The Swan Walking Challenge uses WA’s own Bibbulmun Track, from now to be referenced as’ the Track’, as the basis for walking milestones. I have been lucky enough to have actually explored this amazing stretch of Western Australia and thought I could add further insights into the Track. If you haven’t already, you can follow my Ramblings from the beginning:
Starting The Day
Many factors influence how and when we exercise, while on the Track it best suits me to start early. This means getting up just before dawn and heating water ready for the first drink of the day. While waiting for the water to boil, starting to pack-down my gear; getting it ready to put into ‘just the right spot’ in my pack. Squeezing the air out while rolling my sleeping mat up hoping I make it small enough the first attempt to fit in its own bag. I can’t pack as I go as the cooker travels best for me when packed low down in my pack.
The water boils and what better way to start the day than enjoying the sunrise.
The down side of carrying the cooker is that I often find myself last ready to start the next chapter of the adventure.
People wear and carry a real variety of ‘stuff’, it is interesting to observe.
These Boots are Made for Walking
Footwear varies from sandshoes, walking specific shoes to boots.
Boots work for me
- The first task after bringing them home from the store is waxing them to assist with water repelling.
- Unfortunately sometimes the water you are moving through is simply too deep and the often chilly water penetrates from above, through the boot protectors and down through the socks, I have the memory of water sloshing within my boots as I have continued along the track.
- What has at times seemed unfair is when the water is deep enough to penetrate from the top of my boot but my companion with the larger foot & so larger boot which sits higher maintains a relatively dry foot, they of course find this highly amusing.
- When taking them off later in the day wringing out your socks is fun.
- Alternatively, when travelling on a warm, dry day your feet can get really hot and the first task on walking into camp is getting out of those boots and into thongs.
At some of the camps along the way fires are permitted and these can be useful (though at times challenging depending on the weather) to help dry out some of your clothes & footwear. On one occasion, I managed to singe my boot protectors and had significant steam coming from my socks!
Placing your clothing at night between your air mattress and sleeping bag, is a really good trick to help dry out your clothes.
You need to carefully consider every item in your pack as no matter how small or light it seems by itself when you add each item weight starts to add up and you are carrying this load. Duct tape, fixamol, zip lock bags and a pack liner are four items I suggest you pack.
- I have seen duct tape holding failing footwear together, taping up the side of a torn tent and around broken poles
- Fixamol is great in helping managing blisters plus versatile for many first aid needs
- Zip lock bags provide light, easy storage for food and many of your items including your dunny roll
- The pack liner ensures your camp gear especially your sleeping bag and spare clothes stay dry
Balingup – Donnelly River- Pemberton
Eight sections break up this 166.7km stretch; five of them 21.1km – 25.1 km in distance many with huts nestled close to the water.
Red Tailed Black Cockatoos
The variety of wildlife you see along the way is extensive; the red tailed black cockatoos are definitely my favourites.
- I’ve seen these all the way from Kalamunda through to about Nullaki
- They have been especially memorable the first time I walked through the Greenbushes Loop trail that shared the Track’s route for a 4.4 km stretch between Balingup & Blackwood
- On this day the crackle of cockatoos took great delight as we walked along of repeatedly dropping honkey nuts on our heads
- The highlight of these birds is definitely the spectacular flashes of red panels on their tails they treat you to
- Capturing them on film can be challenging
A Ghostly Appearance
The Blackwood Hut is spectacularly perched above the Blackwood Valley. On our first visit we were treated to a mist that gave the appearance of a floating island in front of us, the reality was we were looking at the top of the opposite hillside.
Points of Interest
Cardiac Hill is a memorable, much talked about Track feature on the southern side of Blackwood, as the name suggests it provides a good work out.
The stretch that follows includes a steep ascent to Millstream Dam, along the way the bush has grown to let you walk through a natural tunnel.
Donnelly River is a lovely, little stop that many choose to take the opportunity to spend the night renting one of many timber mill cottages. The General store provides an interesting representation of the logging history of the settlement; kangaroos & emus wander throughout the settlement.
The walk from Donnelly River to Tom Road Hut, meanders along the River and is a shorter day of just 16.2km. The campsite overlooks a permanent pool in the river. Last time I was at this site the temperature dropped and I was appreciative of the comfort of my- 10 degrees sleeping bag. We found ice around the campsite in the morning!
The official halfway track marker is found between Tom Road and Boarding House Huts
Who’s Up for a Challenge?
Boarding House to Beavis Hut is a challenging stretch, if you want a workout this is where you come. Two tough ascents and descents that leave you with an absolute sense of achievement, once you have recovered from the climbs! Absolutely the spots where the packs are flung off and you find yourself lying on the ground exhausted. On our travels, this section is rated the most significant day on the Track. Would I do it again?-Absolutely
One Log Bridge is memorable
The walk along the lake edge culminating in Beedelup Falls is a great Track variant.
The final day in to Pemberton is a long day that covers 25.1km, it is however relatively flat, following old railway formations for much of the day.
If a good work out with spectacular views is what you are after then this section of the Track ticks all the boxes. For more information :
It’s not too late to join us for our Swan Walking Challenge
Trekking Name- Blue Eyed Babe