Bibbulmun Day 26: Monday April 30, 2018

Km 820.7 – 860.7 (40 km)

Boat Harbour – Denmark

The night could not have been more different to yesterday. It was perfectly still with only the sound of the rolling surf breaking the silence.

Boat Harbour is a really beautiful location. Similar to Peaceful Bay but smaller. It is protected from the swell, just gently roling waves of crystal clear water. It is a perfect spot for a swim. The full moon was reflected in its calm waters as I was leaving.

Looking at the night sky it promises to be another fine day although there was a bit light cloud covering the stars. From camp I walked along crossed two beaches before sunrise. It was really quite surreal to walk in the dark along a deserted beach and know that there is only this huge expense of water between me and Antarctica. There is something intimidating about that oceanic wilderness.

As it started to get light, the birds would break out in a cacophony of chirping and then quiten down just letting out a a few twits as I walked passed. The sun coming up over the horizon was glorious. Hardly any wind and white clouds streaking the sky. The sun seems to rise so late now.

There followed a couple of hours on a long section of trail going up and over numerous vegetated dunes. It was hard work especially is parts where it was just steep loose sand. The wind had picked up as the morning progressed, making it harder. I wondered how long this up and down dune hiking would be over. It was interesting to walk through a coastal heath section and see what it looks like after a fire. I wondered what were the benefits of fire in such an environment. I should have asked the Parks officer yesterday. My hiking pace has slowed since starting on the coastal section. It was definetely harder hiking and covering less distance for the effort. But it was very kind on my feet.

After all the up and down dune walking there was a sweet downhill section out of the wind to Parrys Beach. I passed through the camping area before reaching the beach. What a beautiful spot, the kind of place I would love to come back to revisit.

I sat at the beach before starting the long 7km beach walk. I had a sense of reaching some kind of milestone. Gone was the fury of the Southerm Ocean and replaced by kilometres of gently breaking surf and white firm packed sand. I could have been in subtropical Queensland. Far off I could just make out the wind turbines which mark the arrival onto Albany. The end of the hike is in sight.

Before beginning the beach walk I stopped at Parrys Beach for breakfast. I was a little dissapointed but not surprised that the camp ground had no store. I had some hope of getting a coffee like yesterday.

With a sense of excitement about the section ahead I started the beach walk. A few cars drove past me and I could see cars ahead parked along the beach.

Just as I was approaching the first parked car a couple came towards me. I greeted them as they got closer. And to my surprise they offered me a cup of coffee and a freshly baked raspberry muffin. As Hammer would say “the universe provides”.

Stephen and Vashti are locals from Denmark and were visiting Parrys Beach with their two sons. I was so touched by this kindness and stunned beyond words. It was so incredible standing at this perfect location, on a nice sunny morning having a coffee and sharing something of ourselves with strangers.

I left Stephen and Vashti, even more uplifted then when I arrived at the beach and hit the sand stretch with renewed vigour.

It was easy walking on hard packed sand which lasted about three quarters of the way. Approaching Mazzelotti Beach towards the end, the sand was a lot softer, the surf bigger and the beach got narrower. The tide was rising and I could see that this area could become quite tricky to walk on big tides.

It seemed that the beach walk was over in no time and soon I was climbing a really steep hill to William Bay camp. Despite being on a hill there were really no views from the camp. I stayed a short time to rest and around lunchtime and started the final 19km to Denmark.

There was a smell of smoke in the air and a smoky haze clung to the ground obscuring distant views.

After leaving William Bay campsite the trail is a mixture of forested sections and beaches. Entering a forested section was an incredible experience. An orchestra of birds was playing, it sounded like a competition for which could sing louder or longer. Hard to believe that only a short time ago I was on a long stretch of beach.

I passed the very pretty Lights Beach, its granite outcrops reminded me that these same rocks are a connection to the geological past when Australia was joined to Antarctica. The same granite bedrock is found further south in Antarctica.

Walking an open coastal trail past Lights Beach I saw another tiger snake. I spotted it ahead as the trail wound around. It looked just like a large curly stick lying across the trail. Thankfully it moved off trail as I approached. Janine, the Park officer from yesterday told me that tiger snakes are active all year round. They do OK in cold and wet but are just a bit more sluggish. So when a sunny day follows a period of cold & wet weather they are out in the open a lot more. Which explains why there were so many out now.

I was getting closer to Denmark. I just had one large obstacle to get over, Mt Helliwell. Clouds seem to be gathering from the west.

The cacophony of birdsong as I ascended Mt Helliwell was almost deafening. It was like being enclosed in a birdcage. I think they were trying to tell me that a storm was on the way. The clouds were darkening and descending and the wind was increasing. It was a long and sweaty climb to the top. Huge granite boulders formed the pinacle with great views to the east towards Albany. There was some blue sky and sun ahead. Climbing up was all wind and descending dark skies but dropping to the other side was quite and calm. Then it was back to the birdcage of what sounded like thousands of birds gathered in the trees. The descent seem to take forever. The sharp granite rocks were murdering my feet. I couldn’t wait to get off the mountain especially as it looked like it was about to rain. Although I had to stop to admire a few more karri trees in the forest lining Mt Helliwell. Just in case there were no more in the last section of the track to Albany.

The final 8km of the trail to Denmark winds its way around the suburban sprawl of Denmark. I didn’t realise that Denmark was so big. The dark clouds were low and rain was imminent. So I was forced to speed hike and run a bit to avoid rain. And just as I reached the Visitors Centre, the rain started. I stayed at the Blue Wren Hostel and made it before heavy rain started. So ended another perfect day on trail.