Dale Road to Beraking
Directions - Take Brookton Hwy east from Armadale until you reach the turnoff for Ashendon Rd. Follow Ashendon Rd for 3-4km before making a right turn on Dale Rd. Dale Rd takes you all the way to the summit of Mt Dale but the Bibbulmun Track crosses at Omeo Rd, where there is an area to park your car.
The Hike - After completing a previous section of the Bibbulmun Track in July using Mt Dale as a starting point, I was keen to come back out and head north this time. An early start beckoned for the hour long trip to the base of Mt Dale off Brookton Hwy and it looked like it was going to be a nice sunny day. Instead of starting at the top of Mt Dale like I did before, I parked on Omeo Rd where the Bibbulmun Track crosses Dale Rd. The destination today was the Beraking campsite, about 10km from Omeo Rd and through some fantastic sections of bushland.
The hike from the starting point (476m ASL) is pretty much all downhill from Omeo Rd so the trip to Beraking (or #bearking as someone had marked on the hut sign) is fairly easy on the legs. This was a welcome start to the hike as I had visited Jacobs Ladder for the first time ever on Thursday and my calf muscles were still feeling a little tender. Leaving my half orange car (wet gravel roads made for some fun rally driving) I headed north towards the familiar yellow Wagyl and the bushfire affected forest on the slopes of Mt Dale. Scenes of pink, black and green were prevalent for the first couple of kilometres and with the sun shining through it made for some amazing photo opportunities. Eventually the colours changed back to the familiar greens of a healthy Jarrah forest as I turned east and began the first of many mini descents. Not far down the track I noticed the skies behind me darkening quickly and with the sun still shining bright from the east, the contrast was spectacular. I snapped a few quick photos and it wasn't long before I could feel spots of rain falling. Putting away the camera into a waterproof bag (this would be a regular occurrence), I grabbed out my rain jacket and prepared for the downpour. Just as my luck would have it, as the rain starting falling I passed through a thicket of bright yellow wildflowers.
With my camera safely tucked away and the rain getting heavier I made a note to remember this spot for the return trip. Then as soon as I exited the alley of yellow, the rain stopped and it was bright blue skies to the west again. I stopped in an open space overlooking the valley to the north and packed away my rain gear/unpacked my camera. I was happy to have clear skies for this section as the trail deviated to the south a little bit, giving a great view back to Mt Dale. The excursion south doesn't last long and the trail makes its second significant turn, this time to the north. At the turn there are great views east into the valley and with the landscape now covered in a fresh coat of moisture, it was a pretty sight. From here there is another little descent down a 4x4 track that would require a serious machine to negotiate and at the bottom is a raging creek crossing. Luckily there was a small piece of wood over the creek so I could cross the torrent without getting my legs wet (see gallery at the bottom of the page). There is a crossroads here right in front of the old concrete water tank and the trail darts straight, just to the right of the tank and into some thick Karri Hazel.
The uphill section comes as a shock to the body after 5.5kms of mostly downhill but it doesn't last long and soon you are descending again towards the Darkin River. Looking at the map before I came, I thought the Darkin River would at least be big enough have a bridge required to cross it but I was sorely disappointed when I realised that it just ran through a concrete pipe under the 4x4 track. I had a closer look on the way back and it was barely trickling, not good considering we had a fair amount of rainfall in the past month. Swallowing my disappointment I soldiered on and after a quick chicane on a 4x4 track I came across a pine plantation and what looked like a very big hill. Having descended down to 171m (from 476m) it was time to begin climbing again and over the next kilometre, the trail rose 100m vertically. The legs were feeling it at the top but the views back south were worth it and as a bonus, the sun was shining. At the top of the hill I met a solo hiker that was walking from Kalamunda to Brookton Hwy. We talked for a bit and I sympathised with him after the stretch of cold nights we had over the past week. If it was near freezing in Perth then it would have been much colder out here. With the clouds getting darker again I was trying to remember how far it was from Dale Rd to Beraking. It was either 8.7km or 9.7km in my head and as the trail kept going and my GPS said I had past both of those figures I assumed I had past the turn off without knowing.
I knew the campsite offered some great views so I kept at it for a little while longer and soon enough there was the marker leading to the campsite. I wasn't disappointed as the campsite is situated on top of the valley with stunning views to the west. There is your typical three sided hut, a nice looking outhouse and plenty of room around the camp if things get a little crowded. It wasn't long before the rain arrived again so I sat under the cover of the hut and read the guestbook whilst snacking on a raw bar. When the rain stopped I had a little explore of the campsite and ended up perched on a fallen tree, admiring the views across the valley and eating a mandarin. With things to do in the afternoon I decided after 15-20 mins that it was time to leave and return back. Not long after I left the rains started again and it was a while before I was safely able to extract my camera back out. With the Deathly Hallows audiobook playing I was a happy hiker as I first descended and then began the 300m climb all the way back to my car. On the way back I passed a few overnight hikers and eventually caught the man I had met on my way out to Beraking. The legs only started to ache slightly with a couple of kilometres left but I was soon at my car and ready to add more mud to the side of my car.