Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Denmark to Albany

More spectacular coastal walking on this last section. Breezy, cool and a sprinkle of rain but a lovely easy contoured track led to very pleasant walking all the way to West Cape Howe shelter, which we had to ourselves.

West Cape Howe shelter
Next day was going to be a nice short day to Torbay - superb cliff-top walking with views in every direction. But on arrival at the shelter the 2 somewhat elderly chaps ensconced, although friendly, seemed unwilling to share the space and encouraged us to push on! So after lunch and because the tide was right for the next beach section, we headed off for another 13 kms. The weather instantly started to deteriorate and became wild along the beach. We battled bravely on with rain from the Antarctic hitting us side-on. We managed to negotiate a rocky headland halfway without being swept off by the waves pounding in. We felt like crazy early explorers out in the wilds, and were glad to reach the relative shelter of the dunes.

It was only another hour to Muttonbird shelter but the weather worsened and by the time we reached it all our gear was dripping wet. But then the storm really hit and we were lucky to be under a roof. These crazy 3 sided shelters are a tad deficient in these conditions and the rain blew in and soaked half the sleeping platform. Lucky we were the only ones there and we snuggled into the only dry corner, wearing all our spare clothes and huddled inside our sleeping bags. We ate dinner in our bags and only dashed outside when the need was urgent!

We survived the exciting night and I awoke to my birthday with the storm abating.
Wild Southern 

We enjoyed our last day, passing very close to giant wind turbines and stopping at Sandpatch shelter for lunch.


We reached Albany mid afternoon and suddenly it was all over - there was the southern terminus. And what a wonderful journey it has been.

The end.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Walpole to Denmark

This section has been utterly outstanding with glorious views, coastal gardens, and beautiful beaches - including a 7 km walk along wild Mazzoletti beach.

The weather has been kind too and we are both fitter. Not to say it has been easy! Lots of sandy tracks and climbs and sand-hills - one which I crawled up on hands and knees.

We have become proficient at the "Aussie wave" trying to keep pesky little flies from climbing into every facial orifice. Look closely at Rob's pack and you will see a few of them hitching a ride.

We also had an interesting hour stumbling around in sandhills trying to find a track off Quarram beach. We both missed seeing the crucial sign. Then to add to the panic Rob realised he had dropped the guidebook somewhere and had to retrace his footprints for 500 metres. He came back empty-handed but luckily found it in marram grass 10 metres from where I was waiting. He was going to make us sandbash across impossible terrain to regain our track which we could see in the far distance, but I talked sense into him and we went back along the beach where we found the obvious sign. Great relief.

Earlier that day we crossed the Irwin Inlet in canoes. There were only 2 canoes on our side, so Rob did the heroic thing and paddled across with our packs then towed another canoe back over then we both paddled over in one canoe, leaving enough canoes and paddles on the north side for the next people.

One of the highlights was being lucky enough to spot a fluke thrashing humpback whale - led to a bit of fighting over the binoculars.

We saw another 3 Bobtail lizards, 4 snakes including a big tiger snake which wouldn't move off the track until Rob nervously encouraged it with a piece of wood and his leki pole. And heaps of kangaroos, some with joeys peeking out of their pouches.

Earlier on, we spent a relaxing afternoon being tourists at the Valley of the Giants, walking through the treetops on a remarkable structure.

I know you are all anxious to see the typical ablution facilities to be found at each shelter, so here is a fairly typical one. This is Doddy's dunny.

Now we are in the well laid out wealthy little town of Denmark with a good selection of shops and cafes. We are enjoying a much needed rest day before our last 4 days of walking to Albany.

Our thoughts are very much back home with Debby's sister Viv who is seriously ill. It was a sad moment on a remote high hilltop with phone reception when we found out.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pemberton to Walpole

This could be subtitled swamps, snakes, sand-hills and --- sea! We still walked through areas of stunning Karri forest, but also through more open agricultural land. The tracks have been fantastic and full of variety.

We took a day off in Northcliffe where the wonderful Lucy at the hotel made sure Rob's birthday was celebrated in style by producing cake and candle and getting everyone in the hotel to sing Happy Birthday. Very special.

Mt Chance

We climbed up wonderful granite domes for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and amazing plant life.

Orchid on Woolbales Dome

Several days of particularly flat terrain meant swampy track - one inundated section was more than 150 metres long, but only up to our knees. Hidden holes nearly toppled us over at times but we managed to retain our balance and our pride!

We saw gorgeous flowers on the side of the track including this startling bright red bottlebrush.

Longpoint shelter

Several shelters were shared with friendly, interesting trail buddies - here we are all spread out at Longpoint shelter after the most spectacular day walking through sand-hills and reaching the sea. We felt a real sense of achievement when we heard those breakers crashing on the shore.

Southern Ocean

That same day between 7 of us we saw 10 snakes!! Scary critters.

Now we are in Walpole where we found a surprise parcel from Rose, Sam and Em - a bottle of very classy cab sav and a box of special chocolates. What a wonderful and generous thought. Let me finish by saying we over-indulged last night - and intend to do the same again tonight.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Collie to Pemberton

Everyday on this trail provides something different - 3 hours out of Collie can you imagine the thrill of seeing a gigantic bird flouncing away? It disappeared so no photo - but a few days later we saw Emu poo,

then we saw daddy Emu shepherding his chick along the road. Amazing.

Bobtail lizard

Another day we saw the wonderful blue-tongued bobtail lizard - the reptiles were definitely on the move....we have seen maybe a million sticks on the track that look exactly like a snake - but still no snakes.

The scariest thing so far has been hearing an explosive crack followed by a huge WHUMP as somewhere nearby a tree fell. If  you could see the size of the trees around here you would understand why our hearts skipped a few beats.

12 kilometres from Yabberup (don't you love the name?) we knew there was a tavern. The temperature was in the high 20s, so our level of anticipation was huge. CLOSED. Knocked on the door. Lee the owner opened up. He was right out of a movie like Deliverance. He never stopped talking. We asked for a coffee (I miss my coffee) - he got out some sort of grater and started grinding beans. Rob took over. Lee plonked a bottle of past the use by date milk on the bar and told us it should be okay, he had it on his weetbix and was still alive. He charged us a ridiculous amount of money, but to make up for that and because Rob talked engines and motorbikes and other blokey things, he gave us a pack of locally-made sausages. They were delicious - Rob cooked them up on the campfire and our fellow trail buddies got to share. Yum. Anything to add interest to the dehyd!

White tailed black cockatoo
We did a huge 35km day on a diversion around a burnt-out campsite (very depressing seeing burnt-out areas) and ended up in real outback Donnelly River Village with hardly a sealed road in sight. Some days we have enjoyed a cacophony of cockatoos, other days birdsong all day long. The campsites have been awesome, shared a few with bush rats - one stole Rob's scroggin. The karri trees are fantastically tall and make us feel small.

The weather has been springy - as in wet - as in 6 degrees one morning. We are ready for some sunshine. We are getting tired, and look forward to trail towns - but hey, we are more than halfway and still enjoying it. Now we are in Pemberton where Rob has been reunited with his beloved birdbook and binoculars - he pulled a muscle in his back and sent them on to lighten his load. We are adding in a few more rest days because we now realise we are not spring chickens and our original itinerary was just a tad ambitious. Ha. And there is absolutely nothing on earth as good as a hot shower after a week in the wilds!

Bridge over tree trunk

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dwellinup to Collie

Misty morning
300 kilometres done but only 3 hot showers. Pretty bad by the time we get into town, especially in this fierce Aussie heat. Thank goodness for the forest, we would be fried without it. The nights and mornings are really cold, and often misty. Mind you, another storm coming through for us in the next section.

The Aussies laugh at us when we get excited about seeing kangaroos, but they were very envious when we reported that we had seen 4 echidnas cross our track. Curious animals.


Snotty gobble

At times walking the track is like walking through an endless, lush garden. Sections of water bush are particularly lovely as they scent the air. But there are also other plants with interesting names - like snotty gobble. Can you believe it? And orchids coming out everywhere and gorgeous sundews, how do they survive?

We walked over the Murray River on the largest wooden trestle bridge in these parts, Long gully Bridge. That same day we walked for most of the day with the sound of a bauxite conveyor assaulting our ears. We had to walk right under it after reading a sign warning us of falling rocks. Not sure how we were supposed to avoid being brained.

We have enjoyed sitting round a campfire most nights and have met some great trail buddies. We are averaging 25 kms a day, but our record is over 32 km - started at 7am and in camp about 4pm. Probably overdid things as I got a cold and Rob's back seized up, so we are having a recovery day in Collie. Both of us feeling way better for it.  

Not sure when we will be online again, so until then.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kalamunda to Dwellingup

I have decided that our trail names should be the Birdman and W8-4-me. Rob has his binoculars out all day long, and spends time at the end of each day with his birdbook. Creates much interest. And my name is self-explanatory.

Eight days and 200+ kms down. The track has been brilliant, very easy walking surface most of the time apart from a few slippery granite slopes to negotiate. Well marked with wauguls and cairns - so how come we still managed to get ourselves hopelessly lost coming off Mt Cooke? It was getting late and a storm was forecast, so we ended up finding our way through a pine plantation to the Albany Highway and hitched a lift with the kind Belinda to the Three Ways Roadhouse. Next day we started off again on track!

The weather has been patchy, the 2nd day was so hot we thought we could never make it up the hills - which weren't that big, but killers in 26 degrees. Wild storms came through on several afternoons and evenings, so we were always glad to have a shelter to protect us.


We have met amazing people doing the trail - George is 77 and this is his fifth end to end. an inspiration to us all. And by amazibng coincidence, we started the track with Susan and David, friends from Wellington who are doing it for the 2nd time. It's a very sociable walk so far, lots of swapping of email addresses.

2 wallabies, 1 kangaroo, 1 huge spider...

and thankfully no tics or snakes so far. Lots of mozzies. A day off here in the tiny town of Dwellingup, a big meal and hot showers very reviving. Tomorrow it's packs back on and 5 days walk to Collie eating Back Country Cuisine every night. We will never be able to eat that stuff again after this.