26-Jan-2001 -- After leaving s34 e117,
I went back to Kojonup and continued down Albany Highway to the south
coast. Albany, dating back to 1826, is the oldest town in Western
Australia and was the site of Australia's last whaling station, which
only closed in 1978. My destination was just to the east of Albany,
past where the Kalgan River flows into Oyster Harbour and about 500
metres towards Ledge Beach off Gull Rock Road.
At one stage, knowing I would reach the confluence around late
afternoon, I had ideas about picking up fish and chips in Albany, and
setting up camp right on s35 e118 (which I imagined to be, from the
maps, in coastal dunes) and watching the sun set. However, on reaching
the closest point by car, I had the feeling it was going to be a bit
trickier than that. The scrub looked almost impenetrable - although
none of the larger trees were particularly high (no more than 15 metres
or so), the understory was very thick and head to waist high. The scrub
also tends to be prickly and spikey, and difficult to make your way
through - particularly if you don't want to destroy swathes of
This was definitely going to be a Blundies (boots) walk, and although
it was warm, I also put on my japara (oilskin jacket) as protection from
scratches. Feeling slightly paranoid, I also wrote the time, date, my
name and where I was headed on a piece of paper and left it inside the
car windscreen - after all, I was on my own in a relatively isolated
place and going out of sight of the road (and my car!).
This sort of bush is a good example of where a compass as well as a
GPS is essential. Because of the difficulty getting through the scrub,
I wasn't going fast enough for the GPS to indicate direction, so I kept
checking the bearing. After about 200 metres, I broke through onto a
disused 4WD track and madly shook my head to get rid of twigs, spider
webs and any hitch-hiking spiders in my hair! It was a relief to be
able to follow the track at more than crawling pace, and watch the
distance to the confluence decrease to about 150 metres. From then on,
it was back into the bush.
I really didn't think I'd be able to get much closer than the 100
metres required to count as a successful visit, but there were a number
of very small clearings which gave me a bit of breathing space.
Finally, the GPS showed that line of zeros, and it was time to turn
around. This bit was trickier - like an idiot, I hadn't thought about
entering the position of my car as a waypoint, so had to rely largely on
the compass. Getting back to the 4WD track wasn't too bad, but there
was a fork in it about a hundred metres along. I took the downhill fork
- rationalising that it had to come out onto the road at sometime, and
downhill lead to the beach. I made much better time on the track, and
ended up on the road only 350 metres downhill from my car.
It took just under an hour to travel about 1.2kms to the confluence
and back. Sadly, even in what seemed a difficult place to get to, the
small clearing at the confluence was littered with about half a dozen
I drove back to towards a camping spot on the Kalgan River to set up
the tent, have a couple of ciders, and get some sleep before heading off
west in the morning to see if I could make it three out of three.