Grimwade to Balingup
18th September 2018
Kaniyang & Bibbulman People
The Hike - The final day of the Collie to Balingup section of the Bibbulmun Track but only day four of seven for me on this trip as I was continuing on to Donnelly River Village. With much better company staying at Grimwade, it was an early start as the three Victorian hikers wanted to get to Balingup as early as possible for a well earned meal and shower. Given their 45km day the previous day I couldn't blame them and it was before 6am that they all started to rise so I thought I may as well join them in the early start. This was going to be the longest day of my trip at 23km but it looked mostly flat with a downhill finish into Balingup so nothing too strenuous. Not used to these early starts, I made myself a coffee and started the process of packing up my gear ready for the day's hike. The three guys were out of camp before 7am and I lingered around faffing about (I'm a faffer) until 7:20am when I finally decided to leave.
Normally when I'm out and about on day hikes I like to start around sunrise for the better photographic conditions but the camping aspect of the Bibbulmun means I take my time so I'm not arriving at the campsite at midday and twiddling my thumbs all afternoon. With no qualms about hanging around Balingup for half a day, I was happy to enjoy the morning forest light on my way out of camp. The forest was feeling very lush for the first couple of kilometres but then the mood changed as I moved into an area that had recently been burnt. While I have some strong opinions about the amount of prescribed burning they do throughout the south west, the forest does have a pretty colour palette immediately after a light burn. In the morning sunlight the contrast of colours was quite lovely and given there was green on the top, I would say this is one of those rare prescribed burns that dare I say, was done properly. I was still a little frustrated as you could see 30-40m off the track that they had left that alone, again proving they are all about convenience to get their targets. I've said this before, the track is an opportunity to showcase WA at its best and all you ever see in the northern half is burnt forest or recovering forest because of this method. The three guys I stayed with at Grimwade commented on this fact and I've seen similar comments far too often in the online community.
The recently burnt forest was here to stay for quite a while and it wasn't long before the novelty wore off. A few bleaker parts were coming up including a section of parrot bush and she-oak forest that did not look very inviting at all but given it was early and I had somewhere to be (a bakery in Balingup), I was rocketing through this section. At the end of the previous day I was beginning to develop some foot pain in the balls of my feet that I eventually discovered was bruising (most likely a result of old boots). I should have replaced the insoles before the trip but didn't get around to it and I was paying the price now. Everything was fine once I was in a rhythm so I kept walking through the burnt forest until I reached Kirup Grimwade Rd after 6.5km. The vision of green forest on the other side of the road was a sight for sore eyes and it was a welcome relief to be hiking in proper forest again. Spots of wildflowers greeted me as the track snaked around and eventually opened up into sandy soils and sparser tree coverage. It wasn't long before I'd reached about halfway for the day and with an eye on the kilometres I decided to break for lunch near a giant tree that had fallen over next to the track.