18 February – 23 February 2019 | Days 1 – 6
Kilometres 0 – 198.1 >>> 198.1 (123.1 mi)
I had left Townsville the night before, on a cheap flight with a lay over in Melbourne. I’d booked it on purpose, so that I could spend the night at Melbourne airport, rather than fork out for a hotel. What I hadn’t counted on, was the fact that MEL is actually closed at night. So there was no food to be had, no drink, and nowhere nice to sit to spend the hours waiting for my connecting flight. I wandered around for a while, but eventually ended up taking a nap on the floor in a corner somewhere. Not the most comfortable I’ve ever been, but it was okay. Eventually I got the first flight out and arrived in Perth at 7:25 am.
An hour later I had an Uber that took me to Kalamunda. My driver was originally from Ethiopia and we had a wonderful chat about his home country I had the privilege of visiting in 2015. It was a great start.
I got dropped off on Mead Street, which is leading straight towards the northern terminus of the Bibbulmun trail. There’s a Coles supermarket just across the road so that I didn’t even have to worry about lugging food supplies half way through Perth. I just went shopping across the road. Plus there’s a cafe with coffee and muffin supplies, so: breakfast!
In the end it wasn’t until 10:30 am that I actually hit the trail.
It’s pretty amazing how quickly the trail disappears into wilderness. You think you’re in the middle of a big town and just a few steps down the trail you’re nowhere. Yes, you’re crossing a lot of dirt roads and occasionally you can spot properties lying in the valleys, but the overall impression is pretty amazing.
The Bibbulmun has copious amounts of trail markers and it feels like it would be impossible to get lost here. So guess what I did within the first couple of hours? Yep, switched off my brain and followed the wrong trail for about ten minutes. Then I suddenly got the sense that I was walking in the wrong direction and checked my map. Haha. A bit of bush bashing and I was back on track.
Lesson learned. Don’t switch off your brain, even if the trail markers are plentiful.
As it turned out later, they are placed a bit randomly anyway. Sometimes you get multiple markers in a row on a straight stretch of trail, but then no marker at the next junction.
Overall though, it’s pretty difficult to get lost, if you’ve got some basic sense of direction, and maps or a GPS with you.
The morning was going nicely and it felt good to be treading dirt again. For lunch, I stopped at the Mundaring Weir viewing platform and had my first break. A sip of water and a couple of muesli bars were consumed and then I had a relaxed lie down in the shade, until I moved on after an hour.
Half an hour later I came across the Mundaring Weir hotel, and just couldn’t resist having a nice cold beer on the outside seating area. I may have had a second one, but I won’t admit to anything.
During my stay, I had a kangaroo, a few birds, and a snake join me, and it was rather nice to be surrounded by so much wildlife already.
Then it was time to move on though and I got back on the road.
I still remember the times when the Australian stage of the World Rally Championship was held near Perth and the rally drivers talked about the “marbles” (the small round pebbles) that cover the tracks, and how it was just like driving on ice. Well, I can confirm that it sometimes feels like walking on ice too, and I had to rely on my agility not to fall more than once, especially going downhill. But it’s good fun.
The rest of the afternoon was spent walking through a burnt area, which made for some great viewing opportunities into the valleys. Towards evening I made it to the burnt down campsite Helena at around seven. I found a beautiful spot below the construction site, where they are working on re-building the camp, and set up my tent. I enjoyed dinner and watched the sun set, while lying on the still warm rocks. The moon was out as well, and I felt rather good.
The next morning, I enjoyed breakfast on the rocks and with a view and took my time to pack up. I was back on the trail by 7:25 am.
The trail led through an older burn area that was coming back to life.
Things were getting nice and green again and I stopped for water at Waalegh shelter.
The day was pretty hot and I had little shade, but the views were nice. I stopped for a second water break at Beraking campsite, before tackling the afternoon.
In the end I arrived at Mount Dale campsite around five o’clock, had dinner, and then an early night.
Despite my early night, I didn’t get back on trail until after 7:30 am. What a slacker.
The trail meandered through some beautiful bush, until I got close to the Brookton highway and I was distracted by traffic noise.
It was only a short blip of civilisation though and soon I was back in the bush.
The remainder of the day was spent in beautiful bush. The only water source I came across was Canning River, but I didn’t take any. The shelters are close enough to each other and their water tanks were consistently full.
I arrived at the Monadnocks campsite at five o’clock and was quite happy to have the whole place to myself.
The next day I got up around seven and was greeted by a gloomy and leaden sky. I had breakfast, packed up and was on trail a half hour later.
The first “climb” (a relative term in the flatness of south Western Australia) of the day was up to Mount Cuthbert. Despite the murky fogginess, it offered gorgeous views over the countryside. The next up was to the top of Mount Vincent shortly after and the views were similarly gorgeous.
Things became rather flat again after that.
Towards the evening I reached the Threeways Tavern and Service Station on Albany Highway 30 near North Bannister. I got cold drinks from the service station. Amazingly, the attendant had never heard of the Bibbulmun (he was probably new to the area) and was rather astonished to hear that I’d walked hear all the way from Perth. He was polite enough, but I had a sense that he thought I was rather mad.
The Ginger Creek shelter is only a few hundred metres from the Tavern and that’s where I stayed. Again, I had the entire place to myself.
The next morning I was a little late and wasn’t on trail until a quarter to eight.
I had a nice water and lunch stop at the White Horse Hills shelter.
Soon after the sky finally cleared up and the sun came out. It was hot basically immediately.
Shortly after I came across somebody else who was happy that it was getting sunny.
By about three I came across the fire tower of Mount Wells.
The old fire watcher’s hut is acting as a shelter for Bib’ hikers these days, but it was too early for me to stop, so I moved on.
I made it to the Chadoora shelter by 6:30 pm and enjoyed a quiet evening by myself.
The next morning I was up early and hit the trail at twenty past seven. Today was town day. Dwellingup was only 12.3 km (7.6 mi) away and I was keen to get a cold beer.
I made it to Dwellingup by 11:30 am and my first port of call was the Dwellingup Hotel for an ice cold beer (for the uninitiated among you, due to tax laws that were only lifted in the 1980s, pubs were forced to offer accommodation when serving alcohol, and were thus called “hotels”).
Apparently there was a motorcycle ride for men’s depression in town and soon I was surrounded by hundreds of awesome bikes and bikers. I had some nice chats, but was soon tired and walked over to the The Dwellingup Chalet and Caravan Park, where I got a tent site, and spent the rest of the day in the kitchen block to recharge my electronics.
I went to bed early though and was basically asleep the moment the sun had set.