BT Day 22: Blackwood to Balingup 547.7 km (17km)

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I am loving the shelters (some of the time). It bucketed down last night. Heavy, soaking rain. Although situated on top of an exposed hill the Blackwood Shelter offered enough protection to stay perfectly dry. It was a warm night and there is nothing like listening to the sound of rain belting down on a tin roof while you’re tucked up warm in bed.

A short half day into town provided an opportunity for a bit of a sleep in and lazy start to the day. It would be mostly down hill and easy walking, although care would be required on the red dirt descents after last nights rain.

Jane and myself drank our coffees and enjoyed breakfast with views out over the valley below. Probably the best view from a shelter yet. Small showers were still scattered about and some low cloud hung down deep in the valley hiding some of the pines.

With the worst of the weather past it was time to get going. Donning my wet weather gear I headed out but soon found conditions to be really humid, opting to chance getting wet from some of the predicted scattered showers instead of getting saturated from the inside wearing wet weather gear.

The start of the morning was very reminiscent of wandering the wilds of north island on Te Araroa, walking through pines, dirt roads and then private paddocks with cattle grazing, opening and closing gates as I went. In a distant paddock, mobs of kangaroos grazed and lounged about in the morning sun, with the young ones play fighting. Great to see.

The track then moved into some drier native forest with red natural gravel. You had to be careful on the wet slopes and the small, perfectly round stones that were like ball bearings under foot likely to slide out from underneath without warning.

Leading into town the Bibb led through the local botanic garden in a riot of autumn coloured leaves, peppering the ground and blazing in the shining sun. All shades of brown, orange, red and yellow. A resplendent sight.

I found the Visitors Centre, signed the Bibb registration book and headed to the Mushroom Cafe for lunch, a well deserved southern fried chicken burger. Delicious.

There was one other NOBO walker, Carolyn, in town according to the registration book who arrived yesterday. I bumped into her on the way to my accomodation for the night, The Post House. It’s easy to pick other walkers. It’s the confident swagger and clothes that give it away. She would be staying at the same place.

I like getting into town with a half day to spare. It makes it some much easier to relax with lots of time to get the washing done and get restocked with food. I’ll stay here tonight and hit the road again tomorrow for another easy 20km single hut day. Should take me 3 days to get into Collie for my final Zero day off trail.

There was an old time dance on tonight. Think I’ll skip it but I love the way they’ve advertised it. If you have spare drum kit why not use it.

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