Later this year we will be doing our first walking tour from Collie to Balingup on the Bibbulmun Track. Emily and I walked the trail to re-familiarise ourselves with the amazing Jarrah forest. Read our adventure below.
Day One: As we headed down to Collie from Perth, the sun was shining on a clear winters day. Winter is a fantastic time of year in the valley region. Rolling green hills, lakes and dams brimming with water and orchards bulging with this years crop of apples.
Having dropped off one car in Balingup, we took the dirt roads through to Collie. It was about this point that the heavens opened up and our car was given a shower from the top and a mud bath from below. When we rolled up to the Collie bakery, our Golf hatchback looked like it had just come in from the World Off road rally! We signed a few autographs for some motoring enthusiast, bought sandwiches then got under way.
Collie to Balingup is a fantastic section of the Bibbulmun track. During September and October it boasts an amazing display of wildflowers. The jarrah forests don’t have the carpets of flowers that Western Australia is most famous for, however the diversity is second to none. We think Collie has some of the best areas for wildflowers in Western Australia at the right time of year. At 84 kms over five days and reasonably flat, it is also fairly easy going. Well it is easy when you have the Inspiration Outdoors team to pick you up, make you meals and tell you interesting stories. We don’t have that luxury when doing reconnaissance so it was dehydrated meals, 20kg back packs and inflatable mattresses for us.
It was suprising how much was out in bloom even in early August. I made an early snail orchid predition and was soon gloating. They are just so cute. Emily was very excited to see some wood pears in fruit and to taste a few snotty gobble fruits (yes, it is the real name). Imagine a small seed wrapped up in an apricot, enclosed by a bitter skin. Sounds delicious right? Well sort of…
We were very lucky with the weather. With such a dirty car, the last thing we needed was blue skies, warm temperatures and light winds. Fortunately we were greeted by constant drizzle with intermittent downpours. How lucky were we! Don’t even have to wash the car when we get back.
My favourite thing about the jarrah forest is that they don’t have the impenetrable under storey of other forest types. This means you almost always have a good view through the forest, which is great for distinguishing it from the trees.
As the sun went down we were happy to arrive at the Bibbulmun track hut. There is a good reason why we do our reconnaissance in winter and our tours in spring. Soaked to the breaches a warm cup of soup was just what the doctor ordered.
Day two: We are going to have a very clean car in a few days!
A delayed start to give the weather a chance to clear up ended up being a good bet. Perfect walking weather all morning allowed us to really enjoy the jarrah forest. There was some excellent bird life today. We saw a family of brightly yellow breasted birds that we didn’t recognise. The male had a black stripe across his white face which gave him the look of a super hero. No tights however.
Shortly after leaving the camp we were at Glen Mervyn dam. This will be a great spot for a delivered afternoon tea on the tour in September. We debated the merrits of biscuits versus muffins versus cake but then realised there is no wrong answer when it comes to baked goods on the Bibbulmun Track.
There is lots of water in the dam at the moment. Hopefully it will be over flowing in September. We skirted around the edge and then back into the forest.
It was easy going to the Mambalup tavern which will be our day two end point. Alas it was only afternoon tea for us so no beer.
The views over the green green farmland were really beautiful. The mist rolled in an up the valley as we looked down from our vantage point. From there we re-entered the forest into a section that Emily and I remembered distinctly from our 2008 Bibbulmun Track End to End walk. We found an excellent morning tea spot withe great views before arriving at the hut in time to miss a torrential down pour! High fives all around.
Day three: We managed to get away a little earlier today. There were a few more hills in the early part of the walk, which will be an after lunch challenge on the tour. Great birdlife! There was a family of Whistlers, some Scarlett Breasted Robins, Red and White tale Black Cockatoos as well as wrens and fantails. We are no birders but who doesn’t love a bird?
Todays walk took in the Preston Virgin Jarrah forest which we were excited to see (we are tree nerds, I know). Jarrah wood is highly prized by furniture and floor board makers for its deep red colour. Unfortunately its beauty has lead to the destruction of most of the pristine forest. The only ones I know about are around Nannup, Dwellingup, a touch in Jarrahdale and the Preston forest.
If anyone else knows of any other areas of pristine jarrah, I would love to know (let me know in the comments below).
The trees in the Preston forest are big! It is a really beautiful experience. Unfortunately we forgot to bring our umbrellas so the camera had to stay in the bag so you will just have to book on the next Collie to Balingup tour to see these guys.
Day Four: We could have easily have brought our umbrellas if we had just brought our kayaks! Last day and we are looking forward to a vanilla slice from the cafe in the packing shed in Balingup!
There are some amazing views of rolling green farmlands today. I have never been to Scotland but I imagine if you put a few men wearing skirts in Balingup, they would feel right at home.
This day has some great variety. There is a short walk through a pine forest which is really beautiful. I know they are not native, but the beauty is hard to deny.
There is a long, steep descent late in the day. This hill is one of the reasons why we are not walking Balingup to Collie when we do the tour – it is some hill.
As we approach Balingup, we can see the rivers and creeks are bulging. The footbridge is underwater and the vehicle bridge is next if it goes up any more!
When we arrive in town we head straight to the cafe. We choose a well ventilated table outside for the consideration of the other patrons and tuck into a well deserved vanilla slice and flat white.
So there you have it – it is a fabulous section of the Bibbulmun Track. We are really looking foward to doing it all again with the spring wildflowers in September.
Thanks for reading.
Happy trails, Simon and Emily