Bibbulmun Track - Possum Springs to Yourdamung
Start - Possum Springs Campsite
Finish - Yourdamung Campsite
Campsite - Standard
Distance - 19.4km (One Way)
Vertical Climb - 356m
Time - 4-7 hours
Date Hiked - 6th June 2018
The Hike - Day Five of a weeklong trip and it felt like we'd hit our strides after a tough, wet day from Dookanelly to Possum Springs. Hoping for a warmer night with the previous day’s rain, a clear sunset meant we would be in for another cold one and that turned out to be the case. Our reward though was a glorious sunrise that was worth getting out of the warm confines of our sleeping bags to photograph the majestic scenes.
With sun streaming into the new rammed earth shelter I thought to myself that the Macklemore song playing right now would be great and voiced that opinion to Aron. Shortly after that he teed up the tune and it became a reality. With a great sunrise we were in a great mood but we then realised our soggy clothing and boots had not dried that much overnight. Trying to capitalise on the available sun we moved our items all over the shop (including making use of the broom and rake thanks to Aron's genius methods) to best capture the weak sunshine in the hopes of being somewhat dry before departing. This little dance lasted all morning and we figured that dry clothes would make for a better day's hiking and pushed back the departure time to after 9:30am. Enjoying some more tunes and soaking in the sun we eventually packed everything up and got into our soaked boots to begin what would be another wet but enjoyable day.
After taking several shots of the sunrise at Possum Springs, I was a little annoyed to find out that my camera had fogged up internally and that all my shots as we left camp were completely useless. Luckily the area leaving Possum Springs isn't terribly interesting, being mostly on 4x4 tracks but we did arrive at a lovely single track through the Jarrah forest that was quite lovely in the morning glow. Our good luck with the weather didn't last though and about 3-4km into the day we were hit with our first shower. With the camera playing up and not showing signs of defogging I shoved it into a dry sack and put on my rain gear.
While the first 5km of the day was all new experiences and unexplored track (for me), we were soon about to cross Dee Vee Rd and enter the "Kingdom of Py", the very first piece of the track I took over as a maintenance volunteer. The Kingdom of Py name comes from when The Long Way's Better passed through and dubbed it that and I'm not one to cause trouble so now refer to it as that. Given I have a bevy of archive photos of this section I wasn't too worried about leaving my camera in time out in my dry sack and instead concentrated on enjoying a section of the track I am quite familiar with. Crossing Dee Vee Rd and up the 4x4 track was like coming home after a long journey away. Everything is comfortable and for the next 9.5km I would be walking through an area I've been looking after for a couple of years.
Having spoken to the previous volunteer that looked after this section at a recent field day, she was quite fond of the area but had to give it up one of her sections after her husband passed away. We both chatted about the various points of interests and flora/fauna that live in the area and looking after it now has a bigger weight of importance to me other than making sure hikers can pass without getting lost or mauled by the undergrowth. Leaving the 4x4 track we headed into the relatively short passage of single track that is found in my section. I love this bit as there is a good range of forest type, from big Jarrah trees to sandy stretches filled with grass trees to open patches that are bright with colour in spring and summer. It is here you will find the famous "Plonkhole" that gets mentioned in the guidebook but due to recent strong regrowth you might walk past it without noticing.
I may build a sign to mark the spot but it is a little dried up creek bed with little wooden stumps for passing along during the brief times of the year when it isn't dry. Someone in the red book had written a little story at Yourdamung about the Plonkhole and their great difficulty in locating it that I found quite amusing. With clearer skies above us I decided that a snack stop at my favourite fallen log would be a good idea so we stopped just after the next 4x4 crossing and enjoyed a brief moment of sunshine. With the rain coming again we moved on and passed through the sandy trails near where Aron and I spotted Charles the blind kangaroo on a previous maintenance trip. Alas we didn't see Charles again (hope you're doing okay Charles if you're reading this) but passing under the crooked Banksia arch was a delight as we once again joined the 4x4 tracks that would be home for the next 6km.
Looking at the map you would be forgiven in thinking that this 6km stretch was a really long and boring 4x4 track and while that judgement might not be untrue, I really enjoy the slightly winding scenes and rolling hills that are on offer. This dead straight 4x4 section is punctuated with a low lying area I call the "Dead Marshes", a swampy openness filled with spindly trunks, grass trees and under grey skies it looks quite moody. Leaving the Dead Marshes we ascended up the hills through lovely she-oak forest (one of my favourites) and past the thick undergrowth of Zamia palms. We stopped again at the large Jarrah tree that blocks the old 4x4 track (you'll know it when you see it) and had a second snack break.
This was quickly shortened by more incoming rain and we scooted off towards Trees Rd and the end of the Kingdom of Py. Before that though we found a few items that had been dumped, one being a McDonalds happy meal toy in the shape of Kermit the Frog (owner not found on Facebook and is currently being beheaded by my dog as I type this) and the other being what was either a failed food drop or idiot hiker dumping their rubbish. Trying to take a photo on my phone in the pouring rain, I thought to myself that I would have to return to clean it all up (thanks to the fantastic hiker that has since done this for me). I had removed my camera from my bag at the last snack stop and had the briefest of moments where it was looking like it had defogged (it would eventually finish at a usable state). Arriving at Trees Rd and the end of the Kingdom of Py I was excited to experience the walk into Yourdamung.
Despite parking my car here almost every time I have never ventured off to the other side of my boundary line. Walking down Trees Rd I found the views fascinating against the grey skies. Well lit fields of grasses and the occasional tree provided a change from the forest walking and a taster of the walking to come. Coming up was the crossing of the Harris River and something that probably more resembles the Dead Marshes because it's actually marshland. This cool single track leading through the lowlands crosses a bridge I thought was a bit small for a river crossing but we stopped for some nonetheless. Again the rain made an appearance so we left the open spaces and wandered off into the forest again.
More great Jarrah forest greets you and eventually the start of the single track that leads you all the way to Yourdamung. Knowing this area had been hit by prescribed burns in 2017 and having read Donovan's disappointment with the results I can't say I was enthused about this section but as it would turn out, it wasn't that terrible. It wasn't anything like I would expect from virgin Jarrah forest as described in the guidebook but I was impressed with the size of the Bull Banksias present, even if the surrounding area was a little bleak. I once again had this day pegged at slightly shorter than it actually was so was expecting the sign for the campsite to be right around the corner. For about a kilometre this lasted and I was a little ahead of Aron when I finally spotted it. Knowing Aron would most likely be wanting to see the campsite by now because I'd told him it wasn't too far I decided to be the funniest man alive and stand in front of the sign while pretending that we would have to turn back and search for the campsite as I thought we had passed it.
Luckily Aron has a sense of humour and I'm still here to write this. The walk into Yourdamung seems like it could have been a bit shorter but was one of the best sections of forest we walked through all day. Very old trees were surrounded not by scorched earth but a mat of green and in places didn't look that burnt at all. Comparing this to photos of the area before the burn and I can see that it is nowhere near its former glory. I echo the sentiments of Donovan and the current volunteers that look after this campsite that it was completely unnecessary to burn all the way to the edge of the shelter. We settled in for the afternoon and escaped some pretty heavy showers as we tucked into dinner and brews before having another early night.
Final Thoughts - Despite knowing what half the day looked like, this was one of the days I was most looking forward to on this trip. Walking through with a full pack and experiencing "The Kingdom of Py" from a hiker's perspective would be a fun exercise and it was.
It also felt like another day deep in the wilderness, despite evidence of careless rubbish dumping by the pig hunters and the constant drone of the conveyor in the northern section.
One of the highlights of the day was to cross the Harris River lowlands as it provides a bit of a break in the forest walking and you appreciate just how vast this part of the world can be.
It may not be the most interesting day on the Bibbulmun but the familiarity I have with the area combined with seeing what was beyond my maintenance borders really made this an enjoyable hike.
Get out there and experience it!!!
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