After 56 days on trail I walked the last 12km into Albany with my son Cameron. We chatted almost the way about lots of things so I didn’t really get too much into thinking about finishing.
I was ready to finish, ring the bell and make my final entry in the Track Book.
So I am back I to civilisation and spending a couple of days in Albany before heading back to Perth. Albany has history as a whaling station, the first settlement in Western Australia, the place the Anzac fleets departed for WW1 and has beaches that attract holiday makers getting away from the summers up north. So we enjoyed a good look around.
I met up with Ted about 3km along the track the next morning. I enjoyed my ride with him learning about the history of the area, the local Bush Fire Brigade he was involved with and having a coffee at a local Cafe on the way to drop me off. He had been a school teacher and was a real gentleman and only too pleased to help me out.
I then had 18km walk to my last hut, Sandpatch, where I would meet Cameron. It was a 1 snake, 20 wind turbines , 4 kangaroos and 2 people day. Not much to report on the day except that I was glad to arrive about 1.30pm.
Sandpatch hut was a new one, again to replace the previous one that was burnt. This was the first hut with a block floor and tin lined walls, although still the same main design as the ones down this way.
Cameron had arrived before me and had the lunch ready to eat by the time I had changed out of my walking clothes and set up my bed. He had brought chocolate which I made short work of, not having had any on the whole trail.
The couple I had passed earlier in the day arrived a while later. From Darwin, they are walking this section after having ridden parts of the Munda Biddi cycle trail. They were struggling with the cold weather.
I stayed snuggled up in my bed reading yet another book picked up on the way. I swapped out the 70% finished James Bond book for an book written by Australian Mary Gaunt in the 1890’s. It is proving to be a bit more realistic than Bond but a harder read.
After my slow start I dressed up again as Big Bird and made my way under grey skies to Torbay Hut. It was 16.5km up and down sandhills inland for some of it then out along the top of the cliffs. The cold wind from the south made the sea rough. I had no rain but the poncho helped protect me from the wind. I don’t like wearing my raincoat unless I have to because I sweat too much going up the hills.
I didn’t see another human soul, only kangaroos. I presume they have souls too. No snakes.
I arrived at 1pm, four hours later. Soup and cheese and crackers warmed me up while I chatted on the phone to my son Dean in New Zealand.
I was concerned about my next days walk so then began looking in earnest at the maps. My plan was to do a double hut day to reach Sandpatch hut about 24 km away. Cameron will walk in to meet me there from Albany. Then we can finish the track together the next day.
But there is an inlet crossing about half way that I was slightly concerned about doing on my own. The low tide was 2.30pm wiuch would necessitate a late start and mean arriving at the hut around 5.30pm which is nearly sunset in this place that has no day light savings.
There is an alternative route that requires a 24km extra walk along roads. The roads out here are sand tracks and I wasn’t keen on doing a 47km day. The chances of getting a hitch were very low because the roads lead to beaches and no Aussie is going to a beach in this weather.
I don’t so much mind getting washed away out to sea but I would like to have a witness to tell my family what happened. Maybe I am a bit weary of the sea but would get over it and be okay if I had someone with me. Also I would rather do it on a sunny day where I can get warmed up easily afterwards. (That is after a successful crossing rather than being swept out to sea).
As happens so many times in my life an angel turns up to help me. This time it is an older man, Ted, who comes and sits with me telling me he lives about 5km away and regularly walks up here for his excersise. We discussed the inlet crossing and he suggested that it would not be recommended as there has been considerable rain and with the strong onshore winds we ghave been having I would be wise to miss it.
So he offered me a ride for the 24km around the inlet. He will meet me along the beach in the morning and drop me back past the inlet on his way into Albany for the day. Whew.
He also calmed my nerves when this rat like thing arrived sniffing around. If he wasn’t here I would have freaked thinking it was huge rat and not slept all night. However Ted told me that it was a Bandicout or Quenda. It is a marsupial and definitely not a rodent. I am not to be scared of it, he told me. I should see it in the same way I see a kangaroo.
Actually I reckon it looks like a rat and a kangaroo have mated but I won’t tell the Aussies that as they have quite a soft spot for these creatures. I just hope they don’t steal my food or walk over me in my sleep because I am not allowed to poke them with my stick. It kept coming back to find crumbs.
I snuggled up in my sleeping bag reading my book and eating a pot of instant noodles. I now understand why people like these things. They are quick and easy and very satisfying, real comfort food.
There is a huge William inlet at Denmark that we currently cannot walk across so I paid $50 to the hostel owner for a ride around it to start my day. 22km to West Cape Howe campsite. We’re Cape Hiwe us the southern most tip of Western Australia.
Peter and I part ways now after about 40 days together. He doesn’t want to go out in the predicted the rain and has business calls to make. So I head out on my own knowing that there is little chance of meeting up with anyone else for the next couple of days.
It was cold and very windy and there was 2 short bursts of rain through the day. I was pleased that I wore my merino t-shirt under my shirt for the first time and I did need it to keep me warm enough. My rain pants and poncho also helped keep me dry.
There was seats every km along the way, perfect to rest and take the pack load off my back without actually taking the pack off. We need more of these along the trail. Shame it was too cold and windy to sit for any length of time to enjoy the views.
This section of the track is snake alley so I was happy to have the cold day (17°) as this meant I saw no snakes at all. The hut book has many entries of 7 or 10 snakes sightings in a day and some traumatized people.
I am at the hut on my own for the first time, snuggled up on my sleeping bag as soon as I had done my chores. Hot soup warmed me up. Then I did some repairs on my cheapo poncho which had a few rips from being caught on close in bushes. Only 3 more days to go and it can go in the bin having served me well. These cheap ponchos are actually better than an expensive raincoat. They do you keep the rain off me and my pack and allow for the sweat to evaporate underneath. They do flap around in the wind and look silly but I don’t care.
My first night on my own turned put to be the best sleep on the whole trail. I thought I might be on alert all night and not sleep well. But I only had my snoring and my mattress rustling to deal with and a nice background noise of the sea and wind. I was very pleased and proud of myself.
I left about 6.30am, excited to be heading towards the town of Denmark. I needed to book flights home to New Zealand, organise visits with friends and family in Perth and check with Cameron about him coming down to meet me at the end of thus damn long walk. Only about 150km to go now.
The day started well but after about 12km I came to a beach which was obviously where the locals from Denmark come out to walk themselves and their dogs. I just couldn’t resist asking for a ride into town with a lady and her dogs. We had a lot in common and I was pleased to have met her for a number of reasons. A little bit of trail magic here.
So I was in town by 9am just in time for a breakfast pie and a nice coffee after signing in at the Visitors Centre. There are books at each hut and town whete we record our journey and intentions. Thos helps know our last whereabouts incase we get lost and helps with funding for the trail.
There is no charge to do the Bibbulmun Track and all the huts are free. I will make a donation when I finish. I was going to donate so rat proof boxes could be purchased for Beavis and Beedulup huts but I have just seen on the Facebook page that some other hiker has done so. They must have had a night on rat duty like me!!
I stayed 2 nights at the YHA meeting up with 81 years and 11.5 month old Darcy. He had a plastic bottle of whiskey to use up so he shared with Peter and I. Darcy is pulling out now but us my hero. I hope I can still be doing this at his age.
I did my administration, booking a flight home on 18 November. I have an unwell friend to get home to and a daughter coming home from England for the first time in over 4 years and some grandchildren to cuddle.
Tonight we are cooking a shared roast lamb meal with a couple who ate cycling from Perth to Albany on the Munda Biddi Trail, also 1,000km. Also joined by a Frenchman who was pulling out at Denmark saying the track was too hard with too much uneven ground. Funny as I think it was all very flat and even.
Tomorrow I will head off on the rain for the last 4 days on the track. Cameron will drive down from Perth and walk in to stay the last night with me and walk to the finish with me. Special times.
These two days have been my favourite days. Blue skies, but not too hot, 24°, views to die for along the coast, long beach walks on mostly hard sand, a few short scrambles up sandhills but mostly well formed tracks with steps and plastic grating, a canoe crossing and an inlet crossing.
I think I enjoyed this part of the track the most because I could see ahead and behind. There was views out to sea, around the coast, back across sandhills and way over to farms. After weeks of flat walking in forests full of giant trees where I could only ever see 20 metres ahead I really enjoyed having an ever changing view.
One snake slithered away from me each day and quite a few kangaroos were hopping around.
We had an estuary to cross using canoes. There is a boat shed on each side and a total of 6 canoes. Peter and I arrived to find only one on our side which was a bit inconsiderate of those on front of us. But we managed to get both our packs and ourselves safely stowed in the canoe and we were off. Peter has done a fair bit of kayaking so I paddled and he did the steering. We went along the side until we were about 100 metres passed the boat shed on the other side. Then we turned and let the tide and the wind take us over to the boatshed on the opposites side. It worked perfectly but I managed to get one shoe wet getting out of the canoe. Grr.
Now there were no canoes on the other side and we knew there was a group of at least 6 section walkers coming behind us. So Peter set off with 3 canoes towing behind his one like a mother duck and her ducklings. The people on the other side were very grateful. Peter brought one back with him and then we left them to it.
That night there was only the 2 of us at Boat Harbour Campsite. That was a first.
The next day was equally lovely with views for miles and the sun out. I had to cross Parry Inlet and managed to time my arrival just as a surfie was crossing towards me.
I conned him into walking across with me to ensure I took the right route. There have been stories of people waist deep and giving to turn back. But my wet suited trail angel got me across with only the hem of my shorts getting wet.
Then it was 7km along a beach followed by a steep little climb up off the beach. A km on a sand road was followed by a very steep km up to the William Bay Hut. I was pleased to arrive so picked some flowers to brighten up the place. Peter tells me we are not supposed to pick wildflowers so don’t tell anyone.
At William Bay Hut woke next morning to Peter telling me that we had a visitor.
I left at 7am after a night of fighting off mosquitoes. The day looked okay but half way to Peaceful Bay it began to rain just a little. There was a lot of close foliage through the sand hills so I arrived very wet at the caravan Park about 10.30am
I had walked 22km along 4 beaches, then up over rocks and sandhills with the last couple of kilometers being hard work on soft sand.
It was Aussie windy and cold on the top
I was very happy to arrive and even happier to be told that Bibbulmun Track walkers are allowed to sleep in the camp kitchen rather than pitching tents in the rain. I made my bed on the table and used my mask as the fluorescent lights stayed on all night. One guy made his bed under a table and hung his coat down the side to keep the light out.
The very expensive fish burger and a packet of Tim Tams went down well for lunch. I had fish and chips for dinner as well. Two fast food meals in one day is allowed when one has walked 800km in 7 weeks! There wasn’t much choice for eating out as there was only the one shop.
We waited until the rain stopped at about 8am before heading off. 12km along the track is the Giant Tingle Walk, a busy tourist attraction. There is a coffee coffee that opens at 11am on a Sunday so that was my motivation for the walk today. The bush was beautiful, green and lush and proved to be one of the best days so far.
The coffee cart was amongst a huge carpark that was filled with tourists coming to do the Tingle Walk amongst the forest. As I had been walking amongst them for 2 days I didn’t see the need to pay for a tour. Maybe some othertime.
I went straight for the coffee cart and told the guy that I had walked nearly 800km to buy his coffee, carrot cake and chocolate brownie. A bit a flattery goes a long way so I ended up with 2 big pieces of carrot cake for the price of one. I ate them with my coffee and took the brownie for my dessert.
Giant Hut was another like the others. I now appreciate the variety of huts in New Zealand as these ones are all much the same. Peter arrived, as usual, about half an hour after me. Then a bit later 2 couples arrived to spend the night with us.
One older American couple, the other Aussies who are planning to walk Te Araroa next season. They had heard I was ahead of them so they were keen on catching up with me to pick my brains. I was wrapped up in my bed chatting with them as they made ready for the night.
It rained heavily overnight and was expected to stop about 10am so Peter and I stayed in our sleeping bags until then. No use going out in the rain if we don’t need to. The others were double hutting into Peaceful Bay so left all coated up into the rain.
I finished the book I had picked up in Walpole so started to read one that was at this hut. It is a James Bond book, the first I have ever read. I haven’t even watched any of the movies either but when there is only one book to read I have no choice. To tell the truth I am, surprisingly, actually enjoying it. So 007 will come along for the ride with me for the next few days.
The walk today was easy going through the last of the Tingle Forest, along an old rail track then towards the coast. I had missed the rain but still got wet from the overhanging bushes.
Then back into the sand dunes, along the beach and then more sandhills to the hut. It was easy going as the track was stepped and well looked maintained.
As I approached the beach I experienced wind for the first time on the trail. It wasn’t too cold and dried out my clothes as I headed to Rame Hut. I could see the hut in the distance which was a first for the trip.
After breakfast with 79 year old Mary and her boys, I wandered off with my pack filled with 7 days of food, enough to get me through to Denmark (the town not the country).
The day started alongside the peaceful inlet, through a caravan park where I stopped for a juice and another bottle of water. The day was looking to be a hot one.
However I spent most of the day under the cover of the magnificent Tingle tree forest. This was the nicest days walk of the whole track. Easy under foot as the volunteers had obviously been there recently trimming the edges, some small hills but nothing too taxing.
I saw one snake today that obviously saw me before I saw it and was slithering away into the undergrowth as I skidded to a halt.
I stopped at the Giant Tingle tree chatting to a big family from Singapore. Tourism has returned post Covid-19 so there was lots of people here putting money into the local communities again. It was a bit strange to see so many people in there nuce clean clothes amongst the trees. I am quite happy with being the only human in the bush.
The Frankton River hut was home for the night. It was the first hut i have come across on stilts probably because of its close proximity to the river. I had my lunch, a wash then went down and sat at the river’s edge and read my book in the sun. Peter had arrived soon after me and ud thd same.
John, the hobo who seems to live on thd track had arrived looking even scruffier and dirty than last time we shared a hut with him back about 3 weeks ago. He is about 45 ish and carries a lot of heavy cheap gear, smokes and drinks coffee and seems to only eat 3 minute noodles. He us a nice quietly spoken man who is a bit if a mystery. I try to get some background from him but dong get many specific answers. He seems to have been wandering along thd track for a few years now and prior to that he says he lived in the bush in the Snowy Rivef area for 9 years.
He is heading back to Warpole so I suggested he pop into the Opportunity Shop and get himself some clean clothes and have a shower. He agreed that maybe it is time.
After seeing this sign I put my whole pack into one of the big boxes as didn’t want the dirty river rats scratching at my stuff.
John put his tent up on the platform and I didn’t hear any rats in the night as my new set of earplugs are keeping out all noises. Also I don’t even think the rats would want to get you close to John.
Peter and I had decided to double hut the next 2 days even though there was a “huge” mountain to climb. This would get us into the young of Walpole where we were to have a rest day.
The two young girls were doing the same and we were all up with the sun at 5 am and I was off by 5.45am. It only takes me 45 minutes to get up and go as I have a good routine perfected over about 5,000km of hiking.
As I should have expected the mountain had me huffing and puffing for about half an hour and wasn’t hard at all. It was overcast and through lovely Tingle Forest. These are very old breed of trees dating back to the Gondwana days when Australia was joined to Africa. I am not sure where the name Tingle comes from.
I had the billy on when Peter arrived so we patted ourselves on the back as we both finished the last of our food. Then it was mostly downhill for about 10km into the town of Warpole where I am giving a rest day.