Kalamunda – Dwellingup
Kalamunda → Helenas → Mt Dale → Canning → Mt Cooke → Nerang → Gringer Creek → White Horse Hills → Chadoora → Dwellingup
We began our hike mid-September in 2021 at the northern terminus, Kalamunda. This section traverses the Darling Ranges towards Dwellingup, and is the longest section between resupply towns. This food carry can be split in two (~137km and 62km) by posting food to the Three Ways Roadhouse along Albany Highway, a 1.5km detour off the track. For simplicity we decided to resupply in towns, meaning we carried everything we needed to reach Dwellingup.
The walk from Kalamunda to Dwellingup was one of our favourite sections along the whole track. This was in part due to the great weather that we had for this section, as well as the fantastic track quality. The main stand out for us was walking along big granite outcrops, and the accompanying 360 views of the west Australian bushland that were obtained by climbing peaks such as Mt Cooke. Without these high points, this section would not have been anywhere near as memorable as the rest of the walking was relatively mundane.
This section housed an abundance of grass trees overlapping the track. As such, we were particularly cautious about ticks in this section. Our third day into this section we met a school group of kids at Brookton hut, two of which had ticks on their faces from playing in the grass trees. As a precaution, from here onwards we used our trekking poles to push the grass trees out of the way. Additionally, when we sat down for a break we put on our permethrin-soaked wind pants to prevent ticks crawling up our legs.
In the end, we only saw one hiker in this section with a tick, which we froze using the Tick Tox we were carrying. The tick was killed instantly but did not fall off on its own as the product indicated. After waiting an hour, we removed the dead tick using tweezers, and were impressed that the person’s skin looked unaffected. Although it’s hardly proof, we suspect our precautionary measures to avoid ticks were effective.
This section of the track was the busiest along the entire trail, presumably due to its proximity to Perth. Aside from E2E walkers, we saw a couple of track volunteers, as well as day walkers and overnight hikers. Some of the more popular campsites (Helena and Mt Cooke) were completely full and sometimes we had to pitch our tent.
We enjoyed talking to people at campsites and learning about their experiences and reasons for getting out on the trail. Whilst we had not initially planned a detour to the Three Ways Roadhouse, a fellow hiker needed to pick up her food parcel and we decided to accompany her in pursuit of coffee. Conveniently, the roadhouse had long opening hours, making it quite simple to collect her food parcel the morning after staying at Gringer Creek campsite. Inside the roadhouse, there was a small table with two power ports for recharging, and toilets which were closed to the public at the time we visited. There was a range of snacks available to purchase in the store (chips, chocolate, lollies), however it would not be enough for a full resupply unless you were desperate. With hiking hunger kicking in, we each purchased a microwave pie, ice cream and a coffee (although unfortunately they didn’t have soy milk!).
In total, the walk from Kalamunda to Dwellingup took us 8.5 days. We wanted to ease into it as Maddie had knee surgery (a meniscal repair) three months prior. Fortunately, Tom was happy(ish) to carry most of the weight, especially on the hillier parts of the section. Easing into the walking paid off, and Maddie didn’t have any significant knee pain upon reaching Dwellingup. Other than a couple of toe blisters, we didn’t have any complications and we arrived in Dwellingup by midday.
At the caravan park we stayed in a ‘hikers room’, a small, cheap room reserved for Bibbulmun hikers and Munda Biddi cyclists. There are only five hikers rooms, and we were fortunate to get the last one. Inside the hikers’ room we had a bunk bed, a small table in the corner, and power ports to recharge. There was also access to the communal kitchen and bathroom. You could feel the springs in the mattress and reception was unreliable, but we felt it was good value and had character. We were fortunate to have some good company meeting a couple of Munda Biddi cyclists also staying at the park. Having done a few bikepacking trips ourselves, we enjoyed chatting to them about their cycling gear and experiences on the Munda Biddi.
After chatting with the cyclists and a quick shower, we headed into town to resupply at the general store and we were surprised at the range available catering to hikers and cyclists. We then went for a late lunch at the Blue Wren cafe. We had heard good things about the cafe from other hikers, but they were understaffed when we arrived, meaning we had to wait 45 minutes for our food. In spite of the long wait times, we went back for a coffee the following morning before starting the next section!