Gregory Brook to Donnelly River
21st September 2018
The Hike - The final day of my week long adventure in the South West and I have to say it was a bittersweet moment waking up at Gregory Brook. On one hand I was returning home to the family, along with having a shower and decent meal but then there was the realisation that I would no longer be living the simple life of eat, drink, hike, photograph, sleep and repeat. I woke up pretty early as I got my maths wrong on the daily kilometres and thought that I had 23km to get through today but it wasn't until my lunch stop that I realised this wasn't the case and I could magically take 2.5km off my estimates. With no fellow hikers at camp I was free to wander around with no pants on but it was cold so I elected to go the pants on option as I prepared a morning brew and packed away my belongings.
This was one of my earliest getaways from camp as I'd told the parental units while I had reception in Balingup that a 2pm pickup in Donnelly River would be ideal. Thinking I had 23km to get through I figured six hours was plenty of time so left just after 7:30am and began the only sustained period of uphill on the whole day. It's only about 60m vertically over 5km to the highest point of the day and then it would be mostly downhill all the way into Donnelly River. My foot issues meant getting into a rhythm in the morning took a while but today was the worst of it. Hobbling around the lush Jarrah forest was not ideal and I was wondering when it would get better (or the drugs would kick in). Luckily there was plenty to keep me distracted with wildflowers, grass trees, zamia seed pods, fungi and more wildflowers. Coming off the single track forest, you are deposited onto a sandy 4x4 track for a while. A smile came on my face as you reach the sign for the intersection of Guy Rd and Petunia Rd because Harry Potter. About 3km in you start to see the forest change from predominantly Jarrah and slowly transition into the beautiful Karri forest that will become home from this point onwards (if travelling south).
The track takes you through one of the famous Karri tunnels formed when the shedding bark drips over the undergrowth and forms these amazing chaotic structures. This coincides with your arrival at Karri Gully, a access point located just off Brockman Hwy where apparently there are a couple of chickens wandering around (the red book suggested they were still there recently). Having visited Karri Gully in 2016 whilst checking out the Bridgetown Jarrah Park and Golden Valley Tree Park, I wasn't that keen to see it again (although chicken sightings would have been cool) so I followed the red sign for the Bibbulmun Track and kept going. Coming across another large collection of Karri trees I was really happy to see them given I'd been in Jarrah forest for the last six days and I may have hugged one for an undisclosed period of time. At this point my camera fell out of my bag, rolled down the path and took a picture of me doing this so that was lucky as it was a very special moment between hiker and tree.