Monday, 28 December 2015

Bibbulmun Track (WA) - Conspicuous Beach to Giants

The first day of a three day walk from Conspicuous Beach to Walpole, this is a day of transition on the Bibbulmun Track. Starting overlooking Conspicuous Beach, the walk passes through coastal heathlands, areas of lower Eucalypt forest before crossing South Coast Hwy into the majestic Tingle forests of Walpole-Nornalup National Park. Walkers are treated to an overnight stay surrounded by the Red Tingles at Giants Campsite. 

Distance: 14 km (one way)
Gradient: Some hilly sections and steep descents through the heathlands. Continuously uphill section from South Coast Hwy for a lot of the way leading to Giants Campsite. 
Quality of Path: Generally clear and well maintained. 
Quality of Signage: Well signed, with the Waugal providing very clear directional information. 
Experience Required: Bush Walking Experience Recommended
Time: 5 Hours
Steps: Some steps near the beginning at Conspicuous Beach looking as well as in the heathlands
Best Time to Visit: All year round, though the lack of cover in the heathlands can make it uncomfortable in the Summer. Best to avoid from January-March. 
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: Conspicuous Beach is easily accessible from Conspicuous Beach Rd off South Coast Hwy. While we stayed overnight at Giants Campsite, day walkers could depart the track at Valley of the Giants car park a few kilometres afterwards. The car park can be reached from Valley of the Giants Rd off South Coast Hwy. 

After days of heavy eating over Christmas, Alissa and I were joined by her brother Ben and his partner Kelsey on a two night/three day section of the Bibbulmun Track, leading from Conspicuous Beach to Walpole. The track is easily accessible from Conspicuous Beach car park as it intersects with the Bibbulmun. Heading down towards the beach would be taking us towards Denmark, so walkers must take the stairs up to the viewing platform overlooking Conspicuous Beach instead.

From the platform the trail rises up several flights of stairs as it takes walkers to the coastal heathlands heading inland. This is the preferable direction as this section was far worse in the other direction when I walked it in 2003. 

This coastal heathlands in this part of Walpole-Nornalup National Park are fairly hilly, with some small peaks and dips down to the lowlands beneath. It feels steeper than the relatively flat elevation chart suggests, however the relatively warm day might have made this section appear harder than it really was. 

Heading further inland, the track passes a section of low Eucalypt woodlands. This was a great section for birdwatching, and we stopped to watch an owl perched on a branch not far from the tree photographed above. 

The woodlands gave way to low, flat heathlands once again, near the crossing of Ficifolia Road

This particularly dead area was an interesting part of the track, and I wondered how the trees came to be the way they are. My guesses were salinity, fire or Dieback - none of which would unfortunately be surprising. 

We had intended to stop for lunch at Nut Lookout, however the spot touted in the guide book with 'outstanding' views proved to be a bit of a letdown. The views were decent enough, as we could see Peaceful Bay and the section of Quarram Beach Alissa and I walked earlier in the year. However, the heat and lack of shade made this spot fairly uncomfortable, and after a quick rest descended onwards. 

Beyond Nut Lookout, the more open terrain of the heathlands and plains gives way to the beginnings of the forest we would be walking through until reaching the Walpole Inlet. With some nice shade, we stopped for lunch at this more agreeable location. 

Not long after lunch, the Bibbulmun joins Denmark-Nornalup Rail Trail for a few kilometres of fairly easy walking before reaching South Coast Hwy.

The section immediately after South Coast Hwy was the most difficult of our entire three days on the track, being a kilometre entirely uphill with a 100 metre rise. It definitely got the heart pumping.

As the terrain began to flatten out, we encountered the first of the truly giant Tingle Trees with their famous burnt out  hollows and buttressed trunks. 

Giants Campsite is well located surrounded by beautiful Tingle Forest, made all the more idyllic thanks the sound of birdsong all around us. 

Staying overnight as we were and with the hut to ourselves, we played some card games until the sun went down.

Although this was a fairly diverse day give the transition from the coast to the forest, it was also the least exciting of our three days walking as the the later sections featured even more stunning views and and attractions. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable walk and Giants is an excellent hut to be staying overnight in - the only one one the track that is deep in the Tingle Forest. 


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