In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.
So. First day. Dad and Nick saw me off. There was some mountain bike race thing finishing in Kalamunda (where the track starts) so it was really busy there. We bought some lunch and sat and ate (pack in all the calories!) surrounded by people commiserating their injuries or celebrating their wins. Then it was time! I put my dorky hat on and took the requisite photo of me in front of the track sign. Dad walked with me the first km or two, until the track reached the nice views, then veered off to the left. At this point, Dad was like, so now you go straight down [the hill]. I looked down, and commented – I can’t see any waugal*. He looked around for a second and goes, good call. You actually have to go left, not down. I was like, lucky to learn that now and not later! Off I went, anxiously looking for waugals and pacing out my distance when I didn’t see one for a bit. Paranoid about missing an important waugal and going the wrong way.
I got to the creek crossing bit and got out the guidebook for the first time. Directions confusing. Followed signs as directions didn’t make sense. Up the hill. Got to a small flat-ish patch near top of (very steep) hill. Track not clear – there’d been bushfires through here in the not too distant past and there was a lot of bare earth which made it hard to pick out the track. I took a few cautious steps to the right, through a few bushes. Found track! Phew. Relief. Continued on track. But…no waugal. Paced out steps (to calculate how far I was walking). Got to 500m (approx.). No waugal. Damn. Lots. Backtrack. (Checked guidebook, still confused by written directions). Checked online for guidebook updates (did all except first book last night). None. Checked google maps for location. Track not marked on google maps. So pointless. Tried to backtrack. Couldn’t actually find original point where I’d left the Bibb. Eventually realized was on another track altogether, internal compass telling me I was going away from original track direction. Could hear the small creek – gave up with the track altogether, cut off track down (steep) hill to road, followed back towards where I thought creek crossing was feeling very uncertain. Asked Mountain biker – where is Bib track? He affirmed walking right direction. Embarrassed. First day! First two hours! Less than 4km! And already lost.
Back to bottom of (steep) hill. Begin to climb (very steep) hill for second time. Sigh. Get to same point in track. Look around, still not obvious. Try going left. Vague track, then: waugal! Hooray! (used map to check contour lines, figured needed to be between large powerlines and ridge – this was helpful). More hill, back on track but slightly anxious spent around 2km (?) plus 45-60 minutes pfaffing. Oh well. Continued on. Lesson number one: back track exactly the way you came to avoid getting more lost. Hot and sweaty, sunny and blue sky. Pass plenty of day walkers, many couples with dogs. Keen eye for waugal, but they are now plentiful. Keep checking guide book every five minutes. All smooth sailing (walking). Feet start to hurt about eight km in. Only four to go.
Getting excited when guidebook suggests I’m close to hut (after passing the camel farm!) (camel riding lessons!). All of a sudden hear hooting and yells, such as that of hooligans. Uh oh. I hope is not coming from shelter. Sinking feeling that shelter is very close now though, what else would it be? See group of smallish people. Look like kids. See shelter. Damn. Arrive to shelter – full! Four young teenagers, two adults. Plus two old dudes. Bill and Byron. One of them is 70, 71. His fourth time doing an E2E. They started today too. I find out kids are going opposite direction. Thank fuck. But shelter is full. So tent it is. Good thing I brought it eh. One other tent, appear to be a couple. Hiding away. I don’t talk to them. Set up, enjoy sun going down and still air. Mozzies but. Time to close up tent. Bit concerned about overnight temps and whether will be warm enough. Oh well. Couscous (gluten free), TVP and freeze-dried veggies for dinner. Bland and too much – actually couldn’t finish it! (Too much lunch? Not enough walking?). Bill asks me – how long does your stove last with that little fuel cannister? and I realise I have no idea…They also have jet boil and he reckons about four days or a little longer. Hmm. Should have probably tested to see how long one gas bottle will last. Also forgot to test out pouring boiling water in Ziploc bags to use to cook instant food. Oh well. 7pm. Teeth and then bed.
*The Track is marked along the way by small yellow markers with a symbol of a Waugal on them. The Waugal is the rainbow serpent of the Aboriginal Dreaming.