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An unexpected experience

Alain Bourguignon, France

6 December 2016

My name is Alain Bourguignon, I’m from France, and I have just completed the Bibbulmun Track, filled up the form and registered as an end-to-ender. I didn’t have much time when I filled the form, and there was not much space to tell enough about my experience of the Bibbulmun Track—so I’d like to share a bit more of my adventure.

The walk I ventured into, when I made the first step in Kalamunda, wasn’t quite what I had expected. First of all I expected it to be, as well as a plunge into the Australian bush, a plunge into loneliness, discomfort, weakness and fear—a journey deep into my soul, leading towards the banishment of these emotions. But it was the opposite. I didn’t feel any of that, but instead I found in the Track a great opportunity to open myself to others; it made the Track a wonderful social time for me.

Along the first, longest and toughest section, in order to help pushing myself forward, and getting over my limits every day, I gave myself a mission—catching up with that young Supertramp, walking three days ahead of me. While stopping in Dwellingup, I knew the day had finally come, so I carried three beers in my backpack, and had a nice cool drink in Murray Campsite, with him and Don. Beer tastes so much better after 30km!

We walked all three at the same pace and shared the shelters every night, leaving loneliness far away. After Collie, we caught up with another group of end-to-enders, the three Plods, who taught me some basics about WA orchids, and were great company. We were now six at every campsite! Later on the Track, after I left them, I hid a present for them in Dog Pool Campsite, with a treasure hunt to find it. I hope they had fun!
Along the Track, it was as if the distance, or the fences that can happen to be between people, just vanished to leave a strong brotherhood feeling—after only one shelter, I was feeling like knowing them for years. And at every town, we were sharing a nice hot (fat) meal and a cold beer at the pub. That was such a wonderful social experience!

I had good surprises I wasn’t expecting, too. The trees—grass trees, jarrahs, karris, marris, red and yellow tingles—were absolutely majestic, and really rare in France! The karris were my favourite, and I enjoyed a lot climbing up Gloucester Tree at sunrise. Also, the wildflowers were stunning. For the first few hundred kilometres, I was just gazing at them, not really closely, until I met the three Plods. Every night, they were asking ‘Did you see that orchid? Did you see that one?’ And obviously, I missed them all. So I started being attentive to the flowers. And soon, I spotted some rattle beaks, a purple pansy orchid, spider orchids, bird orchids…I was completely amazed and fascinated by these little beauties.

Alain crossing the Irwin Inlet
Alain crossing the Irwin Inlet

So, I really enjoyed very much the Bibbulmun Track, from the first day to the 39th. Though it wasn’t quite like my expectations, there was no disappointment at all—only good times. Instead of solitude and quietness, I found great company and abundant life, vegetable and animal.

I’d like to deeply thank the Bibbulmun Track Foundation, the volunteers, the donors and the employees, and the DPaW. You have done a wonderful work with the Bibbulmun Track, and that’s a great present for a foreigner like me, being able to walk this 1000km with shelters, water and toilets, at no fee. Thank you very much.

Kind regards