There wasn't a hell of a lot happening in Collie. The mining museum was closed, but the railway rolling stock shed was open, so I had a quick gander in there at the old time railway carriages. Reminded me of some of the old rattlers we used to take around NSW in the 70s and 80s.
There's also a small modern art gallery, and lots of local iron sculptures around town, so the place isn't quite as bogan as some think. The sunset over the town was quite pleasant, as was the sumptuous Indian meal I had on my second night.
There's quite a good little camping shop in Collie, where I bought myself a dinky blowup solar lantern, a blowup pillow, and a small hand reel so I can do a little fishing as I head further south. It's a little more weight to carry, but I'm generally carrying less food between towns from now on, and a good night's sleep really helps. Talking of which, I ordered a thermal sleeping bag liner from Mountain Designs in Perth to be posted to me at Balingup, because my current setup just isn't working for me. More on that later.
I ran into Harriet again, and we spent an evening looking at flower, orchid and bird books trying to identify the flora I'd seen so far. The little orchids near Murray campsite with the bunny ears are called rabbit orchids, and the one I thought was a donkey, was actually a pansy orchid.
Day 22 - Collie to Yabberup (19.6 km)
Leaving at 7:30 it took me no time till I was out of town and back in the bush. Even though it was early it wasn't cold, so I was a bit mindful of seeing more snakes, but luckily no more were sighted. It's funny, but the spur trail into town seemed to take a lot longer at the end of the day as it did first thing in the morning!
Once through the casuarina forest the road descended to the Harris River. Unfortunately there's no footbridge, so you have to trek to the road bridge to cross it.
Then the track follows under the electricity line for a few hundred metres before heading back into forest and to my lunch stop at Mungalup Dam. Waugals were a little far apart through this section, and some seemed to have been removed by vandals.
When I got to the turnoff to the Wellington Dam spur trail I realised it was 20 km each way. I had planned to do it, but without a day pack that was just too far to do as a return trip in one day.
Up the final steep hill I went to Yabberup campsite, which I shared with many very annoying March flies. Later, Harriet showed up so we chatted, cooked dinner, then toasted some marshmallows on the fire before heading to bed.
Day 23 - Yabberup to Noggerup (17.7 km)
I walked most of the day with Harriet. I started off first, but she soon caught up with me as I stopped often to take photos.
We stopped at Glen Mervyn Dam for a rest, as we were in no hurry and had a lunch date. I was keen to go swimming but, being Sunday there were loads of campers and motor boats so it was hardly a serene place for a skinny dip! Harriet put her legs up!
Then we crossed the dam wall, climbed up a little and then down to the Mumbalup Tavern where we had a delicious lunch and cold beverages before continuing on.
From Mumby Pub the track follows an old rail line before heading up a steep dirt road looking out onto idyllic rural property.
Then suddenly you enter the newly listed Preston National Park and you are back in forest fairyland.
Noggerup campsite is set in amongst the trees just over a little creek from the track. Very pretty.
Day 24 - Noggerup to Grimwade (21.9 km)
Harriet and I didn't walk together today, though we kept overtaking each other when one of us would take a rest. Most people walk the track at their own pace then compare notes at the end of the day. It's easier that way, especially if you are looking for orchids or doing lots of photography.
I'm finding that 17 to 18 km in a day is a fine amount of walking but once it gets over 20km it starts to become a grind, and getting to the hut to take off your boots becomes the primary focus. Unfortunately there are quite a few 20 plus kilometre days coming up!
As for my feet, the old blisters have healed up yet new blisters form in new spots. And I am about to lose a toenail.
The walking today was pleasant, as it was mostly overcast with occasional bursts of sunlight. At times the trail followed old railway lines which make for good walking.
Saw more pansy orchids, and lots of big trees in open forest.
Grimwade campsite gets the gong for smelliest toilet, and incidentally the largest collection of loo paper on the trail so far!!
Day 25 - Grimwade to Balingup (22.4 km)
Another long day, the final few kms being a real grind as you descend to Balingup Brook and walk through pine plantations and weeds along a muddy river. Besides that bit, the rest of the day was quite pretty.
I've arrived in Balingup a day early, so rather than change all my onward accommodation bookings, I'll stay 3 nights and have a look around. I'm staying at the Post Office Backpackers which is quite cosy and centrally located, and I'm in no rush after all.
But Harriet is heading on. Safe travels my friend...