Long Point to Walpole
Bibbulmun Track

Long point

Walpole

23.5km

509m

5-8 hours

The Hike - My last night on the track for this section turned out to be a pretty wild one with strong winds and heavy rain pelting the shelter for most of the night. I didn't have the greatest sleep, not because of the noise but because I was too warm, even with my sleeping bag unzipped. It was a weird feeling after almost every other night on the Bibb being like I was sleeping on the ground. I had set my alarm early with every intention of leaving camp well before my usual 8:30-9am departure time. That didn't exactly go to plan as I was enjoying a restful sleep and ended up turning it off. Never mind though because I was still up at first light to discover that the rain had disappeared and a gorgeous sky greeted me. Not knowing what the day would bring weather wise because I'm with Vodafone and wouldn't have reception in this part of the world (even in the middle of Walpole), I endeavoured to pack up as early as possible.

It sort of worked and I was away from the shelter a tick after 8am, full of energy and ready to tackle my last day on the Northcliffe to Walpole section of the track. I always find the days leading into towns a big mental challenge as you are very excited to reach a hot shower, hot meal or just to wear clothes/shoes that don't smell and are dry. However you still need to enjoy the day ahead and not rush things in case you miss out on something special in your haste. With a top up of fluids and everything packed away I departed Long Point, keen to experience more of the beautiful coastal walking that I had a taste of yesterday. Walking up the long access road into camp I was amazed at how stunning the sky was with the aftermath of the storm producing a wonderful show of dark clouds, white fluff and blue skies all in one. Looking back at Chatham Island and the ocean I was kicking myself not to wake up earlier and watch the sunrise from Little Cove. Reaching the turnoff where the campsite sign was I headed onto new tracks for a snaking journey through the dune system before heading inland to tackle Mt Clare. With a fairly flat 4km to start I could ease into the day and enjoy the magical lighting that I was blessed to be experiencing. The feeling of being alone in this wilderness with conditions like this was awe-inspiring and it wasn't hard to slow my pace down and just enjoy the walk.

 

I wasn't always alone as I interrupted a couple of kangaroos as I walked along the ridge line of one of the dunes. It would not have been a pleasant night for the wildlife out here last night but I'm sure they're used to it after calling this place home for a very long time. One feature I was enjoying photographing was a broad hill on the coast  that every now and then would be lit up by rays of sunshine peaking through the morning cloud. As the track wound its way through the dunes I began to wonder if that was the hill that I was going to climb today as after the 4km mark the elevation map showed a bit of an ascent up to 140m ASL. The further I got down the track, the more I was sure that I wasn't going to have to but it would have been nice to head there and get some pretty spectacular ocean views from the top. At one of the higher points on this first section there were some pretty lovely views back towards Chatham Island and the Southern Ocean and this would in fact be the last chance to view Chatham Island, something that is a soothing landmark from the first time you reach the ocean on your way from Woolbales. As I made my way past the broad hill I noticed my first rainbow of the morning, something that would be quite common throughout the first part of the day but being the first one I hurried to capture it before the light changed. 

Reaching a sudden turn, the track crosses a small stream where I found more wildflowers and a good smattering of sundews. I had been quite impressed by the quantity and variety of wildflowers this morning with the open coastal heath providing a great home for a variety of different species (plus the sundews love sandy soils). Not far past the creek you are on the edge of a very thick Peppermint Tree grove that was an unexpected surprise. Entering the lush green world of trees, canopies and mossy delight wasn't something I thought I'd see until much later in the day so it was a welcome addition to the morning. Knowing a climb was coming, I soon spotted the staircase leading up the hill and steadied myself for what would be the first of a couple of climbs for the day. Looking more like the Stairs of Cirith Ungol from Lord of the Rings instead of a gentle collection of steps up a friendly hill, this would be the start of a pretty steep section that averages a 20% gradient over the next 500m or so. Taking my time and enjoying the opportunity to photograph both the stairs and the fast disappearing valley below me, I was soon out of the Peppermint grove and up into the open heath of the exposed dunes.

 

With patches of rain and wet undergrowth lining the trail this morning, my pants were a little bit soggy already so I wasn't too disappointed to be reaching a patch of relative bareness. With the trail flattening out a little I had a bit of a break to appreciate the views back towards the cliffs near Mandalay Beach and wondered if/when I'd reach the top of what seemed like a never-ending series of hills. I didn't wonder for much longer as I rounded a hill and caught sight of the ocean to the east for the first time. Greeting me was another lovely rainbow that looked spectacular contrasted up against the dark skies. From what I had read in the log book the previous night, down below was Hush Beach and someone had drawn a sketchy map on how to get to it. With a town to reach and gloomy weather on the horizon I wasn't too keen on heading down so instead enjoyed the view from up above. What a view it was too with rolling hills on either side, incoming rain misting off the ocean and a bright rainbow to liven up proceedings. Give me this kind of weather over perfect and sunny any day as it was really something to behold while I was out there.