Bibbulmun Track - Beedelup to Pemberton
Start - Beedelup Campsite
Finish - Pemberton
Length - 24.2km (One Way)
Vertical Climb - 390m
Time - 5-8 hours
Date Hiked - 22nd June 2017
The Hike - So here it is, my final day on the Bibbulmun for this section and it would be the longest day of the trip. It had rained on and off all night but I still managed a decent sleep thanks to my headphones cancelling out the sound of rain on the shelter roof. Thankfully it had stopped by the time the sun rose and I started to pack up.
Skipping breakfast because muesli and powdered milk was too much to handle for the fourth straight day, I was ready to go by a leisurely 8am and feeling good about my final 24km into Pemberton. With zero mobile reception the whole trip I was still under the impression that today would be stormy so left my pack cover on and started at a decent pace just in case. I hadn't spent a lot of time exploring the Beedelup Campsite so I wasn't as sad to leave it like I had been the others. The walk out from the campsite is straight up a small hill but it doesn't last long and I was soon in a nice rhythm on the wide 4x4 track. It was a nice morning to be out in the Karri forest (what isn't a good day in Karri forest?) and with many kilometres to go today I was happy to speed along this relatively uninteresting section.
A mix of Sheoak and Karri forest, it made for a nice warm-up to the day but I soon got a glimpse of something I always like seeing in the country, farmland. Although I think way too much of the South West has been cleared for various uses, I do enjoy a good picturesque farm scene so to see a tiny peak at the end of a vehicle track lifted my spirits. I pondered whether or not to go off track and add some distance to my day but decided against it as it probably wasn't going to be the only chance I would get. I was rewarded at the top of the hill about 3km in as I reached Channybearup Rd and exited the forest to an amazing sunrise farm scene.
The sun was trying to break through the thick clouds to the east and the area was a mix of pale golden light and blue skies dotted with fluffy clouds. I put my pack down on the other side of the road and began snapping away like a crazy person because I could. I also for reasons I can't remember decided to check my phone to see if I had any reception and wouldn't you know it, I managed to crack a couple of bars and notifications flooded in like I hadn't had any reception for days. Torn between capturing the changing light of the sunrise and seeing what my family and friends were saying, I decided to check my phone for a little bit and let everyone know I wasn't lying in a ditch with broken legs.
Confident there was no zombie apocalypse and the world had continued on just fine without me, I got another shock in the form of passing cars. I gave a friendly wave and received one back but not sure that really counts as human contact. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed from all the stimulation and may have passed out next to the paddock fence. A lick to the face from a concerned cow got me to my feet and I gathered up my things to continue on (I may be exaggerating here). The Bibbulmun Track here crosses into the paddock at this point via a set of stairs to help you scale the fence. I was actually pretty disappointed that the cows were all the way down the hill and not here to greet me but I at least got a nice shot of them grazing in the green fields.
The border of the paddock that you are meant to walk down in lined with some fairly mature native trees that are very pleasant to walk next to. Given you have spent the last four days surrounded by forest, the sensation of walking in complete openness might be a terribly weird feeling for some so it's nice to have something comforting there. I had mucha diversión taking photos from different positions as I walked down the paddock. I didn't want to leave this spot as it was just a nice place to be but all good things must come to an end so I climbed over the set of stairs at the bottom of the hill and entered the Forbidden Forest.
After the wide open space of the paddock, you are straight back into some extremely thick forest that feels like entering another world. Looking back not 50m from the steps and you could only just see the green of the paddock. The thickness lasts for a little while before you round a couple of bends and are spat out onto a wider trail that borders another farm. It was here that after four and a bit days that I saw my first bit of wildlife (Donnelly River Village doesn't count). A kangaroo or three jumped out ahead of me and then off into the bushes without stopping for a chat. I did get a photo of one offender but given I only wanted a chat and a pat, I was a disappointed panda.
I don't really remember much from the next 7km as I decided at this point that I would turn the afterburners on and blitz through what looked like a fairly easy section of the day. The path does follow some flat ground next to Fly Creek (which is pretty fly for a white guy) and mixes lovely Sheoak with Karri. It wasn't unpleasant by any means, I just had somewhere to be and had my blinkers on. With music blaring from my pack, I thought I was averaging a good pace but it turns out stopping for photos when you are meant to be hiking doesn't help things.
I made it to my planned lunch stop at 11km (Brook Rd) by 10am and sat down at the edge of the road to enjoy a nutritious Clif Bar. Another car passed by but I didn't receive a wave back. I wasn't feeling this spot so cut lunch down to a small break and decided it was best to reach Pemberton earlier for a proper bakery meal of 10 on a plate (more on that later). A little further on I caught sight of a brown/orange watering hole that took my fancy and I ended up resting here while taking more photos. I passed another road not far along (Stirling Rd) and this is where I took the opportunity to call my parents to let them know my progress. Earlier I could send and receive messages in patches but here I had full 4G coverage on top of the last hill for a while so decided to let them know more about how I was tracking and an ETA for my pickup.
The next section was an enjoyable stroll through some more open Karri forest that featured some rather large specimens. Even after five days of Karri forest I was still amazed by it all and with the finality of being over halfway through the final day, I stopped to soak it all in. Had I have known it was International Nude Hiker's Day, I would have stripped off and artistically posed for an all natural shot. Sorry followers but maybe next year. It's a bit of a stretch to one of the features I was looking forward to today, Big Brook Arboretum. Having visited the Golden Valley Tree Park earlier in the year I wasn't expecting anything on that level but something a bit better than what I found.
There were some very mature trees there but they just kind of looked like they were randomly placed. It was nice to look at but was kind of sad at the same time. Slightly unimpressed I moved on to a location I knew to be a bit special, Big Brook Dam. The trail leading there forms part of the Big Brook Dam Walk and after a very long straight section, becomes paved. I had been reading the red book entry at Beedelup Campsite by an infamous Bibbulmun walker, Jason (red pen Jason), and he commented on how the tarmac path was not enjoyable. I would have to agree with him on this point (although not many of his other views) as the hard tarmac made my sore feet even worse. There is also not a lot of room on the side of the path to try and ease the discomfort so for a kilometre or two you are left to enjoy the "easy" path.
One consolation is the views to your left as Big Brook Dam comes into view through the undergrowth every now and then. I settled down on a small platform that overlooked the beach across the lake and enjoyed a boots off rest. With the sun out and only 7km to go for the day I stayed for a while just being at one with the moment. A family were having a lovely winter picnic on the beach and as this is one day hike on my "to-hike" list, I thought it would be a nice idea to bring one along when I return. Eventually though I willed myself up and prepared for the final section into town. There was one last hill, which actually wasn't that bad as the single track through the surrounding forest was very pleasant. Eventually though you start to descend and join Lefroy Brook. This section I'm sure would be very nice if you were starting your journey in Pemberton but my feet as this stage were wrecked and I was hobbling along, just wanting to get to the end.
There were some nice scenes along here with the water course providing some great photos along with the tree lined vehicle tracks but all I could think about was reaching Pemberton. I passed the Trout Farm, the old Hydro station and entered the mountain bike park without stopping much but had to pause at the Instagram famous Pemberton Pool. This idyllic location is capable of looking very stunning in the morning mist but for me it was enough to see the reflections of the Karri giants in the still water (and some ducks). The only thing left from here was to walk past the school camp and into town. My final stop was Cafe Brasil in Pemberton where my parents where waiting. I walked in, ordered my 10 on a plate (sausage roll and a pie on one plate) and immediately sent a picture to Donovan and Alissa from The Long Way's Better as it is their ritual on finishing a section of the Bibbulmun.
Final Thoughts - My final day on the Bibbulmun between Donnelly River and Pemberton....
Despite my feet issues I actually really enjoyed the day. As a hike goes, the highlights were well spaced and there were enough of them to keep my interest. Even the "uninteresting" bits were very pleasant and I don't remember ever feeling like I was just out there to cover the kilometres between points.
I would have loved to have spent more time enjoying this day but the lure of the finish got the most of me. I'd like to think I spent more time at the right places and got a hurry along when required. All in all, another amazing day on the Bibbulmun Track.
The trip itself had been a means to escape the world and de-stress before heading off the Europe for a month and I think it achieved just that. Being so isolated from everything for the majority of the trip just reaffirmed in myself what I enjoy about life and what matters most to me.
For anyone looking to do a relatively short town to town section this Donnelly River to Pemberton trek is certainly worth your time.
Get out there and experience it!
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