Bibbulmun Track - Yabberup to Noggerup
Start - Yabberup Campsite
Finish - Noggerup Campsite
Campsite - Deep South
Distance - 20km (One Way)
Vertical Climb - 380m
Time - 4-7 hours
Date Hiked - 16th September 2018
With no one joining me at camp in the afternoon I had the entire Yabberup Campsite to myself while I enjoyed a lovely sunset in the forest. With sunny weather the previous day it was no surprise to find out that the temperatures headed down towards freezing overnight but with my tent set up and the thermals/gloves/beanie keeping me warm, I had no sleep issues.
With another beautifully sunny day to enjoy in the Jarrah forest I was looking forward to another relaxing day of 20km. I strategically left camp late this morning as the Mumballup Tavern was on the cards and I didn't want to arrive too early and be waiting outside. With that in mind I took my time making a coffee, packing up my gear and trying to find the strongest bit of sunlight to stand in as it was cold. With 12km to the pub I figured three hours was plenty of time to get there for a lovely lunch so set off just before 9am. The first section out of camp was not a new experience to me as this was the location of a volunteer field day back in 2017. Part of that day was to build a new section of trail to take it off a vehicle track and it was nice to enjoy the hard work the team put in as the track meanders through the forest for a 100m or so before joining the 4x4 track again.
I'm not a big fan of 4x4 tracks in the Jarrah forest unless it is like my section between Possum Springs and Yourdamung so to have a respite from this type of walking early on in the day (or very late if doing it S-N) is very welcome. The 4x4 track doesn't last long and you are soon deposited onto another power line crossing but once you reach the safety of the other side it is back onto the single track walking. From here the track heads in an easterly direction for a couple of kilometres, which was a little bit annoying as it meant I was facing the morning sun and my photos were a little off. Luckily there wasn't too much to photograph but I did spot quite a few common orchids including the pink fairies and a series of grass trees kept my interest.
Being mostly downhill my pace was a bit fast for my lunch plans so I forced myself to stop a couple of times, one being to try and rectify a hot spot on my foot. I knew Glen Mervyn Dam was on the agenda before Mumballup so didn't want to dordle too much as it was turning out to be quite a warm day. Once I crossed Best Rd I knew Glen Mervyn was close and the track turned into a tunnel of yellow pea flowers leading towards the shimmering blue of the dam water. Excited to see something other than scrappy Jarrah I snapped away at the water that was still hidden by a few trees. The track follows the edge of the dam on single track and I could hear the sounds of campers enjoying their weekend.
A popular location for the locals of Collie, the track avoids most of the spaces you can access via car although at the entry/exit point you may come into contact with people. About halfway along the 1km stretch leading to the dam wall the track takes you down to the water’s edge towards a little beach. Having worked up a bit of a sweat I didn't plan on going for a swim but soon enough I was down to my skins and frollicking in the cold water (you're welcome for that mental image). It's not something I usually do on hikes (unless it's Karijini) but on this trip one of the things I wanted to do was let go of my usual routine and just go with the flow a bit more. After a lovely dip I dried off using my inadequate travel towel and figured I would dry quickly enough in this weather.
The track continues along the dam, weaving around some little inlets where car campers are allowed, before finally reaching the dam wall. I can't say it's the most impressive dam wall ever conceived, even for a smaller dam but it's a wall with a spillway and it does the job. In the mid morning sun I felt a bit exposed and opted for the lower crossing instead of the dam wall (not because I wasn't sure if the track went over the dam wall at all). I had to clamber up the steps next to the spillway once I realised this wasn't the correct way and admired the concrete structure that forms the overflow level of the dam. The track was much easier to follow as you leave the dam and cross Preston Rd, leaving signs of civilisation once more for the comfort of the forest.
The first couple of kilometres leading away from the dam were not terribly interesting to me in the glaring sun and of course the photos didn't really turn out given the extremes of light and shadow these conditions create. I didn't feel as though I had to slow my pace anymore so in this relatively boring section I went along at my normal speed, hoping to cover some distance quickly as the thought of fish and chips filled my thoughts. The track does change for the better as you approach the top of the hill and you start to clap eyes on the farmland that will be more prevalent around Balingup. It also meant that I was closer to a lovely pub meal as civilisation was just down the hill.
The clear farm views don't begin until you reach Preston Rd again and you can spot the sign for the old school site. I crossed over to the other side of the road as that's where the waugyls were located and walked down the fence to photograph the cool little dam/lake right next to the road. With sunny skies and a lovely Sunday pub lunch on the menu I skipped down the road and crossed the Preston River (bit dry) before turning right onto Donnybrook-Boyup Brook Rd. A cool old shed that I'm guessing used to be a fuel station back in the day provided a charming country moment to photograph and before you knew it I clapped eyes on the Mumby Pub. All throughout the morning I had the words of Lead Guide for the Bibbulmun Track, Steve Sertis, is my mind about Mumballup and his story about the old t-shirts that said "Where the hell is Mumballup?...in between Yabberup and Noggerup". Still makes me chuckle.
Being a fine Sunday there were plenty of people out and about including a lot of bikers that had stopped in for lunch. Getting some strange looks as I entered the pub being all sweaty and carrying a large bag, I reached deep into my pack for one of my dry sacks to extract my wallet. Lunch today was the fish and chips with a can of cola and it really hit the spot. While I was sitting outside a biker lady came over and had a chat with me after spotting my pack and realising what I was doing. She had completed an E2E earlier in the year and wished me the best for the rest of my trip. A couple of families joined the gardens and I figured that was my time to leave so got my things together and headed off into the distance. The views from the car park opposite the pub are the kind of scenes I was looking forward to when I locked in this section for spring.
Rolling green hills and blue skies filled with fluffy white clouds featured heavily along with a prominent Bibbulmun Track sign letting people know there is some quality walking located in this area. The track follows an old railway line that borders the farmland and it was here that I spotted my first donkey orchid. One of the orchids I was hoping to see on this trip I was happy when they caught my eye in the shadows just off the railway line. I love the intricate shapes these orchids present so snapped a few pictures before moving on. Further up the railway I spotted a horse on the other side of Donneybrook-Boyup Brook Rd so I decided to go over and say hello. Not wanting to talk too long, I rejoined the track and headed towards another famous site of this day, the microwave letterboxes.
A unique way of storing your mail, I love the kitchy-ness of it all and it's at this point that you leave the railway and head up the hill on the gravel road of Hearle Rd. There is only a small amount of trail next to the road up here so you are exposed to the elements until you reach the top of the hill. Luckily there were some lovely farm scenes to enjoy but getting going up this hill was no easy feat after a long sit down and pub lunch. It doesn't look that steep but it's a 2km stretch of climbing on a road that sees you elevate 120 vertical metres. On the edge of a FPC managed plantation I had a bit of a rest on a log and rehydrated in the shade. A little up the road was salvation from the heat and plantations with the entry to Preston National Park and the gates of wildflower heaven.
With Donovan praising this section on the podcast I was looking forward to experiencing it and it did not disappoint. Literal carpets of yellow flag dotted the forest floor and this is where I spotted my first Cowslip Orchid. With the track winding along the ridge, this was a great finish to a wonderfully mixed day of hiking. Variety they say is the spice of life and after crossing a cool little stream/granite area it wasn't long before I was walking on the old 4x4 track that leads you to the Noggerup Campsite. With a gate blocking vehicle access it is nice to know any intruders have to walk the final 500m from their 4x4s. My streak of empty campsites ended though with a couple of middle aged guys occupying the shelter when I arrived.
With their stuff spread everywhere I opted to check out the tent sites and found one I liked along the stream next to a giant fallen tree. This turned out to be a good decision as some polite exchanges between them and me revealed they were taking it slow and only doing about 10km each day with lots of "off-track" hiking. They were pouring over the map and it became clear they enjoyed substances of the illicit variety while hiking, which they offered me a few times. In the end I headed back to my tent to enjoy some pilates on the fallen log and some dinner. I was thankful they didn't bother making space in the shelter as I could hear them snoring from 50m away in the pouring rain when I woke up during the night.
Final Thoughts - Having escaped the reach of Collie and finally getting into the real countryside I expected from this section, the walk between Yabberup and Noggerup was one of the better days this week.
I enjoyed the mix of forest, dam walking, farms and wildflowers along the route with only a couple of sections really feeling like I needed to speed up to get it over with. This isn't unusual on the Bibbulmun and is all part of the journey.
The swim at Glen Mervyn Dam was fun and lunch at the Mumby Pub hit the spot but the real treat today was seeing the orchids I wanted and walking through Preston National Park. There are things you remember on these long trips and carpets of yellow wildflowers in the afternoon sun is certainly one that will stick with you.
Noggerup as a campsite is quite enjoyable being set on the hillside and with a good variety of wildflowers around. I didn't see much of the shelter but it seems like a lovely place to enjoy the afternoon.
Get out there and experience it!!!
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