Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia

Over the Easter Weekend 2019, the Ambling Rose team tackled a 2 day, 1 night Mount Kinabalu summit climb. We joined a group of 12 others, friends & family for this gruelling challenge. Mr D had done no training prior to the climb, I had been training hard but worried more about how I would respond to high altitude. Mount Kinabalu’s summit is 4,095 meters (13,435ft) above sea level, making it the highest mountain in Malaysia. I had never been at such a high altitude, probably the highest was just under 2,000 metres in NZ.


lets rewind almost 4 years ago when we were going to first climb Mount Kinabalu. One month before we were to fly over, an earthquake in Malaysia occurred on the 5th of June 2015. The earthquake tragically killed 18 people on the mountain & closed the damaged  mountain trail. Hence we took on an alternate jungle trek of 12kms hard slog in thick forest, steep difficult & muddy terrain. I slipped & fell almost at the 10km marker breaking my ankle in 4 places. It took 5 hours or something like that for the guides to get me out (though it felt much longer than this).  I was still determined to come back one day to tackle the mountain climb – unfinished business – and so here we were – back in Kota Kinabalu, boarding a bus to Kinabalu Park, 2 hours out of the city.

Friday sees us a 2 hour bus trip out to Kinabalu Park, where we register for our climb, receive our climb permits that we must wear around our necks. We are at 1,585 metres already as we stay the night in gorgeous lodge accommodation to help climatise to the higher attitude. It is much more cooler & pleasant with an abundance of flora & fauna. Even if one did not want to climb the mountain, the area here would be very pleasant to stay a few days, walk the many smaller trails around the area, visit the poring hot springs or see the worlds largest flower. Or just relax in the lodges which are so cosy & relaxing in themselves. Mr D got carried away the first night, drink after drink after drink! Some of the group were in party mood, others just wanted an early night as the next day was going to be hard. Hence Mr D got to bed quite late & in a merry good mood!

Saturday morning started early with getting up & dressing for the climb. Making sure backpacks had all required items needed. No one had slept much, either too excited to sleep or because high altitude can cause sleep deprivation. The backpack requirement is not too heavy between 4 & 6kg. You need to equip with enough water as no water availability on the way up. Snacks, warm gear for the summit & headtorch for the dark morning climb. You can also pay a porter to carry your extra gear up. We had breakfast in the restaurant, a buffet of hot & cold food, collected our packed lunches & away we went in the bus. The bus took us 20 minutes further along to the starting point called Timpohon Gate at 1,866 metres.

The hike starts with a descent down steps which the next day would see us all cursing before the finish. We pass the beautiful Carson Waterfall, then the climb begins! A steady constant ascent 6kms upwards & upwards with a few breather short sections of flat ground. Wooden steps, carved out gravel steps, large tree root steps, Boulder steps, large rock steps of uneven sizes & shapes. The sweat pours out of the body instantly. There are shelters along the way to have a break at. Benches to sit at, sometimes a table, and flushing toilets. And always squirrels everywhere trying to steal our food. The porters & workers make the climb look easy as they go pass us carrying huge heavy & bulky uncomfortable loads on their backs. I guess they have to bring all their supplies up to the huts on foot.

Luckily I had been training but even so, this climb was tough. Mr D started off well but soon, soaking in sweat, was starting to slow & look tired. The climb is definitely mind over body. At one point or many points, we all thought about stopping & returning back down, but the will to keep going was stronger than our bodies. I stopped ahead of Mr D at Layang Layang Shelter. Here there were two shelters with tables & seats with a separate staff hut. I sat to take my lunch as it started to rain – good timing! Mr D laboured up a short time later to have his break. We must be almost at 4kms over half way now. It was getting colder & wet. Temperatures were changing, the terrain was changing. As we went higher up no views could be seen as it was a total white out.

I popped open my trekking umbrella as we continued after lunch – the idea a lot of others also had! Here, people were descending back down from being up at the summit that morning. It was frustrating at times as the path wasn’t wide enough at times so one had to wait to let others through. Or being stuck behind a group going up slower than yourself. The steps are kinder up to here, where they go up a notch in difficulty. Large uneven steps & tree roots, slippery in places. I was at my usual pace & passed Mr D whom had hit the wall. He just stopped on the steps & gazed off into the distance with a vacant look in his eyes. He looked beaten, defeated. I encouraged him to keep going. Mr D looked at me saying “I’m stuffed. I can’t do this. My legs feel heavy”. Somehow but his mind won as he continued upwards. I had set off on my own taking a break at the next Shelter – Villosa, before the 5km mark. I felt good but tired. Mr D emerged just as I continued onwards, plopping down on the bench in exhaustion. He was regretting not doing any training beforehand. “If I was fitter, I could enjoy this. Wish I had trained so it would be easier.” Mr D also carried a daypack with no hip belt so he was taking the weight all on his shoulders & the pack wasn’t comfortable to carry. Not ideal for hiking up a mountain with.

I continued onwards & wouldn’t see Mr D until at our accommodation. The rain had stopped as I traversed the last km which was the worse & hardest. Huge boulders made up the trail. And with the higher altitude, I was slowing right down. For the last half km it was a very slow progress. I would go 5 or 6 steps, stop, breathe, rest, repeat all the way to Laban Rata Resthouse – our accommodation at 3,273 metres. It had taken me 5 hours to get there as I gratefully went inside the main seating room out of the cold & fell on a chair for awhile. Mr D came in an hour later, struggletown, but determined, he had made it, all our group had made it. He was wet & cold as it had started raining again before he arrived. The first day completed, the second day would be the hardest. We shared in a dormitory room with 3 bunk beds on the ground floor. The toilets wouldn’t flush, one had to manually fill the toilet cistern with water to flush as they didn’t automatically refill. The lights would be off due to power saving during the day with power coming on in the early evening. My head torch was for the summit climb, it also came in handy for using the toilet in the dark! The shower consisted of a large tub of ice cold water with a scoop. Many smelly tired hikers could not care for an icy cold wash but I got the task quickly done, actually feeling better afterwards. I then put on all my warm clothes & rested with my legs up the wall. Mr D decided he only had enough energy to collapse in his bed still with his sweaty clothes on.

There was no alcohol for us that day, too tired, all we wanted was water, electrolytes & a hot cuppa. Buffet dinner was served to the 100 odd hikers there from 4 to 7.30pm. An array of meats, rice, potatoes, vegetables & soups. The room smelt of smelly BO hikers that hadn’t washed. Our guide we had to rouse from his slumber to debrief us on the next days climb. By 6pm, we were all tucked up in our beds. We set the alarm for 2am as we were to set off by 2.30am to continue the climb to the summit for sunrise. Sleep eluded us. Excited? Altitude affected insomnia? Or the banging & crashing noises going on upstairs? We were up before the alarm anyway, getting dressed at 1.45am Easter Sunday morning. For the summit, you leave most your stuff in your room, taking a small bag or waist bag for water, warm clothes, beanie, snacks, camera & gloves.

We had an early morning buffet breakfast at 2am before setting off with our guides. In fact, our guide took off with our group without Mr D & I, but we quickly caught up to them. We had 2.8kms of climb to the summit. Up we went in darkness, a long trail of head torches in the dark, going up steadily over multiple ladders & steps. We were tired & took our legs a little while to warm up. With up to 100 people going up, it was a slow long train. This was good as it forced us to go slow, but frustrating to stop & wait then go again all the time. Some fast people would push pass us to get ahead. The stench of hiker BO was strong as we were all bunched together, & not everyone had an icy shower wash the previous day. 😏 We reached the checkpoint shelter with heaps of time to spare. Sayat-Sayat at 3,668 metres. The cut off time being 5am. I got there just after 4am & waited as Mr D had fallen behind again. We show our climbing permits & our names get ticked off the list. Then the last stretch to the summit begins.

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By now it is easier to see, the impressive jagged mountain walls can be made out. We are now traversing along open bare granite rock. We are above the clouds, above the tree line. Only small tuffs of grass grow out of the rocks in places. A thick rope goes all the way up to the summit, of which you are meant to hold onto. But the weather was perfect. The surface not slippery so most people walked alongside the rope, sometimes using it where the ascent was too steep. We continued to climb, most people now slowing right down, they would walk a ways, stop, sit down, rest, continue again. Mr D was hitting the wall, he walked 5 steps, stopped for 5 breaths, then walked 5 steps, he continued this pattern the whole way while trying to breathe in enough oxygen.

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I was coping very well, not feeling affected by the altitude at all. I felt strong, I practiced my deep breaths, exhaling all the air from my lungs & inhaling as I walked, a tip that is recommended. I would stop & wait for Mr D to catch up, speaking positive reinforcement to him. By the time my head torch shone on the 8km sign, I was keen to get to the summit. I could see the orange glow coming up behind the mountain top of the impending sunrise & needed to get a wriggle on to catch the sunrise at the top. Not spotting Mr D close behind, I took off on my own. Passing many tired slow going hikers. The scramble up the last 100 metres being the hardest. I started breathing more heavily  by this point, pushing my body that felt weary now, upwards, using the ropes over this treacherous part. My Morton’s neuroma in my left foot woke up, sending pain through the ball of my foot & toes. I made it just in time! Squeezing amongst the others up there to watch the sun burst through. It is truly magical being up above the clouds, the views spectacular. The temperature freezing as I quickly added extra layers on for warmth.

Mr D made it too eventually. He looked totally shattered as he climbed on up next to me, sitting down needing space to rest quietly, snapping if someone dared wanted him to pose for a photo.😂 We did go up to summit point with the sign in front of it for our mandatory summit photos. Called Low’s Peak, and marks the 4,095 metres height. We had others pushing in front of the queue, this made Mr D more irritable as he snapped at the queue jumpers. You couldn’t stay up too long as you got too cold. The descent down being most tricky. My Morton’s neuroma continued to piss me off as pain would flare through my foot each time I stepped on it.

The gently sloping granite rock was easier to walk down then up. Once we passed back through the checkpoint, I made the mistake of using the toilets there. All of them in appalling condition with unsightly brown spatters up the bowls with lots more nauseous looking brown horrid sitting in the bowls. Needless to say, I did not stay long. We didn’t realise the dangerous climb going up in the dark, but it was perilous in places going down. Some granite rocks were very steep at almost 60 degrees slope as I hung onto the thick rope tightly & slid my way down. It was a tough descent back to Laba Rata, not getting back until after 9am. But the sun was out & warming up, the skies clear showing the clouds below us & Laba Rata Resthouse.  Mr D came in while I was eating my second breakfast. The insult now was that we had to collect our gear & head all the way back down. We were exhausted from the summit climb, my knees already hurting from the descent. Now we had to descend another 6kms?!! The shop had run out of water bottles for sale. Lucky I had enough water. Mr D was concerned he didn’t have enough. In fact, half the stuff on their menu list was unavailable. 🤔

We had to depart by 10.30am & start the long descent down the same way we came up. Already by now the clouds had swirled in blocking all views. That last km which became our first km going down was still a bastard. It took me awhile to complete the first km trying to traverse the big boulders. Each km after that got easier & quicker. Mr D was slow, saying he would take 6 hours to get down, 1 hr per km! So after a km & a half, I had left Mr D behind, not seeing him again until Timpohon Gate. My knees hurt more as I kept pushing on, there was no enjoyment, just wanting to finish & sit down, to not go down one more damn step! I passed many people heading up, some looking wiped out early in the climb. At one stage my foot slipped & I landed on my butt. I just got back up & continued. It took me 4 hours to get to the bottom. Mr D turned up an hour later. We had done it! 13 out of 14 people in our group had successfully made it to the summit & back down. And there were no injuries, we did well! Mr D climbed Mount Kinabalu when he was 12 years old. He returned & proved he could do it again at 66 years of age, with no training. He had done well, but not without repercussions. After the climb, my thigh muscles were tight & sore. I couldn’t walk properly for two days. On the third day, the pain was gone & I was back to normal. Mr D had major trouble with his knee. As a result of pushing his legs too hard, it aggravated his knee which caused considerable pain until he returned home & got it seen to. We ended up back at the restaurant in Kinabalu Park & enjoyed a late afternoon lunch with beers before returning to Kota Kinabalu.

Mount Kinabalu – ticked off the bucket list!🤛🏻👍🏻🤗

Numbat Trail, Paruna Sanctuary.

The Numbat Trail is 12kms long consisting of two loops with a reasonable pathway that connects them. The first loop is the largest & makes up the Quenda Trail in conjunction with the Numbat trail. Then it branches out to a smaller loop. It takes 3 to 4 hours to complete. In total including our lunch break, it took us 5 hours.8697E86F-48AF-44CE-B287-054FCCB30A86

Our main objective on going out was to try our first home cooked dehydrated meal in preparation for our Bibbulmun end to end adventure later next year. Dehydrated meals are healthier, lighter in weight & take up less room in the backpack. I carried my Osprey day lite backpack while Mr D decided to train with his 11kg heavy small Aarn backpack.

We were joined by two of Mr D’s workmates as we set off in fine early morning weather. As you pass a picturesque lake with skinny tree trunks coming out of the water, it doesn’t take long to see this is a beautiful trail, & one of the best day hike trails in the Perth Hills.

Not an easy walk, this trail consists of constant up & down elevations with lots of steps! But the views are fantastic. There are many picnic tables along the way to stop & take in the views. Rock Pool is one of many great features on this trail. We saw some other day hikers & trail runners, but most of the time, you feel you are the only ones out there. EBB2A0B0-EFD2-4409-9824-87E156EC44F9

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The second loop consists of more steps yes! But beautiful greenery ground & Hills, creeks & a set of picnic tables atop of the hill with more fantastic views. Mr D decided to leave his backpack at the start of the second loop to have a break from the weight. After completing this loop, we set down at a picnic table near a small waterfall to rehydrate our meal of Beef Stew with mashed potato. It was good but couldn’t be finished. Still some tweaking to do with rehydrating. We set off straight back uphill with full bellies. The remainder of the big loop was full of many yellow wildflowers. The trail has many nice wildflowers throughout, but more noticeable in this last section.

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We took a detour to the monument – the biggest rock cairn I have seen. The trail smoothed out more flatter at the end with another big view out over the sanctuary. This trail definitely has it all & is enjoyable all the way. It would be nice to return here during winter after a lot of rain. The waterfalls & creeks would be even more spectacular. Not that they already were! And we had fine company to boot!


Our Beef Stew from preparation to rehydration:

Eagle View Trail – John Forrest National Park


It was Sunday and a perfect day for a hike in the John Forrest National Park, east of Midland up in the hills. I came to hike The Eagle View Trail, which is the longest one in the park, a challenging 16km loop that consists of many hill climbs & descents. The track is mostly narrow with lots of loose stones underfoot & big rocks. There are some parts where you walk along easy wide flat dirt roads.

Starting from the picnic area I traversed pass the National Falls, at this time of year it has pently of water. A popular spot filled with parents & kids. Then the path goes up to the Eagle View lookout. Don’t stop on the path but as it is swarming with Bull ants that are quick to climb up your legs & bite if you let them! There is a perfect huge rock providing shade & cool for a break as I stopped for lunch. Many planes fly overhead often, breaking up the nature sounds. Here you see the city skyline in the far distance. Continuing on were the best display of wildflowers along the track, an explosion of colour everywhere.

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By the time I reached the junction where the Eagle View & Christmas Creek Trails separate, it felt like I had walked 10kms but it was only 7kms with all the up & downs of hills. Here I had the choice; 9kms to finish the loop or 4.5kms to take the shortcut. As a trail runner went by along the loop I decided what the heck, I’ll finish the loop.

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So onwards & upwards I went, the path turning on a wider more pleasant walking track before branching off back along the narrow rocky track, surrounded now by banksias. 1km from the end & the track bypasses Hovea Falls. There is a side track to the falls, again pently of water flowing. The Eagle View Trail is advertised as taking 5 hours to complete. It took me 4.5hrs which included lunch & short breaks. An excellent dayhike to do at this time of year, not too hard & not too easy. There are a few small creeks you cross over which at this time of year they are flowing with water nicely. And as the Christmas Creek trail follows the Eagle View Trail some of the way, there is that option to shorten the hike if need be to 10kms in total.

Donnelly River Village to Balingup – Bibbulmun Track

This is a popular 3 day section hike along the Bibbulmun Track that we decided to tackle over the September long weekend. We drove down late Friday, staying in Donnelly River Village in the old school room called the Bunkhouse – a cheap accommodation for Bibbulmun hikers to use. There also is a free Donnelly River Shelter which is just a concrete shelter with a table in it & toilet block nearby.

Day One: DRV to Gregory Brook Shelter

Saturday morning we set off early at 7.15am, leaving the sweet tranquil village spot, once a timber milling town with its friendly kangaroos & emus. A sign heading out read Gregory Brook Shelter 21km. The track wide, easy to follow through the beautiful Karri Forest. Along the way we pass a sign saying welcome to the Blackwood District. The change is noticeable from the well maintained Donnelly District track & the neglected narrow track through Blackwood. There are fallen trees, branches everywhere & the ground littered with a thick pile of fallen tree leaves & pieces of fallen tree bark. The track followed an old railway formation pass Willow Springs Camping ground where we stopped & took advantage of the picnic tables to have an early 11am lunch. We encountered one hiker travelling South to Albany, he complained away to Mr D that the shelters were not adequately spaced. 20kms was too short & 40kms too long. He hated single hutting to arrive at midday with nothing to do all afternoon.

As we were travelling north, I didn’t expect anyone would do the same, but as it turned out, a family of four & a mother & daughter pair had the same idea as us. Mr D struggled the last 4kms, almost stepping on a big black n brown snake. He let out a scream, caught off guard. The track elevation was relatively flat with few uphill & downhills. I arrived first at Gregory Brook Shelter at 2.45pm & met the family of four, Diana, Jerry & their two young adult daughters Abby & Tegan. This shelter is blessed with a beautiful bubbling brook stream called Gregory Brook of course! Right close by with freezing cold water that we bravely plunged our tired hot feet into. As the temperature dropped we huddled around the campfire, the mother & daughter duo turning up just before nightfall. They had walked in the last 4kms same as the family had & this was their first multiday hiking adventure. And how could it be, but the mother wore the exact same boots as I! These boots you can’t get in Australia so not widely seen here at all. We were so exhausted we were in bed by 6.45pm & slept all the way through to 6am!

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Day Two: Gregory Brook Shelter to Blackwood Shelter

The views this morning was breath taking beautiful, the forest shrouded in early morning mist. It sounded like rain but was the dew dropping onto the shelter roof from the trees. We had our brekkie, packed up & were heading north again by 7.30am, through the dense forest & mist. Mr D failed to see a turn off & continued along a dirt 4WD track until I noticed & alerted him to turn around. On we continued through narrow tracks these ones more maintained than yesterday. Stopping for a cuppa tea break on this 18km section, we met another southbound hiker, a man with an eccentric personality that kept warning us of all the snakes around. “Shit loads of tiger snakes up ahead!” His name was Kain, & indeed after continuing along only 5 minutes, I spotted a small snake that had come out to sun itself. Then Cliff came along, a through hiker from over east. He was more down to earth & told us not to take anything Kain said too seriously.

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The day was heating up as we caught up with the family & continued around Millstream Dam & down a long steep wide 4WD Road that kept going downwards forever until we eventually reached & crossed Blackwood River. We were getting hot feet & tired, stopping for a late 1pm lunch above the Blackwood River sitting on the leaf covered ground. We watched Kayakers go pass & fought off ants. Not having too much further to go we continued along, crossing through gates onto private property – the historic Southampton Homestead. Golden Retrievers came up to greet us as Mr D fed grass to the horses on the other side of the fence. Straight after here was the final assault – a steep ascent up Cardiac Hill. Named this as a person once had a heart attack on this hill. It was hot, I sweated profusely but reached the top & over spotting Blackwood Shelter with joy. I was the first to reach the shelter, followed closely behind by Mr D & then the family.

The Blackwood Shelter has prime position with excellent views out over the valley, the river & farm houses far below. All the trees have been removed unfortunately & the area around the shelter is quite bare. There had been a terrible bushfire years back where the beautiful trees that surrounded the old shelter had fallen down or too high a risk of falling down, the shelter destroyed & so a new Shelter was rebuilt further downhill & trees removed, leaving only tree stumps to prevent further problems. It was still quite warm & the night was going to be humid. Two more through hikers joined us for the night, only they decided to tent away from us & sit out at the other table. It was getting after 5pm as Mr D & Jerry decided to troop back down Cardiac Hill, worried for the mother & daughter duo that had not arrived. They all returned just before 6pm, the mother was struggling & would not have made it up the hill if Jerry hadn’t taken her backpack for her. Campfires are banned here so after dinner & some chatting with the mother & daughter, we crawled into our sleeping bags. It was an almost full moon & very bright. One didn’t need a torch to go to the toilet during the night.


Day Three: Blackwood Shelter to Balingup

We awoke to a new day, legs sore, muscles complaining. There was slight mist about but nothing like yesterday. We set off at the same time as the family around 7.30am. The mother & daughter just starting their breakfast, the two through hikers starting to pack up to head southwards. Descending the other side of Cardiac Hill was pleasant. Very green, grassy with beautiful pine trees growing in rows. Once off the hill, we followed an easy 4WD track to a private farm paddock. Only Bibb walkers can go through the gates & walk amongst the farm moo cows that were annoyed by our early morning arrival & started running away & mooing loudly. We followed more 4WD road pass a couple of farm houses & then the track went into pretty forest again with the most amazing variety & colour of spring wildflowers seen along the entire way. Mr D set off in front but ended up behind me as he had again missed a waugal turnoff & continued wrongly for awhile before realising. Then he was exerting himself to catch up with me, looking quite frazzled & out of breath by the time he found me. On we continued through the pretty flowers opening out to a farm paddock & a seat with great views not to be missed.


We set up a cuppa tea as other hikers came along & eyed off the bench with longing. This part of the track pairs with the Greenbushes loop trail & there were a few day hikers on the loop trail. One southbound lady hiking to Pemberton stopped & joined us, she was looking forward to the seat & was not going to let us have it all to ourselves! This lady also had the same green backpack & green cup as I! The family came by, but continued on – another couple of seats were required!

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We took an hour break chatting away to these 3 hiker women before continuing onwards. Coming out of the forest, we crossed the railway tracks then took a long walk up another 4WD road to the south end of the Golden Valley Tree Park, just on the outskirts of Balingup, a lovely picnic spot with fruit trees & small lakes. There we stopped to have lunch in the large gazebo. The family had their car there, had changed out of their hiking clothes & were having lunch so we sat & joined them. Afterwards we said our goodbyes. They headed off south in their car to pick up the second car, we continued the 1.5kms into Balingup making it a 17km day. The day had gone from cool to warm as we celebrated with a cider at The Packing Shed. Then it was calling our track transfer driver to collect us & return to DRV where we stayed the night this time in one of their cottages. This whole section is very nice, the landscape changes all the time. The terrain easy enough to tackle. Day 3 showcased the best array of wildflowers & spotting of orchids. DRV is a great spot to access not only the Bibbulmun but also the Munda Buddi. We caught up with Kain & Cliff as they were staying in the bunkhouse when we arrived back. And meeting fellow hikers makes the experience even better I reckon!

Sullivan Rock to North Bannister Roadhouse -Bibbulmun Track

Sullivan Rock to Mt Cooke Campsite Day One:

This is a 2 to 4 day section of the Bibbulmun track. We had completed it 2 years ago, however the memories were not pleasant so we decided to repeat the section & make better memories out of it. It is the June long weekend & every Tom, Dick & Harry will be heading out to this most popular section. We left home on foot early Saturday morning, catching the bus & train down to Murdoch train station. Here we waited for our ride to Sullivan Rock Carpark via the Bibbulmun track foundation long weekend bus service. The lady instructed us to leave our backpacks at the back of the bus instead of the trailer as we were first off. Mr D quickly went, “I would prefer to leave my backpack up front near me, it is an Aarn & I have so much hassle getting it undone & back on!” “Oh ok then, leave them up the front” the lady caved in. Special treatment there!

We were dropped off just after 9am into the still chilly & frosty air. We followed a loud bunch of overnight hikers up Sullivan Rock. They turned left to go north, we turned right to go south – phew! We met quite a few day hikers & one young end to ender hiker travelling north. You can just tell those End to Enders – or smell them before you see them.

I use to call this section rather boring but enjoyed it this day. It is a simple 7kms flat ground walking to Mt Cooke Campsite. I enjoyed all the trees twisting this way & that in odd directions. Passed the old burnt out shell of a car – its grave forevermore by the side of the Bibbulmun track ( unless the track gets realigned ). We were first in at the Campsite by midday, Mr D set up the tent near the shelter & I prepared lunch. Afterwards I sped up Mt Cooke reaching the top in half n hour. (No backpack) It’s a relatively easy ascent & nothing compared to the real Mt Cook in NZ – more a mole hill over here. My legs were strong still from the C2C. Upon return, Mr D was feeding trigs into the campfire & drinking a drink he got from “the bar man”. He had brought along a bag of Port this time instead of wine. He managed to down almost half of it while I was gone!

Being a long weekend I had expected crowds, but not one person stayed in the shelter. We had our tent. Two men kept to themselves with their tents & cooking supplies set up near the toilet. One couple with 4 kids around 8 to 12 years old set up their tents down the other end & we all kept to ourselves. By 6.30pm I had crawled into my sleeping bag, by 6.35pm I was asleep. The kids took over the campfire as soon as we left & Mr D said they were noisy till late. He tried to read his book on his iPhone but soon gave up. He had to remove his glove to ‘flick’ the page with his finger & it was getting very cold. In fact it must of got down to 1 degrees or less. It was soooo cold, my toes were turning into ice blocks inside my possum socks & sleeping bag. The moon was so bright, it shone right into our tent. I just kept tucked away inside my cocoon with multiple clothing layers on.

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Mt Cooke Campsite to Nerang Campsite – Day Two:

We started late as it was so damn chilly. My toes & feet were frozen painful ice blocks. Even leaving around 9am, the others in camp were just getting up & making their breakfast. No late night visitors came through & it was funny seeing an empty shelter. Back up Mt Cooke the 2nd time for me in 24 hours was still easy with a backpack. I enjoyed slowing down & taking photos as I went across the top to the other side. Mr D found the location of ‘the cave’ at the far south end by asking a couple passing through. They said it was full of ticks so Mr D wasn’t going into it. Didn’t stop me from doing a quick exploration. Nice, cool & sheltered inside. I checked myself for ticks before I left. All good.

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Mr D went ahead descending Mt Cooke as I stripped to my shorts & t shirt as the day was finally warming up. Heading down I unexpectedly spotted Bruce the pink frog hiding under a rock & did a selfie. He has been living there since 2012! I caught up to Mr D along the power line road. He was chatting away with a group of women that were on the Bibbulmun bus. They were in a tour group & going the opposite direction to us. I heard comments about Mr D’s sagging front balance pockets…..need I say more. After a quick chat we were off again, all flat easy walking again. We got the feeling Mt Cooke Campsite was going to be busy tonight with all the people passing us heading that way. 3 young teenagers passed us, the young boy had his boom box blaring music spoiling the peaceful tranquility. They asked how far to the Campsite, when Mr D said another 2 hours, the young blonde girl looked dismayed. She looked exhausted already.

We stopped at a familiar big log, the same log we stopped for lunch the last time, where Mr D’s Jetboiler stopped working. This time it worked just fine. Steve from the Bibbulmun track foundation went by on his way to Nerang Campsite to do maintenance. He reported that 30 people had been at Nerang last night!! Plus he was fuming as someone drove their 4WD car through onto the track just opposite the Campsite, damaging the ground & bushes.

It was only 13kms to Nerang & we made it by 2pm. This time I bounced into the Campsite all excited, last time I was in tears from the pain I was getting walking in my boots at the time. Steve was busy making noise, drilling, banging & such. He offered some of his plunger coffee that Mr D accepted with glee. He had also brought in a sack of different coloured plastic chairs – it was too civilised for out bush! Mark, another hiker was finishing his lunch. Mark is a retired man, he loves the Bibbulmun track & spends a lot of time on it. Soon after, Louise, Adam & their two young girls arrived, this being there first overnight hike. Two seasoned women turned up next, followed by two men that also did exactly what the two men from last night did. They set up their tent & cookers far away & kept to themselves. By nightfall, two more women came in with their headlamps. At least there wasn’t 30 of us. Besides the men, we all stayed in the shelter making Nerang a full house. We had opted to not tent as we had to leave early in the morning. Steve said it would drop to minus 1 degrees.

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So we stayed up past our bedtime telling hiking stories & such around a hot campfire. We finished the port then Mr D produced his tiny bottle of honey whiskey! We gave up by 8pm & crawled into our sleeping bags. I was soon asleep again. Last time at Nerang, we had the shelter to ourselves & the campfire hotplate had been broken off. We had to put the bowl of water straight onto the fire to boil that time with no working jetboiler. Things were certainly better this time around!

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Nerang Campsite to North Bannister Roadhouse – Day Three:

It most certainly was not as cold as Sunday morning. I had put on 3 layers of socks, a plastic bag over my feet inside the sleeping bag – a bit extreme but no ice block feet. Mr D was up first just after 4am, tending the campfire back to life. I got up by 5am & we were sorted & packed ready to go by 6.30am as planned. Only one woman had joined us, everyone else were still asleep in their warm sleeping bags. Headlights on we set off on an 18km hike which was flat & easy walking. There was even sand walking on the trail! Some waugal markers were pointing left & straight ahead trying to confuse us, but Mr D had his Garmin & was not fooled.

We went through some beautiful banksia & wandoo creek areas, Mr D having to slow down a lot as his left knee kept aching & causing him trouble. No other hiker passed us. The only movement we saw was Kangaroos hopping away & birds. The only downer was the noise of Albany Hwy close by. There we were hiking the wilderness with birds chirping….& the sound of vehicles speeding along the Hwy.

We quickly arrived at Gringer Creek Campsite at 11.15am so had pently of time before catching our bus. Last time we had stayed there, returning to my vehicle the following day to find it vandalised & smashed. This time my car was safe at home in the carport. My boots had caused me so much pain but not this time with my trusty hoka trail boots! We read the trails log book & many people had complained that the new Roadhouse had no hot food. We were looking forward to a burger! Mr D felt defeated, then remembered seeing a packet of spaghetti & bolognese sauce left in the Bibbulmun shelter box. He whipped into action cooking it up on his jetboil, followed by a coffee as luck had it there was still gas left in the last canister.

We packed to walk out, a short 20 minute spur trail to the Roadhouse. A young couple came by day hiking out to White Horse Hills & back. At the Threeways Roadhouse tavern, we discovered they started serving hot foods on June 1st. So we decided to have a second lunch of mini chicken drumsticks, hot chips & coffee! Our Transwa bus arrived smack bang on 1.31pm to collect us & take us back to Perth. What a great system! We arrived home via bus, train & Uber by 4pm just as it started raining. More happy memories made & now time to start planning our next adventure!

Deepdene Campsite to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – Day Ten

Cat Empires ‘Two Shoes’ started playing at 5am this morning. Mr D wanted a new alarm sound but I had insisted on the same song, it has become like a theme song to our walk! We wanted to get going nice & early & we had finally got into our groove with packing up our camping spot. Even had packing up the tent spot on, neatly folded & put away. Lucky I had bought along enough porridge for the whole trip. There was no resupply of it along the way. Mr D finished off his two coffee bags – that’s it, our walk had to end now! Due to a lot of prescribed burns happening in the south west, there was a lot of smoke again at this campsite.

We set off just after 7am, heading back to the beach. We had a 7km stretch again mostly on sand. I was glad we were going early morning while it was still cool & pleasant. Mr D got into a mindset of “Ok, this is going to take 3 hours” & away he went. The bible guide book warns this section is for fit & self sufficient walkers as is difficult. By now we should be fit enough. The walk wasn’t too bad, a soft plod along. A guy went by in his quad bike with his dog enjoying the ride sitting in the attached trailer. I was well in front again & ended up catching up to the guy on the quad whom had stopped further up the beach & was fishing. He caught a nice big Salmon as I went by, his dog running around all excited. I waited beyond him for Mr D, whom when he reached the fisherman, stopped to have a chat. “What do you have in that big backpack?” The Fisherman asked, “A kitchen sink?!” The man was actually after Mulloway. The beauty of walking the track was knowing all the good fishing & surfing spots.

We came to another rocky platform stretch like yesterday. But there wasn’t blow holes just sharp jagged rocks with big gaps between them. One had to watch their step, it could be easy to fall into a hole. Mr D thought I had fallen into one when he couldn’t see me ahead. I thought he had fallen into one as I waited & waited for him to appear into view. We made it through in one piece, passed through more sand & big limestone rocks then up a couple of big sand dunes. We had made good time, stopping at 10am for a short break inside the sand dunes. Mr D said he was trying to walk fast but his knee would start hurting so he had to slow down.

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The day was warming up now as we followed the track that went inwards along narrow trails protected by the sun with lots of trees & vegetation. The walking was easier. At times we would glimpse a view of the lighthouse, it still looked far away. I spooked one big bird that in turn spooked me & flew off a tree branch suddenly inches from my face. We stopped when we finally came to a seat bench above skippy rock. The only problem it was hot there with not much shade but unfortunately the undercover track had nowhere to stop & sit down. Mr D was feeling hot & needed a break from his backpack & the sun. So we had our other lunch – tuna on corn thins. Pretty ordinary lunch, & our last cuppa on the track. We only had 3kms left as we set off again, the path winding downwards until we reached the southern registration station. There were 3 pens at this one as Mr D registered our names in the book.

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The path soon lead out to Quarry Bay, negotiating some more rocks along the way. That last bit at Quarry Bay was something else! There was heaps of seaweed buildup, wet slippery rocks that poke out here & there above all the seaweed & water. In fact, if you missed a rock, your boot would disappear into the wet seaweed how deep we couldn’t know. Mr D was very annoyed with this exclaiming, “Bloody hell! So you come all this way only to risk breaking an ankle less than a kilometre from the finish!” 😣For the first time along this whole trip, besides for the tent, Mr D used his poles & we both carefully analysed where we would place our steps & slowly made it to the other side in one piece.

From then onwards it was an easy walk up the stairs & following Mr D along the easy track path to the Leeuwin Waterwheel. This is the official end but our walk didn’t feel completed yet. Mr D had a young lady take our photo, then we continued onwards up to the lighthouse. Mr D was swinging his poles saying,“I feel like a new man with these!” Just before the carpark, we met an older couple sitting on a seat enjoying their takeaway hot drinks. The man made to get up saying, “Here, you need this seat more than we do.” Mr D said, “No that’s fine thanks, we are heading up to the lighthouse to finish our Cape to Cape walk. We have just come from around the corner…. at Dunsborough!” The man goes, “Wow! Good on you! What’s next? The Camino in Spain?” “Funny you say that!” said Mr D, “We did the Camino last year!”

Feeling proud of ourselves, we crossed the carpark & went into the lighthouse tourist shop. There the man behind the counter knew exactly what we wanted to do. He offered a spot for our bags we could leave & go up to the lighthouse. I declined the offer saying I was happy to take my backpack all the way from one lighthouse to the other. We were the only walkers amongst all the tourists visiting the lighthouse. They wouldn’t get the feeling of satisfaction like us. We walked up & both patted the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Done! We had achieved our mission! 🤗We enjoyed a cold coke at the lighthouse while waiting for Cy to pick us up. I went & obtained our end to end certificates that are already pre-signed but the names & dates are blank as we fill them in! We had arrived at 2pm & done 17.5kms, a pretty good last days walk.

Well done to Mr D whom overcame all obstacles. He had done no training beforehand & had just recovered from a virus having been sick weeks leading up to the walk. I also had my minor cough / sore throat bug I was glad it didn’t worsen. The first few days of walking with my coughing & lack of sleep made it hard, lucky I was quite fit already which helped me through. I would recommend late Spring for the amazing wildflowers you would see. Autumn 🍂 is still a good time to walk it, we had an unseasonably warm May. We were lucky with very little rain & mostly North winds. And lucky to be able to complete it, this track is hard, can be dangerous in places & shouldn’t be underestimated. Just a ‘walk along the beach’ 😁

Hamelin Bay to Deepdene Campsite – Day Nine

This morning was a lazy one. We stayed under the bed covers cosy & warm well past 7am. It was very windy & cold outside. Our cabin had red splatters on the walls & Mr D was alarmed at this going, “What are these marks? They look like blood splatters!” We saw Jordan march on by pass our cabin at 8.16am with his backpack, starting his final day of hiking the track. He would probably get to Cape Leeuwin by lunchtime at his speed! We took our time having breakfast & then packing up. It was after 9am by the time we left. Claire was packing up her car so we went over to thank her once again for the drinks, food & wish her well. Off we went with only 10.5kms to our Campsite.

We had a small amount of beach walking to start, passing a fisherman setting up his rods. Then the track went back inland, along narrow sandy trails, up, down, around the bend, up, up, around a bend. On it went for awhile. I spotted a huge kangaroo further along but had vanished by the time I had reached it’s spot. The wind had died down but it was starting to feel hot again. Most of the track is very exposed to the elements, the sand makes it feel so much warmer. I changed into shorts waiting for Mr D at Mozzie Seat. I named it that as the mozzies were ruthless there & I had to move on & wait somewhere mozzie free. Mr D had been dealing with pain in his hip, this was causing him some bother.

At the Foul Bay Lighthouse I waited for Mr D to catch up. Then off we continued, though he had to stop & check his work emails as some phone signal came through didn’t he! We skipped the coastal part called Cosy Corner as the track stays inland using a 4WD track to get back onto the coast after Cosy Corner. The views here are again beautiful. We navigate a rock platform for a bit – they are full of small solution holes that when there is enough swell, they blow out water like mini blowholes. You can hear the water rushing in underneath you through the holes. Such a fascinating spot indeed. I spotted many little crabs down them. The swell wasn’t big today & only saw a few smaller water expulsions from some. Indeed it would be amazing & you would get wet certainly if they were going in full force.

After spending too long there, I continued to catch up with Mr D. There we had to skirt around big boulders & rocks, through more soft sand & around Cape Hamelin & onto Deepdene Beach. This is where you first sight the goal – Cape Leeuwin & a tiny, tiny lighthouse! Almost there! Very exciting! We continued not far along the beach before coming to the sign for Deepdene Campsite. Then it was a 500 meter detour in through the sand dunes & just behind them. The Campsite has two nice grassy spots with a table in each to set up tents with the toilet & water tank just off to the right up a small incline.

It was just about 1pm so excellent timing. Even through it was a short day, we were still tired from yesterday. It was hot in the sun. Was good to stop for the day. We tried the pasta packet I got from reception yesterday. Added boiled water & milk powder & left it to cook in Mr D’s cookware creation he had made. In 20 minutes the pasta was cooked enough & it actually tasted good & filled us up. We used some of the corn thins I had got as well to soak up the juice. We set up the tent & spent the afternoon lazing away, resting in the tent or sitting at the table. While I was sitting at the table mid afternoon reading the track bible book as there wasn’t anything else to read, I happened to look up & a long brown snake was heading over to me. The snake quickly retreated back into the bushes as it sensed I had seen it. For the rest of our stay, I kept a wary eye at the spot in case it came out again, but it didn’t. So we had one snake sighting each. Jordan had seen a few almost got a bite from one as he came up suddenly on the snake on the track. He quickly hopped over the snake as it lashed out at him through fright at his sudden appearance. Another good reason to walk slower so they have ample time to slither away!

We enjoyed another backcountry meal as Mr D’s fishing rod he had carried all this way never got used. The aspects of catching a fresh fish for dinner not to be. And for the only night on this whole walk, we had an alcohol free night. So once dinner was done & I had a hot chocolate drink, there was nothing else to do but go to bed. We couldn’t light a campfire & there was no one else there to talk to. By 6.30pm it was dark, it felt like 9pm. So we settled into our sleeping bags, all excited for our last day out on the C2C tomorrow. We had been walking continuously with no rest days. The constant day in, day out of sand walking & rock hopping was wearing us out & we were happy to finish now.

Contos Campgrounds to Hamelin Bay – Day Eight

It drizzled rain all through the night. I had shoved my backpack under the outer tent flap & the tent did well keeping us dry & cosy. But we left all the cooking stuff on the table outside & it was all drenched in the morning. The rain had cleared & we were up early at 5am to pack up. Mr D was eager for an early morning start as it was going to be a long day. All through our packing up & eating breakfast, Claire & Jordan were still fast asleep in their tent. Even Mr D’s Two Shoes alarm didn’t wake them. The tent was still wet on the outside as Mr D grumbled that the wetness was going to add weight to his backpack. 7am on the dot we set off out of Contos. It was a lovely early morning, the sun was rising through the trees & the birds were singing. It was going to be another warm 24 degree day but it was crisp & cool as we set off to Point Road Campgrounds a mere 1.5kms away. It was pretty quiet there too with just a handful of campers. There was a family with loud young kids running around so Mr D was happy we hadn’t camped there last night.

Todays walk takes us through the beautiful Boranup Forest continuing inland before we end up back out on the coast. The track is easy walking on firm dirt 4WD roads. The temperature was cool protected by the tall Karri trees. Occasionally a Kangaroo would be heard rustling through the bushes, a head would appear poking out of the bush, spot us & disappear again. Within no time at all, Jordan caught up to us after starting at 8am. He walks very fast & after a quick chat, he soon disappeared into the distance. Later he said he got in to Hamelin Bay at 1pm! Another couple passed us, an older couple that were completing the C2C in sections with daypacks & car shuffles. We didn’t see them again either as we slowly ambled along – primarily Mr D as I walk at a crisp steady pace.

On Trig Road, Mr D recognised a part of the road he had gone up years before in his 4WD. He wouldn’t have known that years later, he was to hike up that same steep hill. At the turn off for the Boranup Hill Lookout I waited for Mr D to catch up. In hindsight I should of gone up & returned & we wouldn’t of had the drama that unfolded after the good time & ground we were covering. Mr D did not want to walk an extra kilometre to a lookout & back. The guide book bible already puts that detour into the total distance already. So he went on & I was to catch up. I made the lookout in no time, checking out the views over the forest & out to the ocean. Upon leaving, another hiker turned up. A young man hiking by himself with loud music blaring through his headphones. He carries a big camera also & stops to take lots of photos. I didn’t catch his name so I’ll call him Tom, the name Jordan gave him, thinking it was the hiker we had mentioned meeting coz he carries a camera ( Ben ). So after a brief chat about the track, I set off to catch up to Mr D.

I should of caught up to him easily, it was only a few kilometres to the beach & he said he would wait for me just before the beach. I got stuffed up at Boranup Beach Road where the marker told me to go right but after that there was no markers. Feeling I had made the wrong turn, I turned around & went back eventually bumping into Tom whom got his book out & said that is the right way. The markers are non existent here & I was feeling annoyed. I ended up missing the turn off further down, Mr D had done the same earlier. The marker wasn’t visible & I didn’t spot the arrow Tom had created for me. Must of been too busy cursing the lack of signs & not looking down. So I wandered a fair way down getting close to the beach & knowing there was a turn off & I must of gone pass it. So I turned back around again the sun getting hot now, sweating & cursing & feeling lost. I found the turn off the second time. Noticed the hidden marker, over the sand hill there was a further two! I was so damn annoyed by all this as I cursed my way down the trail until I eventually bumped into Mr D whom was coming to look for me after waiting 50 minutes! Needless to say he was unimpressed.

It had been such a good walk until then & we had covered so much ground. Now we had lost so much time & the sun was quite hot with no breeze through those sand dunes. We had lunch there, not an ideal spot, by the beach but there was no other option. It was stinking hot & unpleasant. I put my umbrella up for shade but it didn’t help much. So we had lunch & a cuppa & were soon on our way again. Tom had stopped in the next dune & was having a good time, taking photos, having a swim & eating lunch. He asked if I saw his arrow he made for me. Nope! But at least I was on track now. It was 1pm & now all we had was 6.5kms to go – along the beach to Hamelin Bay. What a stupid idea to put in a long beach slog at the end of a long days walk!

It was stinking hot, my arms were burning even with sunscreen lathered on. Mr D quickly popped his umbrella up a short way along.  It was a long, long walk forever it seemed, walking along by the ocean, soft sand sinking underfoot. I gained distance as Mr D became smaller & smaller behind me. Soon he was a small dark dot moving along. I munched on Jellybeans to keep me going as I sweated my way closer & closer to the goal. I passed a couple of surfers & watched the cute little plover birds play along the sand near the waters edge. I was pleased I made good time – 1hr 50minutes. When I got to Hamelin Bay, the Caravan Park was right there & I walked into & stopped at the kiosk that was closed – only opens Friday to Sunday! I pulled off my boots & cooled off, taking a seat under the kiosk patio, going back to the beach & checking how Mr D was getting along every so often. A lady came by & said to me, “Warm out there on the beach for you! This is like an Indian summer! Unusual hot days for May!” Eventually Mary Poppins turned up half an hour later with his little black umbrella, completely wet with sweat & looking as exhausted as I, perhaps more so! It was now 3.30pm we should of arrived earlier!

We trudged up to reception & booked us a cabin for the night. They had no cabins with bathrooms available so we settled for a basic one for $90 a night, it had 4 single beds 1 double bed & a basic kitchen. Mr D was like, “$90 for this?!” But it came with ocean views hence the price. We must of looked so grumpy in reception. I tried to organise 2 more lunches & there was barely anything to choose from. There was no wifi, nothing! Hamelin Bay is very primitive! The lady said on our way out, “Oh, you can just leave the key in the door in the morning when you go.” Meaning they didn’t want to see our grumpy faces again! Mr D goes, “How embarrassing!”

Our neighbours in the next cabin happened to be Jordan & Claire! They must of looked at us & felt sorry for us. We were fed up, sweaty, stinky, grumpy faced, me carrying my boots in my hands. They truly were our trail angels & came over with 2 more bottles of cider plus a plate full of food! There was grapes, meats, cheeses, bread & sweet pastry treats! They were so good to us! We cleaned ourselves up over in the public shower block, I washed & dried our dirty smelly clothes. Mr D boiled up copious amounts of bore water in what he called “Hamelin Bay’s Special”, a kettle with the lid that won’t shut so we used Mr D’s cookware to keep the lid closed while it boiled. He had quite a collection of Powerade bottles by now, too paranoid about not having enough water. With chores out the way, Mr D wanted to thank Jordan & Claire & offer to pay a taxi to the nearest Karridale Tavern 8kms away for some pub grub. Mr D had to use the only phone service available at the nearby outside pay phone using a 50 cent coin. And even then, it has a sign saying it may not always work! 😏 We met Cy Fort, the guy that runs a south west taxi service, assisting C2C walkers largely. Very nice fellow. Claire & Jordan already knew Cy so they chatted away as we made our way to dinner. Cy mentioned one guy that walked it all in 4 days. Too much. When Cy dropped him back at his vehicle, the guy could barely walk, he crawled to his car saying he was fine to drive! The tavern was nice, not too busy,  food was delicious. I ordered a steak that satisfied my appetite with a couple of glasses of white wine. Mr D got stuck into ribs & red wine. He was almost going to buy a small liquor bottle for tomorrow night but changed his mind. “Too heavy! Another kilo to carry it!” He goes. Claire said, “It didn’t stop him carrying a 2 litre goon bag!”

After such a crazy day, we were finally relaxed & happy. Glad tomorrow was going to be a short day as we were buggered after that hell Beach walk! Jordan was going to finish tomorrow & do the whole 27kms left in one day. We felt that would be too much. Included in this 27kms was another long stretch of beach walking. Today’s 22.5 kms must of been around 24kms for me! We retired to our soft double bed, planning on not getting up too early the next morning!

Prevelly to Contos Campgrounds – Day Seven

Mr D was true to his word & left his book behind. It only weighed probably 500gms! We were up early & reluctantly leaving our cosy villa at an early 7.15am start. The day started off overcast & cool – a pleasant day for a hike! The track followed up & inland, right around the village of Prevelly & Gnarabup before heading back west towards the coast. There we were to take the 300+ steps down to Boodjidup Brook. Mr D counted them & said, “There is less than 300 steps! I counted! The book is wrong!” One woman was walking her dog called Mango down the steps. When she reached the bottom, she said to Mr D, “Well I guess I will go back up now!” And off she went, just a normal daily walk for her. The brook was nestled into a lovely shady spot with a table. Mr D called it another good camping spot! The pretty white Lily plants were also coming up here. The C2C managers hate these weed plants as they take over other plants. In the C2C bible book they insist walkers collect these lily heads to limit more seeds being dropped into the earth to sprout more. I can see walkers shoving a handful of lily plants into their backpacks as they go along 🤔. The brook wasn’t flowing so the water at the bridge looked terribly stagnant & disgusting. You certainly wouldn’t go for a refreshing dip in there!

On we ploughed through the sand dunes following the brook out to the ocean, the clouds had gone & the day was fast becoming warm again. We had an unpleasant 2km walk along the beach in soft mooshy sand. High tide was coming in & we had to avoid getting our boots splashed. It is hard to move quickly out the way when ones boots sink a foot into the sand, weighed down by heavy backpacks. I took the lead, using my poles to help me plough through, Mr D falling further & further behind. That 2km stretch exhausted us completely as we got to the end. I waited as the track sign markers were non existent as to where to exit the beach. When Mr D caught up, he asked a young lady sunbaking on the rocks reading her book. We later were to find out her name is Claire & she was waiting for her partner whom is hiking the track as well. So we scrambled up some dodgy limestone jagged rocks & over, falling back down to the carpark. There we went straight back on the beach again! This one called Redgate beach where all the Sunday tourists were out, suntanning & dipping their feet in the water. It was only a short stroll to the other side & the sand firm & easy to walk on. The water looked so inviting as I was sweating away, still feeling wiped out.

We dropped into a lovely thicket of tea trees. Another nice camping spot minus the water supply. A group of school kids were coming through in 2 days to camp there actually. Water drums were going to be carried in for them. We could of stopped for lunch but decided to press on, walking along a 4WD track on top of the cliffs, passing a few other day hikers. I was getting hungry, we were making lunch too late. By about 1pm, we had to scramble down a rocky cliff using a long chain rope that had been put there for walkers to use. We entered Bobs Hollow at the bottom, finding a nice shady spot on some rocks looking at the beach & watching the waves coming in. Jordan passed through not seeing us, the hiker with the red backpack whom we were to meet later & whom we noticed at Prevelly Cafe yesterday. We enjoyed ham & cheese bread buns that I had resupplied on at the Prevelly General store, washed down with a good ole cuppa.

Feeling recharged, we set off again with 3.5kms left to Contos Campgrounds. My hips were sore again, my backpack rubbing at the sore chafed spots making for unpleasant walking. What goes down must go up! We followed the path back up the cliffs, going pass Bobs Hollow Grotto, a huge limestone overhang little cave with warning signs not to linger inside or camp! So we passed through noting other small limestone caves further along the cliff faces. Once on top, the track followed the cliff, weaving in & out up & down & forever it seemed. Mr D was well & truly lagging behind, he was getting tired & stubbing the front of his boots on rocks strewn all over the path like an obstacle course. The views along this section, the bible book says, are the most spectacular along the whole track. That they are grand with the cliffs, the ocean, views right along north & southwards.

But we were tired, my feet were hurting. My hips sore with every step I took, the backpack rubbed like sandpaper against my skin through my top. It was a relief to finally veer away from the ocean, head inland & cross Contos Road. There it was only half a kilometre to the Campgrounds. We had not stayed here before only driven in once years ago, but all day, Mr D for some reason thought we could get an onsite Caravan or something. There would be a shop where he could buy a couple of steaks, throw them on the barbie for dinner. So he was looking forward to this, & a bottle of cold beer he could also buy. Contos Campgrounds is just that, a big area of small areas for tents, Caravans or camper vans that you BRING. All there is are drop toilets, BBQs & outside kitchen sinks with water supply. Mr D’s face fell. Jordan & his partner Claire were already there in her red car. She was the lady Mr D spoke to down on the beach earlier today while she was waiting for Jordan to come through. Claire told us where the reception was so we headed over. The building was locked with no one there. Instructions on the door said to hook up to the Wifi right there as unavailable anywhere else in the Campgrounds & book our site. It cost $22 for us both. Then we just had to head back where Jordan & Claire were in the tent only camping section & select our spot.

It was now close to 4pm as we quickly set up the tent & sleeping beds. Claire & Jordan came over to introduce themselves. Claire had two bottles of cider she offered to us along with ice cubes to put in our cups as the cider was semi cold. What lifesavers! That glorious refreshing cider tasted so good! Claire & Jordan had started the C2C together after leaving her car in Augusta at Cy’s place. Cy runs his own private taxi service & happily assists walkers on the track. So they were hiking along, a day behind us. When they got to Gracetown, Claire was in terrible pain with her knees & feet. She had to make the unfortunate decision to pull out. Jordan continues on his own while Claire after getting Cy to pick her up & collect her car, now follows Jordan as support crew. Meeting up along the way & waiting at the destination. She brings in pently of food & drink so it works out quite well for Jordan!

After our brief chat, we went about organising for tomorrow & having dinner. Well an annoying drizzle came down, just enough to make everything wet, so we grabbed our bowls of food & ate undercover on the outside kitchen bench. The 30% chance of rain had come through as forecasted. We finished off the goon bag of wine, there was only half a cup each left! It was 6.30pm & there wasn’t much else to do but join Claire & Jordan at their campfire. Here campfires are allowed & we had one too but Mr D was too tired to start one up. So we chatted around the campfire until 8.30pm! Too late for hikers we should be in bed by darkfall! Claire & Jordan work hard running their own fencing business in Mandurah. So they don’t often take holidays as when they do, they aren’t making any money. They are keen to ride the Mundi Biddi next as they can do that in 3 weeks. The bibbulmun is too long for them. Mr D had a secret stash of Honey Whiskey. Only 100mls. I got two sips of maybe 10mls out of it & he polished off the rest! We dreaded tomorrow as it was going to be a tough 22.5kms! Today’s walk was 20.2kms which had been long enough. There was only our two tents there. Not far away, there was a few Caravans. Contos is quiet this time of year but school holidays! You would be lucky to get a spot! We had wanted to stay at Point Road Campgrounds but it had no water supply. This spot was nice enough anyhow. And the company of Claire & Jordan made it more enjoyable.

Ellensbrook Campsite to Prevelly – Day Six

We had a rather uncomfortable spooky experience at Ellensbrook Campsite. I had ignored the sign along the footpath coming back from the Ellensbrook Homestead. It said to stay on the designated pathways as to venture off them would disrespect the aboriginal ancestors – this area had a huge significance importance to these ancestors. And I thought nothing of walking down a side dirt path to look at the running water creek. But later that evening once it was dark, we heard a weird screaming sound that went twice which sounded like it was made by a human. I said, “You think there is a hiker coming along?” Mr D goes, “No, I think that’s just an animal”. So we went to bed & that was fine. Then I get up for the toilet sometime during the night & Mr D gets up too. There is a strong smell of fire smoke in the area. I go half asleep, “Smells really smoky you know?” Mr D was like, “Yeah, hope there isn’t a bushfire around.” We fell back asleep.

I woke around 6am today. Time to get up & moving. Mr D was like, “Let’s get all packed up & ready to go at 7.30am.” So we had breakfast & 2 lots of cup of teas. Mr D also had tea instead of coffee. Then we started packing up. We noticed the smoke smell was still strong around us. “Maybe the surfie dudes lit up a campfire along the beach” Mr D tried to reassure me. He went up to the toilet & I soon followed to get some water. I suddenly got very afraid, the smell of smoke intensified & it felt like I had walked into some invisible boundary into a sudden spot of intense warmth that felt like I was in front of a fire, then walked straight out of this invisible boundary back into the cool air. There was no fire to be seen, no sound of fire yet it felt so close to us. I was getting all freaked out & as soon as I see Mr D, I’m like, “We have to get out of here! Quickly pack up!” But Mr D casually walked back & began packing. My hands were shaking I was so expecting a raging bushfire to appear suddenly & burn us to a crisp.

We left 8am on the dot. Birds were chirping & playing in the tree branches. Everything appeared normal except for that smoke smell & the sky looked all hazy from thick smoke. We set off upwards & to the right into the Gnoocardup plains. Up & down sand dunes for around 4kms until the path zigzagged to the beach. We were hoofing it along. I wanted out of there. Even when I reached the top of the hill & got a good view all around, I still couldn’t see any fires. There was no helicopters around. Nothing. The smoke smell slowly disappeared as I neared the beach. I felt relieved & safe at last.

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Later on Mr D admitted to a possible spiritual presence that was angry I had disrespected their land. He has had a supernatural experience before & didn’t want to freak me out, so he had kept his thoughts to himself. So if you see signs like that, adhere to them! Respect the land & its history. I will not be returning to that area in a hurry! I checked later on, there was no mention of fire or prescribed burns in that area which makes me think there wasn’t any fire at all. I know I can’t explain the happenings, at least I didn’t experience them on my own.

So back on the beach, feeling much more relaxed & can slow my pace down. It was warm, the forecast was 26 today. We wanted to get to Prevelly which was a 12km hike, before it got too hot. But it quickly warmed up. We passed Joeys Nose, a high limestone cliff named so because it looks like a Joeys nose. So there you go. Then it was hard sand plodding along Kilcarnup Beach, pass 4WD cars parked along there, with people dipping their feet in the waves. Over a series of boulders then onto more soft, soft sinkable sand. We passed one large piece of rock that had seashells stuck all over the front of it, like the waves had slammed them into the rock. Mr D was struggling in the heat, walking in the sand, the heavy weight of his backpack. Just before we left the beach, we passed fathers with their small children, fishing. One young girl beamed at us saying, “I caught a fish!” There was a row of dinghies left up on the banks. This is a popular fishing spot. Poor Mr D, he really wanted to go fishing but this walk has been so hard he has no energy left to go fishing!😕

We went uphill to Cape Mentelle, there you get spectacular views out. Mr D had pulled out his umbrella. It was getting serious! I was hot & sweaty. The temperature was now almost 25. We crossed back down, hitting the beach, the ocean & sandbar of the Maragret Rivermouth. The river was well receded back so easy to cross without getting ones boots wet. Already did that & took 2 days for my boots to dry out! There was pently of people there, swimming, sight seeing, kite flying, surfing. And a carpark just up the stairs from the sand & a toilet block where we took refuge on the seats in the shade. One surfie dude showed great interest in our arrival & started asking us questions about the walk & how we plan it, e.t.c. He came from America & is familiar with the big trails over there. Now he enjoys living in Maragret River. A very pleasant fellow to chat with.

After we had recovered enough, we continued the short 1.5kms in to Prevelly Village which is a small diversion off the track. We met a cyclist on the way in. He had rode to Maragret River, 20kms away & back to re-supply on food. He is cycling from Perth to Adelaide & has 8 weeks to complete it. No electric bike either! In town, it was easy to find our accommodation that Mr D had booked back in Gracetown. Opposite the Prevelly Caravan Park was the Prevelly Villas. More expensive & deluxe. A 3 level townhouse with all the creature comforts including a wood fireplace. And to take note, very dog friendly. They even have a fenced off area with a dog kennel, bowls & inside, a basket of goodies for the dog including one of those fetch it ball on the stick that you fling. The owner came around to collect her money, very friendly & helpful.

Just opposite the villas next to the Caravan Park was the only cafe bar where we enjoyed a hearty lunch as we arrived into town spot on at lunchtime. The beers went down nicely with our fish n chips & burger. The cafe is also very dog friendly. Then I did the usual chores of clothes washing, visiting the only general store to re-supply on foods. Mr D enquired at the general store about posting some of his stuff back home. But none could do. He is desperate to lighten his backpack now after packing stuff that he doesn’t need or use. My backpack was getting much lighter, but now I have to add weight again with food to get us through the next couple of days. What a day – I spot the West Australian newspaper with its front headline on the Maragret River killing massacre. Sometimes it’s better to be disconnected to the real world. ☹️ We returned to the cafe for dinner – cocktails & Beef Rendang with rice. To finish off our day, we enjoyed glasses of white vino ( Mr D went to the general store for some alcohol indulging ) in front of our warm fireplace. Then Mr D finished his thick book so he could leave it behind to reduce weight! We have covered 65.5kms of the C2C already with 69kms to go – still! Tomorrow we will be over halfway to Augusta.🤗