|Link to: (Day 01-10) + (Day 11- 20) +(Day 21- 30) +(Day 31- 40)|
Picture hyperlinks via diary words, are high definition and take a while to load - once loaded you can click again for closer viewing. I will keep adding more links, as the slide show pictures are now all operational.
Tuesday 16th October - This was a day I was looking forward to, because of the canoe crossing of the Irwin Inlet. Yet before I had gone a few km's I found I had missed a very hidden sign on a post, after navigating around a large puddle on the Track. I made a point of putting lots of sticks on the track to point to the very narrow bush track, off the dirt track road. My mistake! I laughed about it, but it lost me a km of walking time. I wondered where the Peaceful Bay rubbish tip was that I had read about, because I could see the birds in the sky circling the tip and hear their cries, but no tip appeared.
The stump-root nodules on this first section of Track tripped me up several times, to the point where I almost landed on my face! After that I learnt to pick my feet up higher, to avoid them. There are times when there are hundreds of these down this way, in just a few kilometres. Makes walking very intense as I jack marched along, with my boots in the air! They are left over from Track clearing I believe.
When I arrived at the entrance to Irwin Inlet I took some photographs, as the sun was out and the view was fantastic. What I did not realise was the walk back down the river was going to be so hilly, with steps that were so uneven. The Track goes up and down, with lots of gullies where the creeks come in. I just had to be in less of a hurry to get to the crossing. Once I got there it all was a distant memory. The trouble was that I had seen the crossing with my zoom camera, where two sections of land are close to each other, after the islands.
The canoes were all there and the paddles and life-jackets too, plus the destructions! - (instructions)! There were 3 canoes already out of the shed, through constant use, so I carefully drained some water out of one, before I put my pack in the front and set off for the shed on the opposite shore-line. Unfortunately there was some more water that I missed, because the canvas base of my backpack came out wet - I did have a waterproof liner inside, so it was no big concern. Then it was a matter of grabbing a paddle and another canoe and taking it back, to replace the one I had used. I managed to forget the life-jacket, which meant another trip, but the current was not too strong, although there was a slight wind. I just ferry-glided by not heading for the shed on the other side, but upstream of it, while the current carried me downstream. I ended up exactly where I wanted to be. It was FUN.
After taking the canoe right up to the shed, I decided not to put it inside, and after walking for 10 minutes met a German guy, that was about to cross the opposite way. If he had only come earlier, he could have taken my canoe back for me!!
The Showgrounds are a strange contrast to everywhere else on the Track, as can be seen by these photographs that I have linked. The shade less ground is quite hilly and sandy, so it is hot to cross, but I appreciate the different scenery.
Some pictures of beach walking give that feeling of isolation, when yours are the only prints in the sand. The Track is well marked at Quarram Beach going down, and it makes use of tyres to help walkers climbing up the dunes at the other end. Beach walking is both hard and easy!
I looked back towards Peaceful Bay while still getting used to walking on these vegetated sand dunes. No trees and strong gusts of wind with occasional rain showers. I kept looking out for Whales along the coastline, as the "Guide Book" advised, but none were around, although it was the right season. I remembered yesterday, as I looked back down the coastline, how I had walked along it to get to Peaceful Bay.
I know why I trained on Jacobs Ladder steps in Kings Park, as this area of sand dunes has no shortage of very steep steps. Looking up or looking down, you never see the full extent of them. I take my hat off to the guys that built them. Now the next job is maintaining them!
Boat Harbour campsite came into view, with my tongue feeling so dry in my mouth, having misjudged my water use and run out for the only time in the whole journey. The Track wind's it's way over more vegetated dunes, before km's later coming to the campsite and that vital water tank. Other than a swallow, with an old mud nest, I had no other company overnight, although the mosquito's were very friendly and I needed my net. These mossies seems to breed in the rock pools, created by the heavy showers. The mossies are all along the coast, even more than in the forest. Thank goodness for tropical strength Aeroguard repellant for the hands and face. Every other piece of skin was covered with clothing. If the wind is strong enough they all vanish!
Wednesday 17th October - Boat Harbour to William Bay meant a nice 7km walk along Mazzoletti Beach, as long as the Parry Inlet channel was not flowing. On the way down to the beach there was a sign saying the beach was closed, and that I should take the alternative longer land route. Deciding that I would make the final decision on whether the crossing could be managed, I found the people on the beach said it was opened a day or two before, so I walked ever faster, with very black clouds descending.
Only 500 metres down the beach the heavens opened, and a 25 to 30 knot wind came with the clouds. Fortunately it was blowing me down the beach, although I dared not turn sideways, as my pack caught the wind throwing me off-balance. The stinging rain reduced visibility to 50 metres, and I wondered if I would miss the turn-off through the sand hills.
To get an idea of how soft the sand was I stuck my pole in an took a picture on one of many, many soft sections! I left my boots on because I was seeing snakes leaving the Track, as I came upon them sunning themselves in the sand hills.
I was amazed to see what looked like a bitumen road through the sand hills, but it was rubber matting laid down in long strips, anchored with equally long metal pegs, so the dunes did not get destroyed by 4-wheel drive vehicles.
Thursday 18th October -
Back walking on Lights Beach this time, while the wheel tracks made it look like a five lane highway! I must be near civilization again.
First I found I had to climb Monkey Rock with spectacular views, but more impressive for me where the huge boulders of granite on the way down. I got the feeling that this was an Aboriginal area of significance, as I soaked up their almost sacred site presence. Looking back at the boulders, I could see now they were taller than the karri trees.
The coastal walk takes you passed idyllic bays, with small sandy beaches. If you don't look down to find the waugal sign, I could have missed it while watching the views. Mind you the one on this well designed and built style fence crossing could not be missed.
Arrived in the afternoon in Denmark for a late hotel Guinness liquid lunch, and a steak to wash it down with. Yes that was the right order of events!
Friday 19th October - I happily stayed at the Blue Wren Travellers' Rest YHA that Graham Mason runs, right in the centre of Denmark. He also completed his End-To-End on 23rd December 2001, and I believe he still helps in maintaining the Track around Mazzoletti Beach. An interesting person to talk to, and his Thai Massage is worth having, especially as I was suffering with a sore leg at the time.
I completed all my usual events like phoning my daughter Renya, to let her know where I was and sent out quite a few emails, using Gmail which I set up 24 hours before leaving. Hot showers, steaks and Guinness were all part of the agenda, besides a little sitting down to rest.
I spent some time talking to people down at the Rivermouth caravan park during the morning, trying to decide whether to take the boat across Wilson Inlet with it's tannin coloured water, or walk across Ocean Beach sandbar. For the first time in many years, after a big government department disagreement, it was decided not to open the inlet this year. The locals were not overly impressed, as the water level in the Inlet was now unusually high, causing the Track to be flooded that ran along the edge of the shore-line.
I set off from Denmark in the early morning, then suddenly remembered that I had not packed my Croc shoes, so I had to walk back to the YHA to pick them up from the lounge. On setting off again nearly one hour later, heavy showers descended and the temperature dropped rapidly. A Tiger snake slowly crossed my path in 8 degrees C, and I was crazy enough to put my pole underneath it and try hurrying it up off the Track. Having seen around 40 so far at close quarters, I only had a healthy respect for them in warmer drier conditions, when they moved with lightening speed. This one turned around to see why it's tail half was being played around with, then slowly continued on it's journey with the rain beating down. My hands were freezing and I told the snake (well Harry Potter spoke in Parseltongue) that it should go back into hibernation, and I am sure it agreed!
My decision to cross the sandbar (a once in 5/10 years opportunity was to cost me dearly: both in getting semi-lost (the unofficial Track route was totally underwater on Nullaki Point), walking an extra 10/15kms, and having to climb a limestone cliff in the process - very crumbly and dangerous with a heavy backpack on!
I walked towards Anvil beach, unaware that the beach I was on ended in a cliff outcrop, with only animal tracks up the side. Believing that there would be a path at the top, I worked my way along the shore-line over the fallen rocks until I had to climb the cliff semi-vertically. At the top of the cliffs was dense bush scrub, which I attempted to bush-bash through for about 20 metres, until I understood that I was not going to get out that way! Back at the cliffs edge I could see that the bush left a gap just wide enough for me to walk along the edge. I did not want to know what was supporting this cliff edge, as I either walked along it, or turned around and went back to stay another night in Denmark.
After about another hour, I managed to come out the other side of the headland, working my way down the cliff this time, on to the sandy beach. My beach exit point was found by following some vehicle tracks through the dunes, but Eden road could not be found, until I had crossed several private bush properties with large houses at the top of the hills. Fortunately nobody stopped me in my wanderings, and after climbing the last gate that told me I had been trespassing for the last few hours, I eventually found Verdes Drive and my way up to Nullaki campsite.
As I climb the hill after passing through the Nullaki Wilderness Estate, I came across a fence line that makes the rabbit proof fence seem like "toy play". This fence was a scar on the bush land, trapping animals either on one side or the other. You could see the dents in the wire (it was an electric fence too) where roos had crashed into it. I suppose that private developers will make one side into a bush block housing estate, but all I know is that it is ugly and sinister. I felt like I was escaping from a compound of imprisonment, as I walked along the side of it where the Bibbulmun Track had been!! (Click twice to get a close-up of these picture links)
Saturday 20th October - After staying at Nullaki overnight, I found I had to follow the fence line up the hill for some distance, before veering off. There were some good views back inland, but the rain showers and strong winds made walking strenuous. I was glad to put this section behind me.
On arriving at West Cape Howe campsite and settling in, I was joined by a couple that had also been walking in the showers on the first day of a section walk, but heading the opposite way. It was that cool and windy that they put their self-supporting tent up inside the hut, to give them extra warmth. They had packed the wrong fuel for their stove, so I let them share my gas stove, and they let me share their meal. A happy swap, as I did not have to do any cooking for once.
Sunday 21st October - On leaving West Cape Howe there were continual views up and down the coast and out to sea. The main benefit here is that I could see the rain clouds coming up behind me for about an hour, but then they veered off and sunny periods prevailed.
I knew that I did not want to stay at Torbay campsite as it was too short a distance to walk for the day, which meant I had a 32.7km day of walking to complete instead. By now I felt confident that I could handle 16.7km in the morning and 17km in the afternoon.
I never found the Jarrah forrest part of the Track lacking in interest, but looking out to sea and walking on semi-vegitated sandunes, with the occasional rocks and paths, was not as interesting for me. Sometimes there were some interesting valleys with canopies of small trees that came out of nowhere. Albany Wolley Bush trees appeared, so I knew I was getting close to Albany. Perhaps by this stage I was focused on completing the last few days with a very sore left leg. The pain certainly effected my vision of being on a scenic route.
At times wooden boards appeared on the Track to walk on across the sandy sections. Much appreciated too!
My spirits were lifted considerably after walking 7kms along Perkins beach and crossing Torbay sandbar Inlet, with its tannin brown water widening the sand banks in warm sunny conditions. I was offered a meal of quiche and salad by two women and a man at the east end of the beach - Mutton Bird lookout. I had only stopped at the lookout to change back into my boots, but they said they had been watching my progress along the beach and had some spare food for me. I tried to refuse the large strawberries for sweets, but accepted their hospitality with many thanks. It was a magnificent welcome by Albany locals.
It was while walking along the beach that I started taking my first of many photographs of Albany wind farm in the distance. After leaving the beach and crossing a rifle range with all it's signage, I found that there were still several hours of walking towards the wind farm towers, before I reached Hidden Valley in the late afternoon. It had been a long day, but more interesting than the last two. I had this feeling that I was both happy and sad that the routine that I had got into, and all my planning and execution was about to finish. I can fully understand why "End-to-Enders" just want to keep on walking - some have turned around and walked back to Perth!
Monday 22th October - Hidden Valley was my overnight stop. Now I only had 19.5kms to complete to reach Albany. The white sand of the beaches below looked inviting, but I was on a mission to finish. Duckboards were something new to walk on, to stop the damage to the bush caused by over walking. Strangely enough it required a change of walking pace, to make sure I land on a section, rather than a ridge of timber. It meant constant looking down at the path, to make sure where my feet were ending up, or I would trip over. The signs here were more for the tourists, as I knew where I had come from and was going to. Like the rest of the Track, this coastal area had no shortage of flowers. They appeared in almost every photo I took, or whenever I took bush photographs. There was little need to photo them individually.
Limestone was all around me, in valleys, rocky outcrops, and including the walking Track . Sometimes there were rubber matting surfaces to walk on, a bit like I had seen earlier for four-wheel drive vehicles to use. Raised boardwalks allowed you to get quite close to the towers themselves.
Tuesday 23rd October - Albany at lunch time was my goal. I started seeing glimpses of it in the distance, but in the meantime I continued along the coast, while a gentle spray of mist came from the crashing waves below. Sometimes there were even gravel Track path sections, for the tourists that wanted to walk around the wind farm.
Lots of signage around reminding me that I had so far walked 952kms and I only had 15kms to go - 14kms - more rubber matting a bit wider this time - as I took my backpack off for one last look at the wind farm and the ocean before heading inland.
Then I had to walk around the bay to the left to reach Albany town centre on the right. I was rudely awaken from my viewing's by a Tiger snake sunning itself on the Track. It took off at very high speed in the warm conditions. I had let my guard drop, by not focusing on the path in front of me. It was a good remind that I was still in the bush - not the town in the distance.
In my study at home I had pinned up a visual goal picture, six months before I started walking, taken at night of Albany Town Hall and it's clock. I therefore took my own day-time picture of Albany Town Hall. For me that was the finish, but the real finish came at the bottom of the hill at the Southern Terminus. I took two photos for the record and then went walking up the hill again for a steak lunch and a room for the next two nights at the YHA, to unwind and get used to civilization again.
It was a very emotional few hours, as I focused on the fact that I had just completed a 965km walk in 51 days. I wanted to shout and yell, but people in the shopping street could tell by my condition, what I had just completed. They had no doubt seen it all before. I was gaunt, slightly bedraggled and with raw leather boot tops - no polish or colour left. My hair was wild and so was my beard, and it was going to stay that way too! After two days rest, I boarded the local coach to Bunbury and the Australind train connection back to Perth.
I have been talking about the journey for the last 9 months and will until it is replaced by another life changing event. It is a highly recommend journey, that only about 200 trekkers per year complete in one go. It is a nice feeling to be part of that group of individuals.
(This is/was a Work in Progress)
36:Just Cruising - I don't cruise any more, I run and I sprint to complete my life's destiny - on time, under budget and loaded with high quality. Steve Parish Original Affirmation v4
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