Peaceful Bay to Boat Harbour
21st August 2019
The Hike - After a lovely nights sleep at the Peaceful Bay Caravan Park, I was up early to catch the sunrise from the beach. With no one else around, I had a nice time walking along the beach as the sun started to rise over the headlands to the east. There was a softness to the golden light as it caught the waves breaking way off in the distance. I did scan the horizon for any early morning whale activity but luck was not on my side this morning. I settled myself on the beach and sat there watching the changing light and contemplating the coming day. My lingering foot issue had not rectified itself with a good stretch/massage and a night of rest so I had to make a decision on what I wanted to do. Either way I still needed to pack up my gear so headed back to the caravan park to do that and prepare for the day. As you can probably tell because I've written this post, I took a couple of anti-inflammatory tablets and decided to push on to Parry Beach.
One of my least favourite things about multi-day hiking is packing away my tent, especially when the outer shell is wet. With another warm couple of days forecast there would be plenty of time to dry it out and so it went into the stuff sack a little soggy. With a decision made I realised I was probably a bit behind schedule as this is the longest day of the whole section at a tick over 24km. Unfortunately the General Store doesn't open until 9am so I couldn't buy myself a treat for the day and settled on some granola and coffee in the caravan park undercover kitchen. Luckily this was empty as I had commandeered a table to begin the process of packing my gear away. A drawback to staying at the caravan park was the water has a horrible chlorinated taste to it and even though I mix my water with Staminade powder for electrolytes and magnesium, it was an unpleasant experience every time I took a sip from my bladder that day. With everything finally packed up for the day I double checked the map to make sure I headed the right way out of town and departed Peaceful Bay. The correct exit is to take East Ave north from the General Store and keep following that until you see the start of the waugyls.
The holiday homes of Peaceful Bay are very much what you'd expect for a small town that is primarily here for holiday makers looking to fish, swim and relax. I enjoyed the rustic houses along the Peppermint Tree lined road and it made me want to return for a non-hiking holiday. The transition between town and wilderness is very abrupt as you reach the end of East Ave and follow a 4x4 track into the thick Peppermint forest that surrounds the town. The trail soon rises up on the dunes above town and you get a nice view of the ocean from a little bench seat on top of the hill. This doesn't last long and soon you are down in the Peppermints again for your first crossing of Peaceful Bay Rd. From here you are back into the thick forest that has a real enclosed feeling to it. Full of wildflowers, gnarly barked Peppermint trees and as you get closer to a creek that runs through the area, a lot of ferns and sword grass starts to appear. Crossing a small wooden bridge, the sun was trying hard to penetrate the thickets of scrawny Peppermint trunks that line the creek and it looked really cool.
Popping out into a little clearing it was nice to have some wide open space and here there were some different wildflowers to photograph, along with a few sundews in the sandy soil. This is a funny spot because here you are about 3km as the crow flies to where you crossed Kwokalup Creek two days prior and highlights how far the Bibbulmun deviates to get to Conspicuous Cliffs. Up ahead was something I didn't really expect and that was a knee deep section of water that you have to wade through for a short while. I say unexpected but as I listened to this day on the podcast that night, Steve did mention it as a place that had a strong flow to it at certain time of the year. It was a refreshing dip and it wasn't long before the feeling of wet socks disappeared (the decision to buy trail runners comes up good again). From here you rise a little bit and the sound of frogs pierces the air as there is a swampy area down below the track. I chose to focus on this because the alternative is to the left of the track and up the hill, that being the Peaceful Bay Tip. While not completely obvious for most of the time, there was a section where I could see the entrance hut and a car had arrived as I walked by. For some reason I didn't want to be spotted so played a stealthy game of trying to sneak by and still get a photo of the people up there going about their day.
I succeeded in my mission but the photo wasn't very interesting so I didn't include it here. After the tip you cross Peaceful Bay Rd again and begin a section that I really didn't enjoy. Running parallel with the coastline, it's a 4x4 track winding through the dune system that just looked like someone had plowed a path through the scrub and then mowed the grass to make it look nice. Most of the time you can't even see the water and my time was spent looking down to try and spot any snakes that might be hiding in the thick grass. When there is a perfectly good beach that runs parallel to this track, I'm not sure why hikers must endure 2km of this walking. With a sore foot I wasn't enjoying this section and wondered why my friend Donovan from The Long Way's Better rated this as his favourite day on the entire track. I knew what was at the end of this path so put the afterburners on and it was all said and done in about 20 minutes. Reaching the views of the Irwin Inlet, this is most enjoyable part of the track because up ahead is the famous canoe crossing of the inlet. If canoeing isn't your thing or you are in a hurry, there is a path leading down from where the track turns north and you can cross the inlet at the ocean end.