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ARPA Bushwalkers return to the Bibbulmun Track

Karin Waterman, South Australia

24 January 2012

ARPA bushwalkers at the southern terminus in Albany.
ARPA bushwalkers at the southern terminus in Albany.

We began our journey on October 12th through the beautiful tall trees of the karri and jarrah forest and passed the huge Gloucester Tree, which was first used as a fire lookout. This magnificent tree is there to be climbed; however it is not a climb for the fainthearted—and also not by us! We instead earned our panoramic views atop high granite rocks and coastal cliffs, and our efforts were well rewarded by breathtaking views.

While in Walpole we were able to take advantage of the Valley of the Giant Treetop walk above the magnificent tingle trees. We were also fortunate to experience a unique eco-cruise with WOW Wilderness, and our guide Gary Muir kept us entertained and well informed. We will never forget his animated version of treating snakebites. This was very useful information as we encountered several snakes, such as dugites and tigers. We tackled many a swamp, sometimes skirting around, other times just heading straight through the water or mud.

On to the coastal dunes, which have the most spectacular wildflowers and orchids, where we stumbled across a new variety of orchid, which one walker named “the blue bikini orchid”. Springing out of nowhere in the bush and heading straight for the beach, it was noticed by the females and admired by the males, a talking point for quite a while…

A few days later we learned that it was not wise to choose a leader who had an extra rest day unless you wanted to run.

One of the highlights was the canoe crossing at Irwin Inlet, when the wind was doing its best to blow us off course and an extra trip had to be made when not enough life jackets were with the canoes. Thank you to our brave companions who saw us safely across the Inlet.

While on the track we met Ian, a 54 year old from New Zealand who was “double-hutting”, which meant 40km a day — the advantage of youth! We also met an older man whose family met him at different sections of the track with a casserole, now that’s service.

Our camps were at Pemberton, Walpole, Denmark and Albany, where, except for Albany we all stocked up at the only supermarket in town, the local IGA. So it was with some irony that we found the Bibbulmun Terminus at the Albany Visitor Centre was adjoining the local IGA. It was with bitter sweet emotions that we said goodbye to great company, many laughs, fantastic scenery and a well trodden and maintained Track.