Bibbulmun Track - Brookton to Canning
Start - Brookton Campsite
Finish - Canning Campsite
Campsite - Deep South
Distance - 11.7km (One Way)
Vertical Climb - 235m
Time - 3-5 hours
Date Hiked - 29th June 2019
The Hike - With gaps to fill in my sectional end to end, I was joined by 1A1R for an overnighter between Mt Dale and Sullivan Rock. Having enjoyed a lovely morning walking from Mt Dale to Brookton, joined by Jen and Sruthy, it was time to say goodbye to them as they departed back towards Mt Dale.
Our goal for the afternoon was the Canning Campsite where we would stay the night and head on to Sullivan Rock the following day. Leaving the campsite Aron played the "which way" game, confused on the direction to take because we are both the most hilarious people in the world and found it funny. This short section from the campsite to the highway was one of the bits I hadn't previously covered so was enjoying seeing the new terrain, even if it was similar to most areas around here (Jarrah and She-Oak). After about 1.5km you we reached one of the highlights of the day (not really) in the power line section.
I can't say it was the best walking of the day as the bleakness of the grey clouds that had begun to roll in was exasperated in the open air. While the track alignment here was baffling, the further on we got, the wetter it became so my thoughts were that it was a combination of trying to keep off the flooded areas and an expedient way to get to the Brookton Hwy access point. Enjoying a bit of wide road, I was telling Aron about my Northcliffe to Walpole hike, what it was like and the people that I met. Since adopting a rescue dog over the summer Aron hasn't been able to get out on any overnight hikes and he mentioned that his last trip was when we did Dwellingup to Collie last June.
We eventually reached Brookton Hwy and I was half expecting to see Donovan and Alissa from The Long Way's Better as they were planning an off track hike around Abyssinia Rock. With no sign of their car I assumed they had already finished or decided not to head out today (turns out we missed each other by half and hour and you can read about their adventure here). The Brookton Hwy access point is notorious for car break-ins but is a convenient spot to enjoy day trips on the Bibbulmun so just be aware that something might happen (I always leave my glove box, ash tray and centre console open so they know I'm poor and there is nothing to steal).
I did just that in 2017 with a return hike from here to the Canning Campsite so this would be familiar territory for the rest of the day. We saw a few day trippers as we continued on into the forest, keen to get away from the power lines and the uninviting looking car park area. With spits of rain starting to make themselves known we both extracted our pack covers, mine shocking Aron with it's bright green facade (I made him get a more subtle colour for his new pack cover after his old fluoro yellow one was horrible to have in photos).
Back in the Jarrah and She-Oak forests that I enjoy, from here it would be a fairly consistent uphill for the next couple of kilometres. I was stopping a fair bit to photograph the wildflowers as there was a good variety along here. Switching onto single track after a while, this is a really pleasant area that is still recovering from the 2015 bushfires. After our chat before about my Northcliffe to Walpole section I was surprised to see Matt coming the other way. An end to ender from Queensland, I first met Matt while I was having a rest at the end of Marron Rd on my way to Mt Chance. I didn't expect to see him on this trip so it was a pleasant surprise. He remembered me but was keen to keep going so after a bit of a chat we moved on. He has a really sad story to his E2E that I won't share here but it was nice to see him near the finish and still pushing on.
Continuing on towards the top of the hill, I was enjoying the relaxed walking as we passed by large Jarrah and Marri trees, old Grass Trees and a few cool looking fungi. Reaching the highest point for the section, I had forgotten about the cool views looking south towards the Monadnocks around Mt Randall, Cuthbert, Vincent and Cooke. It's always cool to see where you are heading and connect up places you've visited on past hikes. This gave me a lift in spirits as I thought about all the fun adventures I'd had in those places and the thought of hiking over Mt Cuthbert and Mt Vincent the next day. For now though we descended down the hill towards one of the highlights of the day, Abyssinia Rock. Getting there requires walking through sections of Banksias and Parrot Bush, a large section of She-Oaks and some impressive examples of nice, albeit burnt, Jarrah trees.
Arriving at a clumping of Paperbark trees, it signalled that Abyssinia Rock was just around the corner and it soon popped into view. A large granite slab extending up the hill, think of it as a quieter Sullivan Rock. My last visit here was in the middle of a dry autumn so all the wonderful moss was still orange. This visit though produced the goods and I was happy to see carpets of moss filled with sundews (please do not step on the moss as it is very sensitive). I convinced Aron that it would be a good idea to take a side trip up the hill and he begrudgingly agreed. We ventured up to the first cairn to enjoy the views out over the forest and towards the Monadnocks area. Clear rock pools and plenty of sundews meant this was heaven for me but our stay was short lived as we could see the weather rolling in. We clambered down, spotting a golf ball and a pen lying in the moss, which I extracted (idiot bogans in their 4x4s have driven here recently and ripped up some of the moss in their vehicles). Don't be that idiot.
Extracting and putting on our rain jackets as the rain got heavier than a sprinkle we moved on along the sandy tracks that cross a couple of ephemeral streams. Entering the forest once again for a short stint, the rain shower settled down to a light drizzle and we came across the sandy plains I was looking forward to seeing today. Seeing the remains of an old dieback station, long destroyed by fire or muppets, we crossed the 4x4 track and headed towards the Paperbark lined creek and grasslands that I really enjoyed on my last visit. A pleasant area that is different to what you've come across before on the track, the variety of trees and plant life here is really nice to see. I imagine that during the really wet months this would be a haven for birds and frogs drawn to the various water sources and grassy hideouts. Aron left me behind on this section as I was having a good time photographing everything and really enjoying being here.
Entering the forest once again, the final section of the day involves a short climb through the mixed Jarrah and She-Oak forest before descending down towards the campsite. We passed another dieback station that had been destroyed by idiots and slowly made our way up the hill. Passing a very unique tree that had grown out and then twisted around before finally growing in an upright position, this section was slowly coming back to me. I wasn't sure how long it was to the campsite but I remembered reaching some 4x4 tracks and then it was all downhill to the finish. Some lovely views opened up just before the campsite with some vigorous regrowth at the base of some trees in the foreground and rolling hills in the distance. We spotted the sign for the campsite and were relieved to finish what had been a very enjoyable day.
Keen to see if we would be sharing the campsite with anyone (or a lot of people), it became clear that there was an older gentleman inside the shelter. We approached and said hello and it took me a couple of seconds to realise that it was none other than Malcolm, who I shared a campsite with a few weeks prior at Gardner. He was close to finishing his S-N end to end and it was a lovely coincidence to spend another night in his company. Even though this was the second time meeting Malcolm (and first for Aron) we talked like old friends as he told us how his E2E was going and we chatted about hiking and life in general. This is what I enjoy about the Bibb, spending time with like minded strangers that after a short time feel like friends. After a lovely afternoon enjoying the surroundings of the Canning Campsite and darkness setting in, we all retired to the comfort of our sleeping bags.
Final Thoughts - Brookton to Canning might not be one of the sexiest or most talked about sections of the Bibbulmun Track but it's one I really enjoy.
I'm not sure if that is because it's familiar or I had great company but there is a certain calmness I get walking through the Jarrah and She-Oak forests in the Darling Range and this section has a good amount of it.
Abyssinia Rock is the big highlight of this section and it's a very nice place to explore. If you just walk past and gaze up then you're doing yourself a disservice, drop your pack and enjoy the views from at least the first cairn at the top.
As a campsite, Canning won't blow you away but after escaping the fires of 2015, it's deserved a quiet life in the middle of the forest. There is a good amount of space around the shelter and some of the tent sites are nestled in some nice forest.
Another there and back option for people looking for a short overnight hike in the Perth Hills, there is plenty to enjoy about this day if you look hard enough.
Get out there and experience it!!!
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