Friday, May 29, 2015

The Marge and Judy surprise

We were heading from Monadnocks to Canning campsite, and hoped to meet Marge and Judy, El Camino family at camp. Sure enough they were there waiting for us, having hiked in from the Brookton highway access, about 10kms away.

They had brought us fresh fruit, cheese and other goodies! But more than anything we enjoyed their company and conversation. We had a long night as per usual and together we walked out to the Brookton highway through a small wetlands area, and past a bald rocky shale patch.
At the highway we boiled the billy and waited for Ree and Alastair to come with the caravan from the Threeway Roadhouse. They arrived in a timely manner and we headed off to Mundaring Weir hotel for a pup lunch, after saying goodbye to Marge and Judy.

The navigator in the caravan tried to take us to Mundaring, nowhere near the Mundaring Weir Hotel, then the phone navigation tried to go through dead end roads but in the end we got there barely in time before kitchen close - thanks to an electricity meter reading man's directions!
The accommodation we were banking on was the YHA which was not picking up the phone and we could not find any info on other than its location and good references from other hikers.

Ree had managed to track down a new phone number for the place as or was under new management: Ellen. Ellen turns our to be a very friendly social woman living with a dozen or more kangaroos. Nothing was too much trouble and she told is we could leave the caravan there till we hike trough again on June 1. Parks and Wildlife were ready to help us in case we got stuck but thanks to Ellen at the YHA all was solved.

And surprise surprise, there was Sharon, another friend I'd met on the El Camino, waiting for us!! She had come to walk with us for a few days.

Though the caravan got to the YHA fine but we noticed a tire was down. Ellen had a pump and we blew it up only to finds out we actually had a flat.

Alastair had cooked us all a big spaghetti dish for the evening, we spike about religion and cats and retired happily and in comfort.

When Alastair returned the next morning he helped me change the caravan tire before driving us all back to Brookton hwy. And so now with Sharon and my partner Ree we have four on the trail! And so we headed for the Mount Dale campsite!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mount Cooke to Monadnocks DIVERSION :)

That's right, we followed a diversion for a 2015 prescribed back burn! But first let's mention or walk to mount Cook from our cozy Nerang shelter.

The scouts had passed the hut and said hello and we followed on their heels about 9am. We soon overtook them as they have little tutorials along the way. Slowly we started heading up mount Cooke, getting steeper and steeper and then around the 450m mark we started walking along rock surfaces following rock cairns to what we perceived to be the top. Just after the top we found an exposed rock face for lunch and phone reception!

This is when the scouts passed us and surprisingly other people started walking past! After lunch we descended a little and went up again onto a little treed hump. That bushy hump turned out to be the actual summit. By now it was apparent that it was Sunday afternoon and this mountain a popular walk! I was busy doing PR work all the way to the hut, handing out cards and flyers that we carry.

At the hut we found two hikers, Lester and James. Actually James was walking to the top, as Lester was tending to a blister. Marilyn, who had earlier almost stepped on a snake and at least once toppled backwards when trying to pee without dismounting her pack... gave Lester a hand dressing his blister. She was promptly offered a matrimonial option. She wisely declined.

James and Lester were our sole camp buddies for the afternoon and evening, after the tourists dried up. As we were in phone range we were both busy catching up on duties and planning the next caravan rendezvous logistics with the kind people involved including my partner Ree who flew into Perth and who will join us soon!
A casual start to our day today and we strolled to Monadnocks campsite. As we were told there was a clearly marked diversion and we had no trouble following it, though we missed out on climbing up Mount Cuthbert and Mount Vincent, no great loss :)
It was just a fire trail so it was an easy 13-14kms. We noticed our first garbage dumped along the track. Signs of civilisation apparently. The Monadnocks shelter was leafy and quite with noone there. Apparently our last phone reception for a while, so last chance to firm up caravan and visitor plans!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

White Horse to Gringer

It was a cold morning again at the White Horse shelter.  I sleep in my silk lining and am pretty warm at night unless I get up to pee... Fortunately that is only once or twice per night. Marilyn manages most nights without a pit stop, not sure how she does ír. Must be the twelve hot drinks  I have at night, green ginger teas and soups. 

Phil was there as expected, but we were also joined by two young women, hiking South. Sheridan and Sarah I believe they were. Sarah was very well traveled and had hiked and camped in Africa and Asia, with stories to match. Sheridan has chronic fatigue and hyperchromalgia, and deals with chronic pain. She is a brave woman for whom I have a great deal of respect. Most in her situation would be sore and suffering at home, but she is out here living life!  She set up a tent in the shelter (with veneer backrests against wall too) as a trial, but had a lot of condensation overnight which made her sleeping bag wet. It did not dampen her mood, and the two women left shortly before us at 830am. Phil was long gone, he gets up early and listens to the weather forecast on his radio, gets ready and goes :)

Today we hike over a mountain along the Bibbulmun to Gringer Campsite and go a kilometer and a half further along a spur trail to the Threeway roadhouse to the caravan! Phil took off before us and we expected to see him in the hut.

Along the way we went up to a Mountain which had a spur trail to the top. We decided against the extra hike as the high rock ahead looked like a fair extra effort.
We crossed the Albany highway and found Gringer hut, but no Phil. The log book mentioned mice and we were glad to go the the Roadhouse.

Back at the caravan we restocked, did laundry, had a beer and potato wedges. Caught up on internet and  had fish and chips for dinner. We stayed in the backpackers quarter in proper beds with clean bedding!

Radio interview in the morning! Was great to get some publicity! Sharon had tipped us off, a friend who is coming soon to join us for a few days!  

We were worried about Phil not having arrived at Gringer's before us but assumed he'd gone up Boonara Hill, the mountain along the way. When we saw his entry in the hut book in the morning  as we passed it on the way to Nerang campsite.

Our walk to Nerang was nice and flat and fairly uneventful. We saw the black cockatoos with the white tails today, mostly we have seen the red ones. Apparently the red ones are endangered, even though they are the ones shouting at us along the track for weeks now. Kookaburras have also been laughing at us morning and night, they are very vocal and very abundant!

At Nerang hut we found Phil. He had indeed climbed the mountain, albeit unknowingly. The spur trail is almost more trodden then the regular track and he had accidentally taken it. Once on top you were meant to go back the same way, but Phil thought he was on trail but couldn't find the continuing track on top. He had also hit his head along the way which didn't help the situation. An hour later he retraced his steps and 300m back found the junction and realized his mistake.

To add to Phil's demise he ended up at Gringer hut where at 8pm a dozen or more (19?) scouts woke him up with torches. They stacked his carefully collected and chopped jarrah firewood onto the fire (Phil is planning to walk back and was hoping the wood would be there in two days time still). He got up and socialized. In the morning he found a couple of young ones trying to light the fire and they asked if he could do it. He showed them how and once it was going they promptly left. No entry in the log book either!

It was a short flat walk for us past Gringer hut to get to Nerang hut where we found Phil, chopping wood. Soon we were joined  by 5 mates who have an annual Bib hike. They provided good value for the night showing off awesome gear (ExPed mattresses etc) and cooking skills supplemented with Port.

The toilet here is sponsored by life member John Forster, I wonder if he is our Tasmanian wood chopper!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dwellingup to Chadora and Mount Wells

Whilst in Dwellingup we had casually looked for trail markers but never saw any, and I wasn't about to ask anyone of course as we have a GPS! We got some extra supplies and repacked the bags on our day of rest and then I decoded to drive the caravan to our next resupply point. No more rest days as distances are getting shorter for us now!

It was almost an hour and a half to drive to North Bannister on the Albany hwy where there is the Three ways Roadhouse. They will look after the vehicle for five days till we get there. Though we can't stay in the caravan there we will stay in their accommodation! I hitched back in the late afternoon.

Hitching back requires waiting alongside roads, and sometimes it gets cold or it rains, things I was not prepared for. Fortunately I got a lift with a friendly couple to Boddington and after almost an hour waiting there I got Eric from the local gold mine to drive me straight to our caravan park!  Got back at 530pm before sark and not cold and wet despite threatening weather. We already knew it can rain in Dwellingup, place of water apparently...

Tuesday morning we headed into town to pick up the trail. GPS indicated it went along the rail and confidently I led Marilyn to the little station and followed the rail... After 200m my GPS showed me heading off the trail yet I was walking along the railways line. After a few confused minutes I said we need to head a few hundred meters north for some reason. We crossed an oval and got to another railway line :) we were finally on trail, but Marilyn was already getting prepared to use her compass!

It was a fast flat walk to the first hut, Chadora, where we found Phil. Phil is a veteran Bib walker and volunteer who just thought he'd take a few days out of life to hike to Nerang. Nothing really do report on the walk except the cute spider we saw for lunch. Also, keep on forgetting to mention, the little pretty fairy wrens that do their mating twirlies in front of us to divert us away from their nests. They fly up and down and do aerial gymnastics, land, twirl their fancy tails at us, fly around... At times they've done this for close to 100m, but 20-30m is common. Lovely to see.

Due to early arrival we had a leisurely time at the hut before worrying about dinner. Marilyn had dinner and breakfast covered, and we went to bed late (about 7pm) because Phil got out his cask of wine. As he is hiking for a long time without resupplies we were respectful with our consumption. Anyways, good thing we had some alcohol as it was a particularly cold night.

In the morning Phil left before us. First time we are actually hiking 'with' someone, as our next two huts also coincide! Good thing Phil is a nice man :) He's even done the Kakoda Trail and a few other interesting things.

Walk to Mount Wells, our next hut was also straight forward, just over 16kms with a longish climb after our 11am lunch. We arrived on the summit of Mount Wells to meet Phil. The hut is a four walled hut with stove and fire tower behind it. Phil will be in charge of the fire as I need to try stay out of the smoke. 

Marilyn has her own room here! First time is month she doesn't need to share! Phil and I can have farting competitions all night!
I'm in charge of dinner and breakfast here as my pack needs lightening :).

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Drivers Road to Dwellingup

On Friday morning Marilyn and I had a leisurely morning waiting for Chris who was due to pick us up around 1030am. Chris and wife Shanomi arrived and we all drove to Drivers Road, a long way away along many little dirt roads.

Half past noon we headed on our merry way along the Bibbulmun and despite the forecast stayed dry for the 16 or so kilometers along the Murray River to Murray's shelter.  We were afraid we might get there after dark, but comfortably made it. At the hut we found the BBQ ring did not have a grill plate on it, which we wanted because Chris had brought along three steaks! As he lit the fire Marilyn discovered two bottles of wine in the shelters box! 

We've found titbits in it before ranging from gas canisters to candles, but never wine! Bonus :)

Marilyn sharpened some sticks and soaked them to act as skewers for steak. Steaks were turned into pieces and we barbecued them successfully on Chris's fire. Dinner was supplemented by rehydrated chorizo and beans from Ree.

Off cuts of meat were tied to Marilyn's shoestring and dunked in the Murray river in the hope of attracting some marrons (WA crayfish) which she had never seen before. No luck there, but she was lucky to find her laces back in the river.

Next morning, as through  the night, it rained all morning so I got my umbrella out (which I had brought due to the terrible forecast of 50+mls rain/day) to go over my torn up raincoat (it has known better days but just recently started falling apart). We stopped for snacks in a hollow tree but the rain fortunately stopped in time for lunch. Chris had a brand spanking new picnic rug which we christened. Sitting amongst the mushrooms growing on the firetrail. Marilyn pulled out salami, tomatoes and sourdough bread fir the occasion.

Straight after lunch as we headed up the steep hill we found several log benches to sit on, complete with distance info from huts. We had not seen seats since we left the coast! One was next to a hollowed out tree called the Yarrabi Hilton.

Reasonably on schedule, 330pm, we walked into Swamp Oak campsite to find Annie's birthday party; a group of 7 lovely women celebrating Annie's 50th. Also there was Ashley and Elaine, a friendly couple out for an overnighter. Never had we seen such a crowd, and given the forecast and the log books it was an amazing coincidence to have us all get there the same night. We all worked as a team and managed to fit in.

Though Ashley and Elaine had a tent, there was a space arranged for them in the hut as the forecast was miserable. It rained heavily most of the night but they were comfy and warm in their tent :)

Did I mention Chris cooked again? He'd brought 500gms of mince and made a concoction for us... This was very unfair as Marilyn and I were left carrying our dehydrated extra food (we had also catered for chris just in case :)

Come breakfast time the rain did not stop the 7 women from leaving as they had husbands waiting for them in the Dwelingup pup which stopped serving lunch at 2pm!

The three of us left quite a bit later and walked through heavy rain along the track and missed one turn off. Instead of back tracking I used the GPS to guide us to a firetrail intersection where we found the women having a pee break. We joined them. We might have cut a little off with our mistake.

We beat them into the pup as the rain pretty much made us run. I tried to get Chris and Marilyn to stop for lunch on the Bibbulmun 10minutes from town but they were hell bent on pup food. And yes, the rain was still pouring down on us...
Drenched we made the pup and told the nervous men and children their women were on their way. We had a lovely pizza lunch which I woofed down with a few pints of Guinness. When Amber and boyfriend arrived many hours later to take Chris away we were almost completely dry again.

I lost my new hanky already..
Nice to be back in the caravan! 

We will relax tomorrow and plan the next stage.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Collie River Valley Tourist Park

The last day's walk before a track town is a little like a horse running towards its own  stable; there's no stopping it. And that is essentially how we hiked into Collie.

Left the Yabberup shelter which we really liked at about 815am and ran towards Collie at about 5kmphr. Actually whilst on the subject, we really liked the hut as it wasn't terribly dusty and the boards you slept on were made from treated pine boards which has a smooth surface of which one could sweep the dust effectively! It also had plenty of hooks to hang things up on and had small side boards on which I could put my candle and rest my back whilst seated (on the boards). I know it still sounds spartan to most of you, but compared to Changi and the Bangkok Hilton it really seemed comfy.
The (tea) candle is handy as I wake up when it flickers near its end which is generally about 1am and that is the time I go for a leak, have a bit of an energy bar and a mouth full of nuts and fruits and take an antibiotic pill (plus my usual enzymes). It saves me having to use a bright torch as well.

The 20km walk to Collie was mostly down hill. We had a bit of a hard time following the trail in places , but thanks to Marilyn's keen eye and my GPS it wasn't too hard.
At one point we emerged at power poles where the wiring was being repaved, but all we saw was electric wire hanging off the electricity poles.

The track took us virtually past Collie before turning east and then south into town. We were keen to take earlier dirt roads into town but in the end religiously followed the Bibbulmun trail as lightning may strike us down if we  took short cuts.

By the time we reached the Collie River Valley Tourist Park it was only 2pm or thereabouts. Chris and Shanomi had dropped the caravan there 5 days ago and it stood there faithfully waiting for us.
Management was incredibly kind and generous and treated us like royalty, even painting  curbs near the caravan white with a fresh coat of paint and refused to charge us for our stay! Many thanks!

We walked into town for an Indian Banquet at night and the following day visited the tourist office, the super markets, parks and wildlife and drove the caravan to Dwellingup which skips a lot of closed trail again.. As we drove North I received an email that Bob, a kind and thoughtful hiker, had brought my beloved thongs to the Collie tourist information center where we'd been earlier. Unfortunately we are now far away again. Still working on logistics to get them back!

Chris is picking us up tomorrow to drive us back south to Drivers Road to pick up the trail where we are legally allowed to recommence our Bibbulmun track! Chris will hike with us for the three days through predicted foul wet and windy weather back to Dwellingup where we are leaving the caravan thanks to the kind people at the caravan park there.

And so we slowly make our way North. Watch this space!

Also a big thank you to all those who  kindly donated to Cystic Fibrosis through our Every day hero page! CF Tasmania really appreciated the donations. I don't think week reach our target but hey, nice to be optimistic! Special thanks to my mum and the Burnie NW hospital Theatre Staff for their generosity :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Grimwade and Noggerup

We left our dusty Grimwade hut nice and early and walked North... Well, we were meant to be heading north, bit the track decided differently. Though the first we were walking through appeared innocent enough (no steep gullies etc) it wound around in mysterious ways even avoiding convenient connecting dirt roads. If anyone knows why the track sometimes seems to go out if its way for no apparent reason we would love to be enlightened. When I showed the map to Marilyn she said she'd take the map next time and make sure we don't miss shortcuts like some of these obvious ones as her feet are sore and tired! The forest all looks a bit the same these days! Today I lost my hanky, second one so far this hike.

We are still seeing lots of emu poos, and they are firming up... Also we are finding these big undigested nuts in there which we cannot pinpoint to any tree. I busted one open and found white pasty stuff inside which didn't have much taste, though looked edible... If you don't mind eating emu poo nuts that is.

We got to Noggerup shelter and found three people there. Gadget NZ man Muz and nurse Ann now both from Perth. Muz sported a Garmin GPS watch and some other nifty gear. He had an Ortlieb backpack for instance, something I'd never seen before, and one of those incredibly wonderful plastic solar light pillow Lumen gadgets. Of course he cooked with an MSR whisperlite stove and anodised steel pots for which he had backpacker dehydrated meals.  I would've gladly traded some equipment! They were just on a short overnight hike - how nice would it be to be home now...

And then on the other side of the scale we had Dutchman Martin van der Aarde, dutch for Martin from this Earth. He was indeed a Dutchman on vacation, and despite initial looks is from this earth. He also tried tasting the emu nuts incidentally. Must be a dutch thing... His intention had been to find a job as a cook on a remote station, a good change after working in mental health in Holland. But since that didn't work out he thought he'd hike a bit on the Bibbulmun!

Now humanist Martin likes to keep things simple, so that meant minimalistic. His sleeping bag was a woolen blanket for instance and his preferred hiking shoes, wearing a little thin already, the Crocs. He cooked on campfires and made damper on site, boiled rice and noodles and mostly stuck to a vegetarian menu. Well educated and fluent in English he kept us all entertained with his minimalist travel adventures which included skirting the Russian border in the arctic and being kicked out of Poland.

After everyone went to bed I stayed up yacking away in Dutch with him. In the morning he showed me his dutch Annie Schmidt book, full of amazing children nursery rhymes - which may seem odd to you, but that just means you don't know Annie Schmidt and probably don't speak Dutch!  Hope our paths criss again some time.

So in the morning we took a group photo as we enjoyed each other's company so much and headed off our separate ways.

Marilyn and I bee lined to the Mumbalup tavern 7kms away. There was an undocumented diversion here of one kilometer as one hiker had a run in with a landowner who now no longer allows the Bibbulmun to cross his land! A kind road worker along the detour donated $20 to Cystic Fibrosis as we passed and Marilyn dug out a few railway nails from the old disused railway that we walked along. The nails had her son's initial on them J. I waited at the closed tavern where I boiled a billy for us.

It was shortly after 230pm when we pulled into camp Noggerup, only ones there. Lovey hut with shiny veneer boards. Though no tanbark on the ground it is nowhere near as dusty as Grimwade!

We are figuring out caravan logistics for the next week or two, but after that it is going to be very tricky wrt finding a place to meet our caravan. It is going to be a bit of a juggle after Gringer creek... Anyways as we get closer we tend to find solutions!

Good chance that mate Chris is going to hike with us on the weekend! Yeah!

Collie tomorrow!

Balingup to Grimwade

Chris and Shanomi drove over from Perth to spend a day with us on our restday this Saturday in Balingup. Balingup is a quaint little tourist town where they had an arts and crafts market happening. I bought some local honey which I paid for but forgot to take from the stall :( We tried to have lunch in one of the cafes but after a ten minute wait for the table it turned out they had run out of food in any case! Ended up in the nice tavern down the road where we were enchanted by the chili burgers!!

Chris and Shanomi were kind enough to take our caravan to Collie on their way home, our next destination, and the Post house Backpackers at the Balingup post office (surprise!) offered us a very kind rate to stay in a room there. Shanomi saw or back packs and suddenly realized we weren't just on an afternoon hike. She had conveniently forgotten about having to lug 23kg backpacks with us... Renewed respect :)

Eight on Sunday morning, mother's day,  we were heading up the hills on the Bib again! A quick photo at Walter street on the way out :) Not named after me incidentally.

Trail was good, with a few challenges both vertical and signposting wise, met one young hiker coming the other way just after lunch, I lost my thongs of my backpack, and we arrived 4pm after almost 25kms of ups and downs at Grimwade hut. And grim it is. Signs of recent bushfires, tons of dust everywhere... and I miss my thongs :(

Interestingly we saw several signs indicating aerial back burning! No dates posted, but we kept a cautious eye on the sky just in case fire bombing was happening. Despite no accrual fire bans in force the fire ring at the hut has an undated notice to say No Fires and Fire Ban, but we don't normally light them anyways..

In the other huts we found down South we never had dust problems as they had wood chips on the floor. What a massive difference that makes!

Anyways, another big day again tomorrow... Geez I'll miss my thongs till we get to Collie on Wednesday afternoon :)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

All Good in Balingup

Thank you to all people who have helped us look for people to help us move the car/van to Collie! In the end we had a couple of options!

Next tricky relocation is from Collie to Dwellingup next Friday morning. The trick is that we need to be dropped off at Driver Road half way between...  The reason for this is that we need to skip 4 huts past Collie due to fire damage diversions following the fires earlier this year. If anyone is able to help us on Friday morning 15 May  please call/SMS Walter on 0417067460 or email

A special mention to The Posthouse Backpackers who are helping us with a night in Balingup tonight!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Missed the diversion...

We headed out the Gregory Brook hut with its black water early in the morning after a peaceful night without getting raided as I bribed the resident mice with a small piece of mountain bread which was extensively nibbled around the edges in the morning. I also started burning some lemon scented tea light candles at night which I think keeps them at bay.

Today was going to be a slightly long day as we were heading on a diversion to Wright's Bridge camping site where there is no hut because the bridge to Blackwood campsite is under construction. Though the fires that burned it were three years ago the bridge was ordered from France apparently and that doesn't happen overnight. There are probably other good reasons for the diversion but we were told that if you follow the Bibb signs you will end up at Wright's Bridge.

Eventually we came to a sign about the diversion complete with map and we glanced at it and continued following the Serpentine Bibbulmun triangles. Shortly after the sign we noted a red cap discarded on the RHS of the track and low and behold we see the track and a Bibb arrow. Would've been easily missed. No ribbon or sign and we assumed we were on track for Wright's Bridge still. Turned out we turned into the original track and ended up at the bridge construction site. Just before we got there we ran into a Tassie hiker called Roy from Hobart who confirmed we were heading for Blackwood and were not on the diversion but that all was well with the bridge crossing as the workmen were friendly.
Soon after seeing Roy we ended up at the bridge construction site where we were escorted across at a safe time and offered coffee in their rest room where they even had a mobile phone repeater so we could use our mobiles! We had a quick lunch and called our loved ones, posted a blog entry, and contacted a TV journalist wishing to get in touch with us!

Along the river we continued, up a steep hill and we arrived at the Blackwood Shelter. We even had phone reception there!

Night was comfortable, and valley below was covered in a blanket of clouds when we woke up. A beautiful spot.

As the fog rose to get us we left and went down towards Balingup to find our caravan. The fog was pretty special.
Trail was well marked but fire damage was pretty evident all around us. The burned homestead, and some burned trail signs (many with a new one next to it). It was shortly after lunch we ran into Dennis and Karen who had kindly dropped the caravan off and were walking up the track from Balingup to greet us.

Iced coffee at a café and a nice chat before they returned home to Dunsborough. Special thanks to them for doing that for us!
The caravan is now parked alongside the cricket ground and next to a river, plugged in and warm for the next two nights. Chris and Shanomi visiting from pretty tomorrow!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Black water

Gregory Brook campsite is on the schedule today. A 21km walk. We left Donnelly River about 830am with a group of walkers doing a Bibbulmun and Beyond Tour where they stay in comfortable accommodation and walk the highlights.

They had lunch at Willows Springs which was 20m up from where we decided to have an early one. Of course the rain started as soon as my water boiled... We headed off and saw where the others were having lunch and waved through the trees as we went past. Five minutes later there was a track diversion sign with a map. The map wasn't very clear to me and showed a large danger zone with both the original and the diverted track going right through it. When we headed in the what seemed to be the right direction we had to first duck under a road closed ribbon. Then there were no bib signs at all for about a   kilometer up the hill. We went back down to the diversion map and this time met the other walkers. We could have followed them but at this point decided we'd rather follow the original track which was clearly marked.  Both went through the danger zone anyways and both crossed the no go ribbon! 

The danger zone was destined to be back burned during 2015... As it was drizzling and cold and no smoke in the air we risked it for the 5 or so kilometers.

When we came out on the highway we thought we'd stop for a muesli bar. Barely had the backpacks off and there stopped the little Bib bus with walkers to say gidday to us and offering us a lift! Within seconds a police car also stopped. We threw one of our coughing4cf fliers in the cop car and disappeared through the closed track ribbon for the next bit of closed track which was not in the danger zone according to the map.

We noticed that every time we came to a bit of a road crossing there was closed tape hanging on one side of the track entrance  but not on the other side of the road. Quite confusing. Anyways, we survived.

And guess who was waiting for us at the Gregory Brook hut. Greg! Greg who so kindly helped us move the caravan to Donnelly River last week. He has been entertained by the mice at the hut till we came. The water here in the Drinkwater tank is black. Seriously black. Hard to call it tannin even, it is really the blackest I've ever seen water without tasting of tea or coffee! Apparently it is safe to drink. I boil it a minute longer just in case :).  Tastes fine.

Marilyn refried her two days old pub meal remnants for dinner; chips and calamari. I made Ree's San Cho Bow which had been hydrating in my backpack today. With chocolate and lots of soups we ate lots and are now in bed listening to the mice at 630pm - pitch dark.

Just one note about this hut. We have dirt on the floor, not the nice wood chips the other huts had. Therefore the sleeping platforms are also more dusty I believe. There are no plastic boxes here for the visitor log books, just a small container that just fits the books and nothing else. Before I was able to stow my food bags in there,  but not here where the mice are running literally under our feet!!

The walkers books are quite the norm. One to write name and date etc and one to scribble stories and notes etc.

Let's hope my food and my bags survive the night!!

Dutch Everywhere

The last day to Donnelly River Village was a relatively short one at under 18kms and not too many serious ups and downs. Though we left with rain after a seriously windy and wet night under a full moon which even shine through the overcast midnight sky. Weird to see rain coming out of a dimly lit sky.

The rain held off fortunately and as we walked the last mile into Donnelly we ran into a young red bearded Dutchman, Thijs from Gelderland, doing an end to end.  He was interesting to chat to and gave us good info on the Blackwood hut and the Gregory Brook shelter.

At Donnelly River we were told we couldn't plug in the caravan or stay in there as they were not licensed for caravans. The end result is we drove to a camping ground in Manjimup where we did laundry, had phone and internet and stocked up on supplies. I was interviewed by a journalist regarding youth funding.... she got our propaganda just in case.

The morning after after a session at the Manjimup Hotel we drove back to Donnelly to park the caravan, sleep in the hut and head off again tomorrow morning.

Donnelly Rover Village is extremely nice about us keeping the caravan there and are looking after it till next Friday when K and D are picking it up. Donnelly River is a past steam powered mining camp now housing a down to earth caring community with the most spoiled emus and kangaroos running around.

At Donnelly River we met Dave and Herb the Dutchman. Herb is 71 and fairly recently diagnosed with asbestosis and diabetes and doing the Munda Bidi on bicycle. Herb rides a cool Kona bike and Kiwi Dave from Indonesia has a fully equipped Surley ECR with 3" KNARD tyres. Awesome bikes. I had a go on both. I got out my dutch herring and we shared NZ cheese. Herb also studied the map with us re the diversion to Wrights Bridge campsite as he and Dave had actually done the Bib last year! Don't ever let a diagnosis spoil the fun! Herb could relate to cystic fibrosis as he had many health issues in common.

We are enjoying the Bib again and the rain has cleared!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Walk on the wild side

Vagabond John, who needed a 'trail name' deserved one last night. Not only did he arrive at Beavis and chopped wood and started a good camp fire, he maintained it all night. As the frogs belted out their croaking chorus at midnight John was out there wrapped in his sleeping bag feeding the fire. I almost tripped over his one thong when I went for a loo break at midnight, nonchalantly dropped near the wood pile. John incidentally keeps a comprehensive hand written diary, has a good beard on him, drinks real coffee in the morning and enjoys the odd roly... I would baptise  him as John the Flame of the Bibb. And did I mention he is restoring an S Series Jaguar as a long term hobby at home in Perth.

In the morning Roz and Alan, and Rod all left around 730am and when we left at 830am John was busy tending the fire. Last night we had also discussed the 'trail alternative' he had cleared with a man called Mental Illness. As we walked up the fire trail he told us to turn right at the gate on top of the hill. After showing him my GPS he thought I knew what I was doing but in fact I thought I was on trail. Marilyn knew we were following his directions but I assumed we'd get to this gate, look left and continue on the Bib. After 50m steep up it dawned on me we were not on trail but we decided we'll go with the unresearched alternative. Thanks to the GPS it was a piece of cake and we saw what John and the legendary Mental Illness had cleared. I think we shaved 500m off today's trail at least.

Some seriously good ups and downs, lunch at Donnelly River, which we will roughly  follow for the next three days, stacks of mushrooms some log bridges, single trail and fire trails, and voila we appeared at Boarding House hut about 3pm an energetic 19kms walking from Beavis. No one at the hut, we have it all to our own.

After lunch each day I have been swapping my heavy scarpa boots for my five finger Vibram bare foots. Though we use 600ml water from my pack for soup it seems the boots tied to my pack weigh a ton, and more than 600gm... The relief to my feet at lunchtime is instantaneous and satisfying. I hope the barefoots make the distance with me.

At camp we typically get into our down jackets. Not sure how people survived without them, bloody cold! Last night down to 1 degree C according to the thermometer in the hut.

Most people seem to have a Jetboil stove for water, which like the down jacket I wonder how we survived without it in the past...

Beavis campsite

Today the rain left us alone, but the mice got me overnight... They got into my food bags which were safely hanging up... Not so safe apparently. Two of my Kathmandu dry bags were chewed open, and my chocolate and my oatmeal had been targeted.  All my dry  bags are done for in fact, but that is life. Most of my stuff managed to stay fairly dry yesterday in the rains :) My back pack has known better days but it does a great job still.

So anyways, we left the campsite around 830am and walked past the Beedelup Falls and north towards Beavis hut, 21kms and many hills later. Found the biggest crowd of actual hikers here, a couple from Perth (both married but not to each other), an Adelaide man (Alan), Rod a British national and John the smoker from Perth who chopped the wood,  got our fire going, and is considering the trail name 'Death' as a nickname. His candles made the hut ambient too, but not as flashy as Rod's solar light pillow which was brilliantly innovative.

Tomorrow is apparently full of ups and downs. It is almost 8pm and the hut has gone to sleep with a male frog orchestra  in the background.

Wet and Cold

Hiking the Bibbulmun this time of the year is meant to be 'too hot'. But our experience so far is the opposite. Perhaps it is unseasonably cold, but we've been cold more often than hot. Today was no exception.

After a cold night we woke up with drizzle, which really heralded in a wet day. It is 24+kms from Boarding House to Tom Road hut, and after we had an early lunch (1130am) at a nice spot on the Donnelly river the rain started.
An hour before our expected ETA  I took off my rain coat thinking it was the end of the rain and put on my Patagonia Houdini, a light weight wind protection jacket. The rain was not frightened by the waterproof looking jacket and came back with a vengeance, drenching me, my shirt and boots and left me cold and wet very quickly. Wearing my Vibram five finger bare foot runners didn't help as they are pretty much as warm as bare feet.  I was cold, and 6kms from our destination. Marilyn in her rain coat was also cold and wet and ready to call it a day.

Then when I stopped to put my rain coat back on (over my wet T-shirt.  ) Marilyn discovered a spot of phone coverage! Cold and miserable we both quickly called our loved ones right there and then, now 4kms from the hut.

We just padded the official half way mark today! As we skipped a large section of closed trail for is we are well past the half way mark already :)

It has been almost four days of no internet/phone now. This means all my daily written blog updates will not show till we get proper internet reception. I could not hang around long enough shivering there for everything to slowly send and receive with only a marginal signal :(
At the hut it took mere minutes for us to jump into warm dry clothing and make soup/chocolate etc. We are the only ones in the hut and there is nihil phone reception again. Looks like another cold night, but tomorrow we will find the caravan at the Donnelly River village.

In the short period of reception I also received an SMS to confirm an offer from Karen and Dennis H to move the caravan from Donnelly River to Ballingup! As soon as we get reception I will confirm with them! It is amazing how supportive the community has been to us!! Thank you to everyone who has helped and is helping us! And that includes the camping ground etc where we have been able to leave the caravan for many days without even being asked to pay!

Megaday for us

We lost Eleanor in Pemberton as she caught the 6am bus to Busselton. We had shared a nice pub meal which included a pint of Guinness starter and a bottle of the best big red that Pemberton had to offer.  This town really rocks, and I say this because they sell and eat local foods, which included Pemberton trout.

On our rest day we raided the local IGA and visited an organic whole foods shop. Not intending to buy anything I walked in for a look. How could  i resist... Marilyn and I both bought more than we could carry.

We also bought a large tube of glue to try fix my shoes. The hopefully fixed shoe is now glued and drying in the caravan for the next week.

In the morning Greg, who met us at Boat Harbour hut found us on the campsite and we had a nice chat. This led to him being persuaded to help relocate the caravan to Donnelly River  which I had been told was 30 odd kms away. Greg and I left the campsite and drove over an hour... Turned out it was 95kms away (using sealed roads) and same back. Lots of back burning happening where we drove, lots of rain, it got dark and we were out of phone reception :)

Greg is bussing to Collie and is walking back to Pemberton, a long hike.

The following day we left at about 8am for the 25km day. We had plenty of rain as we walked up and down through forests, past Brook dam and an arboretum. Had lunch under a scant ray of sun but eventually got flushed  out by rain again. Soaked and exhausted we arrived at Beedelup Campsite shortly after 4pm, 27km later. We had to walk back at one point when we hadn't seen the Waigi signs for a while and my GPS was still pointing to the wrong destination. This explained the extra 2kms.


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