The Bibbulmun Track – Balingup to Pemberton

Here we go again with another trip report along the Bibbulmun Track. After a days rest in Balingup, it was eight days to Pemberton.

Saturday, 19th October 2013: Day 23

A rest day today, and after a fry up breakfast, we picked up supplies from the local store and then took a ride out to Wright’s Bridge to see what the camping situation was like, and, in particular, whether Mikey could sleep under the bridge because he didn’t have a tent. We weren’t very impressed so we decided that we would stay an extra night in Balingup, and with Helen staying on, she could pick us up at the bridge tomorrow and drop us back there the next day! Decision made, we headed for the pub after a quick visit to a cheese factory.

In the evening, we went to a Spring Festival in Golden Tree Valley Park, and a big bonfire. This used to be Guy Fawkes Night but as the fifth of November is after the fire ban, it was moved forward.

Sunday, 20th October 2013: Day 24

An easy day as Andrew and I slackpacked to Wright’s Bridge, first travelling through the Tree Park. This is a lovely park, filled with countless non-native trees.

Day 24: Golden Valley Tree Park
Golden Valley Tree Park
Day 24: Golden Valley Tree Park
Golden Valley Tree Park
Day 24: Golden Valley Tree Park
Golden Valley Tree Park
Day 24: Golden Valley Tree Park
Golden Valley Tree Park

Out of the park, we took a dirt road up to Hay Road, where the diversion began. It was a long road, but there were decent views of the hills, and a change from forest.

Day 24: Tree lined dirt road
Tree lined dirt road
Day 24: Railway crossing
Railway crossing
Day 24: views along Hay Road
Views along Hay Road
Day 24: Diversion along Hay Road
Diversion along Hay Road
Day 24: Last tree standing
Last Tree Standing
Day 24: Bird on Hay Road
Bird on Hay Road
Day 24: A welcome climb away from tarmac
A welcome climb away from tarmac
Day 24: Balingup Brook
Balingup Brook
Day 24: Logging Road
Logging Road
Day 24: Wrights Bridge
Wright’s Bridge
Day 24: Wrights Bridge
Wright’s Bridge

Through to Wright’s Bridge, Helen was there with the car to take us back to Balingup.

Monday, 21st October 2013: Day 25

Helen dropped us off before eight in the morning, and we promptly took the wrong path that did a full circle of the bank of the Blackwater River, before we realised it went along the road.

Day 25: Heading towards Lewana Road
Heading towards Lenora Road

Up onto unsealed Lenora Road, a steady ascent that went on for an age.

Day 25: Lenora Road
Lenora Road
Day 25: Snack break
Snack break
Day 25: Emu
Day 25: Wildflowers no.1
Wildflowers provide the odd distraction
Day 25: Green lane
Green lane

This section was long, boring road walking to rejoin the path proper, then just 45 minutes to the shelter, Gregory’s Brook, arriving at two in the afternoon. A lazy afternoon and an evening round the fire, and bed by 7:30 pm.

Tuesday, 22nd October 2013: Day 26

Day 26: Gregory's Brook Shelter
Gregory’s Brook Shelter

Probably the coldest night, we were away by eight. This was an “all downhill” section that always has some element of uphill. As we made our way over the Brockman Highway and down to Willow Springs recreation area, we started to notice the appearance of the mighty Karri Tree.

Day 26: Brockman Highway
Brockman Highway
Day 26: near Stallard Road
Near Stallard Road

I also got my first look at a Tiger Snake! a few feet from where I stepped, it slithered away into the undergrowth. I was thrilled and buzzing all the way to Willow Springs.

Day 26: Willow Springs
Willow Springs picnic area
Day 26: Break at Willow Springs
Break at Willow Springs

From Willow Springs we encountered a large number of fallen trees, but thankfully they were only small, and were just an annoyance rather than a real problem. The path was good for the duration into Donnelly River Village.

Day 26: clear track
clear track
Day 26: Welcome to Donnelly District
Welcome to Donnelly District
Day 26: Arriving in "Karri Country"
Entering Karri Country

As we neared the end of the day, we bumped into a couple of emus on the track; not phased by us, they stepped into the bush.

Day 26: Emus near Donnelly
Emus near Donnelly
Day 26: Road to Donnelly River Village
Road to Donnelly River Village

We arrived at the village about 2:20pm, and booked into the backpackers accommodation. The whole complex is looking tired, and the rooms were dirty and a big disappointment.

This used to be a busy timber mill felling the Karri. The backpackers is the former school, and chalets are the former cottages.

The Beef Lasagne we had for dinner in the store was good, and with the tame kangaroos, emus and parrots residing in the village, I can see why it might appeal; it just needs some freshening up.

Day 26: Chilled out Roos
Chilled out Roos

In the evening, we retired to the TV room, for want of something better to do.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2013: Day 27

Despite hanging around to have bacon and eggs at the general store, which opened at 8:30 am, we were both up and ready by seven! Still, it gave us some time to enjoy the friendly wildlife.

Day 27: Sleepy Joey
Sleepy Joey
Day 27: Donnelly River General Store
Donnelly River General Store
Day 27: Friendly Parrot
Friendly Parrot

Breakfast finished, we were off at 9:15. It was a short 16 kilometres today, and fairly level, so we could take our time.

Day 27: Emu on the scrounge
Emu on the scrounge

We passed a fallen Marri, split at just above the base, and not uprooted, but the devastation it had caused to the smaller trees was impressive.

Day 27: Storm damaged Karri
Storm damaged Karri
Day 27: Andrew surveying the damage
Andrew surveying the damage
Day 27: Tall trees
Tall Trees

As we went, the trees got taller. We stopped at Tom Road, about 8.5 km out of Donnelly River Village, and I had a paddle in the brook.

Day 27: A quick dip in Donnelly River
A quick paddle in the Donnelly River
Bridge over Donnelly River
Bridge over Donnelly River

Then we were into some steep sections. Nothing like what is to come in a couple of days time, but exerting all the same!

Day 27: Bridge on Tom Road, over Donnelly
Bridge on Tom Road, over Donnelly

When we came down the other side, we were at Twin Bridges and on Tom Road. It was now just 2.9 km to the shelter along a good track.

Day 27: Tom Road over the Donnelly
Tom Road

Arriving at Tom Road Campsite, we were pleased to see a well maintained shelter; probably the best so far, and a beautiful location by the banks of the Donnelly River. Had it been warmer, I might have considered a dip.

Andrew got a fire on early, and we relaxed, the thought of a 23 km day tomorrow, and a big climb the day after, at the forefront of my mind.

Day 27: Donnelly River at Tom Road Shelter
Donnelly River at Tom Road Shelter

Thursday, 24th October 2013: Day 28

A milestone day with halfway passed!

Day 28: Tom Road Shelter
Tom Road Shelter

Up early and away at 7:10 am, we started the winding trail along the Donnelly River. Unfortunately, views were few and far between thanks to the foliage, but the track was good and had been cleared in the past few days.

Day 28: Halfway point at Cow Brook
Halfway point at Cow Brook

We reached the half way point at Cows Creek; 483 km done from Kalamunda, 483 km to Albany. We took photos and soldiered on. A few months after my thru hike the track was remeasured and it was found that it was actually 1003 km, further than originally thought.

Day 28: Pleased with our efforts!
Pleased with our efforts

Any sense of achievement was nipped in the bud as we reached the section between Green’s Pool and One Tree Bridge; fallen trees, a couple of Marri, meant we had to take off packs to negotiate them. On the plus side, I spotted another Tiger Snake!

We reached One Tree Bridge; the guidebook said a cafe was nearby and we optimistically hoped for bacon and egg butties, but alas, there was nothing to be found. All very disappointing.

Andrew was suffering. His feet were blistering again and we had to do some running repairs and take a break. I was keen to up the pace but I knew Andrew wanted to potter along with his feet so he said for me to go ahead.

Day 28: Donnelly River
Donnelly River

The remaining 12 km to the shelter was largely along a railway formation, and so the going was easy. I managed the distance in 3 hours, 4 km per hour, and stopped briefly, once, by some rapids.

Day 28: Donnelly River
Donnelly River

I was into Boarding House Campsite by 2:30 pm, a bloody good effort, I thought! Andrew came in 45 minutes later!

Day 28: Tree Footbridge
Tree footbridge
Day 28: Fallen tree across the river
Fallen tree across the river
Day 28: Almost home
Almost home
Day 28: Boarding House Shelter
Boarding House Shelter

Didn’t spend much time sitting around the campfire this evening, I won’t go into too much detail but it was a hot day and it had taken its toll on the delicate regions to the point where it was uncomfortable to sit down. Best to let the Sudocreme work its magic!

Our evenings will change soon when we get to the last campsite where a fire is allowed.

We were in bed by 6:40 pm, both of us knackered, but it was a warm night and I didn’t sleep well. At about 10 pm, some mice moved into the bunk above. They were up all night partying and I had to move to the other side of the shelter about midnight to try and get some peace.

Friday, 25th October 2013: Day 29

Today was reputedly a day of challenging climbs and said to be one of the hardest of days. With that in the back of my mind I wanted an early start. Not as early as hoped, I was off at 7:10 am, leaving Andrew to walk his own walk at his pace.

Day 29: Early morning sunshine
Early morning sunshine

I was feeling good! Up onto Wirraway Form without stopping and down and over the log bridge at 8:30 am. I was at the Lease Road crossing of the Donnelly River by 9:15 am.

Day 29: A Karri bridge
A Karri Bridge
Day 29: One of many tough climbs today
One of many tough climbs today
Day 29: beautiful forest scenery.
Beautiful forest scenery
Day 29: Thankfully the track turns off before this hill!
Thankfully the track turns off before this hill
Day 29: Bridge near 4WD access point
Bridge near 4WD access point

Now came the first really big climb. It didn’t pose too much of a problem; on the way I met “Cliffy”, a South to Norther, at the ripe old age of 74! After a chat about the flooded Pingarup Plains, which were only about ankle deep now, we said goodbye and I motored on down the very steep path to the next river crossing, reaching it by 10:30 am.

As I rested at the bridge, another hiker came through; he didn’t stop, just smiled, said “How’s it goin?” as Aussies do, and then “There’s a bit of a hill that way!”

“There’s a bit of one that way too!” I replied, and then he was gone. I was later to find, in the register at the next hut, that this was the famous “Pack Animal”, a serial end to ender who lives on the Bibbulmun. Such was his fitness, he was double hutting. I didn’t know what to expect of this celebrity, but I was pleasantly underwhelmed, he seemed just a regular 45 year old guy!

Day 29: Footbridge

Now to the biggest climb of the day. It was a tough 150 m climb up a rocky gravel and mud road, and in the heat of the sun, I did go from shade to shade and rested about half a dozen times, but it was all over in fifteen minutes, and I was on a better path with little respite from the sun.

Day 29: Down one, up another..
Down one, up another..
Day 29: Typical "watercourse" on the Bibb
Typical watercourse on the Bibbulmun

When I was eventually descending to the Donnelly once again, I had in mind to stop at one of the two marked bridges and take a refreshing swim. As it transpired, I never saw bridge number one and number two was two planks of wood over a dry bed! No matter, I was closer to Beavis Campsite than I thought and strolled in at 12:40 pm. Despite the hills, I still maintained over 4 kph!

Day 29: Beavis Shelter is just around the corner!
Beavis Shelter is just around the corner

This campsite looks idyllic, set amongst tall Karris, but time will tell if the nearby pool will be a breeding ground for mozzies! Once I had unpacked and got myself organised, there was little to do but wash, have lunch, relax and enjoy the long afternoon, waiting for Andrew to arrive, which he did, 2 hours later.

Day 29: Andrew getting a fire started
Andrew getting a fire started
Day 29: View from Beavis Shelter
View from Beavis Shelter
Day 29: Beavis Shelter
Beavis Shelter

The evening came; I was far too warm and about 10pm, gave up battling the mozzies and set up my tent. My night was a lot more relaxed.

Day 29: Andrew and Tall Karri by fireplace
Andrew and tall Karri by the fireplace

Saturday, 26th October 2013: Day 30

Woke to find a rat had been into my gear, and had found my food. Fortunately, the critter had only managed to get into a sachet of oats so I had to forego breakfast.

Andrew’s foot was in a bad way and he decided he was going to abort. The only option was a 13 km walk to a road to hitch a lift or to go the 16 km to Karri Valley Resort. I decided to stick with him today, conscious that I was the only one with a mobile phone.

We set off about half past seven and straightaway it was obvious it was going to be a long day. Andrew was hobbling badly and I was struggling to slow my pace. So the routine was set; I went off at my usual speed and at significant points, or a handy log to sit down on, I stopped to wait and check he was OK.

Day 30: Andrew struggling today.
Andrew struggling today
Day 30: Karri Marri Tree
The Karri Marri Tree

We passed the Karri Marri tree about 12:20 pm, and soon after crossed Carey Brook.

Day 30: Footbridge over Carrey Brook
Footbridge over Carrey Brook
Day 30: Carrey Brook
Carrey Brook
Day 30: Last push to Karri Valley Resort
Last push to Karri Valley Resort
Day 30: Roots
Day 30: The Karri Valley Resort
The Karri Valley Resort

It was a climb up to Carey Road and down to Beedalup Road, then on further to Beedalup Lake. We left the track here, and I rushed ahead to see if the Karri Valley Resort had a room. If they hadn’t, Andrew would have to get a lift to Pemberton and I would have to backtrack and carry on to Beedalup Campsite. As it was, they had a room overlooking the wonderful lake, and we checked in.

Day 30: View from our room
View from our room
Day 30: Duck on the lake
Duck on the lake

I was last here in 1997, and I had half a mind to return to this wonderful location, but the room would have been a little too much for one person, so just as well Andrew and I went halves.

So, laundry got done a day early, I had a lovely steak in the restaurant, and I was all set up for the 26 km into Pemberton tomorrow, instead of the 21 km I would have had if I had continued on to Beedalup Campsite for the night. I would see Andrew in Pemberton.

Day 30: Sunset on the lake
Sunset on the lake

Sunday, 27th October 2013: Day 31

Shame that Andrew had stopped, but I had to move on. It was near half six when I left the Karri Valley Resort, and retraced my steps and was back on the track and was soon at Beedelup Falls.

Day 31: Kookaburra
Day 31: Beedelup Falls
Beedelup Falls
Day 31: Beedelup Falls
Beedelup Falls

The path to Beedelup Hut was rocky and strewn with fallen trees making it frustrating progress. I reached the hut and signed the log book, albeit a day late.

Day 31: Beedelup Shelter
Beedelup Shelter

From the hut, it was a wide path and easier, and at the next major point, Stirling Road, I was looking out into a countryside of fields.

Day 31: Leaving Beedelup National Park
Leaving Beedelup National Park
Day 31: Wildflowers no.2
Wildflowers and Waugal
Day 31: Channybearup Road access point
Channybearup Road
Day 31: A rare stile on the Bibbulmun
A rare stile on the Bibbulmun

This respite from the trees was short lived, and especially cruel as I dropped into a dark woodland of tangled jarrah, a path carpeted by shredded bark and littered with branches hampering my way.

Day 31: Red Kangaroo
Red Kangaroo

I did manage to come across a Red Kangaroo who spent five minutes on the track ahead of me as I slowly moved forward.

Day 31: a dark and foreboding section
A dark and foreboding section
Day 31: Growth rings
Growth rings
Day 31: Enjoying being back in the light!
Enjoying being back in the light!
Day 31: Fence line near Eastern Break Road
Fence line near Eastern Break Road

After 9 km of this woodland, I emerged into the light again, and although there was still a way to go, it felt like I’d cracked the toughest part of it.

Day 31: Tree stump by side of track
Tree stump by side of track

I passed down to the Big Brook Dam, via the Arboretum; a collection of pine trees from all over the world and it was a delight to smell the heavy scent of these trees.

Day 31: Approaching the aboretum
Approaching the arboretum
Day 31: Track sign near Big Brook Dam
Track sign near Big Brook Dam

The track along the dam was sealed to aid wheelchair users and the midday warmth of the bitumen appealed to a Dugite, who quickly moved as I crashed along.

Day 31: Big Brook Dam
Big Brook Dam
Day 31: Big Brook Dam
Big Brook Dam

From the dam, up and over the last hill, and back into Karri country, following the Big Brook into Pemberton.

Day 31: Last hill before Pemberton
Last hill before Pemberton
Day 31: Lefroy Brook
Lefroy Brook

The walk to my motel was long, but thankfully on the Bibbulmun Track, and it will lessen my task when I continue next Tuesday.

Andrew was already there, and after a quick shower, we met up with Mikey down the pub for a few beers and a meal. Mikey was going to sleep in the bush to save some cash but I said he could use the floor of my room, it was a room for three anyway!

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!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: