Day 11 of my 16-day/335km section hike from Northcliffe to Albany on the Bibbulmun Track.
Terrain: Hills, beaches and water!
I’d been warned of a challenging day’s hike to Boat Harbour, so I got an early start out of Peaceful Bay. After setting off shortly after dawn, I missed the waugyl marker out of town and ended up wandering up and down a residential street before two friendly locals came out of their houses to steer me right. One lady even asked me if I needed some breakfast, but I’d already filled up on porridge. I can’t imagine getting that offer if I was wandering around the city!
The track out of town took me through some spider-infested forest before turning back towards the coast, and the Irwin Inlet.
After about an hour and a half, I reached one of the highlights of the Bibbulmun Track: the inlet canoe crossing.
The Bibbulmun Track Foundation has set up a canoe shed on either side of the inlet so hikers can cross. There are six canoes in total, so you need to tow one or two back if too many of them end up on one side.
There were three in the shed when I arrived, so I took just one and cast off. Having made good time, I took a while to paddle up and down the inlet before landing on the other shore.
After a break on the eastern shore, I headed up the hill behind the boathouse and into the Showgrounds – an area of preserved wilderness that is unlike anything else in the region.
The landscape here is sandy and undulating, and covered in low scrub. Kangaroos are everywhere, as (I’m told) are wildflowers in spring. Even without the flowers, the wide-open landscape was spectacular in a wild west kind of way.
The scenery rolled on for a couple of hours, before the track rejoined the coast at Big Quarrum Beach. Here the sand was mercifully firm, and I made good time along the beach before stopping for lunch on a rocky headland.
I continued along sandy 4WD tracks and rocky paths along the coast, and couldn’t help but appreciate the raw power of the Southern Ocean where it pounded the shore.
After a few more ups and downs on soft sand dunes, I reached the top of a stretch of soaring cliffs that look down onto some beautiful but completely inaccessible bays.
I made it to Boat Harbour shelter in the mid afternoon, and headed down to the harbour for which it’s named for a refreshing swim.
When I got back, the early signs of a spectacular sunset enticed me to head back up to the cliffs to witness it.
To say it was worth the effort would be an understatement.