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Ten years in the making

Sandi Sime, WA

23 January 2012

We seem to have been walking the Bibbulmun Track for years, some parts many times—we have probably done about 1600 kms before finally claiming end-to-end status. Our first section was from Donnelly River to Walpole in 2001, when the suspension bridge over Deep River near Walpole
was burnt out by a bush fire. We made a diversion around by road, but we walked down from Mount Clare campsite to the river to make sure we had covered every step of the Track. Our track names were Willow and Lobo. 

Then we walked Walpole to Albany and Albany to Walpole (about four times), and on one section we introduced Jo Roworth to the Track. Jo was amazing, but she found out the hard way that it pays to train for these walks. The first night out after walking Mt Hallowell, she fell into a heap
when we finally reached the hut, laid down and did not move until morning. She could have pulled out at Peaceful Bay but chose to go on, in spite of toes that looked as if they were ready to drop off. She loved the whole thing so much that she has gone on and completed an end-to-end this
year, as part of “Snail, Hare and Tortoise”. So what started as a shaky beginning has ended in a real success story.

Another interesting meeting on one of these sections was ‘Celeste’, another end-to-ender. She started at Kalamunda and two other students started one day behind her. They read her writings in the journals, were told about her by walkers they met, became intrigued and determined to catch up with her. Double hutting should do the job, yes? No, because she double hutted. Skipping going into town? No, she skipped towns as well. They finally caught up with her near Denmark. Amazingly they found they were all vet students from the same university, and finished the walk together.

We walked from Dwellingup to Balingup in 2005, some of it with a retired commander of the Australian navy, plus an old sea captain, a teacher and panel beater who declared that he was not walking one step further than Collie. The commander walked in crisp white creaseless shirts and carried a brolly while the old sea captain carried a chunk of unwrapped cheese in his pocket and swore at every hill he came to! Yet they struck up a most unlikely friendship.

Then we walked from Dwellingup to Kalamunda in 2009. At White Horse Hills we met an interesting trio, two fellows and a girl who staggered in with packs that were obviously too heavy. The girl was a Barbie doll look alike who preened herself while the men did all the chores. At bedtime we had to smile when she presented herself in fluffy edged, bright pink sexy pyjamas with a low neckline. She just needed high heels to finish the look. Apparently “Mummy was picking her up at the first available crossroads, as she could not possibly spend another night like this’!

That walk left us with an elusive 15 kilometres from Brockman Highway to Donnelly River Village. An earlier walk from Balingup to Donnelly River Village had been aborted at the Brockman Highway because of bush fires. However in October of this year we walked from Balingup to Donnelly River and back (Cardiac Hill in both directions!) and so had walked every step of the way between Kalamunda and Albany. Yeehah!

We are intending to walk the Track in one go next time, hopefully in the next couple of years, so we can get that far away look in eyes that “through walkers” seem to get. We have walked a lot in Tasmania and New Zealand and trekked the Larapinta Trail but the Bibbulmun Track is the one
we come back to, time and time again.

What is it we love about the Track? It is the simplicity, coming face to face with a beautiful spider orchid, meeting the colourful people along the way and swapping stories, reading the journals, getting fit as you go, a swim in an isolated rock hole and the pleasure of seeing that hut appear…
Yes, we will be back on the Track again.

Thank you to the Bibbulmun Track Foundation and all its wonderful volunteers.
Sandi & Doug finishing their end-to-end at Donnelly.