Fitzgerald River National Park
Directions - Point Ann is found in the western side of Fitzgerald River National Park and can be accessed by the combination of tarmac and dirt roads. The trail head is located near the brand new toilet block with great signage.
The Hike - With an opportunity to return to the Fitzgerald River NP thanks to Parks and Wildlife and Google, I was about to tick the last remaining hike in the park off my list. Having already completed the stunningly breathtaking Hakea Trail earlier in the week, the Mamang Trail (Mamang is Noongar for whale) was last on our list of walks to get through with the backpack mounted Trekker. Unlike the Hakea Trail where we could be dropped out at the start point by the local ranger, the campsite at Fitzgerald River Inlet is not accessible by vehicles of any description so we had to make alternative arrangements.
Given we didn't know how long it would take to complete the hike and mobile reception is almost non-existent in this part of the park, we elected to start at the Fitzgerald River Inlet end so we could make our own time and not interrupt the ranger when it came time to get a lift back to the car. To make this a reality Deon the ranger had picked up a Polaris ATV from a nearby town for the day and we would be driven out along the beach and on bumpy 4x4 tracks to the closest possible point, just before Point Charles. This is the alternative route back from the inlet if you are doing this as a two day walk and more info on this can be found over at The Long Way's Better. To make sure we had enough light for the day we had a pre-dawn start at Bremer Bay and a hairy drive on gravels tracks avoiding kangaroos in the dark. We made it to Point Ann for the car drop and pickup just as the sun was rising and boy what a magical place this is.
Having first experienced it on my Easter trip when we stayed at St Mary's Inlet, I will never forget driving over the hill and seeing the beautiful views overlooking the bay with the Mid Barrens in the distance. To enjoy it again was a privilege and a great start to a full day of hiking. With Deon leaving us on top of a very large sand dune we still had 5km of hiking to get to the Fitzgerald River Inlet Campsite so in the cold of the morning we set off on the trail with all of our gear (the 16kg Trekker plus another bag of water, food, batteries, hard drives, medical supplies etc). Burnoffs by local farmers and Parks and Wildlife meant the air was very hazy as we approached one of the best locations on the trail, Point Charles Lookout. Looking more like a smoggy scene from Indonesia or China, it was still an awe-inspiring place to stand and look out over the sheltered bay that during the right time of the year can be full of migrating whales. We kept an eye out for them but were probably a few weeks too early to enjoy an experience that Rod Annear talked about on this episode of Real Trail Talk.