The Bibbulmun Track – Dwellingup to Collie

Here we go with the next leg of my Bibbulmun Adventure. a leg where I had to dig deep as the weather exacerbated the loneliness of walking alone.

Tuesday, 8th October 2013: Day 12

Exchanged contact details with Sean; we’ll go for a beer in Fremantle, where he lives, when I get back to Perth, and set off at 6:15 am. It soon became apparent my fitness could manage a double hut 32 km day. The weather was sunny, but soon turned, as forecast, although a little earlier than expected.

Leaving Dwellingup
Leaving Dwellingup
Diversion near Dwellingup
Diversion near Dwellingup
Farming near Dwellingup
Farming near Dwellingup

Arrived at Swamp Oak shelter at 10 am, far too early to stop, so I pushed on, in the rain, for Murray.

A break at Swamp Oak
A break at Swamp Oak

A slippery climb up from Swamp Oak Road, and steep descent to the road at Yarragil Form. With hardly a moment to catch a breath, it was a 170 metre ascent out the other side.

Footbridge near Allen Road
Footbridge near Allen Road
Downhill
Downhill
Turnoff to the Murray River
Turnoff to the Murray River
The Murray River
The Murray River

Once altitude was achieved, it was a steady 10 km down into Murray campsite, by about 3:30 pm. A long day, well pleased as it now puts me two days ahead of schedule.

Murray River Shelter
Murray River Shelter
Murray from the shelter
Murray from the shelter

Aside from a solitary Kookaburra, nobody joined me tonight, I feel this could be a lonely five nights to Collie.

Kookaburra
Kookaburra

I settled down with my book about 6:30 pm. Darkness drew in and so did the rain.

Wednesday, 9th October 2013: Day 13

On paper, the walk to Dookanelly Campsite looks a breeze at 17.8 km and fairly flat. Throw in a night of persistant rain and some more a couple of hours into the day and you have, in reality, a wet trudge along the Murray River.

A misty start
A misty start
A wet day
A wet day

Gone at 7:15 am, in the mist, I laboured through saturated foliage along overgrown paths and tracks, arriving about midday. I was afforded some sunshine to dry out my gear.

Drying out at Dookanelly
Drying out at Dookanelly

I have to say, the previous sleepless night of rain and this “simple” leg are the closest I have come to quitting. If I have learnt anything in the last thirteen days it is that I am not the solitary soul I thought; right now I crave the company of others at camp. It is particularly frustrating that at each hut I read the log books and see Dropbear one hut away, sadly the distances are too far for me to consider a double hut leg. But I’m here now, and the sun is out, and things always seem better when that is the case.

Dookanelly Shelter
Dookanelly Shelter

The evening came and I noticed, accompanying the bird song, there was a low drone of heavy machinery in the distance that stayed for the night. This was the famous Worsley Conveyor Belt; I had been told that you can hear it two days before you reach it, and two after. Well, last night the rain drowned out everything and I will reach it tomorrow.

Thursday, 10th October 2013: Day 14

A much better sleep last night and up for the day in a better mood. Away by ten to seven, and first order of business was to tackle some hills they call “The Four Sisters”. These lumps were quite a challenge, a roller coaster of a four wheel drive track. The scenery helped the pain, and provided plenty of excuses to stop, as did coming face to face with a kangaroo on the brow of one.

A brighter start
A brighter start
KEEP OUT
KEEP OUT
Grass Tree
Grass Tree
The Glenmurray Estate
The Glenmurray Estate
One of the 'Four Sisters'
One of the ‘Four Sisters’
Large Roo
Large Roo
Track Access
Track Access

By 10 am, I was at the Murray River and the famous Long Gully Bridge.

Long Gully Bridge
Long Gully Bridge
Harvey-Quindalup Road
Harvey-Quindalup Road

Across the Harvey-Quindalup Road, by now the conveyor belts constant hum was very prevalent and it only took fifteen minutes before it was in sight. What a feat of engineering, the Worsley Conveyor Belt transports bauxite 52 kilometres from the mine to the refinery in Worsley.

The Worsley Conveyor Belt
The Worsley Conveyor Belt

Up another hill and down to Bell’s Brook; a trickle of water through a flood plain of grass trees and shoots of green starting to merge from the mud. The section from Dwellingup hasn’t been prolific for wildflowers so far, the rains have hampered this.

Track near Bell Brook
Track near Bell Brook
Track near Bell Brook
Grass Trees near Bell Brook

I met a walker along Possum Creek, my first human contact for a couple of days. He was skipping the shelter thanks to tales of mice and bush pigs, but I was too tired to do the same, besides, I have a plan to double hut tomorrow.

I arrived at Possum Springs Campsite at midday. I noticed Dropbears comment in the log book about the rats and pigs and put his concerns down to a bit of lonely night paranoia.

Possum Springs Shelter
Possum Springs Shelter
My sleeping system
My sleeping system

Had lunch and laid back chilling on a beautiful sunny afternoon; what a difference a day makes! The evening was not so relaxed. As sun set, the rats came out of their nest behind a piece of hardboard under one of the top bunks. I quickly hung my food up and vacated to my tent for a quieter night!

Friday, 11th October 2013: Day 15

Not many dramas today apart from a 33 km walk and intermittent rain. It was a straightforward route, flat and taxing on my left ankle for some reason.

Seventy Seven Road
Seventy Seven Road
Waugal
Waugal
Near Plonkhole
Near Plonkhole
Plonkhole
Plonkhole

I crossed a few wet areas, such as “Plonkhole” where the wildflowers were beautiful!

Wildflowers near Plonkhole
Wildflowers near Plonkhole

The Wilhusen Road was as boring as it was straight, southbound for nearly 7 kilometres. I was glad to reach the Harris River flood plain, about 9:40 am, and crossed with little problem; again, the flowers were stunning!

Selfie on Wilhusen Road
Selfie on Wilhusen Road
Crossing the Harris River Floodplain
Crossing the Harris River Floodplain
Wildflowers on the floodplain
Wildflowers on the floodplain

Yourdamung Campsite is a way off the track, and extra mileage for someone just dropping by to get water. I stopped to eat, while it rained again, and was away in the wet at just gone 11 am.

Yourdamung Shelter for lunch
Yourdamung Shelter for lunch

By now, I had given up on a waterproof jacket. A sunny spell soon came along to dry me out, and the temperature was warm enough to negate hypothermia.

Wildflowers
Wildflowers
Caversham Road
Caversham Road

A long section through barely undulating forest, I reached Caversham Road by 2 pm. My legs were spent but the old trick of tick points on the map saw the final 2.9 km go quickly and I wandered into Harris Dam Campsite forty minutes later.

Harris Dam Shelter
Harris Dam Shelter

My biggest day, well chuffed to be over the 300 km mark, Collie tomorrow will be a third of the Bibbulmun behind me!

Saturday, 12th October 2013: Day 16

Shadow Play
Shadow Play

Sunshine greeted me this morning and it was perfect all day. Some short descent, disturbing a few roos along the way, I was down to the Harris Dam picnic site for a break.

Harris Dam
Harris Dam
Harris Dam Picnic Spot
Harris Dam Picnic spot

I was going well and soon ticking of the kilometres!

Muja Northern Terminal Powerline
Muja Northern Terminal Powerline
Harris Dam State Forest
Harris Dam State Forest
Selfie on a log
Selfie on a log
Wildflowers
Wildflower
Wildflowers
Wildflower
Wildflowers
Wildflower

As I strode on, I found the wildflowers becoming more prolific and beautiful.

Wildflowers on the verge of Mornington Road North
Wildflowers on the verge of Mornington Road North
Crossing Mornington Road North
Crossing Mornington Road North
Wildflowers
Wildflowers
Wildflowers
Wildflowers
Wasp on a Kangaroo Paw
Wasp on a Kangaroo Paw

I reached the railway that runs through Collie, and I knew the township was almost within reach.

Railway Crossing near Collie
Railway crossing near Collie

Unfortunately, the designers of the route had other plans and took me on a hike around the outskirts to the spur trail. Still, more flowers to see.

Wildflowers
Wildflower

Including this one with two little beetles sitting snugly in the morning sun.

Beetles
Beetles

Eventually, I was pleased to see the turn off! A good bed and food other than freeze dried awaited in a couple more kilometres!

Collie Townsite turnoff
Collie Townsite Turnoff
FIRE DANGER - Collie
FIRE DANGER – Collie

Booked into the Colliefields Hotel, where I will be staying for three nights as the shops are shut on Sunday. Spent most of the rest of the day writing up the blog, posting pics, with a side trip for a Big Mac, large fries and strawberry shake; it had to be done and was delicious! 324 kilometres done, and a third of the way!

To be continued…

Published by Moorland Walker

Paul is a backpacker, tor bagger, Bibbulmun Track End to Ender and West Ham supporter. He moved down from London to live in Okehampton in 2016, after realising he was spending most of his weekends on Dartmoor and it just made sense to make it permanent!

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