Gill Goes.... Trekking the Bibbulmun Track... Walpole To Denmark


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Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Denmark
June 19th 2016
Published: February 17th 2019
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Day 46 - 52

Walpole to Denmark (Semi-amusing cut and paste from my Facebook page version; long winded day-by-day version follows below plus lots and lots of photos)

Walpole to Denmark via Peaceful Bay, aka Section 7 and a bit (of 8- eek), encompassing the karri, sheoak and giant tingle forests, the Frankland River, Conspicuous Cliffs, scaling and falling off Mt Hallowell, various inlets (open and closed creating another long track diversion), whales (!!!!), 74 kangaroos in 1 day, 100 000 sand hills (mostly going uphill), pristine white beaches and kilometre after kilometre after kilometre of rugged coastline.
And 1 snake.

Quite a different experience on this part of my trek, mainly due to one factor- my trekking party has doubled - one of my oldest and dearest friends, @Meg Pike, has joined me. And... at this stage we're still friends (mind you there's still a couple of days left for us to fall out and destroy a 34 year friendship). So, in keeping with previous updates, I have been thinking about the benefits of having a trek buddy...

1. I have a captive audience to rabbit on endlessly about my fascinating experiences on the Bibbulmun Track and offer countless pieces of immeasurably useful advice (she has tried to get away several times but I now carry miscellaneous lengths of rope- very handy indeed!).

2. There's someone else around to blame when I go the wrong way- not that I'm admitting to going the wrong way, no, not at all... BUT if I did go the wrong way I COULD blame her. Actually, I may have been responsible for taking the left fork in the track bypassing the Peaceful Bay Refuse Station causing a 500m detour, although I like to think it was just more pleasant to avoid the tip.

3. My self esteem is much improved- she falls over AND gets whacked by branches as often as I do thus making me look much less unco.

4. When we hit the track towns she seems very happy to go and wash my clothes (as well as hers) in the $3 - $5/load communal washing machines with home brand detergent ($1 extra) and random lumps of other people's lint (free)- she even rotates the now clean(ish) clothes around the furniture/bits of the previously mentioned miscellaneous lengths of rope/various hooks/curtain rods, etc that we have
Giant Red TingleGiant Red TingleGiant Red Tingle

There is a boardwalk and car park area with a toilet, picnic benches, shelter and water tank here if you want to take a break
rigged up to dry out our gear because we can't use the dryer*.

(*no, it's not because the dryer costs $5/load too... Everyone knows you can't put horrendously expensive merino trek clothes in the dryer!)

5. When you arrive at a section of coast that the guide book says, "where trail drops down into small stony beach, go around top of beach well away from the waters edge, ascend on rocks following the trail watching out for king waves and slippery rock surfaces", you can send your trek buddy off first- testing the waters so to speak. Worked a charm on Day 49 when her boots got inundated with water due to small king wave - mine did not (on that occasion anyway).

6. No matter how delicious my dehydrated meals are or how successful my meticulously planned, colour coded spreadsheet menu (detailing kilojoule amount and weight in grams of every single food portion including the zip lock plastic bag) has been, the variety of available food has suddenly improved - Monte Carlos, Wagon Wheels, even more Whittakers peanut slabs, Mainland colby cheese, Jatz crackers, fully hydrogenated trans fat containing trail mix, etc

7. Your trek
buddy just happens to be an international rowing champion (2015 Veterans World Rowing Championships, Belgium) and there is a 200m canoe crossing of the Irwin Inlet on Day 50 which we had to do there and back twice (i.e. 800m !!!!) in ultra windy, ultra choppy conditions (smallish king waves), AND towing 2 canoes behind us to ensure there were enough at each side of the inlet for future walkers.

8. I now have someone to take endless photos of me (from all angles, as directed, and redirected ... until she gets it right).

Seriously, it's been fun.
Hasn't it @MegPike? Hasn't it? Meg...
Hasn't it??!!
Ok, that's it, I don't like her anymore.



Day 46 - 52

Walpole to Denmark (long winded day-by-day version)

Day 46

Walpole to Frankland

18.4km

We're off at 8am, striding out of town and very soon at Coalmine Beach then ducking in and out of forest, on railway formation tracks and toggling for a while with the Munda Biddi. Reach the large fallen tingle tree and take some obligatory photos in the large hollowed out base. Shortly after is The Giant Tingle Tree Boardwalk - there is a car park/picnic area and about a 1km loop walk with some sign boards. We don't stop but head on deeper into the forest for a quick rainy lunch before reaching the Frankland River Hut just after 1pm. The hut is supposed to be one of the best on the track with its proximity to the water and an extended covered decking area to sit. It certainly is popular, quite a few day walkers and 5 others for the night. We have a social evening chatting. One of the overnighters is a girl that we met in New Zealand on the Milford Track- very small world. She and three others are part of a bushwalking group. There's also a solo E2E'er by the name of Phillipe'- he is from France and has end to ended every year for a number of years- he gets off the plane from France and is on the track the next day, gets to Albany, turns around and walks back to Kalamunda where he gets back on a plane again to Paris. An interesting fellow.

Impressions of the shelter- certainly does have the wow factor, although we didn't brave the freezing, churning river a couple of the others did. I think it would be quite a beautiful summer camp. The decking is awesome- streets ahead of the other campsites with dirt floors for keeping the sleeping platform clean(ish).

Body assessment-Excellent

Total people for the day- LOTS! Which is to be expected coming out of a town and walking through tourist spots. There were a handful of day hikers close to the hut as well as the 5 overnighters

Wildlife encounters- a very game quenda who hangs around the picnic table at the shelter



Day 47

Frankland River to Giants

15km

Rain.

05:30 Ring, ring, ring...

05:31 Ring, ring, ring...

05:32 Ring, ring, ring...

05:33 Ring, ring, ring...

Someone's phone is ringing.... no one owns up. We're all up now.

Phillipe is off first, he's a triple hutter. Meg and I hang around until the others go, we're waiting for the rain to ease off. It doesn't. We leave at 08:15. Some hills, reach Sappers Bridge at 08:48. Very picturesque and not under water (the guidebook warns that it sometimes is after exceedingly wet weather). The water
Frankland River HutFrankland River HutFrankland River Hut

A very picturesque hut
is flowing fast and the foam looks like giant clouds. Superb forest this morning, very wet and drippy. Take a break at Boxhall Creek where the rain abates for half an hour and we tuck in to some snacks provided by a friend in Perth that Meg had brought down. If you ever read this Sandy- the BBQ plum KPI bars were epically delicious (as was your fruit cake that we ate yesterday because it weighed a lot).

https://wallabyfoods.com/product-category/kpi-bar/

Spurred on by our superfood, high in Omega 3 and 6 bars, we gunned it through the rain, over boggy creeks and under fallen trees. We met Alex, a BT Vollie goat farmer who also processes kelp fertilizer, doing track maintenance. Thank you track volunteers everywhere! BTW trying to go under fallen trees with a big, tall backpack is not that smart. It's easier to go on your hands and knees- saves you the embarrassment of getting stuck and doing a spectacular side fall in front of aforementioned volunteer!

We reached the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk just after 12:00. The staff there graciously let us warm up in the shop before going outside again to eat our lunch on a bench surrounded by wrens.

https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/tree-top-walk

Very cold out there and the rain was relentless. We drink 2 cups of machine coffee (surprisingly good) and stock up on Whittaker's Slabs (unsurprisingly awesome) before walking the last couple of kms into Giants Campsite. Spend the afternoon rugged up in sleeping bags in an effort to stay warm. Get out for delicious spag bol with parmesan cheese. Back into bag for rest of pouring with rain night. Glad I have a book.

Impressions of the shelter- Didn't write anything down! Note to self- will have to revisit!

Body assessment- Excellent but chilled (as in freezing, not as in super relaxed).

Total people for the day- LOTS at the TT Walk (they were all cold too). No one else at the shelter, just us.

Do yourself a favour- do visit the Tree Top Walk - it is a great experience. You can also do night walks which are fun. We've visited many times in the past- it's worth doing (if you're not cold and wet and it's raining).




Day 48

Giants to Rame Head

17.4 km

Excellent sleep. Still cold and drizzly. The forest is saturated and drippy with large puddles to dodge, but a great day of walking- very diverse. The corky sheoaks were striking- a really deep russet colour against bright green forest- striking! We encounter the giant tingle with the big skirt on leaving the forest- striking! Share a good part of the trail with a railway trail which means it is essentially flat and wide, water hazards aka deep puddles adding to the interest factor. At the 4.4km mark we reach private property and skirt along the side of it- multiple property owner signs- you can't miss the fact that it is private property and you must not enter. At the top of this "steer well clear" section there is a very convenient bench seat that overlooks the farm, valley and coast. I'm not sure who provided it- the friendly, private property owner perhaps? Anyway, we enjoyed it!

From here it was a very comfortable walk despite a few up and down sections. As we edge towards the coast the rumble of the ocean gets louder. The benefit of a rainy few days is that the sand tracks and ridges are nice and compact for an easier walk. The lookout at Conspicuous Cliffs is very impressive- very windy, no whales spotted. Hunker down a bit further down the track for lunch out of the wind- got to fuel up for the beach walking and sand dunes ahead. Skinny little track but easy going, views out to the Walpole Inlet. Lots of kangaroo activity. Arrive at the hut at 2:20- it is visible for quite a way leading into it- excited to see it as it is much hyped.

Impressions of the shelter- GREAT location- fantastic views and well sheltered from the wind. Very clean platform with mats, grab rails and even a drying room! Well, it's a semi-enclosed perspex room complete with line and pegs. On a negative note- the mosquitos were at plague proportions! Really! You absolutely had to be enclosed in a net of some description- bug spray was pointless.

Body assessment- Excellent except for the mossie bites (hate them!).

Total people for the day- 2 Queenslanders at the Conspicuous Cliffs Lookout . No one else at the shelter, just us again.



Day 49

Rame Head Peaceful Bay

11.8 km

Full moon! The night was so light- every time I woke up I thought it was time to get up. Finally got up at sunrise (06:45). Up and down hills and round in circles. It was an amazing (half) days walking despite the short distance. We decided on a coffee stop at the half way mark- it was great sitting on a boardwalk facing the bushes with the frog chorus around us. Lots of big roos. More rain. Looking back at Conspicuous Cliffs was pretty amazing- looked like we could have been in Ireland (I haven't been to Ireland but I think that's what it's look like!). The next section was back on beach - angry ocean, The Gap Beach and lots of stones. Waves coming right up to the edge of the beach- we got a bit more soaked. Castle Rock was intense- we were getting blown away, at the peak it was difficult to stand! Fantastic! Prior to Cape Hope we crossed two little shell filled beaches- beautiful - periwinkles and pink shells - just lovely. The final lead up to Peaceful Bay was wet- the water was right on the edge of the dunes and the track was inundated with huge waves. As I said, it was really a great walk- the coast at its finest- a consolation after having to leave the forest behind.

We had booked a chalet in Peaceful Bay (BT hikers rates) after some great feedback from another E2E'er that I met back in Donnelly River- the one we were given wasn't awesome- cold, dark, damp and $50 each including towels and linen. Not very clean, the kettle didn't work (but was replaced), no soap and no tea bags (given 4 on request), but the shower was hot. Peaceful Bay is not about accommodation though... it's all about the fish and chips. The caravan park shop sells them and they are the most excellent thing ever- light crispy batter, fresh, fresh, fresh fish. Brilliant!

Impressions of the shelter- not one, the next one is 23km south. You can sometimes jag a spot at the caravan park and there is a house on site that is sometimes available but it is geared up for a proper stay (too expensive for 1 or 2 walkers), the Peaceful Bay Chalets - hmm, wouldn't stay there again but maybe you'd get the chalet Liz got which was nicer. The other option was a BnB which looks gorgeous but higher end.

Peaceful Bay Shop- as a re-supply place it would be adequate (but expensive) for a few days to get to Denmark, staff were really friendly and were happy to hold on to my resupply box. Fish and chips- I still think about them!

Body assessment- Full (of fish and chips and chocolate bars)

Total people for the day- No-one until Peaceful Bay then fishermen and windswept, hardy tourists

Birdwatching tip- rock parrots everywhere



Day 50

Peaceful Bay to Boat Harbor

23 km (25.5km according to my GPS)

Make packed lunches, clean up and head back into "town" to get back on to the track (07:30)- the first obstacle is an insurmountable puddle necessitating a barefoot walk- very chilly, very soon after I take a wrong turn adding at least another 1/2 km onto the day. Hills, inlet view, hills, arrive at the Irwin Inlet at 09:50. There are only 2 canoes on our side so it means we have to do the trip there and back twice - we actually end up towing one canoe over against a very strong current and even stronger winds, tow 2 back and go back in 1- get it? The inlet is about 200m wide bottom line - it is your responsibility to ensure that there are always enough canoes at either end. Despite the multiple trips it only takes us about 45 minutes and it really adds to the experience.

The next experience of the day starts when, after numerous sandhills, we reach the green grassy flats and green hills of an ecological reserve called "The Showgrounds" which is part of the Quarram Nature Reserve. It's a real highlight- we count 74 kangaroos and 2 token emus. By 12:15 we're enjoying our packed lunch in the sunshine on the beach, 10 minutes later the rain comes in. We're dodging waves and high tide running (awkwardly) to avoid getting drenched, luckily the sand is really compact - it takes a lot of the hard slog out of it. Big Quarram Beach brings an even angrier sea and lots of rock parrots (no correlation), Middle Quarram Beach has a massive section of sandhills before arriving at the hut (16:05). Very beautiful until the plague of mossies arrive. We get our tents up in the shelter in record time.

Body assessment- Still excellent.

Total people for the day- No-one!




Day 51

Boat Harbor to William Bay

30 km with the diversion

Up early after a really, really cold night. Capital C COLD. All caps COLD. Packing up is harder with cold fingers. Packing up with kangaroos in sight makes you forget about it though. We leave at 07:30- the light and sun on Boat Harbour is really gorgeous making our chilly bit of flat beach walking pretty special. Very soon though we are back climbing up the sandhills- spectacular views of the beaches from the limestone cliffs. But wait.... it gets better- our first whale sightings! WOW. Slow going morning after this with lots of slippery sand walking, as in 1 forward, slide 2 back, but... a pod of 5 whales negates the pain. Reach Mt Hillier at 10:45, the top is accessed via a spur trail- if you're hiking this section whatever you do, do not go past it! Great detour- fab views.

At 11:25 we reach the 11 km-ish mark to bad news- the Parry Inlet and consequently, Mazoletti Beach is closed- we head down to the caravan park to talk to the caretaker who confirms that the water is chest deep - given that I am not of average height it would be head high for me- we hit the road- literally- the 10km detour is pretty much all road bound. My hips and feet are killing me after several km's of hard pounding on the bitumen- is so much harder than than track, harder even than soft sand. PLUS... it feels really exposed with cars going past on the South West Highway at high speed. Not pleasant. It's fantastic to finally get back to the coast and have a coffee and a rest at Greens Pool despite it being only another 2km to the hut- we both just ran out of energy.

But, as often is the case, things can change in an instant- enroute to the hut we come across a well known trail angel by the name of Jacko. Jacko has hiked in specifically to make us filter coffee and shower us in chocolate bars!!! Thankyou Jacko!!

All in all an incredibly mixed day BUT... with the highs outweighing the low of that dreadful diversion.

Body assessment- Bloody hell that was a hard day- very sore. Finally use some Panadol Osteo washed down with some Nurofen.

Total people for the day- 5 people and 1 angel!

PS- Jacko and his wife, Annie, own a hiker friendly business and BnB called Casa Libelula- look them up, stay a night or 2 or use them for track transfers, equipment rental, advice, etc, etc. Here is a link to their site- https://www.facebook.com/CasaLibelula6333/



Day 52

William Bay to Denmark

21.5 ++ km

Out of the camp at 07:47 (precisely). Reach the first of the day's granite outcrops (hooray- love them, makes me feel like I'm back in the forest) and Mt Hallowell looms large over us. We reach Lights Beach to an inundated staircase (high tide driven). Head up to the crest of the hill in light rain for some speccy coastal views. We stop for a coffee on a 4WD track having completely lost the track markers. We do a bit of forward and backward reconnaissance. I have made a rookie error in that my track guidebook 7 doesn't actually cover the last day into
Denmark- today's walk is in guidebook 8 which is in my Denmark resupply box so we have absolutely no idea what the day entails. The only thing I am certain of is that there will be ascents and descents and Mt Hallowell will probably be involved.

Mt Hallowell IS involved- around the 8 km mark we are at the Sheila Hill Memorial Trail heading up the mountain. It is a pretty steep ascent at that- lots of wonderful rock formations before reaching Monkey Rock. Had a really great time up there monkeying around- stellar views of the coast, farmland and treetops- really stunning. Summit Mt Hallowell in time for lunch, when the rain begins we don't hang long despite the views. The descent proves to be very tricky- the rocks are slippery and the markers few and far between. I unceremoniously take a slide at the base of the rock leaving behind the skin of my elbow, part of my sleeve and completely bend my trekking pole. Frustrating. Bloody. Painful. Very slow progress to the base now that the fall has spooked me. Pass a few day walkers and dog walkers before a very boring 7km into town. I
think this is probably the most boring 7km of the trail- residential streets and backs of houses before reaching the Denmark Inlet.

We take a 1.5km path into town and find our pre-booked accommodation for the night- The Blue Wren Hostel, drop the packs and walk to the Tourist Info Centre to pick up my resupply box. The Blue Wren is a good spot. We paid $35 pp for a twin room with shared bathroom, all linen included and a great share kitchen. Washing machine $5/load, free dryer. Mark, the friendly owner, unbends my trekking pole and offers us a lift to Pelican Point tomorrow to resume the trek ($50/car). We eat at the pub and finish back at the hostel in front of the fire with a glass of wine chatting to Mark, Karen a traveller from Austria, and Amy from Hong Kong who works at the hostel for room and board. We solve the Brexit issue and other assorted world affairs before a very late night (11:30pm). The twin bed sure is soft and warm.

http://www.denmarkbluewren.com.au/_menus/main/

Impressions of the town of Denmark- It's a long time favourite- we have spent a lot of family time here. For a BT hiker there is absolutely everything you need- supermarket, laundry, post office/newsagent, cafes, shops and pub. There are markets on the weekend and festivals throughout the year. If you needed or wanted to take a day off here it's perfect. If you are someone visiting the region with a car there is a lot to do, great spot to spend a week.

Body assessment-Apart from the shredded elbow, REALLY good- feeling very fit (as you would expect). Mentally- I am not ready for the end in next week.

Total people seen for the day - lots, Denmark is always busy.

Leftovers from Peaceful Bay Resupply Box- lots- yep the last of the Moroccan beef meals (finally), shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion, hot chocolate, trail mix, chocolate mint biscuits (the minty smell permeates the other food they are packed with) and a bit of leftover gas. There's a well stocked hiker box at Blue Wren which I add to, relieve them of some oats and toilet paper. Add to my new stash from the supermarket- bread, cheese, coffee, boiled eggs and chocolate bars.


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