Friday, 30 September 2016

Bibbulmun Track (WA) - Beavis to Beedelup

Day seven of an eight day hike on the Bibbulmun Track, Beavis to Beedelup proved to be the most challenging day of our hike. Departing the Donnelly River, the Track passes through dull regrowth forest in unnecessarily hilly terrain, before improving as it reaches Carey Brook Falls. After some pleasant enough forest walking, the day ends strongly with the spectacular Beedelup Falls and the campsite along Beedelup Brook itself.   

Distance: 22 km (one way)
Gradient: Continuously hilly up to Carey Brook, with some very steep descents and ascents afterwards as well as some easier, flat sections
Quality of Path: Largely clear and well maintained
Quality of Signage: Largely well signed, with the Waugal providing very clear directional information.
Experience Required: Previous Bushwalking Experience Recommended
Time: 6 Hours, including lunch break
Steps: Many formal steps
Best Time to Visit: Spring-Summer
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: This section was walked from campsite to campsite. A day walk - the Beedelup Falls Loop Walk - covers the best parts of the day while taking walkers around Lake Beedelup. Access is via the Beedelup Falls car park. 

Morning at Beavis followed the usual routine that had set in since we met Peter and Sonya back at Gregory Brook - we all woke up around 6am, packed up and ate breakfast before heading on our way. Jerry invariably was the first to get going, followed by Helle, then Alissa and I, with Peter and Sonya on their way after a second hot drink. Alissa and I had gotten better at being organised and prepared, and we got our routine down to under an hour by the time we left Beavis for Beedelup, With not one but two waterfalls, this was a day Alissa and I were pretty excited about, and I was glad to get going so quickly.  

The day started in a similar fashion to the end of the day before, with the dense riverside understorey of the Karri forest.

This was not overly exciting walking to begin with, however we had the extra 'benefit' of a moderately steep hill almost right away. Peter had also tested fate by commenting that it didn't look like it would rain just before Jerry left, and he definitely spoke too soon - the rain started not long after this first ascent and continued of and on for most of the day.  

Three kilometres into the day, the Bibbulmun crosses a creek and ascends, leaving the Donnelly River Valley for the last time, after being a near constant companion since before Donnelly River Village.   

Leaving the Donnelly River, the Bibbulmun follows what looks like an old vehicle track through relatively open Karri forest (compared to the density along the river). Along the track are a number of fallen trees that show off how the forest repurposes its own material. The dead trees were blanketed in green moss, with fungi also growing on them. Across the top, small alien looking orchids were also growing, showing just how useful even a dead tree can be to sustain life in the forest. 

The Bibbulmun reached a major road junction at Seven Day Road. At this point, the track veers left and heads along a purpose built trail just to the left of the junction. 

This section is in transitional forests, and features a mix of Jarrah and Karri forest species together in the same location. The transitional forests offer a much lower density in the understorey as well as a lot of wildflowers that are not as common in pure Karri forest.  

This was all fairly enjoyable walking, until Alissa slipped and fell on the wooden boards pictured above. After falling on the Luke Pen Walk earlier this year (and only a month after falling on Mt Hallowell), I've become very paranoid about these wooden boards and have taken extra care when crossing them. The wooden board proved very slippery, and with the momentum of her fall, Alissa got her foot stuck between two of the boards. Although she was thankfully not badly injured, the shock of the fall and her foot being stuck definitely effected her, and I had to help pull her foot back through the gap. Later at Beedelup hut, we would learn that Jerry also slipped here but did not get his foot stuck, and the red book revealed others had also slipped at this point. This is definitely a hazard hikers should keep and eye out for. 

After the fall, Alissa and I continued on through one of the most boring and frustrating sections of the Bibbulmun Track. For about 5 kilometres, the Bibbulmun passes through regrowth Karri forest that is somehow even less appealing that regrowth Jarrah forest due to the thick and often dull understorey growth combined with thin, young trees. To make matters worse, the track seemed to rise and fall repeatedly for no apparent reason and with no rewarding views, justifying the esteemed John Chapman's criticism of the Karri forest section of the track (along this stretch at least). Finally, just about every instruction in the guidebook was to 'turn right at vehicle boundary', and after a while I felt like I was in some kind of lab experiment where I had been deprived of any useful information about where I was while being subjected to unnecessary hills in extremely boring forest. At one point Alissa was trying to talk to me about something and I said that I was just too angry and frustrated with the Track right now to have a conversation. The photo above is the only remotely nice photo I took along this whole stretch. 

The Karri Marri Tree signalled that we had finally escaped from the boring part of the day's walking. The Karri Marri Tree are two trees that grew so close together that they have fused together at their base as one - really intriguing!

After the tree, we came to the bridge over Carey Brook, which allowed us to confirm that we were about 12 kilometres into the day after lacking a clear landmark for so long. The track rises immediately after the bridge, and usually Alissa and I would have preferred to have walked up to the top of the hill and then stopped for lunch, but I was keen to check out the Carey Brook Falls that were located just downstream. 

After eating our lunch, I followed a short side trail down to a small pool along Carey Brook where a small but attractive waterfall can be found. Having been so miserable just half an hour earlier, Carey Brook Falls really lifted me spirits, and were a nice precursor of Beedelup Falls later in the day.  

After the moderate incline away from Carey Brook, the Bibbulmun passes through Jarrah and Blackbutt dominated forest.  This was actually a nice change of pace, as I was glad to have a bit of a break from Karri for a bit. 

As the track descends, the forest transitions back to Karri, however the wider road and the larger trees made for much less claustrophobic walking, and we agreed that this was much better than earlier in the day. 

As we came to the end of the road, it was clear that we had reached Lake Beedelup - the dammed lake that is home to Karri Valley Resort. 

This is the point where the Bibbulmun intersects with the Beedelup Loop Walk, and allows hikers to make an optional side trip to Karri Valley Resort. The lost French hiker we met the day before was meant to turn around at this point, and with the clear, obvious signage it is remarkable that he would have missed this turn off and kept going all the way to Beavis!  

Even if he came the other way around past Karri Valley Resort, you really can't miss the unambiguous sign telling hikers which way to go to return to Beedelup Falls!

Karri Valley Resort is filled with so many lovely childhood memories that it shall always holds a special place in my heart. When I was in primary school we used to come down here just about every year, and my thirteenth birthday was celebrated at one of the larger bungalows. The stretch of the Bibbulmun from here to Beedelup Falls was the first bit of the Bibbulmun I ever walked back in 1999, and it was responsible for starting the dream that is now almost coming to fruition - to complete an End to End of the Bibbulmun Track. 

Being shared with the Beedelup Loop, the trail around Beedelup Lake features many tourist friendly features, including park benches for people to have a rest.  

Even a burnt out, fallen Karri tree had been naturally shaped into a fairly comfortable seat just after the track ascends to be parallel to Beedelup Falls.  

From the Karri tree seat, the track descends down a flight of stairs overlooking Beedelup Brook and the falls.  

Being a popular tourist attraction, the infrastructure here is excellent, with a quality metal bridge allow hikers to cross over the brook with ease.  

Along the other side, walkers can see the wooden railings that lead to an alternate crossing point over a suspension bridge.  

Just above the falls is a large metal lookout that provides a good view of Beedelup Falls in action.

For those with a bit more time, it is worth doing the short loop of the falls via the suspension bridge, as it offers the most impressive vantage point of the falls, as seen in the above photo. I've done this small loop many times in the past, so we decide to press on to the campsite instead. This photo was taken earlier in the year in July when Alissa and I were last in Pemberton, and we were impressed to see the falls with a comparably high flow in September.

Beyond the falls, the track follows a bitumen path to the Beedelup Falls car park before leaving the tourists behind once again along a narrow walk trail. This home stretch was quite pleasant walking, and was lush without being overly dense. Anticipation was growing however, and every corner we took had me seeing mirages of the hut only to realise I was imagining a certain fall tree or shadow as a sign that we'd finally reached Beedelup campsite.  

Once we finally did reach Beedelup hut, Alissa and I were quite impressed by its location. The hut was located right by Beedelup Brook, and was surrounded by many tall Karri trees. 

 Nearby was an old vehicle crossing that now served as a nice spot to sit and contemplate the Beedelup Brook. 

Oddly, the tent sites were actually quite far away from the hut (across an old vehicle track and slightly uphill), save for one or two spots near a picnic table just below the hut. 

With the the continued threat of rain, Alissa and I once again set up our tent within the hut. Peter and Sonya, who had often opted to tent it rather than stay in the shelter, also set up their tent in the hut after we read about a rodent food thief that lived nearby. This afforded me to opportunity of taking a picture of our two Big Agnes tents side by side - our Seedhouse SL2 and their Copper Spur UL2.

Beavis to Beedelup was a mixed day, and I concurred with Peter when he said that it was probably just as hard as the day before. Because we were less prepared for it, Alissa and I both found this day harder than Boarding House to Beavis, and the morning in the regrowth forest stands out as the absolute low point of the entire eight days from Balingup to Pemberton. The analogy I made at the time was that the day was like an album rush released to profit of a killer single - there was the big hit (Beedelup Falls), a few good album tracks that could be potential singles (Carey Brook Falls, the Karri Marri Tree and the stretch leading to Beedelup Falls) and then a lot of uninspired filler. At least I can say the day finished strong from the Karri Valley turn off all the way to the campsite - I can't imagine how disappointing this day would be to walk it the other way around!

1 comment:

  1. I had to laugh reading your final sentence - I'm walking it the other way around tomorrow !