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Day Fifty Three: Giants to Rame Head

17/10: Ambles nudged me during the night. “Do you hear a cow?” He asks. “No” says I as I roll over & go back to sleep. Woke up 4.30am, lay there for awhile & decided to get up. We all got moving early & ready to roll by 6.30am. There was a cow mooing a couple of times, the guide book does say the shelter is close to farmland. We had a big 18.4km day leaving the Tingle forest & heading back out to the ocean. I was expecting soft sand walking by the latter half of the walk. Ambles took off ahead & disappeared as I meandered along admiring the gorgeous big Tingle trees. Another beauty of a king Red Tingle tree with the buttress base still intact. There actually isn’t many like this, most have their stumps hollowed out. I crossed the highway & continued along an old railway track, bumping into a man walking his 4 big dogs. Ambles was returning towards me worried as the dogs were barking & growling at him & Deb & Mel so was making sure I was ok! I was more upset I had missed a new Orchid! Wanted to go back to see it. But Ambles said it was too far back. Deb had even left me a big arrow but I missed it somehow! Then I cursed my camera again trying to take an orchid photo, but it was all blurry. Should have invested in a macro lens before the trip!

The track veers out to the ocean going through swampland, was getting bored with this landscape. Guess I was eager to get to the coast. Out to the sand dunes full of vegetation & flowers galore, lots of donkey & cowslip orchids. The weather had been good but now dark clouds loomed & some light drizzle of rain started falling as we were exposed on top of a sand dune ridge. Ambles got out his umbrella but it was quite windy & the wind blew his umbrella into the bushes so he had to go bushbashing to retrieve it. We made it to conspicuous cliff beach & found a sheltered picnic table to have a break at. Deb & Mel we passed couple of times came by, Deb hears me coming saying, “here comes jingle bells!” She said this time, “What you two doing slacking off?!” But they joined us, & in perfect timing. More ominous clouds came rolling in, Ambles said, “We better hold off, some rain is coming!” & sure enough, a heavy squally downpour of rain came & went. Off we went again after a break in the clouds. Only a short 3.2km walk in to the shelter, nothing as terrible as the sand dune walk into Long Point. Ambles told us off cheating as we went via the sand dunes not on the beach for the first 50 metres. At least I didn’t do a bum slide down the dune like Ambles😊. We made quick time the sand was firm thanks to the rain. Some sweating & puffing up some hills, not too bad, was expecting worse. Ambles wanted to prove he could walk in full wets so was wearing his rain pants & rain jacket even when the sun came out. Good on him!😆😆 Don’t care that I didn’t do the same! Arrived at camp just after midday. Deb & Mel arrived just as another dose of rain came down. How lucky we were to miss the rain today! And it wasn’t forecasted until later😊. Ambles had struggled lost his mojo, was lagging behind for awhile today but found his speed again at the end. The gusty winds tried to take his hat without success.

We enjoyed the brief sun we got at camp before the clouds closed back in & more rain came. Lucky the shelter was not facing into the cold winds. Nice shelter with extra hand rails, hooks, artwork & a sunroom attached to the side. Spectacular views of the ocean & Irwin Inlet & surrounds. And it’s all free! We spent time hunkering down in our tents & putting every layer of clothing on to keep warm. I bet it gets very wild & rough out here! Today is probably a tame day😆. Ambles offered more Whiskey around, there was no objections. Offered red wine around after, still no objections 😆! Once he had plastered us with alcohol, we were ready for an early night. It had turned out a very good day indeed 😁.

Still we haven’t seen any other hikers not even section or day hikers. Ambles kept suggesting to us, “Let’s go to Peaceful Bay now! It’s only 12kms, easy without our packs. We can go in, get fish n chips & come back!” Sometimes I think he has been out in the bush too long & going mad!😆“Sure” we said, “you race in get the food & hurry back before it gets cold!” Was hoping the clouds would clear & they did for a small sunset, nothing spectacular but nice to watch the sun go down, watch the ocean below. This place is truly amazing! A lodge in the same spot would be charging big $$$ to stay & admire the views. Truly I feel blessed to share this gorgeous spot, right now I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! Mel is in love with the campsite saying it’s the best one on the whole track. Some people have written in the book that it is haunted here. Think that’s a load of rubbish! But I’ll let you know in the morning😉. We saw a bush rat running along the rafters just before bed, good to know we got some rodents sharing the shelter with us tonight😁.

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Day Fifty Two: Frankland River to Giants

16/10: After an initial period of laying in the dark listening to the mice or bush rats scratching away in their hideaway spot behind the Bibbulmun track signage board, I drifted off to sleep until 2am. The rain came pouring down outside, so convenient while we are snug warm & dry in our beds! Then I slept on & off until 5am. Today was a mere 15kms, some ups & downs but nothing too bad. The morning was humid & cool. No rain forecasted but cloudy skies. We set off after Deb & Mel still getting back into our hiking groove.

Wasn’t much to talk about, more of the same like yesterday, Karri & big impressive Tingle trees, small flowing creeks, many little bridges, hardly any flowers. We were coming up to the Tree Top Walk, could hear cars close by zipping along the highway. I chanced upon a cute little creature that was sitting in the middle of the path. I couldn’t figure what it was but later decided it must be a quokka as it looked like one, just slightly bigger than the Rottnest Island ones & they are known to live around this area. Fat little critter with reddish brown short fur & tiny pointy ears. It looked at me & scampered into the bush. I walked along to where it had been sitting & saw it in the bush, eyed me off a second time then disappeared before I could get a photo of it. We arrived outside the Tree Top Walk close to 11am. The Bibbulmun runs right pass the entrance. And there’s a coffee van every day to 3pm. Ambles was hanging out for a cappuccino so he promptly ordered one, I had a Chai latte. I wasn’t hungry for sweets but that was all they served. Ambles wanted a coconut slice, ordered two thinking they were small pieces & he would eat both. But they were huge so gave me one to eat. Well I was all sugared out after that! Once we stopped, the chill set in. It was so cold sitting in my shorts & t-shirt! We looked odd amongst all the tourists that were turning up fully rugged up. A whole bus load of people came in. One guy walked pass me & said, “You want my jacket?!!” I heard someone else mention ‘that lady is only in shorts & a top!’ So quickly pulled out my puffer jacket. The lady inside the centre remarked on my jacket, “Wow! Hello lady in the bright colour jacket! That’s like those high vis for sure!” We became celebrities when an older couple sat close by. The woman started asking questions, I told her about our walk, how long we had been walking & where we were finishing. She was so amazed, so impressed, telling her husband & their friends about us. There is 2 types of people, those that are excited about what you are doing & those that stare at you like you have gone mad, you are not part of society or the human race anymore.😆

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Ambles didn’t want to do the tree top walk, we had come here years before in a car😊. So different coming into these same places on foot! I tipped out our rubbish bag which is so satisfying before we went around looking for the south exit of the track, walking through the car parks looking lost until we found the trail head. Then it was only 1.5kms to Giants. We were a lot slower again with lengthy breaks but still got to camp just after midday. Deb & Mel heard me coming long before seeing me as my little bell rang away loudly coming down the descent into camp. “We can hear you!” Calls out Deb. Mel looked happy, had a better walk today, less pain. Deb was keen to walk back & do the tree top walk so after our lunch, I joined her & we set off back down the track. Going in the afternoon was far better, it was warmer & not many tourists around. The tree top walk is suspended up to 50 metres above ground, most of the trees still tower above us, but it’s pretty cool looking at trees from above & not the ground. We also did the Ancient Empire walk & learnt the difference between tree types. Had a refreshing juice drink & made our way back to camp. A fun way to kill some time in the afternoon. Got back where Ambles was worried as we had been gone almost 2 hours.😆Almost was going to go back looking for us – yeah right! I spotted a Quokka & he had spotted green poop on the ground shaped like a human fist. He was so impressed with this find, he took a photo. Yeah…. no one wants to see it!😂

He offered Deb whiskey again tonight, last night she said no, today she said no again. Mel piped up from her tent, “I wouldn’t mind a whiskey! I can finally use my shot glass!” (Mel has a sea to summit collapsible shot size cup which is so unbearably cute!) So then Deb succumbed to having one as well. With news that Dave & Jayne finished in Albany today, we clinked our whiskey cups in celebration for them. Ambles entertained us all as we sat down just the 4 of us again for dinner at our cosy campsite. Isn’t much of a glamorous shelter but has ample tent sites all around the shelter. A standard Deep South design shelter with wood chip flooring. Unlike the last shelter, this one has heaps of hanging hooks, ropes with pegs even! I heard something big crashing through the bushes close by but was after dark. Can feel a little unnerving not knowing what is out there in the bush. It’s definitely colder than last night as we tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags. Ambles been talking with his youngest brother & looks like we will get to catch up soon before Denmark on the track so really looking forward to catching up with family. It is always good to have something like meeting friends & family to look forward to. Breaks up the normality of day to day life on the track. Ambles has already put in his food order to his brother & is excited😊. Time for shut eye.

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Day Fifty One: Walpole to Frankland River

15/10: Hi Ho, Hi Ho…..it’s off to Frankland River we go! I was ready to leave Walpole, had a solid sleep to 5am where Ambles had been up & down to the toilet 20 odd times. My shoulders & feet no longer ached & hurt after the two zero days as I reluctantly heaved my heavy backpack back on – loaded up with food & water. Ambles no longer felt like walking proclaiming he is over this walk now. It’s hard to get back in the hiking groove as we set off at a slow sluggish amble of 3km/hr. The day was cool & overcast with rain clouds looming in the sky above us. Over to Coalmine Beach Caravan Park that sits on the banks of the Nornalup Inlet. A popular spot for Caravans, swimming & fishing.

Ambles takes in the final views of his beloved area before we head inland through Karri & Tingle forest. There isn’t much in the way of flowers, it is more about the Tingle trees & the views back out to the ocean & Inlet. We walk through the popular tourist area where the giant red Tingle tree attracts thousands of people every year, the tree is spilt wide open that a small car can park inside it. We time our photos well, encountering early tourists on the way out.

While we seem to be going slow, we still make good time. Ambles has trouble dealing with the weight again & needs to stop for a rest while I continue slowly ahead. He catches up to me eating a banana. Where did he get that? He smiles happily saying, “The trail provides! I was walking along & found this banana just laying there on the ground. Thought it might be yours. Peeled the skin back & the banana only had one bruise on it! Fresh as! Someone would have been upset to have lost it then!” I hadn’t even noticed a banana on the ground when I passed through myself! 18.4kms hike to our campsite. Small ups & downs but otherwise reasonably easy pathways. We join the Mundi Biddi on a wide track a little ways before  heading off on a separate track to our campsite, arriving just as a light rain shower started to fall. Took us just over 5 hours of walking, finishing at midday in time for lunch. This campsite is pretty, the first thing I notice is that it is on stilts, has an undercover decking patio with wooden floorboards, no sand, gravel or wood chips as a floor base right near our sleeping areas. Makes it much cleaner. Also has a resident cheeky mouse & bush rats living here hence another big container to lock your food in & a deterrent system set up on the poles above where we can hang stuff so rodents can’t climb & reach personal items hanging. Should make for an interesting night.😏 The other box has the biggest, fattest book in it – no wonder someone left it behind! Birdman had been through 2 days ago & wrote an extensive list of bird names he had seen on the track to date, but as Ambles pointed out, not in alphabetical order!😆 And the Frankland River runs right next to the shelter, a peaceful lovely little spot. The only problem is the toilet is so far away!

Deb & Mel arrived barely 5 minutes after we had & we all tucked into lunch. Ambles was keen on an afternoon of fishing as the rain kept coming on & off, light rain but annoying if you wanted to sit by the river. If it was a warm day, would have been perfect for a dip in the water. Ambles’s fishing rod kept getting caught in the low branches on the track as it stood out so high, above the backpack like an antenna, so after all that effort, he was going fishing regardless of the rain! Found a decent path to the rivers edge, hopped onto a rock & cast a line. There are too many rocks & stuff in the water so he quickly started losing his hooks as they kept getting snagged. While Ambles tried to fish, the rest of us relaxed in our tents. Mel’s feet are still hurting so much, she hobbles around camp after her horrible walk in & is just happy to have made it to the campsite. One day closer to Albany she says, very determined to get to the end & putting up with her painful condition. My feet were fine today but after stopping, my ankles get swollen & sore, stiffen up, leaving me to hobble about until they warm & loosen up. Ambles called it quits by wine o clock time. Had a couple of bites but nothing exciting on the end of his fishing line. He can try again at Peaceful Bay.😄 The rain finally blew over & we caught the last warm rays of sunshine before the day ended. Another gourmet dehydrated meal for dinner, chocolate for dessert then book reading in bed until shut eye time. We may have found ourselves in between the bubble of thur hikers. Finally getting a quiet shelter to ourselves. It is very quiet tonight with the four of us, no other hikers seen at all today.

Day Forty Nine & Fifty: Walpole Zero Days

More Zero days. Really needed those. The first day I was still unwell, appetite diminished. Couldn’t sleep well at all, my feet kept hurting every time I had to roll over. Had a day of resting with feet up mostly in bed. Rained on & off outside so happy not to be walking. The Cafe / Bakery here opens at 7am, had breakfast scones jam & cream, went back later for a meat pie. Hardly felt like eating, again so unlike me! Finished reading my book while completing laundry duties. Ambles had planned to go fishing but decided to stay inside watching the rain. The town was pretty quiet, only the pub, IGA & Cafe / Bakery was open. A guy rushed into the IGA while we were there telling the staff there had been a terrible car accident & the ambulance needed calling. Found out later a child called Max had been injured in the car accident & flown to Perth Hospital. We met up with Deb, Mel & Daisyfish for dinner over at the pub, it was the only place open for dinner so the restaurant was booked out. However Ambles managed to sweet talk the waitress into getting a table for us. Daisyfish arrived in Walpole same day as us & didn’t stay at Mt Clare. Got there early & found the shelter cold with no views & decided to just continue into town, which was a good decision. She has developed an infected huge blister on her heel Sunday morning so waiting to see the doctors tomorrow. Our meals were delicious, the wine flowed well & freely, some of us were getting tipsy😂😂. Elbow & Drew came in with their bush walking group as they head off the next morning we said our goodbyes.

Today was another relaxing day, feeling more better, my feet not hurting. Got a good nights sleep. Enjoyed an early morning spa bath before my parents came with our re supply. We organised our Peaceful Bay & Denmark boxes, as they were dropping them off this morning. Next time we see them will be in Albany🤞. Got me a new book to read called Bewildered – a lady thur hiking NZ’s 3000km Te Araroa trail just to give me more ideas 😂😆😂. Today we were joining Deb & Mel on the WOW boat cruise in the Walpole & Nornalup Inlets, however Mel stayed back not wanting to walk any extra mileage due to her foot issues. The cruise was highly entertaining with a very eccentric Garry, knew so much about the history of the area & really loves Walpole. He was hilariously funny & couldn’t sit still for a second as we went pass Rest Point Caravan Park up to the Inlet mouth where it meets the ocean – The Pacific Ocean water comes into Nornalup Inlet we learnt. Then we did a short walk where Ambles stayed back by the boat, over to a beach & back. Everything that goes in the ocean seems to end up washed up on the shores around here. We were picking up bits of plastic & netting washed up on the beach that have come from Perth or even an overseas country. Today was another wet raining day, we had timed our zero days well as the sun comes out tomorrow. Mel was staying in their hotel room all day & having dinner at their pub not keen on walking far. We wanted a change & ended up going for Thai at our restaurant, Monday nights being Thai buffet special. Felt like a change from the pub food, we had fish n chips for lunch at the pub earlier. Ambles decided not to go fishing again after carrying his fishing rod & bait onto the boat cruise, to the pub then back to our room! He wanted to pack his backpack, if it is all too heavy, then the goon bag was going! Luckily the goon bag is alright & heading out to Frankland River along with the fishing rod & bait tomorrow. 😆

Caught up with Daisyfish where the news was all bad. Had her infected blister lanced, cleaned up & bandaged with a course dose of Antibiotics. Strongly advised not to continue walking. May be alright in a week but Daisyfish has called it an end (for now) on her journey to Albany. Heading home tomorrow. I felt so sad for her & will miss us all reaching Albany together. But she has done an amazing job of making it here to Walpole, not many people can say they have done what we all have done so far. We will miss her on the track but it’s not over as I said, the Bibbulmun is not going anywhere, & when she is ready, can come back & finish this last section to Albany & ring that finishing bell! We joined Daisyfish for our last meal together in the restaurant. Ambles sweet talked as he does so well, asking the lovely lady there for 3 scoops of ice cream. Not normal menu tonight so not allowed. Batted his eyelashes & got his vanilla ice cream 😆. And afterwards one more spa bath….for good measure before we head back out again for probably the toughest part of this walk to come!

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Day Forty Eight: Long Point to Walpole

12/10: The Bibbulmun Guide book read that Long Point to Walpole, skipping Mt Clare was a really tough strenuous walk but could be done by experienced fit determined hikers, barely but possible. So we had geared up for an 8 hour hike into town. I didn’t sleep well at all, heard Mel rummaging around in her tent taking pills around some late hour of the night. Every noise I heard & the moon hung bright in the sky. Deb set her alarm going off at 4am. We were up & at it, packing up & having breakfast, hitting the trail at a planned 6am. Today marks our 6th wedding anniversary as Deb sung us happy anniversary to the happy birthday tune. Can’t say that will ever happen again, was a lovely gesture! Everyone was going into Walpole besides Daisyfish whom was staying at Mt Clare today & going into Walpole tomorrow. With all our noises & lights shining, she gave up on staying in her sleeping bag & got up to join us. Drew was packing up his tent as we were heading off ahead of schedule at 5.45am.

The morning was cool but didn’t require extra layers of clothing. The sun was rising, peeking through the clouds as we set off. Perfect weather in fact & best time of day to start walking. We had prepared for a hard slog of 13kms into Mt Clare expected to arrive there at 10.30am. Whilst we were on sand, it wasn’t too bad the sand wasn’t really soft but the track in places was severely overgrown with bushes. I made the mistake of not wearing my gaiters & my lower legs got scratched up badly by all the prickly bushes I had to push through. By 7am, the sun was feeling warm, on sand dunes, you are exposed with no shade, the heat reflects off the sand & makes you hot, sweat & drink more. We pushed through at a slower 3.5km/hr but pretty good considering, the track wasn’t as bad as yesterday. We veer away from the ocean making our way back inland. Lots of birds & soaring eagles about. At times, the cool breeze spots along the track were a relief. We didn’t stop for a break until we got out of the exposed dunes & were under the cover of the forest. Immediately it was much cooler & made for pleasant easy walking. Then we just had a short but steep climb up to Mt Clare. Ambles had no trouble whatsoever & kept moving up. I struggled due to probably having had a cold, kept having to stop, break, slow my breathing back down & continue. At least I wasn’t having to blow my nose every 3 seconds anymore, was feeling better but tired. We arrived early at Mt Clare by 9.20am. Deb & Mel were there having a break. We took a break again, I was hot from the climb up but cooled down quickly, it was freezing cold there! But a beautiful spot, we are now in Tingle tree land. Amazing giant Red Tingle trees surrounded the shelter. Ambles was trying to hurry me up as I wrote in the trail logs book & took photos.

The last part into Walpole was 10kms, a gentle downhill into town through the cool forest. Ambles was focused on getting to the pub he took off, his speed increased & I had to keep texting him to slow down. He was on a mission & didn’t worry about leaving me behind to walk into town alone on our anniversary! Poor form I say!😆My feet were hurting as I kept having to walk faster to catch up & keep up. At least the day was perfect weather wise. Some clouds had rolled through & it was cool under the trees. We crossed Rest Point Road, Ambles looked right knowing his favourite place in the whole wide world was there – Rest Point Caravan Park. Cars zipped up & down towing Caravans & boats, he pulled a sad face as we continued into town. Through the golf course & over the Walpole River. The last kilometre truly sucked, on hard flat pavement around the new housing estate with very modern looking new homes. My feet hurt sooooo much! I just wanted to be sitting in the pub already! But we made it 12.20pm just in time for lunch – straight into the pub on the outskirts of town. Joined by Deb & Mel for lunch. They hadn’t showered yet but were staying there so had dumped their backpacks & boots in their room. Their meals arrived quickly but ours was delayed, & we ordered the same time. I sat waiting & waiting while watching Deb & Mel eat their meals. Torture! Eventually our meals came & I mowed down a BLT with chips. Ambles had a dozen oysters followed up with a small fish n chips. We all had pints of beer. Double lot of beers, except I chose a Bourbon & Coke after my first pint of beer.

Unfortunately we had to leave at some point & make our way across the small town to the Tree Top Walk Motel where we were booked to stay. It was a very slow shuffle with a belly full of grog & food & numbed feet over to the visitor centre to fill in the log book, another slow shuffle over to the motel. Drew & Elbow had arrived & were walking about. They were staying at the backpackers but couldn’t get in to 3.30pm. Well that truly sucked! Elbow was sitting & waiting outside the cafe / bakery with newspaper & drink while he waited. We were in our room by 2.30pm – we were at the pub awhile 😂.

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Walpole was the southern terminus end of the Bibbulmun Track back in 1998. If that was the case today, we would have finished our journey. But now, only 2 weeks remain until we walk into Albany. 2 weeks today! So hard to believe. So we spent the afternoon soaking in our own spa bath filled with Epsom salts. Of course we showered the grime & funk off our bodies before we hopped in! Our bodies turned into wrinkly prunes before we got out. Felt well & truly cleaned. Ambles went to the IGA, came back with a fishing rod & bait didn’t he?! Plus extra fishing line to carry & go hand fishing along the track.😆 There was only one washing machine & dyer at the motel to use & had to wait my turn. Had all my clothes in so ended up eating in the restaurant there in my camp shorts, a bikini top with my mont-bell jacket over it. Classy😆. The restaurant was absolutely lovely. Had it to ourselves briefly before other couples rolled in. Had real golden oldie songs playing softly in the background. Sounded like from the 50 & 60’s. The food was so so good, but for the first time on this trip, I could not finish my meal! I was starting to feel unwell, sickish, sore tummy & I guess the day’s walk plus the other 9 days walking had caught up with me. I was feeling so tired & exhausted. It was our anniversary & all, but I ended up going to bed early after dinner, was totally worn out. So glad to have a couple of rest days to recharge & recover. Ambles stayed up longer enjoying another glass of vino & reading his newspaper – catching up on the news😁.

Day Forty Seven: Woolbales to Long Point

11/10: Everyone’s sleeping mats crunched loudly whenever someone moved on their mat. Must have been the flooring in the shelter, mine had never been so loud before. Had a sleep in to 5.10am & it was slightly drizzling with rain outside & very overcast. Not at all cold. Ambles was in a very slow mood & took ages to pack up saying he could stay here another day. My cold was a lot better but my body felt tired, my feet weren’t interested in any walking today. We had an 18km day ahead but hitting the sand meant it was going to be a challenge. I left just before Ambles & he quickly caught up, he walks so fast now, checks the time, realises he is doing 4.8 to 5km/hr & tries to slow down.

Mine seems to be 4.5 but today I was slower. Putting my feet back into wet boots that quickly turned my dry socks wet was no fun. I knew my feet were going to be wrinkly & prune like & start to hurt quickly into the walk. Rain came in but didn’t linger long. This whole section to Long Point is speculator for wildflowers & orchids. I could walk around the remaining puddles on the track before veering into stunning forest, blooming with colour, over granite mossy rocks that were wet & slippery giving me flashbacks to my Mt Cooke slide so I was extra cautious & slow through them. We were headed to the coast which was 10.5kms from Woolbales to the view over Mandalay Beach. The going started to toughen up climbing up & over sand dunes pass more amazing flowers. I could even see slivers of ocean blue. Ambles fast pace turned back into his old Ambling pace, no one can maintain a fast pace in soft sand. Well, not normal people anyway😂. When we arrived at the view spot in front of the ocean, Deb & Mel were there sitting on the seat & soaking it all in. It was an emotional moment, a huge milestone that we had walked all this way inland & arrived on the coast. From here on, we walk eastwards towards Albany along the ocean. Ambles let out a loud whoop!, truly a special moment I will remember forever more.🙂

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Deb & Mel continued along as we soaked in the views. We had rain earlier, now we had blue skies, some light clouds & sunshine. You couldn’t ask for better! We continued down to the beach & walk 1 kilometre along Mandalay Beach. We instantly had flashbacks to trudging through soft sand along the Cape to Cape last year – joy o joy!😏While it was about 6kms to Long Point, the going was tough & a lot slower going. It was quite warm out on the exposed sand dunes. I saw only half a tiger snake heading into the bush. Not bad considering it was prime snake time. It was so hard trying to go up those soft sand dunes, I take a step & my foot slid backwards. I was breathing so loud & hard I reckon anyone from kilometres away would hear me. The views were absolutely stunning & I have so many photos! It didn’t feel like a good day when I started but boy! Turned out to be my most favourite! It took us to almost 1pm to get to camp. My feet were really hurting & I ran out of water in my water bladder as I drank so much water. Ambles knee was playing up again. Deb & Mel were chatting to a guy called Ali in the shelter. He is a nobo & was sleeping in his tent when they arrived. He came from Mt Clare, is a recovering drug addict trying to straighten up his life. He was packing up to move on as he wasn’t interested in a group of us sharing the shelter, rather wanted to be by himself. He carry’s all these tinned food, backpack looked pretty heavy as he took off at a sprint walk towards Woolbales. He was nice enough & reminded us of Wayne & Tim, similar personality & drug / alcohol recovering addicts.

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The afternoon flew by quickly as Daisyfish, Drew & Elbow rolled in. The sun disappeared behind clouds & the temperature dropped as we all rugged ourselves up. Completely different to the warm evening yesterday. Whoever looks after this shelter really puts a lot of effort into it. So immaculate clean & tidy. New looking retaining walls & white gravel stones make up the floor. Smelt like the wood had all been treated with lacquer recently. The only issue being the toilet is back up the hill, a bit of a walk through soft sand. 8th toilet with no toilet paper.

So many side trip walks to beaches & coves but we have no energy to go exploring. Today was a huge day, we plan an early night tonight & an early start tomorrow – town day! But another big 22.5km walk to get there. Ambles was missing a campfire tonight, “Darn! All these dead back boys around! Could have a campfire & keep warm!” We can finish our vino off tonight but will there be more vino after Walpole? Ambles is threatening to drop vino weight from his backpack…..again…..

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Snake sightings Ambles 3, Rose 4.5😂

Day Forty Six: Mount Chance to Woolbales

10/10: Some loud owl started hooting at 2.30am, kept Ambles awake for ages. I slept well, waking, rolling over & going back to sleep, repeat. I took 2 Sudafed tablets as my sinus was so blocked up I could only breathe through my mouth, those tablets sorted it out & knocked me to sleep. Then on 5am, we didn’t need Ambles alarm, a chorus of Kookaburras erupted into laughter right next to the shelter. Deb & Mel get up at 4.30am these days, leave early so they can reach the next campsite before midday.

Today we were meeting our trail angels with more supplies of food & most importantly, Ambles new free standing tent he ordered online. The ZPacks tent was going into the car & the Big Agnes copper spur 3 was replacing it in the backpack. The new tent weighing 1 kg more than the ZPacks tent so Ambles was tossing up not carrying the goon bag, for one second…..but the goon bag had to come as well….as the bourbon as well……as the honey whiskey 😂😂😂. So I set off before Ambles as I planned to do the spur trail up to Mount Pingerup summit. We know Ambles don’t like ‘extra side walks’. I had to allow time to do the extra & meet our Trail Angels on Broke Inlet Road by 10.30am, halfway to the next campsite, today was a total of 21kms. It was beautiful & heavy with mist, drops of dew fall from the trees landing on the shelter roof, we thought it was raining. Continued onto the Pingerup Plains where it looked like some enchanted landscape with the mist all around. Like some dwarfs will suddenly appear or the hobbit. Made for great walking, no flies & cool. My head full of head cold & my eyelids heavy & droopy. I caught up to Daisyfish & we chatted & walked until we got to the junction of the summit walk. It was an easy incline path up to the summit took only 15 minutes without the backpack! The mists had lifted & I had a great view at the top over to Broke Inlet & the surroundings. Climbed up on a large rock where I enjoyed my muesli bar while gazing out. Coming back down I passed Elbow with the same idea & Drew was sitting back at the junction waiting for him.

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The morning had quickly warmed up to blue skies & sun at 9.30am as I made the last kilometres to the road. I had spotted & took two great photos of different Orchids & feeling damn pleased with myself. As soon as I was 20 feet away, I saw a very familiar car there, my other trail angel Kerry had turned up to surprise me! Got onto the road by 10.15am to Kerry & her dog Stig, Ambles checking over his new tent & my parents that were our planned resuppliers. Oh marvellous! Double delight! My mum had fetched us delicious chicken & salad wraps with cold coke. I also snuck in a Mishka pineapple mix drink. Ambles was offered a beer but he declined. Sorted through what we needed. Kerry offered us yummy fruit salad, so had fresh fruit & apple, all these treats you don’t have on trail make you miss them, they do taste so good out in the bush! Kerry had read we were suffering from bouts of cold so got me a packet of Codral cold & flu tablets, a lovely thought & well appreciated as Ambles didn’t have many left for both of us. It was such a lovely catch up with all. I was feeling so meh, with my head cold but now felt great. We set off slowly after a big break, was hard to get the feet going again. As everyone drove off, it was just the two of us, trudging along another 10.6kms to Woolbales. And it was quite warm now with not much shade. We quick smart marched on not wasting time & had to unfortunately wade through more swamp puddles. My boots were dry, now a heavy sodden mess again. I slipped on a spot of slippery mud underneath through one puddle, fell in the drink I did. Mostly got my shorts wet, caught myself before my whole body & backpack fell in. We had caught up to Drew & Elbow, was surprise to see them still walking. I tried to keep up with Ambles but he walks too fast now & was eager to get to the campsite so left me alone to finish the last few kilometres.

I finally managed to work out taking a photo of those tiny orchids. Got me my 3rd orchid photo & felt so pleased. But that was short lived. Had a headache coming on, was starting to pound & make me feel sick. Besides I still had one more swamp to wade through, the longest one about 300metres. I remember other hikers had mentioned this one. Luckily I saw no snakes as it was warm & we were going through narrow, overgrown bush at times. I arrived at Woolbales last, was so not well, went to rest on the picnic table, dropped my backpack & lay there a moment before removing my wet boots & socks. Took me awhile to feel better while Deb was helping Ambles set up his new tent inside the shelter. Had to go clean myself was so filthy from the dirt, the wading through swamps. The toilet is the first you see before the shelter & it has a terrible lean on it. The whole thing is sloping downwards, when I sit on the toilet seat I feel like I’m going to go with the whole toilet block, tumbling down the hill😆. The 7th toilet with no loo paper. Ambles was hungry again so made himself some noodles. I had a cuppa & some white chocolate Mum gave me – lifesaver! Was back to my chirpy self again.😊Deb was grateful for a block of cheese my mum got for her & Mel. We don’t see Drew & Elbow, they tent outside & don’t come to the picnic table to join us. We squeezed Mel’s tent inside with ours, Deb & Daisyfish. Looks like tent city inside the shelter all 4 tents. Our new tent is nice & cosy inside. We all prepared & had our dinners very civilised at the table. Ambles offered some red wine around that Deb & Mel enjoyed a cup each of. The water tank has a resident snake living under it. I didn’t see it but Deb did, said its head was poked out from under the tank & it was smiling at her😁. Like Mount Chance, there’s no water close by but a granite dome hill top you can go up & get views from. This one is smaller but easier to get up there. I see the Broke Inlet very close by now. But no ocean, hidden away! Ambles joined me for the sunset then like everyone else, we retired to our tent. Tomorrow we not only see the ocean, but reach it & walk along the beach! How wonderful after spending so many weeks in the forests. Our next trail town is only 2 sleeps away!😁

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Day Forty Five: Dog Pool to Mount Chance

9/10: I slept so good despite my blocked sinus. Had a sore throat since Northcliffe which has advanced to a horrible cough & runny nose, nothing new, my nose has been dripping constantly due to the cold weather. Yes, Ambles shared his bug with me🤔. Heard something rattling with our pots on the table, Ambles said it lifted the lid off the pot to see what was inside, only water for the morning cuppa s so scampered about trying to get into the plastic food box, couldn’t find anything as we were so paranoid we hid everything in our tents. The critter soon went off disappointed. Us & Daisyfish sounded super healthy this morning coughing, wheezing,hacking, spattering & sniffling away. Ambles regretted going into the river yesterday, he smelt of river water last night said it’s worse than his funk Body Odour. And his coughing started up again. Can we have a pharmacy vending machine like on the Camino?!😂

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We were slow to leave, Took longer than usual to pack up. Today was a flat 19.5kms so, meh, no rush! Ray looked happy in his tent, good decision for him! He always props himself up on his left elbow lays like that for ages, reading or cooking. So Ambles has trail named him Elbow. 😆He goes, “Elbow is on the move!” We were the second last pair to leave after 7am, before Drew & Elbow, those two meander & take their time anyhow. A pleasant cool cloudy morning, birds singing, the river water cascading loudly, what a picturesque spot. Would love to return to this campsite 😊in Autumn before the rains flood the plains!

Today sees us walking through the start of the Pingerup Plains. Didn’t take long to see Kangaroos again, the first in weeks. The second kangaroo watched us approaching by the roadside for awhile before bounding off. We follow Tom Road again for many kilometres before veering onto another dirt road, mostly flat & easy walking. Wasn’t too far out when we came across a familiar face. Simone was yo-yoing back to Kalamunda in 19 days, hiking 50 to 60kms a day until 8.30pm & putting up her tent wherever she is on the track. And she has lost a lot of weight & looks good! Beaming, she was overjoyed to see us again telling us everyone knows about us, we are popular names on the track. Everyone in front told her to say hi to us. And a lot of people love how we are taking our time & enjoying the track. Deb & Mel are also very popular. All four of us have become celebrities 😆. We spent a good half hour catching up on trail news before continuing in different directions. She remembered the promise of having a vino from Ambles when we bumped into each other again, but took a rain check. Can’t believe Simone will have done a yo-yo end to end in the time it took us to do one end to end!😂

The Pingerup Plains ended up being nice, a whole different landscape & vegetation to see. The only problem was the blow flies, & so many of them that’s all you hear buzzing around you. The swamp parts of Track were easy to navigate around only Ambles plodded through them without a care. At least my boots didn’t get drenched but my feet were hurting so much. We took a break & the blowies buzzed around me – 50 odd of them. None went near Ambles! I think they are attracted to the colour blue….

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Elbow & Drew leapfrogged with us along the way, Elbow’s backpack looked awkward as. It was super high above his head & was leaning over to the right. My shoulders ached looking at it. Reckon I spotted an Emu lurking in the distance before the shelter. But it took quick haste. Arrived in good time at 12.30pm for lunch. My poor feet were wrinkled white with another blister on the heel. My hankie covered in blood & nose snots needs a bleach soaking! Rank as! Don’t have much left in the food bag, looking forward to a resupply tomorrow! Us, Daisyfish & Deb put our tents up in the shelter while Mel, Drew & Elbow tented outside. Walked up to Mount Chance summit in front of the shelter for fantastic 360 degree views of the plains. Still overcast, still lots of flies. The toilet seems to have a resident snake living close by it. Ambles heard it. No snakes seen today by either of us. No campfires now, so dinner & off to bed to escape the bugs😁.

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Day Forty Four: Maringup to Dog Pool

8/10: Maringup shelter was much more appealing in the morning. The winds died down overnight & I got a good sleep. I think it was Adrian’s sleeping mat, was the loudest mat to date, every time he moved, the mat crunched away super loudly. Heard a dog barking at one point. Ambles heard a loud car horn woke him up during the night. The morning was calm, cool with a lovely sunrise over the lake. One could hear the ocean this time. Ambles was not pleased about today being almost 26kms long & wanted an early start, so we got up 4.30am. We compromised as he wanted to get up at 4am! Deb was up early like us as well, she had her tent packed up & all by 5am! We left at 6.20am, the first out of camp. We took on a good steady pace 4.5kms/hr. Not long into the walk, we encountered more water to wade through, the morning consisting of walking through Karri Forest, low swamp lands, open grassy plains & wading. The first puddle I tried to go around, sliced a nice paper cut on my thumb on some sharp plant leaf & decided to wade it after that grumble grumble! The second puddle had a boardwalk like some do, this one however stopped short of the dry land so had to wade again – bloody useless walkway! I stopped for 10 minutes after 2 hours where Ambles just keeps going, leaving me behind, I walked alone for 2.5 hours. Lucky for me as Ambles saw his 3rd snake, a big fat black dugite slithering right towards him before taking a left turn & disappearing into the undergrowth. Today was warming up – finally! Blue skies called for my hat & sunglasses which were collecting cobwebs by now. 😊I haven’t seen any Roos or Emus for weeks now, well it feels like that.

 

 

Saw Deb & Mel behind me a way off, expecting them to pass me but they didn’t. Caught up with Ambles & we had a 20km mark break for a good 20 minutes. He said he had been hallucinating seeing water ahead on the path but getting there & finding no water. Maybe he has dreaded daymares about more water wading! Feet were getting sore. The worse was yet to come, no more wading but a long trudge along Dog Road, a dirt road, mostly flat but long & hard goes up to the campsite under the full glare of the sun. Deb & Mel appeared behind us again, I figured maybe Mel was having troubles. She had trouble with yesterday’s wading, undid her strapping tape on her foot so she was hurting again. I was struggling to keep up with Ambles that quicken his pace, put my pole down right next to a tiger snake I didn’t see until I saw it’s long body slither away quickly from my pole. Not a fan of seeing snakes! We arrived into camp 12.35pm, taking us just over 6 hours to get here. Pretty good. This campsite is by far the best one, I would consider the jewel of the track! Right by the flowing Shannon River. Another Rammed earth shelter as the old one burnt down with Gardner shelter in the 2015 bushfire. First thing Ambles did after getting his backpack off? Go down to the river & hop straight in with his walking clothes, boots & all! Didn’t think about the temperature first. Found it freezing cold & quickly got out! As soon as I removed my sodden boots & socks, some cheeky ass March fly landed on my big toe for a bite! Yep, the marchies are awful here! Sprayed myself head to foot with repellent spray.

 

Daisyfish was there already as she had a short walk in. Enjoyed her free camping spot last night. Al was chatting away to her when we arrived, a section hiker that now only hikes the good bits so bypassed Maringup to avoid the swamp parts. He is moving on later to free camp further on. Poor Mel was suffering on arrival. Had a bad day. She had hit the wall so to speak. Ray & Drew arrived 2.30pm, Ray decided to tent as he always sleeps in the shelter. Said it has been too noisy in the shelter to Mel.😏Yeah, he didn’t say a word (not that he talks much anyway) to Ambles this morning or afternoon. Think he was annoyed with us waking him up at 4.30am! Coz he says he don’t get up until it’s light outside. Oh how I will miss his enjoyable company tonight😁. Decided I’m going to have a swim (finally!) after lunch, it really wasn’t too bad, I stayed in for quite awhile enjoying it! Deb & Daisyfish came in to join me but didn’t linger long as they found the water too cold like Ambles. They just looked at me like I had gone mad, while I merrily splashed about😆. I averted my eyes while Drew went down, stripped off nude & went in for a wash in the river. All us hikers do that, modesty is no option on the track!

 

 

Now why would you want to leave this glorious spot?! We had the most peaceful & relaxing afternoon enjoying beautiful sunshine for a change. At least my socks have dried & my boots partially dried by the sun😂. We do have more wading tomorrow & the next day unfortunately. This is the last campsite with a campfire ☹️. And Ambles decided not to bother lighting it up as it was a warm evening ☹️☹️. Now all of us are in tents, 2 in the shelter & 4 outside. Lock away our gear as we been warned of a critter in our midst at this shelter, chews through backpacks, earphones, clothes pants & food bags, a super vermin critter! Everyone is very quiet tonight, retiring to their tents by 6pm. Deb used the last of the toilet paper in the toilet so makes number 6 shelter with no toilet paper – Ambles is still counting😆. And the mean toilet seat pinched my bum!

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Snake sightings, Ambles 3, Rose 4.

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Day Forty Three: Gardner to Maringup

7/10: It bucketed down for awhile there during the night. Unsure if it was heavy rain or just sounded heavy on the shelter roof. Being inside the tent felt cosy, much more warmer with our own privacy. Deb is always up first in the morning, gets out of her tent, goes into the shelter to get her food bag & starts making her coffee. Ambles alarm already went off at 5am, however he didn’t move, was enjoying an extra lay in which he normally doesn’t. Had to poke him to get some movement! We all packed up, the tent didn’t take too long to pack, however Ambles was slow getting ready as I waited for him ready to go backpack on, while Deb waited for Mel. Spotted a leaping spider orchid on the way out & further up the track those warty hammer orchids. Tiny little things, took me so long to get my stupid camera app to take a photo. All the phone camera apps were not focusing on my subject making me irritable as Birdman strode pass. His thing is Birds & mine is flowers. Caught up & passed him, then he leapfrogged me again commenting that there is no bears here questioning me on my bell. Must have been upsetting his subjects. That & my backpack was extra squeaky today. You know when you get that instant dislike for some people…….😆got to a large swamp puddle covering the entire track & well off it on the sides which you had to wade through, Birdman decided I could go first so he can gauge how deep the water is. Emerged on the other side to Ambles complaining about waiting for me to catch up. Mr fast pants has no patience now.😂Our boots & socks were sodden wet & heavy now as we continued along. I tried to take more photos of orchids again with my useless phone camera apps while mozzies tried to feast on me so Ambles had fast tracked again & after him saying we will walk together now, decided not to wait for me & go. Thanks to my useless camera phone apps, I had to walk alone the rest of the way, including 6 more swamp puddles to wade through, one was so deep the water came up to the bottom of my shorts. And my boots were all sodden with water again. Saw another tiger snake – a big one on the side of the track. Wasn’t even warm, today was cool & overcast.

Got to Lake Maringup at 11.30am, was an easy 18km day & made it there in good time. Ambles was preparing noodles for himself, trying to boil water over a fuel stove that wasn’t lit, 😂Deb & Mel were drying out their tents, boots & socks. Great spot with the Lake right out the front. The shelter was rebuilt after a tree fell landing on the roof on New Year’s Day 2001. Was freezing cold but, the winds were coming from the ocean 2kms away, which I couldn’t hear the ocean over the winds. But we are so close now to seeing the ocean! The lakes water was warm but was congested with water reeds, bushes  & trees making it unappealing to really go out for a swim, plus you would freeze once you came out of the water back into that cold gusts of wind. We have our tent up in the shelter but don’t think it will be much warmer inside it, we are inside the cold wind tunnel coming up from the lake. Ambles got the campfire going early so we could try to dry socks & boots. Yep, aren’t gonna happen, will be putting on wet boots in the morning. Birdman & Daisyfish blew in for lunch & both decided to hike a further 8 odd kms & free camp somewhere for the night. Daisyfish wanted to lessen tomorrow’s long 25km day. Ambles wanted to do the same but I was like – Hell to the no! I was looking forward to staying at this campsite in particular. The Bibbulmun tracks Jewel Campsite, which we were lucky to make as often in wintertime or heavy rains, the track is diverted away from this campsite because the river has risen above the track. Ray & Drew came in later as Ray smug faced, said he had avoided getting his boots wet by walking the long way around each puddle hence it took him longer to get here. It’s surprising how quickly you can go off some people?!😆The winds blew all afternoon, getting stronger & blowing stuff away not tied down. If Windy Habour, close by, is like this then I don’t need to go there!

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Someone has kindly donated a Uke with a tuner that Ambles seized the opportunity to play some music but not much considering he hasn’t been playing an instrument at all in weeks. Ambles was drying his socks by the fire – a bit too close, burning a reasonable unfixable hole through one of the socks toe ends- oops😂. A happy faced smiling Adrian from the UK turned up late afternoon, thur hiking the opposite way to Kalamunda. At this time of year, you don’t get Nobo’s only the occasional one. Everyone hikes Sobo Springtime. Adrian has a ravenous appetite, the opposite to Ambles. We all enjoyed his company over dinner at the picnic table. Another quiet one as everyone tootles off to bed before the sun goes down. A second last campfire…..already missing them.😕

Snake sightings: Ambles 2, Rose 3.

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