Albany to William Bay. I should perhaps begin with the basics. I’m setting off to walk the Bibbulmun track, a 1000 km walk trail in Western Australia from Albany to Kalamunda near Perth. The next few blog posts are going to document this walk over 50 odd days.
Day one. I left Albany at about 9am and headed out of town. Met a lady from Europe who was on her last leg of an end to end hike. She was finishing her E2E (end to end) and looked very calm and contented sitting watching over the bay at Albany. I hope I’m that happy at the end of my journey. The next section out of town was quite boring, a redirection due to the fires we’d had here recently meant that instead of walking a lovely trail through the bush I had a trek of 6 or 8 kms along roads to the Albany wind farm.
Once I reached the wind farm it was back onto the track proper. A lovely section of track here walking along quite high cliffs weaving in and out of the coastal scrub. The only down side were the fact that trail bikes had ripped up many sections of the trail, still your focus is on the magnificent coast line along here.
After leaving the wind farm area I hiked on for a couple of hours further along the coast. I hadn’t seen a soul and decided to stop for a wee just on the edge of the trail. I knew no one was behind me I would see anyone walking the other way as they came down the hill in front of me. Of course that wasn’t allowing for someone on a mountain bike, in fact 3 someone’s. A guy and 2 girls came barreling down the hill towards me. I tried to quickly make myself decent and managed to spray myself with wee in doing so. I should have set them straight about no riding on the Bibbulmun but I was feeling a bit sheepish about being caught out.
A 25 km day, made it to mutton bird camp site, I’m the only one here by the looks of it. The camp sites along the trail are 3 sided open sheds with a raised floor for sleeping, a rainwater tank and a long drop toilet, all things you need. I set up my tent inner here in the shelter to keep out mozzies. I’m carrying the tent just in case, so I may as well use it, even if it’s just to keep out mozzies.
Flicked one tick off my leg today, just found another one crawling on my shirt half an hour after taking it off. Two ticks on day one isn’t a good sign, guess I’m just a tick magnet. lol
Ouch, now my skin feels like it’s crawling. It is in a way, there are loads of mozzies here in the hut. Day one and I’m glad that I have a freestanding tent. I had been cursing the weight of it in the past couple of months, now I take it back.
Tuna, tomato and vegetable pasta for dinner.
I’m not walking this alone either my mate Bob is coming with me. I found Bob many months back on the side of the road somewhere while travelling Australia, I felt sorry for him as he had no hands so I brought him along with me. Further down the track a friend found a helmet for him in a caravan park and I found a cockpit style console so he’s been travelling around Australia sitting blue tacked on my dashboard as my copilot, hopefully one day I’ll find some hands for him.
Very average sleep last night. A few sore bits, back, hips, shoulders, feet. I woke every hour or so, though feel reasonably refreshed this morning. Woke up thinking ohh no, that huge swollen, festering tick embedded in my ankle, I’ll have to deal with it somehow. I touched my ankle with my other foot, yes I can feel the pain of it. As I woke more and my mind cleared I realised that it must have all been a dream, my ankle may have been a little sore but that was just from walking.
Hmm today could be interesting, 20 to 30mm of rain forecast with gusty winds. The wind was howling last night and there were some light showers but there’s no escaping getting wet today. Only 12 km though, I think mainly beach walking with Torbay inlet crossing. I had a spot on the side of my foot that rubbed badly in my shoes yesterday so as today is only a short wet day, with a lot of beach and there’s a water crossing, I’m donning the ever stylish socks and sandals.
Seems wrong getting them wet.
Today’s walk was predominantly beach walking after a short section of scrubby coastal bush. But this next bit was a little strange.
Rifle range boundary, yet the the Bib markers point straight down passed the “access closed” sign. It became clear a little further on as you follow a fence around the rifle range towards the beach.
Sand, sand and more sand with a crossing over the inlet which was a bit of a let down. I’ve heard of the inlet being deep and fast following out into the sea sometimes, and although I didn’t want to do the 15km diversion around the inlet it would have been nice to have a little challenge.
The mouth was closed and there were only a few small waves washing gently over the sandbar into the inlet, boring. There was soon a rocky headland to traverse then more beach before reaching Torbay.
I had to time my run to the rocks here.
Torbay is beautiful, lovely beaches with groves of peppermints behind the dunes and green grass. There was a shower here for use by swimmers but it was cold and it had been raining most of the day so I continued to the hut, only a few kms further up the headland.
Imagine my surprise to arrive at the hut a find it packed. There was a group of 6 walkers from Perth who were walking Denmark to Albany, this was going to complete the sectional end to end hike for 2 of them. It was nice to have a mixed group of people to chat with though the hut and table were pretty full with everyone wanting to lay out gear to dry and use stoves, set up beds etc. I told them about finding 2 ticks yesterday which they found hard to believe, saying “It’s not tick season, there shouldn’t be any ticks”, then 5 minutes later I found a tick embedded in my body at the top of my pants at the belt line. So that’s 3 ticks in 2 days.
Todays hike is up and around West Cape Howe a few hills with mainly scrubby coastal vegetation, love these hiker seats, though I’ve not sat on one yet, either too wet or I’m just trying to do miles. The day now turned pretty shocking. Magnificent scenery but I spent almost the whole day with my raincoat buttoned up tight tight and the hood cinched around my head, staring down at the ground trying to keep the freezing rain out of my face. It was blowing a gale and very cold and the rain just wasn’t letting up, it was solid for probably close to 3 hours. It was during this time I appreciated that I was doing something with a degree of risk involved.
I was in the middle of nowhere rain and wind was stinging my bare legs, if I stopped I started to shiver. The area had very low coastal scrub and much of it had been burnt within the last few years so there was no shelter. I was in shorts a long sleeved shirt and raincoat with socks and sandals but I couldn’t stop to put more clothes on. The rain and wind was such that stopping to open the pack, taking my coat off to put on more clothes would be silly, I would get wet and my dry gear would get wet, it was just too exposed out on this coastal heath, so I had to keep walking to keep warm try to ignore the stinging cold and the fact that my shorts were soaked through as well as my feet. My torso was still reasonably dry under the raincoat even though the coat and my shirt weren’t doing much to keep out the cold. So long as I keep walking I would be ok, but I had to keep walking, with groans and shouts every now and then as strong wind gusts threatened to blow me off balance.
You don’t really get an idea of the conditions in a photograph, but it rained almost constantly, every now and then I would stop in the protection of a valley or some small trees to check how far I still had to go. Then about 500m before arriving at the hut the rain stopped and a little sun came out. I was laughing out loud with joy. I was cold and dripping wet but there was some sunshine… There was some magnificent coast line along here and I missed almost all of it. Oh well, in camp now and it is freezing…. On my own at West cape howe I’m rugged up and all my gear is hanging, dripping. It’s 6pm and I’ve eaten, it’s pitch black, a mouse was already trying to chew through my feed back sitting only 2 meters from me. So I’ve hung up all my food and rubbish. Unbelievably cold, my thermometer says 6, hope it doesn’t get any colder.. Wow 6.30 and I’m about to go to bed because it’s just too cold..
Slept fairly well last night, 2 thermal tops, t-shirt, long pants 2 pair of socks, gloves and beanie. Looks like it was clear most of the night and about 3 degrees this morning. I guess the clouds and rain will come when I start walking haha. Longer day today, about 24 km in to Denmark, similar to my first day. Annoyingly I seem to have lost my toilet paper somewhere along the way. I’m now very thankful that I had the idea to put in two pieces of paper towel in each daily ration bag. This was for wiping out my pot or blowing my nose but today I’ll be sniffing, I need that paper towel. Of all the things I could lose I guess toilet paper isn’t too bad.. ahh I spoke too soon. I added paper towels to my rations as an after though. Seems today’s food was one of the early packs I made and there’s no paper towels. Ok I have 1 wet wipe left, and I have to pack it out with me.
Definite improvement on the weather today, although the rain is still about there are prolonged periods of fine weather and even some sunshine now and then. Similar countryside along here with coastal heath and scrub.
Although it’s not peak fungi season, there’s been a lot of variety around, and for someone like me it means many stops along the way for photos. Simple enough, but getting down on the ground on your knees and elbows, then back up again perhaps 10-20 times a day while you have a loaded pack on your back isn’t super simple.
Walk straight past the Nullaki camp site and onto Eden road, this is where the magic happens for me, a quick phone call and I’m picked up by my mum and driven into Denmark, tonight I sleep in a real bed, I eat steak and drink beer, life is good. And life gets even better with bacon and eggs in the morning (thanks mum), I grab some food supplies for the day and walk out of town at about 10am.
Here was my chance to cheat, I could walk straight ahead and take the “heritage rail trail” or turn left and follow the Bib. The rail trail is nice and flat and will take me out to William bay, but I’m here to do the Bib so I turn left. The trail eventually starts heading up at mount Hallowell which begins as a simple up hill through some lovely Karri forest. It’s nice to be into some different county other than the coastal scrub and heath for a change. Though the trail starts to become challenging with many scrambles over scree, boulders and rocks ranging in size. Luckily for this section I’ve left much of my gear in town, I have no tent, sleeping or cooking gear, and only 1 days food, I’ll go back into town tomorrow and pick up my gear as I’m planning a zero day. For others leaving Denmark with a full pack and 4 or 5 days food this would be horrible.
There are many loose rocks, and after all the rain things were very slippery as well, lots of mossy surfaces and bare slippery granite to walk over. I almost went down a few times and lost the trail many times while scrambling over rocky stretches. This section is a day walk for local tourists and it’s rated as a “medium – difficult” walk, and this is for those without loaded packs.
The views from the top were great but also a bit concerning for me, it was almost 2pm already and see that big hill off on the right? I had to be at a big hill behind that one tonight, back down this mountain, across to the coast all the way along the coast, I had a long way to go. I had to speed up, it gets dark before 6 and I didn’t have my tent or sleeping gear, I had to make it to the cottage I’d been living in which was about 4km past the William bay hut.
You cross some farm land before hitting the coast, I have to watch where I step with my sandals on. Then it’s some lovely coastal dune, up and down hiking numerous hills. The dunes along here are a little heavier vegetated that previous days and for me the vegetation becomes very familiar.
The bibbulmun waugul above is almost completely consumed by the tree, tree one, waugul nil. The track follows along the coastal dunes here with many ups and downs and a short section hitting the beach at Lights beach, I was concerned that I’d get wet feet again, after staying dry almost the whole day but I managed to bypass the only wet bit with a side step.
I was pushing it now, no time for pictures. Arriving at the William bay hut just as the sun was setting I stopped to chat with a lady here, she was on the last leg of her E2E. It was nice to have a quick chat, and I would have liked to stop and talk more, but I had no sleeping gear and home was still around 5kms away. By the time I hit William bay road it was dark, home turf though, I didn’t bother stopping to dig through my pack for the headlamp, I just kept going and arrived at the cottage where I’d been staying after 6pm exhausted.
A day off today, I headed into Albany for a few things, did some washing, picked up the gear I’d left in Denmark, and now I’m still drying out some gear before I repack everything ready to get back into it tomorrow. The weather is looking good for the next 5 or 6 days, tomorrow I’m back to the beach walking along Mazzoletti’s, a beach I’ve fished at for much of my life, where I’ve often seen people hiking along with their packs while I’ve fished. But tomorrow, I’m not fishing there, I’m hiking.