Sandpatch to Albany
25th September 2019
The End - This was it, eleven years after first stepping onto the track and two years after seriously deciding to complete a sectional end to end, I would be taking those final steps into Albany. It has been an amazing journey up to here and I was looking forward to closing this chapter of my hiking life. With 12.7km to go until I was standing next to the Southern Terminus sign (in the location it currently stands), I was having mixed feelings about the finish. On one hand it was the beginning of the end for my current sectional end to end but in a lot of ways this was just the end to the beginning of a life long relationship with the Bibbulmun Track. I can see myself continuing to hike various sections over and over because I want to see them at different times of the year with different weather or with different people.
When my nieces and nephew are older I want to show them the beauty of Western Australia and instil a love of nature from an early age. This was definitely not the end, far from it, and I think this was one of the reasons why I wasn't feeling an outcry of raw emotion or an overwhelming sense that this was the finish. Perhaps if I'd thru hiked the whole track this would be different but I'll save that experience for another day. For now, in the moment, things were a little on the damp side with a light shower passing through camp as I was packing my things up after a quick bite to eat. With clouds on the horizon I decided it was best to take out the pack cover for the first time in days and hope that the weather wouldn't literally rain on my parade. As I set off from camp it cleared and I was back to enjoying simply walking along the track as it headed along the coast for the final time. The after effects of the 2018 out of control prescribed burns are evident all around you with a graveyard of Peppermint trees lining the trail, surrounded by a lush green covering that over time will hopefully rise up and provide the same level of cover that was here previously. One benefit from the fires was the bright covering of red pea wildflowers blanketing the hills in almost every direction. There were plenty of other wildflowers and orchids around but not quite as obvious with a series of Donkey Orchids appearing in the undergrowth and a nice Fringed Lily along one of the sandier sections.
Taking you along the coast, there is one final lookout for you to enjoy before heading inland towards the finishing point along the harbour. If ever I was going to see a whale on this sectional end to end, now would be the time. I gave myself every opportunity here by sitting calmly and adjusting my eyes to the endless horizon in front of me. Deep down I knew there would be no whales and was saving myself from disappointment so after ten minutes I decided it wasn't meant to be and accepted my whale-less fate on this trip. The time here did give me a chance to reflect on the journey so far and one conclusion I drew from my experience was to be in the moment. For the final 11km that meant not thinking too much about everything that had come before and treat it like any other hike, slowing down and enjoying what is in front of me. With that in mind I took one last look back at the Albany Wind Farm and the much gloomier scene than what I had experienced in the morning. Heading inland, the track now takes you downhill and away from Torndirrup National Park towards Princess Royal Harbour and the final walk into town.