Monday, 18 November 2013

Bibbulmun Track Section 7: Denmark to Albany

The final section of my End to End of the Bibbulmun Track in aid of Epilepsy Action: Journey's End..

14/11/2013: Thursday Day 49

Rest day in Denmark: sent my tent, tablet, clothes, extra food, and various other non-essential items on to Albany, and my pack was now considerably lighter. I organised my taxi to the jetty on the other side of Wilson Inlet, seeing as the boat no longer runs, despite continued advertising on the Track Foundation website and in the shelters. That left me with little to do but lounge around, sampling the cafes of Denmark and a couple of pints in the hotel.

15/11/2013: Friday Day 50

Clarrie, the cab driver, picked me up at 6am. It was a half hour drive round to the other side of the inlet. Clarrie reckoned that 95% of walkers get dropped off at the Eden Road turnoff for a couple of kilometre walk into the Nullaki Shelter, and it was only the conscientious few, like me, that went to the jetty where the boat service used to run to and the track actually continues from Denmark. There is no excuse really as the road is sealed to this point and easily accessible.

The track takes you along the inlet shore, and in the first fifteen minutes I had disturbed two Tiger Snakes and a colony of pelicans.

I passed through the Nullaki Wilderness Gate; designed to keep non-native fauna out, it also means no residents within the area can own a pet.

I reached Nullaki shelter at 9am. A quick top up of water, and it was on to West Cape Howe.

The going was easy on good paths, with some great views inland of the inlet as far as Mount Barker and even the Stirling Ranges. In addition, the wildflowers were good too!

By 10am, I could see the ocean again. I had another encounter with a Tiger Snake, and saw my first Bobtail Lizard of the trip.


I moved along the coast, down towards Lowlands Beach, but the track stayed inland, crossing the unsealed road that gave access to the beach, and then climbing up over the South Downs to West Cape Howe Shelter, arriving at 1:30pm.

I was tempted to triple hut, but thought I may be pushing my luck, so decided to stay and double hut to Muttonbird Shelter tomorrow.

I went up to the viewpoint above the shelter, and got one of the highlights of the whole journey, looking East to West Cape Howe. Stunning!

Fellt good today, and the lighter rucksack made me think I could be in Albany by Sunday, assuming I could get across the Torbay Inlet sandbar the next day without the need to divert!

16/11/2013: Saturday Day 51

Where to start in this day? I was up at 4:30am to see if there was a decent sunrise from the viewpoint; there wasn't.

Set off at 5:20am, few good views at first, as the track wound its way through the shady valleys and avenues of bushes.

At around 7:30am, I got my first sight of wind turbines; that signifies the run into Albany, and a good morale booster for those doing the North to South.

The scenery improved, with views of Shelley Beach, and after crossing the road of the same name, and over a granite hill, Dingo Beach could be seen.

I was at Torbay Shelter by 9:20am. I didn't stay long and made my way down to Perkins Beach.

The track stretches 4.1km from one end to the sandbar of the Torbay Inlet. The sand was firm close to the surf and was a pleasant stroll. A couple of people said "G'day!" and "Congratulations" which made me feel I was on the back straight.

The sandbar was closed and a good 50m wide, so no wading today, and it was now a further 3km to the end of the beach.

Steep stairs greeted me at the end, but no test for me now, and at the top I got a beautiful panorama of the last couple of hours walking.

Muttonbird Shelter was not far over the cliffs from here, and I arrived by 1pm. I unpacked, made a cup of coffee and began settling in.

A day walker came in for lunch and as we chatted I realised I was ready to continue. By 2pm I had packed up and was off again, on the 11.7km to Sandpatch Shelter.

This skirts the wind farm, and there are constant views of the turbines, as well as some great vistas of the Southern Ocean.

On my final few kilometres of the day, I also got to see a young Dugite.

I arrived at the shelter by 4:40pm, tired but elated I was now only 12km from Albany. The hut was empty, and I spent my last night on the Bibbulmun alone. Thoughts inevitably wandered to the next day.

17/11/2013: Sunday Day 52

I awoke at 4:30am after a draughty night; not by choice but by a realisation that the winds had died and the mosquitoes were feeding on me en masse!

My Exped Synmat UL sleeping mat was seriously compromised now as the inner walls were failing and making it uncomfortable to use with my quilt.

I tried to faff around and delay my departure, mindful that it was a Sunday and the Information Centre at the Southern Terminus might be closed, but still I was one by 6:10am.

I said goodbye to the Southern Ocean and over the cliffs and down to Princess Royal Harbour, with my first views of my destination; Albany.

Still a way to go, though, the track takes you around the harbourside and then along the base of Mount Melville.

As I walked along Grey Street, a cyclist stopped to say "Well done!" We stood on the kerbside for ten minutes as he asked me about the Bibb, a genuine enthusiasm and interest in my journey that touched me and gave me a sense of pride.

Down Parade Street, you reach the Brig Amity, then a short walk alongside the rail tracks, you come to the Information Centre and the understated Southern Terminus sign, arriving just before 9am; I was finished!!!

I stopped, and for a few moments I had no idea what to do next! Eventually, I wandered over to a man sat in a van in the car park, and asked him to take a photo of me at the end.

As he did so, Mikey turned up! He was staying across the road and had come down to sign off at the Information Centre as it had been shut when he finished yesterday. It was good to see a familiar face and share the moment.

We both logged off, then after a short while hanging around talking to the lady in the centre, we departed; I wandered off to find breakfast and then my motel, whilst Mikey went back to his hotel as he had relatives to visit. If we couldn't get out for a drink in Albany, we'd catch up in Perth.

So that was it. 52 days, 8 days quicker than planned, and I had loved, loathed, adored and cursed this track. It had tested me but I had not been found wanting, I was genuinely going to miss it, and the people I had encountered along the way!

I now had a long break to look forward to, and some contemplation of the next adventure for Epilepsy Action!!! :-)

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