Balingup to Blackwood
19th September 2018
Directions - Being a small country town, Balingup is quite easy to navigate around and entering/leaving town is quite easy. For southbound travellers follow South West Highway south from the visitor centre, crossing the road when you see the bus stop. Continue down South West Highway until you reach Southampton Rd and follow the waugyls towards the Golden Valley Tree Park.
The Hike - The plan after completing the Collie to Balingup section of the Bibbulmun Track was always to continue on to Donnelly River and plug another gap in my sectional E2E. That was the plan but I arrived in Balingup with a bit of bruising on the balls of my feet and a lovely pub meal/red wine wasn't really going to fix it overnight. Added to this was an uncomfortable nights sleep with what felt like the start of a sinus infection (something that will linger over the next three days) and I woke up having serious thoughts about postponing this section for another time.
When I heard the three Victorians up and about before 6am I knew they weren't staying at Blackwood that night so I got up and wished them well for the rest of their E2E. Given I'm writing this post I think you can figure out my end decision on whether or not to continue but I wasn't truly decided until I got back to the Post House after a lovely breakfast at The Mushroom @ No 61 cafe in town. I have a habit of taking the easy option so decided to push through the foot pain and manage it with some painkillers and trying to not stop as much, as getting going again was the hardest part. With all my belongings packed up I returned my key to the post office and set off to find the track out of town. Having visited Balingup in 2016 to hike the Golden Valley Tree Farm I knew to take South West Hwy south and follow the signs along Southampton Rd until the waugyls pointed me in a different direction. My last visit was in peak period for the tree park with beautiful autumnal colours dominating the landscape.
This time though I was here for the start of spring so the deciduous trees from around the world were just starting to green up after a dormant winter. With Western Australia being made up of evergreen species it is nice to have an area that showcases what it's like in other parts of the world and it was such a difference from the beautiful yellows, red and oranges that I experienced last time. Another difference was that the lake you see after the water pump was full, a change from the dry hole I had seen before. I tried to capture the same types of shots as before but the morning light and lack of leaves on the tree in the middle of the pond didn't produce the right results. I still had fun photographing the tree park although didn't feel up to doing the full circuit around the park. Leaving the park you once again join up with Southampton Rd and begin what is a long walk up the hill towards the natural forest and the highest point of the day. This bit of gravel road walking wasn't too bad and once I was in rhythm (the theme for this section), I was handling it quite well and at a decent pace.