Monday, 18 November 2013

Australia: Bibbulmun Track Section 7 - Denmark to Albany

Day 51: Perfect Perkins Beach
Perfect Perkins Beach
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.

Day 50: Jetty on Nullaki Peninsula
Jetty on Nullaki Peninsula
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.

Day 50: Pelicans on Pelican Point
Pelicans on Pelican Point
Day 50: Black Swans on Wilson Inlet
Black Swans on Wilson Inlet
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.

Day 50: Nullaki Wilderness Gate
Nullaki Wilderness Gate
Day 50: Wildflowers no.1
Wildflowers still keep coming!
Day 50: Fence Line off Eden Road
Fence line off Eden Road
I reached Nullaki shelter at 9am. A quick top up of water, and it was on to West Cape Howe.

Day 50: Nullaki Shelter
Nullaki Shelter
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!

Day 50: Porongurups in the distance
Porongurups in the distance
Day 50: Wildflowers no.2
Wildflowers
Day 50: Lake Saide
Lake Saide
Day 50: Ocean again
Southern Ocean again
By 10am, I could see the ocean again. I had another encounter with a Tiger Snake, saw my first Bobtail Lizard of the trip, and enjoyed plenty more wildflowers on this section.

Day 50: Tiger Snake
Tiger Snake
Day 50: Looking to West Cape Howe
Looking to West Cape Howe
Day 50: Wildflowers no.3
Wildflowers
Day 50: Wildflowers no.4
Wildflowers
Day 50: Wildflowers no.5
Wildflowers
Day 50: Skink
Bobtail Skink
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.

Day 50: Lowlands Beach
Lowlands Beach
Day 50: Lowlands Beach
Lowlands Beach
Day 50: West Cape Howe Shelter
West Cape Howe Shelter
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!

Day 50: View from lookout above the shelter
View from lookout above the shelter
Day 51: Bornholm Beach
Borhnolm Beach


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.

Day 51: Thankful for stairs in the dunes
Thankful for stairs in the dunes!
Day 51: stunning coastline
Stunning coastline
Day 51: Two roos
Two Roos
Day 51: Waugal
Waugal
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.

Day 51: First sight of the Albany Wind Turbines
First sight of the Albany Wind Turbines
Day 51: Shelley Beach
Shelley Beach
Day 51: Easy boardwalk
Easy boardwalk
Day 51: Albany sign.
Albany turnoff
Day 51: Melaleuca woodland
Melaleuca woodland
Day 51: Shelley Beach Road
Shelley Beach Road
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.

Day 51: Granite slab
Granite slab
Day 51: Granite slabs
Granite slabs
Day 51: Albany Wind Farm
Albany Wind Farm
Day 51: Dingo Beach
Dingo Beach
Day 51: Looking back to Dingo Beach
Dingo Beach
I was at Torbay Shelter by 9:20am. I didn't stay long and made my way down to Perkins Beach.

Day 51: Perkins Beach
Perkins Beach
Day 51: Perkins Beach
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.

Day 51: a bit of coastal rock hopping
A bit of coastal rock hopping
Day 51: Port Harding
Port Harding
Day 51: back on the beach
Back on the beach
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.

Day 51: approaching Torbay Inlet seasonal sandbar
Torbay Inlet seasonal sandbar
Day 51: The end of Perkins Beach
The end of Perkins 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.

Day 51: Looking down at Perkins Beach
Looking down at Perkins Beach
Day 51: an inviting sea
An inviting sea
Day 51: Wildflowers no.1
More stunning wildflowers!
Day 51: Track near Mutton Bird Road
Track near Mutton Bird Road
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.

Day 51: The final stretch of coast
The final stretch of coast
Day 51: lone turbine
Lone turbine
Day 51: Track passed the wind farm
Track passing the wind farm
Day 51: Coastal views below the wind farm
Coastal views below the wind farm
Day 51: loving today's coastal walk
Loving today's coastal walk!
Day 51: 15km. A short stroll to the end remains.
A short stroll to the end remains
Day 51: Nearly there!
Nearly there!
On my final few kilometres of the day, I also got to see a young Dugite.

Day 51: Last Tiger Snake!
My last snake of the walk, a young Dugite
Day 51: Passed the wind farm
Passed the wind farm
I arrived at Sandpatch 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

Day 52: Up early, last day!
Up early, last day!

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!

Day 52: Sunrise
Sunrise
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.

Day 52: Last Breakfast
Last breakfast
Day 52: My mattress had just about had it!
My mattress had just about had enough!
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.

Day 52: Sandpatch Shelter
Sandpatch Shelter
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.

Day 52: Coastal mist over Princess Royal Harbour
Coastal mist over Princess Royal Harbour
Day 52: first view of Albany
First view of Albany
Still a way to go, though, the track takes you around the harbourside and then along the base of Mount Melville.

Day 52: boardwalk beside Frenchman Bay Road
Boardwalk beside Frenchman Bay Road
Day 52: Princess Royal Harbour
Princess Royal Harbour
Day 52: bird on post
Bird on a post
Day 52: Frenchman Bay Road
Frenchman Bay Road
Day 52: Pelicans
Pelicans
Day 52: Some final shady woodland
Some final shady woodland
Day 52: Wildflowers no.1
Some final colourful wildflowers
Day 52: Shade below Mt. Melville
Shade below 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 an enormous sense of pride.

Day 52: Grey Street, Albany
Grey Street, Albany
Day 52: The Brig, Amity
The Brig, Amity
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.

Day 52: ahead of schedule!
Finished 8 days ahead of Schedule
Day 52: Southern Terminus: Journey's End!
Southern Terminus! Journey's 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!!! :-)

Day 52: The adventure is over!
The Adventure is over!