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.
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.
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.
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!
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!