gorgeous as well and I loved looking up into the blue sky.

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Gorgeous canopy.

Just before noon, I arrived at Beedelup Falls. The falls were basically dry , because: summer, and looked less than impressive. I’m sure it’s quite a sight when it’s going.

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Looking towards the Karri Valley Resort and Lake Beedelup.

There is a resort at the nearby Lake Beedelup, but I didn’t walk over there. I did make good use of the drop toilet at the trail head car park though. Then it was back on the road.

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Good place to stop for a break.

I hiked for another six kilometres (3.7 mi) and moved into more built up country, with more road crossings and homesteads visible from the trail.

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Crossing Channybearup Road.

I had a thirty minute lunch break before continuing my way out to Pemberton.

In the afternoon, as I was getting closer to civilisation, I got phone reception and stopped briefly to book a hotel room. I found the Gloucester Motel, which has reasonable prices and is actually situated right on the trail.

As it stated on the confirmation email that check-in was only open until 6 pm, I got worried that I might not make it in time. Even though I was probably a bit overly anxious, I decided to take a little short cut into town. When I reached Stirling Road, just south of Channybearup, I left the Bib and instead followed the Stirling Road into Pemberton. This cut out a bit over three kilometres (1.9 mi).

I reached Pemberton at a quarter to five and still had time to go to the supermarket and load up with supplies for the evening before checking in at the Motel. I probably would’ve made it in time, but I might not have had the time to go to the supermarket. So I didn’t regret my decision.

Check-in was easy and uncomplicated. The man was very nice and quite happy that I’d arrived before six, since I was the last guest he was waiting for and he wanted to go home.

I moved into my room, had an extensive shower, and then snuggled up in bed and enjoyed a peaceful night.

04 Mar

Bibbulmun – S4 – Balingup

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3 March – 4 March 2019 | Days 14 – 15

Kilometres 389.5 – 475.0 >>> 85.5 (53.1 mi)

The next morning I felt much better and I was packed up and going at a quarter to eight.

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A board walk near Jayes Road, east of Balingup.

I came across a sign, saying that this section was a partner trail with the Bruce Trail in Canada. Thanks for reminding me that there are other awesome trails out there I haven’t walked yet.

Joking aside though, it was nice to think that, maybe there’s another sign just like it somewhere on the other side of the planet. And maybe, another hiker might just be reading it at the same time as me and is thinking of the far away Bibbulmun. Made me feel all close and connected with our awesome hiking community. (Sorry for being a bit dewy-eyed here. Sniff.)

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Hello Canada. Kangaroos and Beavers are friends.

The trail continued to meander through rural farm land, with plenty of dirt road hiking. The views were really quite nice though and I didn’t mind.

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Looking down Spring Gully Road, west of Greenbushes State Forest.

There were even sections that went through private land. Thanks so very much to the owners for letting us cross your land. Much appreciated.

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Beautifully windswept tree near Hegarty Creek.

I made it to the Gregory Brook campsite by 6:30 pm and got settled for the evening. Funny, I’m almost half-way through and still haven’t met a single person on the trail. I’m enjoying it, but I’m questioning why not more people “dare” hike it in summer. It’s such a beautiful time.

Anyway, I got up at eight the next morning and made it into Donnelly River Village. It’s a nice little village that has a very rustic and historical charm about it.

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Welcome to Donnelly District.

I stuck around the general store for a while and enjoyed a few cold drinks and resupplied on snacks. The store is quite expensive, of course, but the guys running it are really friendly. Their EFTPOS machine wasn’t working that day, but they happily let me have anything I wanted, after I left them my credit card information, so that they could run through the amounts later on, when I was already gone again. I was there during lunch time and didn’t stay over night, even though they have a dedicated shelter for hikers in the village, and even offer shower and laundry services for a small fee.

I didn’t use any of it though and moved on quickly. I didn’t feel comfortable. The village is famous for its tame emus and kangaroos that roam around. One can buy feed for the animals at the general store and it’s great fun for the tourists that come through. To me though, it’s abhorrent to see wild animals so domesticated that they start pecking and grabbing into peoples pockets, without any fear.

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I did see some “wild” emus out of town. At least these guys ran away from me.

South of Donnelly River Village, I encountered my first diversion because of a bush fire. I was surprised to see it so well marked and easy to follow. Considering the complete lack of people on trail, I hadn’t expected the trail to be maintained this well. I’ve got to give it to the volunteers: you guys are incredible. Thank you so very much.

I ended the day just after five at the diversion campsite next to Paganini Road, west of Yanmah. There was a portable toilet set up, a bench and table to sit at, and a couple of jerry cans with fresh water.

Despite the site being next to a gravel road, it was perfectly quiet at night. It was nice and I slept well.

02 Mar

Bibbulmun – S3 – Collie

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28 February – 2 March 2019 | Days 11 – 13

Kilometres 318.2 – 389.5 >>> 71.3 (44.3 mi)

I slept in a little and was lazy lying in bed.

Eventually the thirst for coffee drove me out and I walked into town. I found the Wagon 537 at the Central Park, an old railway carriage that had been transformed into a cafe, and enjoyed a hot cup.

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The Premier Hotel from the Central Park.

I hung out for a while and explored the centre. Eventually though I just walked over to the supermarket, got some supplies, and then made my way back to the caravan park, where I spent the rest of the day.

The next morning I got up surprisingly early for town. I guess I was eager to get back to the bush.

First I walked the almost 3 km (1.8 mi) back to the main trail and then turned south. Shortly after I crossed the Collie River via the Mungalup Road.

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Remnants of an old bridge in the Collie River.

The scenery wasn’t very bush, but it was rural enough and most importantly: beautiful.

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Wait, what? There’s a walking trail here?

I had quite a few road walks, but it was all quiet dirt roads, so not too painful. The best thing was that I was out of the densely overgrown bush I’d been fighting through north of Collie.

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Looking towards Mumballup from Clear Hill.

I reached the Noggerup campsite, just south of Mumballup, at 6:20 pm, had dinner, and went to bed.

I woke up in the morning and it was freezing cold. My thermometer on my watch told me that it was 5° C (41° F). So I snuggled up in my sleeping bag and slept in a little, until it had warmed up again. Didn’t make it on to the trail until almost half eight.

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Looking across a vineyard, north of Balingup.

The day was supremely unspectacular. Not that it was bad, but nothing actually happened, and none of the scenery was really amazing. It was probably just me though. For some reason I wasn’t in my happy place. I ended up cutting the day short and set up a stealth camp in the bush somewhere north of Balingup at twenty to five. I’d still managed to get 35.5 km (22.1 mi) in, so I guess it wasn’t that bad.