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Mount Bruce

The impressive Mount Bruce located in Karijini National Park is the second highest peak in Western Australia at 1,234m. We tackled this gruelling 10km return climb on the 18th of July 2021.

Mount Bruce from Karijini Drive

We set off from Tom Price in the darkness planning an early morning hike as we knew the day would quickly warm up. There was already a few cars in the carpark when we set off on the trail at 7am. The first half kilometre is nice and easy, seeing some great views, getting dragged into a false sense of security. The Marandoo trail first part ends at a lookout over to the large mine site below to the right somewhat looking out of place in this beautiful National park. Alongside the mine site is the railway line as we would be seeing and hearing many iron ore trains going about their business.
Continuing along the trail another couple of kilometres is the second part of the trail called the Honey Hakea trail, class 3. The views are getting pretty good. There requires a short scramble over some rocks and then nice walking along the ridge so life is good so far. Once you get to the sign that the trail changes to a hardcore class 5 from then onwards, you can choose to return back to the carpark.

But we continue along the 3rd part of the trail now to the summit. The hardest section right in front of us, a short steep rocky zigzag up the next rocky incline part which is nowhere near the summit. Basically having to use hands to grip rocks and heave oneself upwards. Got the heart racing up to a large gigantic stone with a chain rail to move safely around the narrow ledge overlooking a sheer drop off. Not done with us yet was rock climbing up that narrow stone face with the drop off behind us. Up and over the views are so worth it! We can look back to where we had come from, I love views like this!

We meet the earlier climbers, a group of young people playing loud music that not everyone wants to hear, but hey, they are enjoying themselves. They say to us ‘not much further! Another 20 minutes and you will be there!’ Well maybe 20 minutes if you’re running up and don’t run out of steam, the summit was deceptive and we were nowhere near it yet. Onwards over nicer walking trail not involving rock climbing we went. The views are unbeatable going up as much as at the summit. There was some more rock hopping but not as bad before we entered the final assault, the never ending zigzagging track up, up & up. By this time we were both exhausted with the climb and slowing down. The summit couldn’t be much further! More heaving tired bodies up over large rocks, tripping over loose pebbles and finally! Victory! The summit creeps up suddenly into view. There is the large rock cairn marking the highest point and a metal disc marker showing directions for other mountains and their heights and distances. The summit overlooks out to the other mountain ranges and I had to collapse on the ground, catch my breath and just milk in those views! Yes, we had made it, such an achievement after all that effort. The day was warming up but at the summit it was chilly enough to put the jacket back on.


The summit has two paths going left and right to the ends to take in more views and different angles. I had worked so hard to get there so I spent a bit of time enjoying the side trails exploring what was around. Afterwards I realised what goes up must go down and we had a long way back!

It was a bit quicker returning. More people had set off late and were heading up. It was 23 degrees but felt quite warm. I was ready to get off the mountain, had packed ample water bottles which was very smart. This is a hard walk, it does get warm and people can underestimate how much water they need. The rocky scrambles down were just as tricky as going up. One wrong foot placement could see a disaster unfold. Especially the steep short downhill zigzag back to the ridge line. Very slippery so we took it nice and slowly. It was 12.30pm by the time we reached the carpark, perfect timing for lunch before heading back to town. The estimated time is 6 hours and we had been quicker then that with a long break at the top so was quite pleased with our efforts.

What a climb! I loved being able to see where we had come from and feeling quite impressed with oneself. The Pilbara landscape is truly awe inspiring. Photos don’t capture the raw beauty. There were beautiful wildflowers, birds, blue skies and light wispy clouds, spinifex cloaked hills, tiny lizards darting back into bushes, even watched two butterflies flirt with each other as they flitted from plant to plant. I strongly recommend a visit to Mount Bruce, even those not able to make the summit can still manage the lower trails and the views are still awesome. The mountain climb makes a lovely change from the waterfalls and gorges in the National Park. You want those views?! They won’t come easy but so worth it!

Chichester Range Camel Trail

Mount Herbert Summit


An amazing special little gem trail hidden in the Millstream-Chichester National Park, North-West WA. One of WA’s Trails ‘Top Trails’ but very little information on it. From what little I had read, I was expecting an overgrown hard to follow trail. Which was not the case. It has been beautifully maintained. I hiked this trail 3rd of July 2021 starting at Mount Herbert carpark, going to the summit as you must do, it is a short steep scramble to the top then return down to join the Camel Trail to Python Pool – 8kms one way. Trail moderate level, while the ascents are not too steep or high, the trail ground consists of loose rocks, pebbles and wildflowers growing up in the middle of paths. You do need to be aware of where you place your feet as it is easy to stumble, trip or roll an ankle in places. Signage – very good triangle markers with a camel symbol though I missed one turn off early in the walk, fumbling through overgrowth and big rocks before discovering the trail continued above me.
The raw beauty of the Pilbara landscape is one to stay forever in your memory, the green spinifex hills, the chocolate coloured big Chichester rocks, red dirt trail and large numbers of small wildflowers dotting the landscape with colours of purple, red and yellow, beautiful snappy gum trees and large termite mounds in sporadic places. One huge plant of Sturt Desert Pea covered right across the trail in one spot. It was just spectacular. It is ideal to start early even in Winter ( you should not attempt hiking in summer unless you hike in the dark early morning ), temperatures still go up in Winter and it is vital to carry ample amounts of water, wear protective long clothes from the sun and sharp bushes especially spinifex! Sunscreen and hat. I recommend to start at Mount Herbert if going one way so you can cool off afterwards at Python Pool! It is also more down hill this way.
About just over 2kms along you reach McKenzie Springs, a spot where the cameleers use to take their camels to collect water. At the time of my hike, the springs had quite a bit of water, a small trickle over the side, no raging waterfall, but huge amount of water above where you had to cross over. I would imagine the springs would be fairly dry most of the year and not ideal for swimming in as it is mostly stagnant water.



There is plaques along the way with information on this 1988 bicentennial trail. The views are incredible the whole way through, there was definitely no ‘boring’ part to the trail. I loved every minute spent out there, soaking up the views of the Chichester ranges on little wooden seats placed along the way. From McKenzie Springs to Python Pool, you follow some of the old camel route. There’s a last long rocky descent to Python Pool, where I caught up with Hubby playing with his drone. The hike took me 3.5hrs due to stopping often to take photos and admire everything. The gusty winds kept me cool but the last hour I could feel it getting hotter and uncomfortable. The swim at the amazing Python Pool was just the icing on the cake. The drive out there is also incredible if you don’t want to hike or you can hike part-way return as an option.
stunning, just stunning, and would be up top on my favourite walks list. I was blown away by this trail and have to make mention as it is overshadowed by other great walks but deserves a mention just as much. Definitely a Top Trails and one not to be missed if you are going through the area.

Kattamordo Heritage Trail; Mundaring to Orange Grove.

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Grade: easy but demanding due to distance length.

Approx 34kms long from Mundaring Weir Road (start in Sculpture Park Mundaring, no trailhead until 50 metres down the path alongside Mundaring Weir Road) to Bickley Reservoir, Hardinge Road Orange Grove. Again easy to start / finish at the Hardinge Road carpark 500 metres pass Trailhead at south end.

The Kattamordo Heritage Trail is one of many government funded Bicentennial projects created 30+ years ago then forgotten about & signage not maintained. A lot of the trail now shares mountain bike trails. The sign markers on trees & trailhead signs read Kattamorda but apparently this was a spelling mistake. I will refer to as Kattamordo not kattamorda. As you will see, the trail is poorly signed, the markers remaining are quite faded & falling off the trees. When I completed this trail only a couple of months ago, I did it in 4 parts, often getting lost, back tracking & guessing a lot which branch of trail to take. When I returned Wednesday 19th August to complete the track in one day, I have been pleasantly surprised to see well overdue track maintenance happening. A group called the friends of Kattamorda heritage trail are re-marking the trail with metal posts & orange ribbons making it much easier now not to get lost! There might even be talk of updating the tree sign markers!

So as close as we can get to the former heritage trail I chose to set off from the south end, starting at the Bickley Brook Reservoir on a very chilly 7.30am start. The first 4 odd kilometres of the Kattamordo Heritage Trail also share the same path as another bicentennial trail called the Bird & Mason Heritage Trail. The track is a wide flat 4WD road for the first kilometre. The Bickley Brook runs parallel to the track and at this time of year, I walk to the sounds of nature & water flowing along Bickley Brook close by. Little tracks spur off to the Brook as I watch the water gushing along. The first bit of history I come across is the oldest wooden tramway bridge left standing in Australia. This bridge is a feature of the Bird & Mason Heritage trail.

The trail then veers uphill over a very rocky ground pathway before smoothing out to a nice flat, firm narrower trail. Before the road there has been a burn in recent months with the area still noticeably burnt out. 1st section to the road crossing that leads to the Victoria Reservoir done & now I’m warmed up! Jacket & gloves are off as I traverse through section 2 to Canning Road. Now I am walking just the Kattamordo Heritage Trail. Another 4 kms along a very nice easy wide 4WD track through pleasant bush land in the Korung National Park. I spot my first Orchids; Hoffman’s Spider-Orchid & Jug Orchids. There are still remaining trail sign markers on some trees. It’s always a delight to find one & be assured you are still on the right track! But a trail head information board located near the Victoria Reservoir end points that you are at the corner of Pickering Brook road & Canning road which clearly you are not! So I believe the signage had been moved from its original location & not placed back.

The trail crosses close to the intersecting roads of Canning & Pickering Brook Road. There are a couple of Cafes & General store nearby, but recently I found them closed. When they do reopen in the future, it would be an awesome spot to dive in for a quick coffee or cake if one is feeling inclined! Maybe more so if heading north to south. I had only been walking just over 90 minutes so kept going into more bushland, part of the George Spriggs Reserve. It can get confusing at this point as new markers haven’t been placed & there is many bike trails going every which way. I look for the older faded orange ribbon I followed last time, doubted myself 200 metres along & turned back only to realise I was on the right track. That turn around was worth it as I happened to spot the only 2 Bird Orchids by the side of the path. More excitement at finding a new Orchid & lots of photos later, I continued along. Previous times out here I have passed mountain bikers but it was very quiet this day, it was just me, myself & I.

The trail shares another Kalamunda walk trail (Carmel trail) for a short ways down a long hill, along winding narrow goat tracks through some mud puddles & over big rocks. Not on the trail but to the left on a higher bike trail is an interesting disused wooden bike ladder circuit ramp that is no longer safe to use that has been nailed into a large fallen tree. Once at the bottom of the hill, the trail enters another variable landscape of vineyards, orchards, farms & large dam. This also signals the first real tough steep ascent. Once pass the farms, I turn right & straight up and up passing a house with a barking maremma looking dog to the left. Kangaroos enjoying the peace & solitude, upset by my arrival, hop across the wide 4WD track in front of me disappearing into the bushland.

I grab a protein ball snack at the top, catching my breath, before continuing to Gunjin Road through more narrow winding trails. I pass more clusters of Jug Orchids & Blue Fairy Orchids. Not to mention the various wildflowers also blooming! More cycle tracks but no one around. The sun has emerged & it is feeling quite warm. I cross onto now the Mundi Biddi cycle trail that shares a lot of the north half of the Kattamordo Heritage trail. Onto Gunjin Road, a wide & frequented road for 4WDrivers & especially mountain bikers where I finally see other people! A 4WD car approaches me & stops while I near it hoping the driver isn’t some weirdo. Well he wasn’t, just waiting for his dog to catch up whom is running behind on the road as he drives. He lets me know the dog is friendly & drives on. Another form of ‘walking your dog’! Gunjin Road may be considered the least favourite part of the trail, it’s long, & basically you walk along the dirt road that steadily climbs up to the top known as Mount Gunjin, second big ascent & almost the halfway point. Mount Gunjin use to be a fire lookout tower site back in 1921. Now base to a web of mountain bike trails. I take a second break & snack some more. Being a Wednesday, it is quiet up the top here. But weekends it is a busy hive of cyclists congregating before deciding which trail to tackle next. This day saw a small hub of cyclists taking a break. One van came up with a trailer of bikes. Out jumped a group of people, grabbing their bikes off the trailer & heading off down a trail. Yes, it can be tricky to share with cyclists, having to watch out for them & move out the way before they bowl you down. But I enjoy being part of the exciting atmosphere. Also the bike trails have such cool & funny names like dead cats tail, mo fo & muffin top.  The temperature drops, I start feeling chilled so put my jacket back on.

 

Heading downwards for section 3 now, watch for that orange ribbon to the left side of the road or you will continue down the road to somewhere else! Now the Kattamordo Heritage trail follows a bike trail called Little Oven Circuit, cutting through other bike tracks heading to The Dell on Mundaring Weir Road. Short, sweet & downhill. I pass an upside down, flattened red car that must have happened recently as was not there on my earlier hike in the area. This is where I noticed the signs stuck to trees at the intersection of bike trails that read out the friends of kattamorda heritage trail. Huh! They were not there before! The trail continues to the left of the popular Dell carpark where more cyclists congregate & take off on other bike trails. It’s after 12pm but I just recently stopped so decide to go further along before having my lunch. The trail continues along what use to be the route of a wooden railed tramway taking timber from the Dell to Mundaring Weir back in 1908. The line was discontinued eventually due to many accidents. The old Kattamordo sign markers on trees re emerge not seen since Gunjin road. The track is wide that descends gradually where it crosses another interesting old trail called the Winjan Track that I struggle to find information on, then the Bibbulmun Track. After this, it is a steep long descent down towards Helena River where the track almost reaches the river, goes right & follows the river from slightly above towards Mundaring Weir which is fairly close now. The traffic on Mundaring Weir Road is loud & noisy after being in the bush.  I stop for a well earned lunch on a large slab of rock overlooking the Helena River.

The pole markers & extra ribbons have not gone unnoticed, now more than ever I realised a fairy has been out working their magic re-marking the trail. There wasn’t this much signage 2 months ago! I continue across to the Mundaring Weir wall crossing the bridge. I believe the older bridge further down use to be the crossing point of the trail but now it is in ruins & sealed off. Unless this was the remains of the old Mundaring train line that use to bring city folk out to the Weir wall to see it after it was built. This train line was shut down in 1952. The whole area here is enriched with history. About the Weir Wall, the pipelines, to the Mundaring Weir Hotel where I stopped in for a hot drink before the last section to Sculpture Park! The friends of kattamorda heritage trail decided in the last two months that the trail goes up the stairs after crossing the bridge, all the way to the top, and crosses through the little fenced gated rose garden! Then across the lawn pass a mob of gangster kangaroos, then down to the Weir hotel. Well! 2 months ago those markers weren’t there & I like everyone else, guessed the trail follows the Bibbulmun track below the lookout & pass the Weir Hotel along the side. Well, we won’t know for sure as no original tree markers remain between the last marker near Helena river before you cross the bridge & then pass Jacoby park. I passed a hiker pair finally! I did expect to see more hikers on such a beautiful day. The clouds had come over, it was cool & just right hiking temperature yet no one was out hiking except me!

Section 4 & legs holding up well! I chatted to a friendly twenty eight parrot perched just outside the Mundaring Weir Hotel & enjoyed my chai latte before setting off towards Jacoby Park. This park has the oldest English Oak tree indeed planted in 1870 standing tall & majestic. Though I had a chuckle when I saw how bare it was, not one leaf on the gigantic stick tree! This tree is best viewed fully dressed, such as it was in May. I include a photo from May as the tree looked far more appealing than its current status. Onwards I marched, the Kattamordo Heritage trail now largely follows the two bike paths; Mundi Biddi & Kep Tracks, crossing Mundaring Weir Road 4 times heading north to Sculpture Park where the Mundi Biddi Northern Terminus lies.


The afternoon stays overcast, the sun peeking out of the clouds every so often very briefly. Still the trail continues to the right of the big water pipes, but the friends of kattamorda heritage trail have been busy here placing many pole markers & orange ribbon tied to them. The trail now goes above the old water pump number 2 station instead of through it where I had traversed earlier in the year. And I remember seeing the old trail head post & single tree marker off to the side of the trail and thinking well – the trail used to go in there but there was no tracks, just leaf litter covering the ground & bushes. I did a double take, a triple take, as I was caught out again! A path had been re-formed to go through the trees, pass the old markers & down to the Kep track path below. Scratching my head & thinking I was losing my marbles I was like but! This wasn’t here before! I swear! So I backtracked now on the new pathway just so I didn’t miss any part of the trail out. The tracks are wide, sometimes narrow single bike track, with slight elevation but relatively easy walking. I noticed interesting stuff in the bushes – an abandoned concrete staircase that had no trail running from it, sitting lost in the middle of vegetation with nature slowly reclaiming it, plants growing through all the gaps. Old concrete looking pillars on the ground that looked like they once held massive water pipes? My imagination runs away with me thinking what use to be there a long time ago. If I go walking in there exploring, who knows what I would find!

 

I pass a farm & someone’s house smack bang in the middle of all that bush. The pretty yellow & orange Donkey Orchids spring up everywhere along this section. Old sign markers appear sporadically along this final leg of the journey on the occasional tree. Just before reaching the road crossing into Sculpture Park, I pass another & final big trail head board for the Kattamordo Heritage Trail. Is this the northern terminus end? After this there is no further trail markings, nothing on the information boards in Sculpture Park to say that is the start / end point. But makes a nice finish anyway. Sculpture Park is homebase to the historic Railway Heritage Trail, another awesome trail following the old railway line out to Helena & beyond that no longer exists. From the park with nice grassy picnic spots, toilets & interesting Sculptures, the Mundaring Hotel is right across the road. So with somewhat tired legs & feet, I headed over for a well deserved beer before heading home. My personal best yet, the longest hike I have done in a day to date. The longest being 26kms until now. I can chalk up a 34km hike successfully completed with limbs still attached ☺️.

 

I used AllTrails app to record distance. App paused in recording one point pass the Dell. Wasn’t going to back track once discovered it hadn’t been recording. I started at Hardinge Road Carpark but didn’t start recording there. All trails app can be very helpful to not getting lost, however, for the Kattamordo Heritage Trail, they need to update their map as over half the time, it kept sending me alerts I was off route. Well, I was passing old sign markers so clearly wasn’t off route! You can walk either direction. I just liked going north & finishing at the pub! So what are you waiting for? Get out there & enjoy this marvellous trail right on our doorstep!
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Wungong Gorge Walk

A gruelling 14km walk graded ‘hard’ in the Wungong Regional Park off South West Hwy. There are many options to shorten or lengthen the walk with many goat trails running off here, there & everywhere. Most popular is the Wungong short gorge walk alongside the Wungong creek. Popular with families & dog walkers. This first kilometre starts nice, easy on wide 4WD, leads you into a false sense of ease thinking this aren’t bad, rather pleasant in fact (!) before you venture off to the right crossing the creek on logs & rocks onto the first of two loops – straight up! I would recommend going this way getting the hard part of this loop out the way first rather then at the end part of your walk.

It is important to note this walk is not sign marked at all except for some sporadic pink ribbon tied to trees I only saw on the first loop for the first 5kms then they disappeared. The only way to do this walk is to have something like the All Trails app, enables you to record your walk or just to keep track where you are on the map, it would alert me to when I had ventured off course which happened easily due to the many intersecting tracks.


The right side of loop one takes you up a long steep climb. Just when you think you are at the top on flat ground, the wide gravelly rocky path turns the corner – and oh! More climbing! Sweat running down my face I finally get to the top & begin the walk eastwards looking to the gorge, valley’s  & cityscape views. The wildflowers are poking their heads out & already there is lots of yellows, whites, pinks & reds. Then comes the steep long descent back down to the creek. Already it has taken me over an hour & a half to go 3 odd kms. The terrain is tricky & one benefits from taking walking poles to help with the ascents & descents. I decide to take a break down the bottom sitting on a rock watching the small creek with its running water. Not big at all, narrow but very tranquil & lovely.

As I continued onwards towards the second loop, I am distracted by two ducks drifting by on a makeshift trickle of a stream running across a 4WD track. A stream not existent during most of the year I’m sure. Those ducks made me chuckle as I hopped over the stream & found green hills with tracks running up them in all directions. Which one to take? Looking back at All Trails I noticed the trail continues back to my left so off I go retracing my steps to the walk & continue along.

Up a short uphill I turn right & start on the second loop, a nice meander along with the creek below to my right now. I emerge at a beautiful look out spot overlooking the valleys & hills it is so beautiful out here. Then I turn following the app taking me up my second bastard of a steep hill, on a narrow goat track winding through grass trees. Another option is to take the wide path around & up, may be a better option,  but I was following the map this time. Once at the top, red faced & sweaty Betty, relieved also, I continue along the goat trail now flat walking & pleasant through the bush.


The map is incorrect at the top of this loop saying it goes straight across. Yes you can bush bash through the parrot bush trees & such with no marked trail to follow. I couldn’t care for that so followed the now wide track down around and back to meet the trail. Here you reach the border with Bungendore Park with more trails in here.


Then what goes up must go down! The second loop finishes with a long steep downhill walk, a jumbled stack of rocks more than a path in places. Once down the bottom it joins the pleasant short gorge walk & the majority of hikers you will bump into. Not many people were seen up in the hills. Trail bikes could be heard, seen sometimes tearing up the dirt roads as they fly along with their noisy machines, breaking up the peace & tranquility. Sometimes a bike rider, I only saw one. What was a disappointment was the amount of rubbish discarded into the bush by people. Being pleased with the tough parts over with, I took my second break for a small lunch now above the creek looking up at the hills I had traversed through earlier.

The second half of the first loop meanders along a wide easy dirt road above the creek before descending gently down to cross the creek twice, passing the small dam wall & some old structure just off a short side trail. Couldn’t figure out what this was used for once upon a time. A perfect combo of hill climbs, views, varied terrain & the creek always a highlight. Certainly a winter / spring walk but not summer. I would be happy to return & explore different trails that run off the main track. There is so much to see & explore. In another few odd weeks, the wildflowers will be most abundant. You will see vibrant orange butterfly’s, birds, ducks, ants & fungi. Lots of everything! If you are up for a challenging walk, this one is it!

Wungong Regional Park, Roleystone

Not many people will know of this secret hidden little gem. Tucked away in a corner of Roleystone, Perth. You can google trails in the area, it won’t pop up. It won’t be seen listed on the trails websites or apps. Like it doesn’t exist which makes exploring this area more exciting. It doesn’t have a name actually, only that it is made up of 4 small walk trails called the Echidna, Kangaroo, Emu & Botanical walk trails located in the Churchman’s Bushland Reserve. A perfect day hike awaits!

Driving along Brookton Hwy you come to Stocker road. Nothing in it. Just a quiet no through road with farm houses coming off it. No sign saying “awesome walk trail this way”. Drive to the end across the small bridge over Canning River & you arrive at the cul de sac. A short dirt road leads up to locked gates but an open pedestrian gateway & your journey begins at Wungong Regional park. An old interesting shed still stands disused & slowly falling apart. Interesting contents inside from a bygone era. There is no trail signage, only 3 wide tracks leading off left, right & in the middle. Right goes to private property. I go left instead & it ends at the Canning River. So backtrack & take the middle Path pass the shed head straight up hill. Might as well get the heart rate up at the start! The track unmarked but well maintained, follows the Canning River from above, the sound of water rushing along below. Lots of kangaroos everywhere. They are not impressed by my presence. So much green from the rains. This area is so beautiful passing small creeks, moss growing on trees & that green cover over the ground with rocks poking up so photogenic this landscape!

After going 2 kms or so the track turns sharply to the right & the first trail markers indicating this is the Echidna trail marked with an orange triangle or orange ribbon. Steep climb commences. The trail turns into a goats trail, bushes overgrown I end up drenched wet from brushing pass wet foliage. I also can’t walk upright due to the branches in my face. I have to walk hunched over head butting my way through what a crazy trail it has become! I eventually come out face to face with an impressive 30m high huge granite rock face. Rock climbers come here for a party as is obvious by the metal hooks in the face wall. Awesome spot, must see to be admired as photos don’t do it justice. I go right, climb some man made stone steps up the side but they stop abruptly & I end up carefully picking my way up on hands & feet. More climbs! I play along the top, daring to peer over the edge to the long drop below. Scary. Not wanting to break my neck today I scrambled & climb back down to the bottom via the steps on the other side. After looking at every nook & cranny, feeling puffed & weary from the climbs already, I went back up the left side straight to the highest point of the walk where I reach the small dirt car part where the rock climbers access the rock face.

 

To the right the Echidna trail looks to continue on its loop. Ahead going west is a sign stating the other 3 trails going in the one forward direction. The path up here is wide again, pleasant, flat & different landscape altogether. The old hand drawing picture of this area made by a bloke called Bill,  shows an abandoned airstrip. Now covered in green lush grass I wouldn’t know it was an airstrip – used for something in a bygone era. Old white information markers are scattered along here but the words have faded away with very few readable at all. I encounter one other hiker that has also discovered this place. There are many skinny goat trails running here & there off the main path, sometimes I come across a marker with a kangaroo or emu picture so know I am still on the trail. This part of the walk reminds me of a part on the Bibbulmun track heading to Beraking from Waalegh campsite, as I stomp along enjoying the occasional wildflowers starting to bloom.

I reach the far end here again now changed to some skinny trees woodlands & out into a vast oval of lush open greenness. Farms skirt the edges as the track unmarked here can only go forward in a north direction completing its big loop back to the start. The track again is pleasant, flat, high above with views out to the surrounding farmlands & hills. I even took a right turn on purpose instead of left back to the start so I could do some more steep uphill climbing. The track rejoins the higher kangaroo track loop portion I had passed by earlier. Now with a visual map of the area in my head, I trotted back down the pea gravel track back to the start where I enjoyed a lunch break in the old shed. You can walk as far as you want on this one. So many options but is very hilly, so my total 12.5km hike felt double that. A very nice 3.5hr loop hike. The scenery is amazing here. I can only imagine how nice it will be in spring with the landscape  bursting with colours. But still right now is best time to go. The greens are amazing. Kangaroo central here, I must have seen at least 50 of them hopping across the trails in front of me.

Remember this place is our little secret!

 

Day Sixty Three: Sandpatch to Albany!

Our final leg of this incredible journey. 12.5kms into Albany to the Southern Terminus sign. My mind was too active for sleep & spent the night rolling from left side to right side on my noisy sleeping pad. It was warm, the outside seem quiet besides a gentle breeze making the outer tent flap on my side blow inwards & outwards. Ambles at one point said he could hear something outside. But it was only the tent flap. Certainly by 4.30am the breeze was getting stronger, Ambles said, “uh-oh, there’s dark clouds coming!” But he had nothing to fear, besides a strong breeze, we had a perfect morning weather wise. Truly blessed. There were clouds rolling through & that was all. The winds had a chill to them. We had a quick breakfast & went up to the lookout top to brush our teeth & watch the sun rise. So lucky it wasn’t overcast & drizzling rain like yesterday morning! We had to fight the winds to pack up the tent being the only drama. By the time 6.30am rolled by, we had backpacks on for the final time. Mine felt super light, we had eaten most of the food. So as we started this journey together just the two of us, it was fitting we finish together, just the two of us. Everyone we had met had already finished in Albany or not on the track anymore. It was just us two still walking. Ambles quickly forgot about doing his daily push-ups to build his upper body. Not good enough! I think he was just too excited to get this other with!

 

 

 

We left the barren campsite behind & made our way onwards through some more sand hills, one last lookout to the ocean before we turn inwards & towards the outskirts of Albany. I spot one more snake just at the last minute it slithers away from my pole & boot & into the bush. Jolly early, I didn’t realise snakes would be active so early but now I do! Ambles pulls in front at times & I keep reminding him we must walk together the whole way today! Once we turn into Frenchman’s Bay, it’s bitumen footpath for awhile. Our feet don’t like this. Rubbish goes into the first bin we see.😆 Soon enough we turn onto more pleasant dirt track still skirting the waters edge before doing those silly Bibbulmun track round the mulberry bush, go left go right go around but oh – you could have just gone straight ahead!😏 It is feeling warm, the sun is out for the first time in awhile. It’s a Sunday so not many people are around. As we near the end back on street sidewalks, one cycling couple go pass us & say, “You are almost there!” So does a lady outside a cottage. The track goes pass a museum & a beautiful boat on display called the Amity.  For the track to end there would be perfect. But we must continue along, cross the railway line & the main street where I pick out my parents & Kerry waiting for us! My mum plays my favourite ‘Giant’ song on her mobile phone as we finish our final steps to the southern terminus sign. It’s 9.30am. Job done! Almost! Mandatory photos at the sign then walk back & up the main street to the Visitor Centre. Along the way up we spot the familiar figures of Deb & Mel walking towards us. We greet, congratulate & hug each other. We will catch up later for a drink with them as we continue our way to the centre. Here I fill in the trail logs book as arrived & we ring the finishing bell together, I make sure my faithful little Galicia bell has its final ring too! Ambles next important port of call is to the pub across the road where we all have a drink even though it’s only after 10am!

 

 

We have eaten & drank well, showered ourselves clean & back in normal non hiking clothes. I’ve been so use to wearing the same clothes for 9 weeks. We have our congratulatory drinks with Deb & Mel late in the afternoon with a promise to catch up in Perth before they fly home. We only stay the night in Albany & pig out one last time – Razzlers steakhouse is highly recommended! Home with our funky smell-o backpacks early Monday morning. It will take some readjusting from living a simple life, out of a backpack for so long. I already miss the trail & can’t wait to go back & hike my favourite parts. Guess it will have to wait until Autumn next year. Without our trail angels, we would have survived yes but would not have been the same. Without my parents providing food drops in between sections means I would have had to carry up to 7 days of food for us both. And we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of catching up with them. They also were our back bone of support for all Ambles malfunctioning equipment, emergency aid. Thank you so much to my parents as they were amazing, a support we were so appreciative of. A huge thank you to amazing Kerry for helping with our food drops as well! It was always great, I was always excited to meet up with Kerry in our next trail town with our resupply box. And the surprise visit further down! To John & Kate that surprised us with their company in our first trail town of Dwellingup! For helping Ambles ‘stash’ some of his gear further up the track!😆 And Tim & Jules the joy of seeing you two walk into our camp unexpectedly especially after our long hard day slogging in the dunes! Those beers & your company truly a god send. And your hospitality feeding & transporting us to Parry’s & back to trail. Was a memorable night camping with you both at Parry’s. And the drinks & meal shared in Denmark. All our trail angels gave up their own time to meet & help us, it was awesome sharing our journey with you all!😁🤩 My biggest thank you to my partner in crime Ambles, you have been my rock & supportive all the way! 🥰

 

 

To everyone we met on the track, we will always remember meeting you all, if just one or two nights, or a week or more. Meeting other hikers is what makes the journey even more special. Daisyfish, Kirsty & Gijs, Veronique, Emu, Jeremy, Dave & Jayn, Wayne, Tristan (H), Simone, Deb & Mel, Lisa & Geoff, John & Lindsay, Sarah the author, Drew & Ray. The Essendon Bushwalking Club of Four, Birdman!

 

 

My list of good & not so good: Best Shelter for views: It’s a tie with Rame Head & Blackwood. Worst shelter: Yabberup (too dark & gloomy) Uneasy night Shelter: Yourdamung, Shelter on track with best swimming hole: Dog Pool! Best design Shelter: Frankland River, The only ‘hut’: Mt Wells, Worst rodent shelter: Tom Road, Shelter with the worst inside table: Grimwade, Shelter with the worst toilet: Woolbales, Shelter with the worst water tank tap: West Cape Howe, The most tidy & immaculate shelter: Long Point, best toilet amenities: all the new rammed earth king sized toilet rooms! Best single day walk: Woolbales to Long Point hands down for wildflowers, orchids & landscape varieties from granite rocks to forests to sand dunes & beaches! Worst single day walk: William Bay Road to Denmark, was the longest day walking, body tired feet really hurting especially on Mount Hallowell. Best section: Hmmmmmmm. Walpole to Peaceful Bay. Worst section: Peaceful Bay to Denmark. Three really hard days in soft sand horrid up n down dunes… Favourite town: Balingup hands down, so friendly & welcoming to hikers.😊Raelean Bailey I loved meeting you finally! Worst encounters on track: huge swamp puddles to wade through!!!

 

 

What’s more we had NO diversions the whole way! The best of the weather. We chose the right year & best time to go! Ambles made sure we had at least one cup of red wine each night on the track, sometimes 2 or whiskey as well! The track tested us physically, mentally & tested our relationship. We planned, organised & executed this dream! My dehydrated meals & food planning were on par, we ate very well on the track! I couldn’t be prouder of us both!🥰 Final Snake sightings: Ambles 5, Rose 6.5 Ambles insists to be called Mr D again & not Ambles! We thank the Bibbulmun Track Foundation & all the volunteers that maintain this track, they do an amazing job! We are forever grateful to have this track on our doorstep & free! So lucky are we! Next year we have lined up the Camino Portuguese coastal route & Overland Track in Tasmania. Stay tuned for future blogs😆😁.

 

 

 

 

 

Day Sixty Two: Mutton Bird to Sandpatch

26/10: Sleep eluded me for awhile. Ambles had an eventful trip to the toilet sometime in the early morning. Could not be a simple trip to the loo. It had started to drizzle when he went & while he was sitting in the toilet doing a big job, a gang of mozzies started biting him on any exposed piece of skin they found. Then his head torch battery indicated it was about to go completely flat with several warning flashes. He is slapping at the mozzies & as his light flashes he catches a glimpse of a big black spider coming out of nowhere catching a mozzie & eating it. Ambles was like, ‘I’m out of here!’ With his head torch flat now, he stumbles back in the dark & now the rain which was more than a drizzle, back to the shelter. I didn’t get up at all until after 5am. The sky is overcast but as morning wakes up, some blue skies start peeking through. Very briefly, then an annoying constant drizzle of rain starts & seems to have set in for the morning. Ambles fetches water from the tank & gets a spider come out of the tap into his bowl! He must be having an insect kind of day.😊

 

 

I lay cosy in my sleeping bag with my first cuppa until 6am. Then I get up with my second cuppa & start packing my stuff up. Before porridge, Deb & Ambles do their push up challenge. Ambles goes first & does 24 push-ups, not full ones the cheat! Deb does 25 – take that! But she pulls skin off her knuckles this time & decides she better not do any more. Ambles returns for another 24 push-ups, knees dropping, struggling with the effort. The trees close by the shelter become full of white tailed cockatoos, chattering away to each other, flying back & forth, the branches sagging under their weight. White tailed Cockatoos have a pleasant melodic call, unlike the screeching raucous that the red tailed cockatoos make.

 

 

We had all packed up & watching the rain, where did this weather come from?! Our weather apps mention no rain, cloudy with top of 20 degrees. We hang back procrastinating to go. The next campsite has no shelter as Sandpatch shelter was burnt down in May last year from a controlled burn that got out of control. Deb & Mel were even considering staying two nights here & walking 24kms to Albany tomorrow. We watched the cheeky magpie lark return & scavenge for any food scraps. By 8.30am, the rain was slowing down & a hint of blue sky could be seen. The rain stopped so we quickly packed & left camp leaving our northbound hiker whom his name is Tony we found out, behind. A lazy 12 kilometres to the next & last camp. It was humid to start with & flies buzzing about my face. We hadn’t gone a kilometre when we could see rain over the ocean coming in again. Before long our umbrellas come out as we walk along in the rain some good kilometres before it stops for the last time. Views are limited through the rain haze. It is what it is. We pass alongside the Albany wind farm, lots of wind turbines turning & turning. If they make a noise it must be a low hum as I hear the waves crashing louder in my ears than the turbines. The first wind turbine is broken & doesn’t move as if to say to the others, ‘Stuff Y’all I aren’t gonna work no way! Can’t make me!’ Another wind turbine further along has a missing head. The rain lifts & the views return as we walk into Sandpatch. Two men are getting ready for some hang gliding & Ambles stops to talk to them & explain what we are doing out there. Then we join tourists on the boardwalk around to Sandpatch beach, one tourist couple are brave to ask the stinky funky smelling hikers that is us to take their photo. I’m all obliging. Another hiker comes up behind us. A man whom carries a big pack & maybe he is a thur hiker as well. He must be triple hutting into Albany & came from Torbay I guess. He grunts a hello but doesn’t stop to chat. A man on a mission! We spot Mel sitting on a bench, she is waiting for Deb to return whom has gone down to check out the beach. They both set off to check out Sandpatch campsite & decide what they want to do. It’s midday as I go check out a lookout first, the guide book highly recommends it. So Ambles hangs around on the bench Mel was sitting at & I go check it out. It’s well worth it, with views over the whole wind farm & at the higher lookout, views over to Albany! The end goal is in sight! Now only 14kms away😁. I’m ecstatic as I head back down passing toilets & bins. Hence I head back up a second time to empty my rubbish bag!

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It’s an easy 2.6kms now to camp, entering the area that is rejuvenating after the May 2018 bushfire. And there’s so much flowers, a rainbow of colours & green bushes amongst the blackened trees. So we arrive a little after 1pm to a construction site where the foundation of a new shelter is being started. There’s a water tank & drop toilet. No trail log book to write in. No red book to read peoples comments & stories. The tent sites haven’t been maintained & have bushes growing all over them, unlevel ground & chunks of rock stuck in the ground. How they were ever tent sites I don’t know!😕We find the best one under the shade of a tree. It’s the only shelter we can find. Bit of a slope but it will do. There’s a lookout at top to watch the sunrise & sunset over the ocean. Unfortunately the ground up there is not good for a tent either. Mel hates the site, the whole place & Deb has called their accommodation place in Albany & booked tonight as well. They will continue on into Albany today.☹️We all sit on the ground & have lunch. Deb had a speech prepared as her farewell to us, she read out her speech which was lovely & touching. They really enjoyed sharing their journey with us. So Ambles did an impromptu speech. Just after 2pm, Deb & Mel walked back out to the track. And now for the second time on this trip, we will have the campsite to ourselves! I can see no one stays here. I’m sad to see Deb & Mel go, but will enjoy my last night on the track. We have some hard work preparing the ground & putting up our tent. It is harder without a picnic table, sitting on rocks on the ground preparing meals & cuppa teas. Almost like roughing it but we still have a water tank & toilet close by! The afternoon has warmed up, hopefully the rain now stays away!

 

 

We prepare dinner early so we can eat, clean up & be ready for bed. Then we can watch the last sunset before crawling into bed. Take our remaining vino up here & admire the glorious views. ☺️ Can hear the wind turbines now whirling loudly, sound right behind us but they are to the west of us so their sounds must be echoing through the valleys. I can hardly believe this is the final night! What a whirlwind of an adventure it has been!🤪

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Day Sixty One: Torbay to Mutton Bird

25/10: Ahhhhh…..tick tock, tick tock, it sounded like a loud ticking clock next to my head. After awhile I realised it was just the sound of dripping water on the outside of the shelter wall dripping from the roof to the ground. Went on all night. Rained a small amount too a couple of times. The winds had finally died down. Had to get up to relieve myself & looked up at the night sky on the way back from the toilet. It was a clear night & the sky was covered with impressive stars. Woke up after 5am stretching out leisurely in bed. No need to rush, an easy 12.4kms today. We originally were going to do 24kms but changed our plan as the sands were tougher to walk in & take us much longer. But they are easy this side of Denmark than the other side, much easier! Anyway, nice to enjoy our final last days on track instead of rushing it. Ambles had another wacky idea – instead of camping at Sandpatch tomorrow, walk into the outskirts of Albany & stay at a hotel on the track – this idea got quickly shot down in a ball of flames. Ambles is out numbered by three women to one man😂. I wonder if we will get any more End to Enders that started later than us, catching up at this end? Many people double hut through to Albany from Denmark. Ambles & Deb did their early morning push ups again while preparing breakfast cuppa. We did a real lazy pack up leaving camp after 7.45am, I was ready by 7.15am so sat & passed time watching the male & female wren birds chase each other through the foliage while waiting for Ambles to be ready.