Northcliffe – Walpole
Northcliffe → Garner → Lake Maringup → Mt Chance → Long Point → Walpole
Leaving Northcliffe marked a welcome change in track scenery as we ventured out of the forest and into the infamous Pingerup plains. From chatting with fellow hikers, we’d heard mixed reviews about what was to come. This section of track had been quite badly damaged during the winter storms, with the 17km section in and out of Lake Maringup only being officially reopened a day prior to us arriving in Northcliffe.
On our way to Gardner Hut, we witnessed why the track was politely described as experiencing ‘seasonal inundation’. We encountered three 20-30m long puddles that were impossible to walk around. Seemed like we would be getting wet feet! These puddles continued on and off for 90km until reaching the coast near Walpole.
For the first few puddles, we took our shoes off and walked across bare foot. However, it became clear that the puddles weren’t going away and that it would be much faster to keep our shoes on. It was here we finally saw our first snake. Although we were quite pleased it wasn’t a tiger snake swimming in the puddles as others had warned!
The flooding was at its worst leaving Lake Maringup. We found ourselves wading through waist-deep water whilst ducking under countless fallen logs. At 6am this was quite cold and could have been more enjoyable. We didn’t think that the track in and out of Lake Maringup lived up to the standard of the rest of the Bibb.
After Lake Maringup we had two shelters to ourselves. Given we had shared every Bibb shelter thus far, it was nice to have a bit of quiet. We particularly enjoyed staying at Mt Chance shelter and would recommend climbing to the top of Mt Chance to get a fantastic 360 view of the plains. That afternoon we saw our first mouse, affectionately known as ‘ninja mouse’ in the log book. Whilst we had been warned about mice since the beginning of the walk, we had not seen one up until now. We took extra care to hang our packs out of reach that night!
We breathed heavy sighs of relief when we first glimpsed the ocean and left the Pingerup plains, beginning our trek across the sand dunes. The detour from Long Point shelter along the lookout track was well worth the trip, especially first thing in the morning.
The walk to Northcliffe took a day longer than anticipated due to an injury Maddie was developing. Not only were blisters still causing her issues and her knee continuing to flare up, but she also began to experience the onset of a foot injury. We thought this was due to the compression of the foam on one side of her shoes from compensating for the blisters. We should have replaced our trail running shoes by this point, especially considering we had already walked the Cape to Cape (125km) in them before starting the Bibbulmun.
Arriving in Walpole, we thoroughly enjoyed our first day of full sunshine since Collie. We secured accommodation at the Tingle all Over Hostel, which housed a big outdoor area to relax, and provided a wide array of free shampoos and soaps in the bathrooms. We bought a delicious lunch at the Philippine Magic Cafe, before a good resupply at the IGA.