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Bibbulmun Track 2011 :: Day 54
Somehow we've managed to get ourselves to this point: the last day of our 54 Day walk to Albany (generally by putting one foot in front of the other 1.2 million times) – it is a very odd feeling, and as Sandi noted: "Funny in the hut last night: everyone retreated to their own possies quite early and there was silence and it reminded me of the change room scene in "Chariots of Fire" before the big races at the Olympics. Quite interesting, everyone psyching up for the final day today." It was hard to concentrate on what the Guidebook was preparing us for today, but we're determined to enjoy the day for everything that it is.
Not our best sleep last night. P looked at the time somewhere about 11:45pm and said could he write in the book and I was wide awake so we chatted an he wrote and it was all rather neat and bizarre. We got a game plan for Albany sussed and shopping and to-do lists. Really pretty satisfying and then we both managed to drop off to sleep again and woke again at about 5am and launched into packing action.
The mosquitoes were quite viscous on the South coast (and no different here), so we liberally applied repellent before leaving the safety of our wee tent. Quite surprised rounding the corner of the shelter to find everyone else up and into action: presumably all feeling similarly to us?
Everyone then this morning quite buzzing and chatty. All very pleasant.
Hidden Valley Albany
|Length||19.87 km||Day Length||5:35|
|Ascend||763 m||Descend||825 m|
Ready to go from camp very quickly as we'd got everything ready as much as we could the night before. Said our goodbyes and invited them to stay when in Sydney and we were off: determined to enjoy our last day's walking, which was very odd – it felt like I was literally saying goodbye to all the flowers as we passed them. Wasn't too sad – just parting.
We got away in good time and set off just at a moderate pace, very much not rushing into town and very much stopping to really be part of a very nice walk along the cliffs with hazy views and on into the National Park. Lovely low growing cottage garden full of flowers feel. Some great fringe lilies. Keep looking for pitcher plant candidates but none on offer.
The walk along the cliffs beside the wind turbines was spectacular (to borrow a much used, maybe over used, adjective from the guidebook$). The day at that stage was still very early, and grey in the overcast – but the feeling of the expanse thrilled the inner parts; and to look west to the furthest headland and know we'd walked from there in the past couple of days was amazing and bizarre.
The high sand dunes are simply gorgeous in their spring beauty: every turn a new arrangement of colour, form and pattern, stretching off over the unbroken hills. Then without warning the track plunges you deeply into a Banksia or Peppermint thicket that was, even at that time in the morning, deliciously cool and dark. I imagine they would seem even more so on a warm, sunny day.
We walked at a moderate pace and lingered long on the lookout seats, not wanting to rush, but soak everything in when we could.
The trail turning North from the coast to the harbour was not overly pleasant, as it had been widened to form a fire break; walking this 4WD track we zoned out a little and raced on, or were pulled on, by Albany and the Southern Terminus. I wanted to reach the track-head with a surprising eagerness and complete the walk, but I didn't want it to end.
Turning left off the fire break and climbing a small hill to another lookout seat gave us the perfect morning tea spot, and we lingered there as we ate and chattered about the walk and the future. Just a little tension between my over enthusiasm and Sandi's sensible pre-cautious projections into the future; which is common at this stage in a walk, but quickly sorted and then we were swallowed up into the streets of outer Albany after the most amazing display of Kennedia, Pimelia, Wattle and Hibbertia we'd seen. It was almost enough to get us along the foreshore track, but that long, hard, bitumen path was just too much in the end and I began to dislike it with some intensity.
Got down to bay and long walk on bike/walk bitumen trail. Had stomach pains and really needed a toilet, but none to hand. Walked on and didn't feel at liberty to go along foreshore!! Finally left it and P found me a possie to go. What an eventual relief.
The old wool stores signalled some relief and a short departure into some buffer zone bush (that really needed some regeneration), then some extremely pleasant Albany streets
Like any walk into town over the past 54 days, we thought the bush could be a little "polluted by civilization", but we had many surprises and lots of beauty in store before we got onto the street of Albany – this town entrance was done particularly well, and was rather painless (thanks DEC!)
So there was some rather invaded bush we then went through and finally onto streets. Very lovely wealthy looking part of Albany and some great gardens. Past old jail with broken glass embedded in top of wall, past "Amity", an old ship across foreshore area criss-crossing railway (look for trains) and finally to Southern Terminus of Bibbulmun Track. Unbelievable.
...almost before we realized it, we were standing at the Southern Terminus – and it wasn't a huge carnivorous beast that was devouring us mercilessly – but we had completed the ~1,000 kilometres and had no more to walk. Except to walk into the information centre and sign the book.
I can't, I really can't believe we are here, in Albany, because we have walked here. It is so weird and amazing and I don't really get it but: "Here we are"!
Completing the walk really seemed to affect Sandi – I don't think she was ever certain she'd do it, even walking up to the terminus.
Check in and then go into Memorial Rose Garden, sit on grass and eat most of emergency chocolate (don't ruin your lunch!) SMS to some folk. Feel pretty stoked and blown out and not blown out and weird, but I think it's good.
After our official bits (portrait, GPS, sign out, etc.) we headed over to the RSL rose garden and broke our emergency chocolate, that had faithfully reassured us over the last 54 days, in celebration. It had its own scares, but was delicious, even for a non-chocolate lover like myself!! I sent the SPOT and Sandi SMS'd (and started receiving instant replies), then we were off to our accommodation to implement our Albany Recreation Plan.
The last couple of days, maybe since West Cape Howe (I would say Denmark, but that 30+ km day in wet boots was hard going), has been like a holiday, rather than a bush walk! Funny: even though I planned the Rest Point → Peaceful Bay section to be our "rest days", it didn't seem like a holiday like this last bit. It's been a great preparation for Albany and the end of the walk: I think it's helped to add that sense of completeness.
|Hidden Valley Campsite||0.0||6:42 AM||0:00||0.0|
|Torndirrup National Park||2.9||7.4||1025.1||8:37 AM||0:47||1:55||292.8||3.7||3.8||3.5|
|Frenchman's Bay Road||5.0||12.4||1030.1||10:27 AM||1:50||3:45||294.6||2.7||3.3||3.5|
|Robinson Drain||3.4||15.8||1033.4||11:07 AM||0:40||4:25||295.3||5.1||3.6||3.5|
We headed for YHA backpackers. No one on desk, so ring and get key and we're here and in. Room's small, but satisfactory. Can't access letter or food parcel (without food) yet, so have hunch then wander back into town. Do a loop of "Dylans on Terrace" intended breakfast for tomorrow and they don't reserve, but not busy until 9-ish, open at 8am. Looks good.
Get postcards and stamps from newsagent, up street and the big weigh in. Very nice girl in chemist, very happy to weigh us. It was in clothes after lunch, but we'll see, will give some idea.
Go down to Cosi's for afternoon tea and it's OK, then tummy cramps advance again, so off to toilet and thankfully it does seem to be a more permanent improvement.
IGA shopping and we really get quite a good and sensible range of things. Back to hostel and showers finally as we can access our clean clothes. Lovely feeling, though hot/cold fluctuation bit tricky. P sorts with diligence, I dither without intelligence.
When I look at myself naked in mirror I can see it has come off hips, breasts and tummy, but legs look fatter than ever. P just looks a bag of Biafran bones!
Hunger kicks in. What a great meal P unfurls. Really yummy and spot hitting: Steak, onion, mushroom pepper sauce; mash potato, pumpkin & sweet potato; spinach, brocoli, carrot & parsnip.
What a great dinner!! Shopping was extremely painless and we sussed a meal = steak, onion + mushroom with green pepper sauce, mashed potato, mashed sweet potato + pumpkin and vegetables on tomato pasta sauce (broccoli, carrot + parsnip, leek, spinach). A little huge, but we've a little left over if required tomorrow (couldn't fit seconds). Then we went up to Venice for coffee and dessert. I was still quite full, but managed 2 scoops of gelato and Sandi got a slice. Just a little meat and a big vegie pig-out: just what the doctor ordered!! [Can't have been too huge – when I woke at 1:30am I was quite hungry]
Then off to Venice for a VERY yummy dessert and their service as before, very pleasing. P starting to fall asleep, so head back home and virtually straight into bed about 9:30pm – not long before we're both asleep!
|Restaurant / Cafe||Total||S||P||S||P||S||P|
|Showers / Toilet||8|
|Shop / Close to Town / Shops||4.8|
|Dining / Activity||4.8|
|Close to Town||4.8|
The day does not seem real: I'm not sure I've got a firm grip on the reality in which we've landed today. Somewhat odd crossing the threshold of the terminus and the only other person there was a RSL person putting out chairs for a remembrance service the next day: Sandie had led us to believe that there'd be a bell to ring. Whatever: we had chocolate followed by normality.
So for the first time in 2 months we climb into a bed with crisp sheets, with our bodies totally clean and dry and warm and look forward to a deep and restful sleep in preparation for our couple days of recreation in Albany.
It's 1:30am and I'm awake and can't sleep: what is this? Uncomfortable in bed, admittedly firm, but clean sheets and bigger than the tent?? What is interesting is that I'm no more comfortable on the NeoAir. The sleeping bag restriction, and the tent, makes a bigger difference. Anyway, found some left-over pizza for the carbohydrate treatment and dump some thoughts from my head...
At the beginning of the walk each day Sandi and I would pray an Our Father for the day. Very early on we added the Bibbulmun Addendum, which kept evolving along the walk. Today had its last iteration, as we tentatively stepped out of camp onto the last 20km of the walk:
Please keep us on the track
Please open our eyes to see your Glory,
and our hearts to your Peace
Cause us to be at the right place at the right time,
not the wrong place at the wrong time
And help us to be truly present in this day.
God has answered those prayers in many wonderful ways (and many we'll never be aware of!), but that last line was a special prayer for our last day, to help us not succumb to the Albany Itch that affects too many at the end and who often double hut through Hidden Valley into town. What a wonderful last day's walk we had!!
Another realisation over the walk was that Jesus WAS walking the track with us, which I'm not sure we actually vocalised in prayer, but did emerge in song.
The 54 day walk has been an amazing spiritual experience, but not in the sense of a palpable revelation of God that Lordes or Church can be: The spiritual experience has been with God in and amongst His creation, walking with Jesus quietly beside or behind us. It's been very special, very safe and very loving.
After 4 hours of jotting my thoughts down I head back to our room and Sandi has just got up and is about to put washing on so that it will dry... and so the day's begun...