Day 15: Finally a Rainy Day

Saturday October 29, 38.4km/23.9mi

Blackwood Campsite (418.2/269m) to Donnelly River Village (456.6/252m) (WA)

I was the first one awake in the shelter, so I packed up quietly and was on the trail at 5:45am. The very first thing I saw was a kangaroo!

The trail meandered along the ridge before dropping down into the valley.

That was coming downhill on switchbacks, and I came around the corner to see this giant animal staring me in the face. It quickly ran off and made a loud squawk. I think it was an emu?!?

At the bottom of the descent, the trail traverses through some private farmland.

10 minutes later I exited the farm and was walking along a dirt road when I saw this cooler. Trail magic!! But upon closer investigation, it was empty.

I walked upstream along the Blackwood River for half an hour, it felt like a nature preserve with how talkative the morning birds were.

It was a very cool 10C morning, so the long climb out of the valley felt good, and I was able to warm up. After climbing up 150m, the final bit of climbing was slippery, on a damp clay surface. Yikes.

I saw another lake, but this time I was not disappointed about being unable to swim, as it was quite cold. Millstream Dam Lake is used for municipal drinking water.

The forecasted rain didn’t really materialize all morning, just a little sprinkle for 10 minutes and then stopped again. But the forest still felt very gloomy.

One short section was overgrown, and I was very happy that it wasn’t raining. Overgrown sections become carwashes when the plants get wet.

I stopped at the Gregory Brook shelter at 9:30 and had a meal. It was nice to get off my feet and rearrange my remaining snacks for the rest of the day.

I left the shelter at 10am and hiked for the rest of the day, motivated to get to Donnelly River Village by 4pm (when the general store restaurant closes). Just after I left the shelter, it started to rain and continued for the rest of the day. I was now in a forest full of giant Karri trees, so I had plenty of nice distractions.

I put my umbrella next to a tree for size reference. The umbrella is 1 meter diameter.

I trudged along in the rain for 3 hours on mostly nice trail. There was one short 1.5km section where it was completely overgrown, and I used my umbrella as a shield to keep most of the wet plants out of my way. That strategy kinda worked, I was still a little wet, but was able to dry quickly as my body heat evaporated the moisture. At noon I came across another small shelter, which I didn’t expect to see, but it was for an equestrian trail that intersects the Bibbulmun track. I finished my burrito, about to leave, and I saw two bikers coming up. Dave and Wayne were riding the Munda Biddi trail, which parallels the Bibbulmun track. We chatted for a bit, and I took off for DRV. The trail followed old roads, some of which still had road names.

Snake road! Sounds like it leads to Slytherin. The huge Karri trees were cool.

I made it to Donnelly River Village!

The General store has a small cafe/restaurant, tiny grocery section, and souvenirs.

After a chilly damp day, the first thing I ordered was a big hot cocoa with marshmallows.

And then a giant kangaroo burger with beetroot and streaky bacon.

I finished my meal and then asked about accommodations. I could camp for free in one of the usual 3-sided shelters, or pay $25 to sleep in a bunkroom in an old schoolhouse. I chose the schoolhouse.

The 3-sided shelters didn’t look as inviting when all of these animals were roaming around.

Like these emus:

And kangaroos, one had a Joey in her pouch! Cute.

All the animals in this village (which is really just a holiday park) are domesticated, and you can even buy pellets at the store to feed them. I loved this extra close-up shot of a kangaroo.

Dave and Wayne (the bikers) showed up to the general store a few minutes after I did and booked bunks in the bunkroom too. We had a fun evening of discussing every topic you could think of, while sitting in the nice warm kitchen that is provided for campers.

It rained pretty hard all evening, hopefully it stops overnight!

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