Day 23 30 Sep to Grimwade Camp

Left first at 7am to try and beat the 27 degree day expected. 22km day lots of ankle breakers on the track and good interval training. Little ups and downs.

Ankle breakers

I had a couple of “sat on a log” phone calls today which was lovely. It is nice to catch up with friends and family back home. At my early lunch stop I rang ahead to Balingup where I was planning a rest day in 2 days time. There wasn’t many options as the pub had burnt down and the camping ground was just a transit park. This means byo tent or caravan but no cabins. I wasn’t keen on sleeping in my tent on a day in town so rang a lady on the list who had a caravan to let for $50 a night. With no pub and only one shop and a day time cafe I decided to only stay one night.

Grave stone?

I saw my first mushroom. 8km in first 2 hours so sat for break listening to nice chirpybirds, not screechy ones.

First mushroom sighting

22 km day with quite a few wee ups and downs, 3 good rest stops and I took 6hrs 15min.

At camp tonight we had 3 people going NOBO and us 4 southbounders. SOBOs. It was a warm night but we still lit the firepit. This is done to help clear all the drppoed wood from around the hut to help reduce the chance of the hut burning down in a bush fire. So lots of wood is used which concerned me at first. In NZ we have limited firewood so would not waste any at all.

Day 22.  29 Sept Mumby pub for lunch and Noggerup Campsite

The pub was only 12km away and didnt open until 11.30 so we were in no hurry to leave camp today.

There was 4 of us at camp last night, Peter, Scott, and Jess (both 39 year old Aussies, not together)

The walk was a bit varied today: through some pine forests and alongside Glen Mervin dam. I sat for a while in the shade just taking in the water. I hadn’t realised how much I was missing water on this damn long walk.

The temperature got up to about 27° today so the stop at the pub was very welcome. A pint and a burger and an icecream was a real treat.

The others headed off into the heat but I stayed in the shade in the pub garden reading my book until 3pm hoping it would be a bit cooler by then. I chatted to a Kiwi who was walking in the opposite direction to me for a while. He had walked some of Te Araroa too so we had lots to chat about.

Also today we passed, Tim who is going for the unsupported record. He looked fit and worn out at the same time. Walking about about 100km a day and carrying his own gear us a real feat of determination. Not my cup of tea or coffee!

Niggerup campsite was another one like the other one. Having the huts all the same means they are blurring together. Another funny name.

Walk along an old rail track
Into the semi shade of Preston National Park

Day 21  28 Sept. 20km to Yabberup Camp

I had a fun evening with 7 of us for dinner at the Victoria Hotel.

Goodbye nice room
Bkack Diamond Hostel

Scott, Jessie , Peter and I all went on to Yabberup Camp the next day. It was 23° so probably the hottest day so far. I played hair and tortoise with Scott who has recently walked a long trail in USA. The other 2 arrived an hour or so after us.

Not much to say about the trail except we passed over the Mungabingi Track a few times. That is the bike trail from Kalamundra to Albany.

I also skirted alongside the Mungalup Damn which must be the town water supply as no swimming or anything else.

Mungalup Dam

I had seen on the map that there was another camp site by a river  500 metres from Yabberup Camp.  I thought I would drop my gear at our camp and then go back for a swim.  However I should have realised that a river in Western Australia would hardly get my feet wet.  So I carried on and had a wash in my pot behind the hut instead.  A few more buzzing flies today and more rustling in the bush and again more flat walking crossing roads and meandering through the bush.

Day 13 to 19. 120 km to Collie. Total km walked 320.

Not a lot to say about the tracks in this 7 day section as everyday was nearly flat, about 20km long and through native bush full of wild flowers. I walked alongside the Murray River and actually got my feet wet for the first time walking through a deep puddle on a dirt road. I saw some kangaroos and lots of ants. The huts are all very much the same as they were all made at the same time 25 years ago when the tack opened. However there was a new rammed earth shelter at one place as the original hut was burnt down in a recent fire.

At Swamp Oak and Murray Campsites we were joined by a school group who all tented. One of the teachers was a Kiwi woman so we had a good chat. Most nights on they section there were another 5 or 6 people out for a few nights or going in the opposite direction to me. Other campsites were Dookanelly, Possum Springs, Yourdamung and Harris Dam. Funny names!

I have started too develop my Tramily (Trail Family). It consists of 81 year old Darcey Mawson from New Zealand and “Handful” Peter ,68, from Victoria.   Also John who is about 40 and looks more like a hobo than a hiker as he wears steel capped boots, overalls and looks like he hasn’t had a shower for months rather than just a week like the rest of us. We have been going hut to hut this whole section. Peter arrives first and collects up the firewood and keeps the fire going into the evening. I do enjoy sitting around the fire at night as it gets down to about 7 or 8 degrees after the sun goes down at about 6.15pm. We are usually in bed by before 8pm, which is hikers midnight.

On Day 15 I started the day remembering that it was the 17th anniversary of Garry’s death. First I thanked him for continuing to get the weather right for me by buying the Weather God a beer or two. I know I will have a huge bar tab to clear once I get up there but it is well worth it

As I walked I recognised a feeling I frequently have. I feel that there is a blank in my life. That blank would be filled by the man who would be carrying the heavy pack ,  driving the car, spraying the weeds,  doing the cooking, telling me to settle down,  pouring my wine, and snoring beside me, being very excited about the grandkids coming to stay and lining the cups up in the cupboard.
The blank is Garry Cole.

I soon caught up with Darcy and decided to walk with him today. I needed the company and I know he did too. Lots of good stories from Darcy made the kilometers tick by without effort. He walks a wee bit slower than me which makes for an easy day. Darcy has been a hunter,  sea kayaker, tramper all around the world, worked in  Cook Islands head of high school. Great story teller. He kept me amused all day.

Unfortunately we were both engrossed in on elf his stories and we missed a marker that should have taken us off a dirt road onto the track in the bush. Using my app I could see that the track was only about 50 metres from the road we were on. Unfortunately there was thick bush between us and it. Just our luck that it wasn’t bush that had been burnt lately. I tried to get through to find it unsuccessfully so Darcey went off to have a look. I stayed on the road calling out to him every few minutes so that he could find his way back to me if need be. But both of us have ears that are a bit on the old side so it wasn’t long before we lost sound contact. After about half an hour Darcy appeared just up the road a bit. He thought he had found the track but had just gone around in circles. He looked like he had gone 3 rounds with an angry kangaroo as his old this skin was all scratched and bleeding. Being a Kiwi he was in shorts and a short sleeved shirt. So we went to plan B and retraced our steps back up the road until we found the track crossing. We both decided that this little adventure added something different to the day so was worth it. I helped patch him up when we arrived at camp.

Never look at an old man and just see an old man. Remember those wrinkles and scrawny legs could have done way more than most people will do in life time And Darcy is still doing it. This is his 3rd time on Bibbulmun and I am amazed at the details he remembers from 10 years ago.

He carries a pack that is twice as heavy as mine. His pot and plates are not lightweight titanium like mine; they are over 50 years old and have the dents and marks to prove it. They have been all over the world with him on hikes and months of sea kayaking. The tent he carries is one he bought as a young fella so it is probably older than me. It is canvas and has no floor or bug netting. He walks all day with only a few 2 minute “sit on a log stops” eats nothing and only drinks about 300mls of water over 5 -6 hours of walking. Mention any place in the world that you could do outdoors stuff and he has been there. Just don’t stop he says.

Food seasoned with hunger and  excersion is always the highlight of the day. As the days are easy I usually arrive at camp by 1pm so have my lunch there rather than stopping on the track. Crackers with salami and cheese accompany my soup. My dinners have been varied: couscous, noodles, pasta with mixed veggies, TVP or jerky. Any food is good out in the fresh air.

Sometimes I wash out my socks in the plastic bin that holds the hut book. I also try and be first to put my food bag in the bin overnight for safekeeping against critters.

In the evenings Handful (Peter) kept me amused with his tales of hiking, kayaking and a 35,000km motorcycle ride planned  from Sydney to London. He only got has far as Pakistan because he had his bike confiscated at the border basically because he didn’t bribe the right people.  Most people who are out on the trail are adventurous people so there are lots of tales to share around the fire or table. If you wanted to make a podcast about adventures and around the world these fire pits would be the place to hang out.

The wild flowers have been something to see. Ne Zealand bush is rugged and green and thick and beautiful but has few colours so this is a real novelty for me to see. I do not know the names of any of these plants but here are some I have seen in this section.

I saw a number of these emu poos on the ground. Apparently the emu eats these seeds then poos them out. The seeds need to go through the stomach to be able to germinate and the emu spreads them far afield. Very clever I thought.

Emu poo carry seeds

Cameron, Amanda and Rebecca came out to Collie to meet up with me for the day and bring resupplies. We went for a drive out to the magnificent Wellington Dam and had some nice normal food. I stayed at the Black Diamond backpackers which is a really lovely place. Lots of extras like fruit juice in the fridge, good coffee, a section of teas, condiments and a proper bed with a TV and a fridge in the room. Even. fire pit that Peter and I ate our very expensive fish and chips beside. $9.50 for a piece of shark! It was a public holiday here and a Monday so there was nothing open for dinner. I have a rest day here today so have done some shopping and washed all my clothes. I enjoyed my first shower in 7 days and slept well in a proper bed.

Day 9. 18km to White Horse Hills campground.

Left at 7.10am after best night’s sleep so far. I was on my new mattress and didn’t have to blow it up every 2 hours and shared the hut with only Glen who hardly scored at all.

I was away at 7.10 before the 2 guys and presumed they would catch me on top of a mountain. I walked along a flat track for a few kms smelling the eucalyptus trees and occasionally a dead kangaroo, black tailed cockatoos kept me company on the fine morning.

I could hear trucks and large machinery working well before I saw the large cleared area to my left. I had read that the track went through a mining area so I was watching the operation trying to work out what they were mining. I stopped to take a photo of the new plantings around the perimeter, pleased that this was happening to counteract the bush that had been felled.

The further I walked the more I realised that it wasnt a mine but was the local rubbish tip. (landfill, refuse centre). That explained the dead kangaroos I had been smelling!

By 9am I was ready for a break and found a good log of the side of the track to sit on. I remembered to stomp and stamp my way to the log to scare off any snake and other critters.

I checked my app and saw that I had made a mistake and had missed a turnoff 1.5km back. I was so busy watching the site that I had missed it. So now I was a grumpy woman on a mission to get back to the track. I damn near ran back alongside that refuse tip reminding myself that I was now in charge of directions. I didn’t have Rebecca or Cameron with his smart watch that called out if we were off track. I was the little blue dot and I was supposed to be on the red track. I was only 800 metres from where I should have been as the crow flies but I am not a crow.

Watch where you are going Karen.

I caught up with Steve and Glen to find that Steve, the faster one, had made the same error as me but Glen had come along and got him back before he had gone too far. That made me feel better. I wasn’t the only one to get it wrong.

Steve took two wrong turns

We played leap frog for the rest of the morning with me being very careful at each turn. Steve took another wrong turn which made me feel even better. Am I horrible for being happy about other people making mistakes?

Anyway I arrived at White Horse Hills camp at 12.50. My aim for the day was 1pm so even with a 3km detour I did well. Four days of running behind Cameron has done some good.

Steve and Glen stopped for a drink and a toilet then headed off to do another 15 km. I had my lunch, a wash and found 1 tick on my tummy which I removed successfully. I lazed in the sun feeling pleased that the buzzing flies were not wanting to land on me. Maybe I smell so bad that the flies won’t even land on me. Nine days without a shower wearing the same clothes will do that to me.

I was about to drop off to sleep when an E2E S2N man arrived. He was on the home straight and had lots of hints for me about what was coming up. He also told me that the flies were buzzing around looking for a mate to copulation with in mid air. Very clever I thought. They will then go and lay lots of maggots so that in a couple of weeks time the place will be teaming with flies. Something to look forward to. I will now go and put my food bag in the big plastic bin.

He also took great delight in telling me that a python snake lives under one of the bunks in the next huton the top of Mt Wells. These Aussues sure like to scare us Kiwis.

There are nice raised camp spots around the hut that reminded me of my hiking in Patagonia with my friend Frances. So I rang her and had a good chat.

Tent sites
Some people put their tent up on the sleeping platform
At this stage I am just curling up in the corner.

Today’s tally. 1 tick, 1 emu, 1 kangaroo, 1 wrong turn, 1 mountain and one rubbish tip. Warm day perfect walking weather

Day 10 and 11. 200km completed to Dwellingup

After hearing about the resident snake at Mt Wells I decided to do a double hut day. That means missing a hut that day.  So I had a 3.5 hour walk to the hut. Mostly flat then a then a steepish climb up to an old forest fire wardens hut. It is the only fully enclosed hut on the trail as it was where someone lived during the fire season. That poor person climbed up the tower and looked out for fires. Now there is a whole lot of electronic gear there to do the same job.

The walk was pretty with lots of interesting plants, rocks and a view from the tops.

At the hut had a look for the snake but didn’t see him so I sat out in the sun for 1.5 hours enjoying a break. i was trying to trick my body into thinking it was the next day and could manage another 15 km.

I made some phone calls and then chatted with Susan, physio, trail running lady who is walking the Bibbulmun Track is sections over the weekends. Then it was another 15km and 4 hours to Chadoora camp. My feet were screaming at me by the time I arrived 4 hours later. It was a really flat and boring section, not much changed.

There was 5 adults and 2 kids already at camp and 3 million flying creatures. Apparently they were termites but they are not biting just annoying. So I brought out my bug net and I was envied by all the others. Only 6 got in my soup and about 10 in my dinner.

We had a lovely evening around the campfire singing all the old Aussie songs before we all turned in for the night. I was on the platform between 2 tents. I slept with my bug net on.

The next day was a 16km flat walk out to Dwellingup, my first track town. I walked for the last half of the day following an old logging rail track. A section is used for a tourist train so I had a smoko break at the station.

Not much to say about the day, just flat through the bush, heard one family of Kangaroos and lots of birds. No snakes, no ticks. I walked for the last half of the day following an old logging rail track and came across some rusted relics of the past.

I stopped at the place where a thriving town was completely burnt down in 1963. The only remnants was the introduced plants growing wild.

After a big day yesterday I was knackered and the last 3km was torture. But I made it at exactly 12 noon which was my planned arrival time. 200km done and dusted and sweated and hobbled!

The little forestry town was heaving as it was Saturday and only an hours drive from Perth. Cameron and Amanda met me and we headed to the pub for lunch. There was a group of Tramily there to enjoy a beer with. It turns out that Cameron works with one of the walkers son-in-law. Small world. The meals were 1.5 hours wait so we headed to the Blue Wren cafe fore a pie and chips. Yum yum!

Back in Perth I washed off 11 days of red dirt, sweat and grime and Amanda (Podiatrist) dealt to my blisters. By the next morning I felt like anew person. Clothes were washed and food for the next day was sorted all while I caught up on the Queens death news. I will always remember that I was at Helena Hut on the Bibbulmun Track when I heard the news. We all sat and watched the funeral for the first 5 hours until it was time for my last sleep in a house until early November.

Day 3. To Beraking Camp.

We were packed up and away by 8 am as we had an 18km (6.5 hrs) day ahead of us. We’ll so I thought.! One of the guys had told us that there was a big hill to climb that took us to a lookout all the way back to Perth.

Rebecca didn’t like the sound of that saying she lived in Perth so knew what it looked like so why climb a hill with a pack on to look at it.

Rebecca is in charge of directions today

So I put her in charge of directions and she found us quite  few shortcuts on red earth  roads. I am not so keen on road walking especially in the sun but I am also not keen on walking with grumpy teenage girls. So off up and down roads we went. This meant we arrive at Beraking hut in less that 4 hours.

Another road under the ckear blue sky

A nice afternoon was had lazing about in  the sun then later around the fire.

It was a hot day (by NZ standards) and the highlight for me was seeing a lizard on the road. I very nearly stood on it and screamed in fright thinking it was a snake. Rebecca jumped with fright from my screaming but the lizard just sat there looking at us wondering what all the fuss was about.

This did make me realise that I need to be looking ahead more often as stepping that close to a snake 🐍 would not have been a good idea

Beraking hut was another one of the prisoner made ones. An open platform for sleeping, tables, tent sites, long drop dunny and a fire pit. No flies or mossies yet as it is too cold.

Beraking Camp
Laundry done

I met my first Trail Angel that afternoon. James was on a day  walk  into the hut and plans to walk Bibbulmun track in the future so was well prepared to be an Angel if he met Bibb walkers. A cold bottle of Coca-Cola and a Subway sandwich ended up being our lunch # 3 for the day.

Thanks Trail Angel

He also left us a couple of apples but they were not very crispy. We tried to swap them for some chocolate that the young Mum had but she had already been a party to our 3 for one muesli bars idea so was not very forthcoming. Later we did manage to get some of her chocolate when she ran out of gas to cook her dinner.

Rebecca stewed the apples to have with weet-bix for our entre that evening. Food is better eaten than carried.

Entre of stewed apples

I was very impressed with how practical Rebecca was around camp and how well she looked after her gear and unpacked and packed up each day efficiently. She was a pleasure to tramp (hike) with. The Outdour Education course she has done at school has taught her a lot.

The young Mum pointed out some flowers to me. I do not remember any of the names but here are some photos. I do enjoy seeing the colour in the bush here as there us very little in NZ bush. Some of them are carnivorous whuch helps keep the ant and bug population down.

After enjoying a lovely sunset we slept fairly well on the platforms in the shelter.

Sunset at Beraking Camp

Day 2. 12km to Helena Hut

We had a choice of a shorter day today or the next day but after arriving at Helena Hut we decided it was too nice to pass up. So tomorrow would be the longer day. 

The day had been warm and we were enjoying the outdoors together. Granny’s plastic cheese, salami and a slice if crunchy carrot on  crackers went down well for lunch #1

Very pretty flowers everywhere
Bush fire scars everywhere

Helena Hut is  a very new hut built from rammed earth to replace the previous hut that was burnt down in a severe bushfire in  2018.

Easily accessible the Helena Hut would sleep 40 inside with many camp spots surrounding it.  The older wooden huts provide little protection from bushfire but this was designed to provide some shelter. It was made from rammed earth and the next day we saw the site where they must have got all the sandy material from.

I have been reading the bushfire notices in the huts and toilets and have decided that I am definitely not going to experience one of them.

We shared the site with a young Mum who was having 2 nights in the bush so she could have a good night’s sleep and a sleep in.  That really put yhe pressure on me to not snore and to blow up my mattress as quietly as possible. She was at the next hut with us and said that she had had the best 2 night’s sleep in 3 years!

Another young Aussie woman arrived, and 2 men who were  both trying  out new tents then a young Frenchman. We got a fire going and had some good conversation around the pit.

It had been a warm 18° day and Rebecca was pleased to get good internet access up by the toilets and I was pleased to meet a friendly kangaroo behind the hut.

Fancy toilet

Day 1 Kalamundra to Ball Creek with Rebecca. 22km – 8 hours

My son Cameron drive us the 50 minute drive out to the Perth Hills town of Kalamundra where the Bibbulmun Track starts.

Rebecca had filled my trusty old Zpacks pack with her gear and 4 days of snacks while I loaded my brand new shiny Zpacks pack with my gear and 4 days of food for the 2 of us.

Rebecca is a slim wee 17 year old so does not have the womanly hips that her Granny has, so I had bought some lambs skin seat belt pads to pad out the hip belt for her. The aim was to help it fit her and reduce any friction on her hips. This did help a bit, however a rolled up fleece top was added to bring her up to Granny size hips. Something for her to aspire to maybe?

We has a 22km day through the outskirts of the town and past small farming blocks. The track is marked by Warguls, which look like “Beware of the snakes” signs. They actually represent a mythical creature who wandered through the land creating rivers and mountains after the long cold time.

Follow those Warguls

We arrived at the Camel Farm at exactly noon so decided to needed to forgo our cheese and crackers lunch and eat at their Cafe. It would be rude to just walk past looking at their camels and not spend any money there, especially as it was toilet time.

So we had the best bacon and egg roll and an iced coffee while being watched over by the beady eyed Maggie the Magpie.

We had lunch number 2 overlooking the Mundaring Weir

The dam was completed in 1902 to provide water to the gold mining towns 600km inland from Perth. This was to be the highest dam in the world at that time and the first metal pipeline and the longest pipeline. Many people did not believe that it was possible.

Rebecca alongside the pipeline

When all the work was completed many people were stationed along its length to open the valves at a given time to let the water flow. The chief engineer and many officials stood waiting but no water came through! The poor engineer left the scene and sadly took his own life.

Three days later they found that a couple of the valves hadn’t been opened and then water flowed. It still keeps the mines and towns well watered today.

The moral of that story is that one should just wait another 3 days before making any life changing decisions. Things will probably get better.

We saw a family of Kangaroos and some very pretty birds dumpster diving in a skip bin at the back of the Mandaring Hotel.

Kangaroos and pretty birds

22km is a long day for a first day out there so we were pleased to reach Ball Creek Hut. I didn’t see any balls or any creeks but this is Australia and they do have some funny names here.

We had the hut to ourselves and there were two tents up close by. One of the occupants came and chatted but we didn’t see the other one. He was a young guy finishing and E2E, S2N which means End to End, South to North.

I am an E2E, N2S.

Cooking dinner

The huts on the Bibbulmun Track were built by inmates from a Perth Prison and I must say they have done a good job. Unlike NZ huts they are only 3 walled shelters with sleeping platforms but no mattresses. They have nice tables under shelter and out in the open, with a fire pit and a circle of seats around it. This is perfect for the climate here


NZ huts are enclosed buildings with mattresses and fireboxes inside to warm the hut.

Arriving at 5pm we just had enough time to get settled and make our dinner before it was dark. Then we were in bed by 7.15pm.

That made it for a long night for me as I had forgotten that my mattress had a slow leak that I had been unable to fix. So I was up puffing into the nattress 4 times through the night. We were on the main flight path into Perth so I heard planes coming and going all night as well as some boy racers on distant roads.

No snakes, spiders, scorpions or ticks so a 5 star day.

Day 5 to 8. To the Albany Highway access with Cameron. Total 135km

It was a chilly(Kiwi me)   freezing cold (Aussies) 6° morning and rain had been forecasted for the afternoon so we set off at 7am for the 15.5km to Mandanocks Hut.

It ended up being 16.2km because we headed along the wrong track within 5 minutes of departing. Luckily Cameron’s smart watch shouted out “You are off track”.  We took just under 5 hours which was probably a bit faster than I would have done on my own. 

Keeping up with a fit 45 year old, 185cm, over 6ft male is a bit of a challenge for this old duck. But I make it a training day day to get me faster, fitter and thinner. I managed to stay with him until about 2km before the hut when I told him to take off and get the pot on for a cupa. I arrived about 5 minutes behind him.

The next 4 days saw us climb 4 mountains and stay at Manadnocks, Mt Cooke, Nerang and Gringer Creek campsites. The days were similar being about 16km each, mostly flat with a “mountain” or two to climb each day. 600 metres above sea level is a mountain here so not like a New Zealand mountain. But in saying that I did huff and puff up them as I chased along behind Cameron. (Good training) So for my Taranaki friends that the Kaitake range is over 1,000 metres high. Manawatu friends, the Gorge loop walk is similar. Te Araoroa walkers would probably not even notice the change in incline!

We had one day with some heavy rain at times and even hail just before we left camp. We would dry out just to get wet again. Unfortunately arriving at camp soaked through one of the days. My highlight was climbing Mt Cooke as I know I will never summit New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt Cook. The days were a mixture of bush and red roads. There was one long diversion because of a planned burn off that was still smouldering.

Still smouldering

The Tramily (Trail Family) is beginning to develop as we meet other walkers and we had some good evenings with a range of other walkers. Most of them snorers so my earplugs are being well used. They also have the added benefit of allowing me to sleep through my own snoring and not feel so guilty when I blow up my leaking mattress every couple of hours. The walkers going the other way are good for info on the track coming up.

After 4 days we were met by Cam’s in laws Rudi and Bev who would take Cameron back to Perth. I had enjoyed having this time with Cameron and especially pleased when he carried some of my gear for me. I had thought this would slow him down and speed me up but not really!. I appreciated the picnic they brought along and the next 4 days of food for me. I left with a full tummy and a full pack, including fresh filled rolls and slice to share with Tony back at camp.

Yummy food (Not dehydrated)

I shared the evening with Tony who is planning to take about the same time as me to complete the track. Another couple of guys arrived just as it got dark, Glen and Steve. They had double hutted (meaning 2 huts in a day, about 30km). Steve from the airforce arrived full of beans and went off to put up his tent. Glen, army man, was absolutely buggered so laid out his sleeping bag on the platform in the hut. We had a fun evening around the table and crawled into bed by 7.30pm (Hikers midnight)

I found my first tick tonight on my arm and Tony managed to get it out with my tweezers without leaving the head behind