Matt Hassam

Backpackermatt

Matt Hassam

Having spent my whole life in Brisbane without so much as a week off work - much less an actual holiday - in six-and-a-half years, I suddenly decided (on my 27th birthday) that I'd had enough and needed to get a life. So I quit both of my jobs, moved out of my apartment, packed anything I could fit into my car, and three weeks later I hit the road. Over a thousand kilometres later I ended up in a tiny little town that I had heard about from a friend, with only one street, a few pubs, a few backpacker hostels and a beach. That day was the 1st of June, 2006... I haven't stopped travelling since.



Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Albany October 19th 2021

Moving on from Denmark towards Albany on the Bibbulmun Track entails getting either around or across Wilson Inlet first. Unlike each of the other inlets encountered along the Southern Ocean coastline, this crossing can be done neither by wading nor by paddling - unless you have your own canoe or kayak. And so it was that I found myself forking out sixty dollars to the manager of the Blue Wren hostel in Denmark, to drive me all the way around the inlet and drop me off at a boat ramp on the northern shore of the Nullaki Peninsula - about six kilometres from Denmark as the crow flies, but a 45-minute drive by more conventional means. Once there, the final 80km of the Bibbulmun Track stretched out in a generally easterly direction towards Albany, running roughly ... read more
Shades of Grey
Coastal Views
Secluded Beach

Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Denmark October 16th 2021

Limping into Pemberton after walking 110km in five days on a left foot sporting multiple injuries, I was finally able to call a halt to proceedings to give my foot the time it needed to heal. And if this decision was initially cause for disappointment - understandable given that the prior section of the Bibbulmun Track had been my favourite so far, with a number of friends made along the way - then this soon dissipated once I saw the forecast for the coming week: seven days' worth of rain! But with the only budget accommodation in Pemberton consisting of a single dorm room at the local backpackers hostel - left open solely for the benefit of Bibbulmun Track walkers - I decided to take the coach a couple of hours southeast to the coastal town ... read more
Placid Waters
Walking on Water
Back on Track

Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Pemberton September 25th 2021

After enjoying a day-and-a-half of rest and relaxation at the wildlife utopia of Donnelly River Village, I endeavoured to leave on Monday morning (20th September) only to find myself lingering as I passed mobs of kangaroos lazing about in the sunshine on the front lawns of the local houses; and then when I finally did manage to turn out of the main street I encountered the same male emu I had seen on each of the previous two days, still faithfully shepherding his four youngsters from one grazing spot to the next. It wasn't hard to see the attraction of this remote hideaway in the midst of the karri forest, for both animals and humans alike - even if I couldn't approve of the visiting families feeding the tame wildlife (which consists mostly of kangaroos, wallabies, ... read more
Feathered Family
Like a Forest of Matchsticks
Soaring Skyward

Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Donnelly River September 19th 2021

Returning to the Bibbulmun Track after a relaxing couple of nights in Collie, it didn't take long for me to hit my stride - despite the presence of a pesky blister on one of my toes that I had picked up on my interminable water-logged trudge from Possum Springs to Harris Dam three days earlier. In fact the going was so easy that it took only four-and-a-half hours to complete the 20km section to Yabberup campsite, with just the two rest stops taken along the way. After crossing the Collie River and passing the artificial lake at Mungallup Dam, I finished the day with another emu encounter, before arriving at Yabberup campsite where I had just the one other hiker for company - a solo end-to-ender named Chris, who I had met the day before in ... read more
Waterfront Views
Just my luck the pub would be closed...
Action Shot

Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Collie September 11th 2021

Stretching for 1000km between Kalamunda in the Perth Hills and Albany on the Southern Ocean, the Bibbulmun Track is one of Australia's longest and most loved walking trails. It's not hard to see the appeal. Almost entirely contained within a string of National Parks and other protected conservation areas, it passes through the botanical wonderland of the South-West forests, before paralleling the Southern Ocean for much of the way between Walpole and Albany. At it's northern end the track runs for 210kmĀ  (crossing two highways in the process) without encountering a single town. After that, a small town is passed through roughly every 4-8 days, allowing through-hikers to either stock up on whatever food might be available from the local grocery store, or collect food drop boxes that they have sent on ahead in the post ... read more
Home in the Forest
Every journey starts with a single step
Wildflower Wonderland


Waking long before dawn on Thursday morning - my eleventh day on the Larapinta Trail - I'd not even gotten out of my tent when a group of guided hikers strode through the campsite sounding like an army battalion marching into battle. With no vehicle access between Serpentine Gorge and Ormiston Gorge 30km away, they would have to knock off that entire distance in one long day. But for those of us that were fully self-sufficient, the opportunity to split the walk in half by spending the night on the crest of the Heavitree Range at a campsite unofficially known as 'Hermit's Hideout' was simply too good to resist... even if it meant having to carry even more water than if we were tackling it in a single day. With a fellow hiker who had just ... read more
Sacred Thoroughfare
Bent and Buckled Rock
The Route Ahead


Having faced unexpected trials and tribulations during my first three days on the Larapinta Trail, it was with a fair degree of trepidation that I rose to greet the day on Thursday (August 12th), knowing that - according to the map guide at least - I was about to face one of the most difficult days on the trail. Still, it also promised to be one of the most spectacular, with the route climbing up and over the Chewings Range before descending to a campsite near a picturesque waterhole. Despite wasting fifteen minutes trying to buy a lip balm from the kiosk at Standley Chasm (the less said about that the better) I managed to get going by 9am, as planned. The fact that each of the three ladies with whom I had been camped had ... read more
Valley Views
The Mountains' Rugged Spine
Touching the Sky


Look at any map of Australia, and your eye will immediately be drawn to a name in the very centre of the continent: Alice Springs. Although only a fairly small town by most standards (population: 30,000) it appears on every map of the country for the simple reason that it is the largest settlement for a very, very long way in any direction. Historically, at least as far as European settlement is concerned, Alice Springs' greatest claim to fame is a telegraph station just a few kilometres to the north of the current town centre, which served as a relay point on the Overland Telegraph Line between Adelaide in the South and Darwin to the North. It is from this telegraph station that one of the most famous and iconic of Australian hiking trails begins: the ... read more
Narrow Gap
Red Rocks and River Red Gums
The Starting Point


Rising in the vast Arnhem Land Escarpment, the Katherine River (known to the Jawoyn people as Barraya, meaning 'Blossoming Kookaburra') flows through a fault in the sandstone escarpment, forming a vast gorge system framed by spectacular cliffs. In the Wet Season the river rises up to ten metres, flowing unimpeded through the entire gorge system at a speed of up to 40km/h. In the Dry Season however, the river falls significantly and a series of exposed rock bars divide the gorge into different sections separated by small sets of shallow rapids, with the various navigable stretches of river being referred to as the First Gorge, Second Gorge and so on, continuing upstream as far as the Thirteenth Gorge some 16km away. And though freshwater crocodiles are right at home in this sort of ecosystem (there are ... read more
Hole in the Wall
Cleft in the Cliffs
The Rocky Road Ahead


The Jawoyn people, who historically inhabit the Stone Country around Katherine in the Northern Territory, believe that a rainbow serpent named Borong carved a great gorge through the heart of their land. Then from the west came a dragon-like creature named Nabilil, who travelled through the gorge before camping high up on the plateau above. While Nabilil was sleeping, Walarrk the Cave Bat speared him, and in the process his dilly bag full of water was pierced, spilling out over the land and filling the gorge. At the entrance to the gorge Nabilil had heard the call of the cicada ("nit nit nit-nit") and named the place Nitmiluk, meaning 'Cicada Country'. My parents had brought me to Nitmiluk NP and taken me on a boat trip through the lower sections of Katherine Gorge when I was ... read more
Scenic Cruise
Soaring Palms and Striking Cliffs
Paddler's Paradise




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