We walked right into the village and stayed at the free shelter they provide for Bibbulmun Track walkers. What a great place Donnelly River Village (DRV) is! It's the remains of a logging town that was closed in the late 70s when the decision was made to stop logging the mighty Karri trees that dominate the area. It nearly rotted back into the bush but was saved when a group got together a few years back and bought the remaining cottages, general store, school buildings and social club buildings. They are now run as a co-op and some are available for rent but are mostly holiday homes in the bush. It's very peaceful and quiet except for one thing... the tame animals!!
The village has a troop of kangaroos that have been hand reared and are fully tame! It's great and we had a lot of fun feeding and petting them. The store sells Roo feed and you only need to shake the bag, no matter where you are in the village and they will come hopping over. Things can get a little heated when a larger male wants to have you to himself but they seem to know what 'NO' means...
The other animals around were Emu. Although they will eat from your hand as well, they were not as tame and wouldn't let you pet them. They made such a mess with violent pecks at the food that would spread it everywhere and they did have a bit of a funky smell so we did tend to favor the Roos a bit. We were also lucky that night to have a visit from the Aussie favorite the bushy tail possum! Yes, that's the same one we see squashed on county roads in New Zealand but over here if you have one of these little fellas in your roof space, your house is a home!
We had a short days hike into the village so had plenty of time to relax with the animals and although we stayed in the free accommodation, we paid for the showers and kitchen facilities attached to the backpackers that was once the school. The 'general store' is really just a cafe that sells a few other basic supplies so we were right back to zero with our resupply situation again. We had enough dehydrated dinners and tuna and crackers for lunch to get through to Pemberton, so just breakfast and snacks (sugar free of course..) to get. As I have mentioned before, we have a 1st choice and of course a 2nd and even 3rd and 4th. This time we had to settle on 4th choice and something we have never done in all our years of hiking... we are having eggs for breakfast, meaning I will have to carry fresh eggs in my pack. On a typical New Zealand tramping trip, we may have to pass packs up or down a ledge of ladder, over or under any number of obstacles and we may fall over several times a day so eggs were not really an option. On this trail, it's mainly just walking rather than clambering so... we gave it a go! We had 1 soft boiled egg each with a chunk of cheese in a soft tortilla. I have to say it was pretty good. No breakage and it got us along the trail okay for the morning. The tortillas were even provided by other hikers free! They are smart hikers and had arranged for food packages to be sent to them at each town. All good until you get a bit sick of what you are sending...
So off on the next section of trail. The next 5 days are the first of the big ones, in more ways than one. On this section we have 4 days in a row that are more than 20k's and we will walk through some forest with monster trees. The day out of DRV wasn't too bad at 16kms so what better to do before we head off than feed a few more Roos 😀. After breakfast we went to the store and I ordered a flat white as a last little luxury. After I finished my latte, we headed off. The coffee wasn't bad, just not a flat white. And yes, they had it on the menu. I then decided to add a tab to ourepictrip.com and rate coffee and hot chocolates from around the world. With all the kiwis in Aussie you would think you could get a decent flat white eh?
We arrived at the first shelter out of DRV not too long before the rain. On this section of trail we have new hiking buddies, K1 and K2. Due to the shelters being the only place you can get water along the trail, anyone heading in the same direction will be staying with you (or near you) most nights. K2 is recovering from an injury and because the second day was 25kms and they had only walked 16, they decided to load up with enough water for the night and next day and walk for another 6-8kms and stay in their tent, making the next day more manageable. Wow, it poured and poured that night and we were pretty happy to be in the shelter. K1 &K2 are retired farmers that have planned this trip for a while. We think they enjoyed the bit where you get to go shopping for gear as they sure had a lot of it. The tent proved to be a good purchase for them and kept them dry that night!
We thought we were going to be hiking this section alone or as we call it, in 'our bubble'. That's when we have hikers a day behind and a day in front but as we are all heading in the same direction, we never meet up! K1 and K2 have been ahead of us the entire time but had an extra day off at DRV so pop goes our bubble for now. It's good to meet them though, as we sort of know them already. At each shelter there are 2 books, green and red. The green book is for your name, age, finish date and duration along with any small comment. The red book is just for comment. How was your day, did you see something interesting? A shout out to your friends behind you! This book is popular with end to end hikers and we had read a lot of entries from K1 right from the start. Sometimes he did put in a few more words than I was bothered to read though... We are now following Mick and Erin who we walked with for some time and our friend Magpie is now behind us reading our stories. Even though you only see them for a few hours a day, the trail brings people together in unexpected ways.
The trail between DRV and Pemberton is quite beautiful. It's'Karri Country'. Karri are Australia's big trees found only in the south west of WA. They can grow to be more that 60 meters high and the first branches can be higher than 40 meters up the trunk. Most met the same fate as other giant trees around the world but small pockets remain which is great. In some areas the loggers left 'seed trees' after almost clear felling in the area. Some of these trees are still living now and really are a sight to behold. In small pockets around streams trees were saved to ensure water supply quality and what an amazing sight they are. It's like going back in time and evokes primal feelings. They are huge! It's great we have some more of these trees to come, some are classed as amongst the largest living things on the planet today. Sadly these trees make our remaining mighty Kauri look small and lonely.
The walking has been good, sort of too good if that's possible! The trails are mostly on old logging roads and rail formations, flat and smooth! Some could even be described as wheelchair friendly. At one point not too far from Pemberton, we passed by a luxury lodge. They have constructed a trail (wheelchair friendly) around a pretty lake and past a rare flowing waterfall. The lodge visitors are strolling around and near an information panel we noticed a kookaburra sitting in a hand rail. I stalked it getting closer and closer, all the while taking photos until I was right next to it. WHAT, 'a stuffed bird for the tourists', was the comment from a passing European chap. We agreed and all went right up and stood at the rail then suddenly the very real bird flew away and 'boom' it grabs a skink in the undergrowth it had been waiting for all along... It had fooled us all and it was doing some stalking too.
We are now in Pemberton after walking for 31 of the last 35 days. We have traveled 591kms with only 420kms of this trip remaining! We are in 'good condition for our milage' and are all set for the next sections after a zero day (today😀) We will have some statistics for you in the next post along with exactly what we have chosen to carry such a long way.
it's Our Epic Trip...
David & Christine are from New Zealand and are embarking on a trip around the world the slow way, on foot and by personal vehicle. This could get interesting!