Completed over 5 days, 4 nights hiking a connected 3 trails. Total distance: 93kms Date hiked: 24.9.21 to 28.9.21
Starting at Honeymoon Pool in the Ferguson Valley near Wellington Dam Friday 24.9.21 after being dropped off by Simone from Traaverse. An excellent service provided in Collie to be picked up / dropped off to your point of interest. We had stayed at the Collie Ridge Motel in their rather excellent Spa room Thursday night after leaving our car securely parked at Simone’s place.
Honeymoon Pool is a very popular camping spot in summer with bush camping spots right by the lovely Collie River. On Friday morning 9am there were few campers around, the air was still crisp and cold. Simone dropped us off with a bar of chocolate each so this was it! We set off along the Jabitj Trail, 6kms one way that goes alongside the river most of the way, with some up and downs. A pleasant start to our walk, the Munda Biddi, (long distance cycle trail from Kalamunda to Albany) follows the same route halfway along before going left up a steep hill. There are lots of wildflowers and orchids to spot along the way.
The river providing some little rapids in parts to stop and watch. A toilet block stands alone not far into the walk, seemingly out of place and must of been part of a campsite at one stage. The interesting part of this walk is that it used to be part of the Bibbulmun Track before the Bibbulmun was realigned in the late 1990’s. Right near the end there remains one recognisable Bibbulmun waugal marker still on a tree, though it now is way above eye level as been there so long and the tree has grown more since its placement. We could have turned right at the road that takes you below the Wellington Dam wall but there is no signage here to indicate the Wellington Spur Trail. We turn left and finish the last kilometre of the trail which proves the hardest, straight up a nice steep incline. At the top, the trail ends and spits you out near the cafe. Perfect opportunity to recover over a coffee and shared carrot cake. It is almost the long weekend and there are enough tourists, day walkers and bicycle riders about to fill the air with busy ness. We seem to be the only two fools walking around with houses on our backs.
Lucky we had a pleasant sunny cool day as we backtracked back down to the road and went across below the Wellington Dam wall, thus admiring the new fantastic art mural across the whole wall. Still no indication where the Spur Trail was we continued about 200 metres up the road with Ambles threatening to catch a lift back to Collie and yahhhh! We spotted the trail head signage for the Bibbulmun Wellington Spur Trail, a 20km one way trail connecting the Wellington Dam and Bibbulmun Track. The marker signage is a green and black waugal marker just like the Bibbulmun yellow and black. We had 3.5kms to Arcadia campsite, the one of two along this trail and designed as a group campsite. We were tired from stopping at the cafe and had to get our momentum going, for Ambles and his 22kg backpack this was harder to achieve.
The first part is straight up a steep bitumen road for 300metres or so before heading into bush at the top of the Wellington Dam wall. The first 500 metres is lovely with the water to our left before we venture away permanently from it. Most of the way is up hills. Some go for longer than others and it is a clear effort to get to our destination. I spot a million Silky Blue Orchids, their vibrant blue colour contrasting with the Forest colours. The effects of the prescribed burn in 2019 is still obvious. With a kilometre to go, Ambles has had enough, his feet are hurting, his shoulders are hurting as he hasn’t adjusted the backpack right and all the weight is on his shoulders. He zooms pass me while I’m taking photos of some beautiful delicate Pink Fan Orchids and I don’t catch up until Arcadia Campsite.
These campsites are different to the Bibbulmun in that they are even better. Equipped for large groups there is a large communal shelter roof over two picnic tables. Ample tent sites. Two large toilet blocks, not the standard narrow toilet rooms you can’t comfortably get changed in on the Bibbulmun. And a large group sized campfire. Don’t forget – and water tank! There was no mention of water tanks at either campsite so I carried extra water in. Always better to be prepared just in case! Ambles thinks why not set up the tent under the shelter near the picnic table. But just in case someone turns up, we decide to set up in one of the designated tent sites.
We have the afternoon to relax and unwind. Our bodies are sore, aching and unhappy with us. Ambles gets the campfire going and we end up having the place to ourselves not seeing another hiker at all. But trail mortorbike riders we do hear nearby on other dirt roads as they rip noisily along. We are very cosy in our tent & sleep very well that night.
We are up nice and early, having our quick breakfast, packing up the tent and heaving our backpacks back on. I start off fresh, feeling good besides the tight soreness in my glutes and calf muscles. The distance ends up being 17kms, for some reason we were expecting it to be longer. Most of the way through Forest is flat, wide tracks with many more Silky Blue and Bird Orchids to see. The clubbed and leaping Spider Orchids are also in abundance. Ambles is struggling from the get-go. Especially a long steep hill incline that appears really takes the wind out of our sails. We pass through pine plantations and there is a ridiculous diversion that must add on an extra kilometre. Some of the waugal markers are the actual Bibbulmun yellow and black ones, some green & black. Maybe they ran out of the green and black ones. We instantly feel back at home.
There’s more Forest through a narrow goat track and I eventually need a break as feeling zapped of energy. Ambles catches up 5 minutes later thinking he had passed me without realising. We spend too long there having a snack break. 25 minutes late I’m impatient and bark at Ambles to get going. We were thinking we still had 2.5 hours to go and I’m pleasantly surprised an hour later to reach Lyall’s Mills Campsite. The second group campsite and a mere 100 metres from the intersection of the Bibbulmun and Wellington Spur trails. It is 12.30pm when we reach Yabberup Campsite 400 metres away up a steep incline. We are the first to arrive with a couple of day walkers heading to the Mumby Pub from Collie. Yabberup Campsite is one of the smaller Bibbulmun Track campsites. The toilet is wobbly on its foundation. One of the water tank taps pathetically dribbles out water. But an upgrade has been had with fitting in clear sunlight panels at the front to maximise more sunlight into the shelter. Someone must have read my previous blog where I named Yabberup the worse campsite on the track. It is Saturday and the long weekend is in full swing so it is no surprise we end up with a full house inside the shelter plus more section walkers putting up their tents outside. Mark comes in hiking the section on his own. He carries a portable radio to listen to the grand final footy game being held that night at Perth’s Optus Stadium. We also meet four current End to Enders hiking Kalamunda to Albany and get to know them over the next few days. Simone is hiking on her own but has teamed up with Ben hiking on his own. Simone is a pocket rocket and zips along at a good pace, she carries her own little hiking foldable chair and makes an effort to socialise with everyone. Ben is a friendly guy that has hiked all of the Bibbulmun in sections and is attempting another thur hike as the previous times he has been unsuccessful. Then the real stars are Olli and Viv, totally green at thur hiking and multi day hiking at that. They started out at Kalamunda with oversized backpacks with too much stuff. Once they reached Dwellingup 16 days later, they had ordered and had delivered to them replacement hiking stuff half the weight and amazingly are still going strong. Olli impresses Ambles with his young age of 71 years. They may be the slowest on the track, but what does that matter, we all reach the same destination at the end of the day do we not?
Ambles had decided to put our tent up inside the shelter in the middle lower section. We were told a storm was possibly coming in overnight. I was thinking we would have to move as more people came in as the afternoon wore on. There must have been 20 people there that night. Most were section walkers like us and one was End to Ending south to north. We didn’t speak much but she was in her tent right next to us and wasn’t impressed with our sleeping mattress. I hadn’t realised how noisy it actually is, especially on a wooden floor in a crowded shelter. I did not sleep well, trying not to turn too much and not go to the toilet until the morning. I felt for the others that put their tents up outside but luckily it did not rain as forecasted. Oh….. and the Melbourne Demons won the grand final footy match.
We had a 20 kilometre walk from Yabberup to Noggerup Campsite following our favourite waugal marker. I keenly observed Orchids again and at days end had counted an impressive 15 different orchid species along that 20km patch alone. There was also some rather lovely patches of wildflowers. This section would be one of the best, with forests, a dam, a pub, farming countryside, old railway tracks and some more forest. Not to mention Noggerup campsite is in a rather beautiful spot even if the toilet is up the hill above the campsite! We started well even though Ambles was lagging behind only catching up when I was taking photos. Glen Mervyn Dam was quite noticeable fuller with the water going right up to the banks edge compared to September 2019. It was also packed with many campers staying for the long weekend. Simone and Ben had already overtaken us but we caught up to Olli and Viv at the Dam wall. We leapfrogged each other the rest of the way to the Mumby pub for lunch arriving just after 12pm.
I had again timed it well as the Mumby was open but the next two days they would be closed. All four of us grabbed a table inside, ordered and waited forever it seemed for our lunches while downing our alcoholic beverages. Once again, meals were fabulous and worth the wait and the beer went down well too. I wasn’t looking forward to putting my shoes back on as the back of my heels was hurting inside the shoes. The soles of my feet were sore and tender. Ben and Simone were having a long lunch at another table and didn’t show any signs of moving anytime soon. Just as we were getting ready to go, it started bucketing down with rain. Olli and Viv donned their DIY rain ponchos made of rubbish bags and were the first to leave.
We started the 8km walk to Noggerup under rain that quickly eased and stopped. The long never ending incline road is still the same and feels every bit long after a pub stop. Ambles quickly fell behind as he struggled, stopping often for a breather. I caught up and leap frogged pass Olli & Viv and into the forest – yahhh! I had made it. It didn’t seem so bad the second time. Ambles had got second wind and suddenly was right behind me. We met this tall young lanky guy moving in the other direction. He goes on to warn us about these ‘4 young guys’ staying at Noggerup campsite. They are getting pissed, eating honey out of a jar, doing all this weird stuff and they are heading to the Mumby Pub carrying an axe to have some drinks before returning to camp. He gleefully said he was happy he wasn’t staying there. He told everyone this same story. He himself was heading to Yabberup campsite at 3.30 in the afternoon! He asked if many people were there last night. I said yes full house. He goes well he might just continue into Collie then! I reckon he was only going to the Mumby pub myself. 10 minutes later, the 4 young guys pass us, not really saying anything, not looking like your typical hikers. I think someone did notice they were carrying an axe.
So we are first again at Noggerup campsite. It’s late after 4pm. The 4 guys have spread themselves out. Two are in hammocks on the right side across the pathway. Two in the shelter taking up a double platform each, one on the top bunk, the other on the bottom. But they have gone to the pub and left their backpacks and stuff there. We claim the top bunk on the other side. I don’t feel comfortable with staying in there. But there is only 3 tent spots to the left and they are crappy, hard ground sites and small.
Olli and Viv come in not far behind us. They were informed and decided to tent it. Viv was so tired in fact we never saw her again until the morning. She crashed early without dinner. We didn’t see much of Olli only while he prepared his meal. Simone marches in not happy Jan! She has had a rough day and not in the mood to deal with the 4 guys. She sets up also in the shelter as does Ben. Some other section hikers come in, they tent outside and one called Isis hiking northwards, sets up in the shelter so now it is a full house again in the shelter plus the two guys down at the pub. We are enjoying each other’s company, chatting over the campfire and it’s after 7pm. I notice 4 sets of head torches coming our way and hiss to Ambles ‘They are coming back!’ But they turn out to be 4 women around my age. We find out the next day they call themselves the ‘Kalgoorlie runners’ and have trail run Collie to Balingup in two days. Well the lead woman demands room is made in the shelter for them. Simone tells them about the 4 guys and is very polite. Simone and the other two move their sleeping bags to make room. The women arriving late with absolutely no hut etiquette pick up the guys stuff on the bottom platform and chuck it above with the other guys stuff then they proceed to set up their sleeping bags and ready to turn in for the night. Simone asked them if they carry tents which they claim to. In that case, arriving late and the shelter being full, they should have set up their supposed tents they had.
Another 4 head torches approach camp and this time it’s the 4 guys returning from the pub. They are actually very nice, polite. One is suffering foot pain and his heel is bleeding so he is struggling to walk. Simone tells them what has happened and they seem cool about it. The two guys staying in the shelter don’t kick up any fuss and one of the Kalgoorlie runners says thanks for being understanding in an off hand way. We all retire to bed and I’m relieved there was no shit storm with the events taking place and that the guys seemed harmless in the end. I think we all fell hook line and sinker from the lanky guy earlier on. He drew these guys in a bad light which was wrong. The guys were going to hike on to Balingup but instead now getting a lift back at Mumby Pub the next day due to the fella with boots too small and causing him immense pain.
These 4 women that arrived late, pushed their way in inconveniencing people. Didn’t make any small talk, just set themselves up and went to sleep. Set their alarm for 2.30am. That’s right! 2.30 AM in the morning! Then proceeded to pack up not trying to be quiet about it. Head torches flashing white light all over the interior of the shelter in our faces as they rolled up their sleeping bags, mattresses, packed their bags and after a seemingly long time of noise and lights they were gone, the last we saw of the 4 rude ladies. I name and shame them as they were downright rude and inconsiderate to the actual Bibbulmun hikers that these facilities were created for.
Simone was livid in the morning, in fact we were all totally pissed off being rudely awakened in the small hours of the morning. We were all tired from lack of sleep and grumpy. Luckily for the guys in the tents they had no idea at all and slept all night oblivious to all that had happened. The two young guys pushed to the top bunk were still asleep. Did these 4 women write in the trail log register book? No they didn’t. So our party wrote them in and weren’t very polite about it! We even gave them a far better group name more suitable to them then Kalgoorlie Runners 😂. I felt for Simone and Ben coz they were going to the end, we only to Balingup. Today was a big hike day of 22.5kms to Grimwade campsite and the day had started on the wrong foot.
I noticed someone had carelessly thrown some TP in the bush by the track going up to the toilet. It was not there yesterday and as I didn’t know who the culprit was, I cannot speculate names. Ambles and I were the first to leave as everyone else was slow and tired. I figured Simone and Ben would catch up and pass us along the way. We shouted goodbye to Olli still getting breakfast and were off. I had a mindset to do many kilometres as possible while feeling fresh. I always feel good at the start, but it’s hours later it starts taking its toll on me. It had rained a little and the bush was wet, the orchids with rain drops falling off their sepals so lovely that I had to stop and take photos. There is no variation in terrain at all, it is forest and looks the same the whole way. It was getting a bit boring and long in the tooth.
Perry speeds pass me as I’m sitting waiting for Ambles to catch up after a hill climb. Perry I haven’t met yet is another current End to Ender going to Albany. He got in to Noggerup late and put his tent up. He is a very fit, strong young man and must hike at a 6km/hr pace. He asked if I was going to Grimwade and I replied yes. He said “I’ll see you there!” Then Perry was long gone from sight.
Motorcycle trail riders should not be using the Bibbulmun track, but here they were, ripping it up, a whole family of them speeding pass us, their noisy machines upsetting the peace and tranquillity of the forest. And today it rained on and off, on and off in such an annoying way. No sooner I put my umbrella away, it starts to rain again! I was thinking it will be too hard to stop for lunch on the track. Determined to push all the way to Grimwade but it was meaning a late lunch. I noticed new orchid leaves popping up and wondered what they will be. There wasn’t much besides a sea of yellow wildflowers in places.
My focus was to reach Lowden-Grimwade road where we would have 10 kilometres to go. It was raining again as I reached there and waited for ages for Ambles to catch up. Such was the day, Ambles was struggling and slow, I was starting to slow down, over the walk and my feet were aching, cursing me. But I willed myself to keep going, and willed Ambles to keep going, he could do it! I fished out a cherry-ripe bar for Ambles, his favourite chocolate. He took it face lit up and gave him a boost which unfortunately didn’t last long enough.
12.30pm went by, 1.30pm went by, I kept going umbrella up, umbrella down. Up hills, down hills. There was a couple of big steep ones in the last 3 kilometres to give me pain. I don’t remember this walk being so bad 2 years ago. I guess it got broken up at the road crossing where my parents met us with trail magic and Ambles new backpack. Today was hell, and it was hell for the others too. I munched on lollies downing them all before I reached Grimwade campsite 5 odd minutes before Ambles just after 2pm.
Perry was there, well settled in and looking fresh as a daisy. He had sprinted in by midday. Katy another current end to ender, was taking a zero day at the campsite and was quite comfy and relaxed on the top platform with all her gear and cooking stuff spread out around her. A guy with two women walked in, day hikers. The guy was big noting himself to Perry and trying to impress the ladies talking a lot of crap. Ambles and I got to our late lunch having to cook on the still too small table in the middle of the shelter as it was too wet on the big outside table. Ambles would roll his eyes and whisper, “He is an embarrassment to mankind! Wish he would go away!” We decided to just stay in the shelter again for a quick departure in the morning and set up underneath Katy on the lower platform.
A very tired and weary Simone arrived not saying much but commenting on how fast we both were today and that she hadn’t been able to catch up to us. She set herself up on the other top side, pulled out her cooker and hiking chair and just ate up there, sitting back and watching. She was too buggered to go put up her tent. The day hikers buzzed off then some motorcycle trail riders rode right in to the camp grounds and quickly left again before we could get a photo of them to send in to the Bibbulmun Track Foundation. Weary Ben arrived and decided even though he was so exhausted he was going to set up his tent outside anyway. There was a bit of talk about our rude campsite neighbours last night and Katy said, “Yes, they stopped here for a bit. One of the women was suffering though with her feet and they were discussing about if she could continue. They seemed alright.” They had wrote in the trail log book which gave away whom they were. One of them even mentioned to Katy about not sure what impression they gave at the previous campsite. Obviously they were aware they had upset us. Simone was still livid and had no sympathy for the woman that had been suffering.
Perry spoke to us, yeah his fast pace suits him. He can easily hike 40kms in a day. He proclaimed the Bibbulmun was a pretty easy walk and he would have it done in 30 days or less. Next he would hike in the Stirling ranges, go to do the Cape to Cape. (Probably take him 2 -3 days to complete) then Covid dependant he had his eye on doing the Te Araroa in New Zealand. Then onwards to other big hikes all over the world hiking while he is fit enough and can do it. Katy on the other end was enjoying the Bibbulmun and not wanting it to end, she has unlimited time and is not rushing through it at all.
By 4pm, Ambles was concerned about Olli and Viv. They arrived 4.30pm and you got to take your hat off to Olli, after a hell of a long day, he decided to set up their tent outside too. Ambles was so impressed. So the day was a killer for all of us besides Perry. Ambles being so tired still got the campfire going and we sat around it chatting but not for too as everyone was too tired. It started to rain again so everyone disappeared into their sleeping bags. We stayed up another half n hour enjoying our last night on the track. I was going to miss these guys, wishing we were going to Albany too. I realised on the last night, everyone was a current end to ender and we were the only section hikers. The long weekend was over.
Ambles said to me, “Did you drop something 1am in the morning on the wooden floor because there was a loud noise that woke me up”. No dear I did not. Katy from above must have knocked something accidentally. The rain had ended and it was going to be a good day. Katy well rested, had packed up and first to leave at 5.30am. Perry was next out and we knew we wouldn’t see him again. Or was it?! 7 days later what were the chances that we would go to the suspension bridge over Deep River along the Bibbulmun Track as Ambles wanted to check out a fishing spot, just as Perry and his latest walking companion would cross over the bridge. He still looked fresh as a daisy not looking wrecked at all and in 7 days had galloped his way from Balingup to almost Walpole! He recognised us straight away and was shocked. He probably thinks we are stalking him! He clearly didn’t want to stop but did momentarily to talk to us. He said he will finish in Albany in 5 days time. Not only his fitness prowess but also the marathon runners currently running Northcliffe to Albany via the Bibbulmun Track left me feeling rather exhausted and very unfit!
Back to Grimwade campsite and Ambles and I took off third expecting Simone and Ben to leapfrog us so we said see you later and goodbye to Olli and Viv that we knew we wouldn’t see again. Olli goes to Ambles, “Thanks for the laughs!” Those two are amazing and they will complete their end to end, I just know it. Once again, I start briskly and fresh though feet and legs hurt. I have a painful twang in my right shoulder which I always get. I wonder if I pull my shoulders up unconsciously when I hike as I got that problem even with a light daypack on. It was a longer day 23.5kms and 2 years ago this day was bloody hard walking into Balingup. Once again I was way ahead and would find a nice log to sit on periodically and wait for Ambles. More forest walking before we get to farming countryside views and Don’t miss that waugal marker turnoff down to the highway, across it and one big steep hill climb followed by the steep long descent to Balingup Brook bridge. To be honest, the day was much easier and we were smashing it! By midday I had reached the bridge ahead of Ambles and had stretched out resting. There was only 4kms left into town. Ambles said we could grab lunch in town and I was thinking nah it would be too late by the time we get there. Simone from Traaverse was picking us up between 2.30 and 3pm to take us back to Collie.
But maybe lunch we could do! Simone caught up at the bridge going at a clipped fast pace. “Wow! You two are speeding along today! I thought I would catch you both way back!”
Ambles appeared not long after and we had a short pre-lunch meal of over watered cous cous with beans mix. Then it was the remainder of the walk that this time didn’t seem so bad. Ambles went into 1st gear and I was impatiently waiting for him to catch up. Geez, give it 4 weeks then he would be the one waiting for me to catch up! We arrived at the visitor centre to sign off about 1.30pm, much better than our previous time 2 years ago. Simone was eating lunch outside the visitor centre and asking if we had seen Ben. No, not yet. Ben wasn’t feeling the greatest and said to us yesterday he felt a cold coming on. Simone had no accommodation and being the school holidays, places were booked out and not answering her phone calls. She was waiting for Ben to plan where they would stay. Ambles said we were going across the road for cider drinks and she could join us. There was no cider on offer so we got a bottle of Cherry Port and two Port glasses. Sat down to celebrate with milkshakes as well and our second lunch. So good to get there and off our feet! That Balingup Cherry Port is bloody awesome, delicious stuff!
We watched Ben walk in and he sat opposite at the cafe across the road having lunch. Then our lift arrived at 2.30pm. As we pulled out of the carpark sitting in car comfort we noticed Simone walking across to where we had been looking for us. Ambles and I waved goodbye to her as our driver Simone, took us back to Collie, undoing all those kilometres we had walked in less than an hour! Simone mentioned the Kalgoorlie Runners, she had picked them up yesterday. One sat in the front wasn’t feeling crash hot great. Must have been the suffering one. So we spoke of our run-in with them. We apologised if we smelt bad but Simone waved off our concerns saying the Kalgoorlie Runners smelt bad and hadn’t noticed an unpleasant stench on us. She is too polite! Back in Collie, back at the Collie Ridge Motel and as it had it, back in the same Spa room where we cleansed ourselves throughly of 5 days in the bush and celebrated with more Cherry Port.
It was an awesome section full of challenges, beautiful scenery, wonderful wildflowers and orchids. We really enjoyed meeting other hikers on the track. Loved reminiscing the section from our own end to end days. These current hikers believe they are fortunate without the interstate and overseas hikers on the track. The Bibbulmun is as busy as ever right now and most people are local WA’s. There is a SA couple that were a day behind us. The lady being an orchid enthusiast herself and having seen 70 species of orchids on the track so far. Shame I didn’t meet her! The last two days were long and tough but at least we had tried to prepare our bodies to it and started with shorter distances.
I liked how we started near water and finished near water. like a complete full circle.
Until next time…..😊