I thought the week was shaping up nicely, the weather was looking good, and I had a perfect number of people down to come on my club walk – 10, enough to justify three cars, but not too many to make a car shuffle difficult. The intended destination was Bastion Bluff, which I’d become increasingly excited about the more research I’d done (like all my walks, it was initially chosen because it was a black pin on my map, which indicated I hadn’t been there yet). But it was looking like a lovely track, with added attractions of a hut, and a cascade or two to check out, not to mention the bluff itself.
But it wasn’t to be. People got sick, other commitments came up, and on Thursday evening the weather changed significantly. If we still went, we’d be getting rather wet. I wasn’t feeling great, and couldn’t get my head around choosing a plan b destination, but Ben came to the rescue with a few options. They provided a great starting point, and so after work on Saturday I had a list of 6 options, which were put to the vote. Each person got two votes, worth 2 and 1 points respectively, and in that manner, at 6pm on Saturday, 12 hours before we were due to meet, Twelvetrees Range and Mount Cullen were narrowly selected over Adamsons and the Calf.
Interestingly, it was the one option that all who attended had voted for, though all but me had voted for it as a second preference. I was most keen for it as I hadn’t been to Twelvetrees (a new addition to the peak baggers list) or Celtic Hill (also on the agenda if we had time and people felt like it) and it was in a part of the state I loved. I had been to Cullen, but didn’t mind a repeat, as it’s a short, open, off track climb with more stunning views.
So the now 6 of us met at Granton, took time to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, then headed off. Just as we turned out of the car park the first few spots of rain fell, and a comment was made. Fortunately for my sake, the weather saved me from any further teasing, as the rain stopped and we even had a bit of colour in the sky as the sun rose.
We spent the drive catching up, and bagging out the need to change to the peak baggers list. I personally find it easier to understand the addition of new mountains (and was rather glad of it in this case by the end of the day), than to understand the removal of some peaks from the list, or decreasing the number of points allocated to them, but in general am quite settled on working from the list I started on, resorting only to the new one for ideas at times like this.
By 8.30 we were at the start of the road walk up the Twelvetrees range, geared up, and set off at a decent pace. Part way up I realised I’d left my camera behind, and the views were actually quite stunning, especially of the Frankland range, so I decided a run back was called for. Running down was really very easy.. not so when it came to running back up!
I began to think I wasn’t going to catch the others before they got to the end of the road, but figured they might wait if that was the case. As it was, I caught them as they arrived. We donned rain jackets (a spot or two of rain threatened), then followed a pad the short distance across button grass to the summit.
It’s actually quite a nice little spot. It’s flat, which isn’t usually something I’d consider nice, but it is very attractive with button grass yellows, greens and browns, broken by serrated ridges of white grey quartzite teeth protruding skywards, and surrounded by dozens of mountain ranges, all in different shades of blue.
We balanced on the highest of the quartzite teeth, took photos in an attempt to record what we saw, and chatted about all the ranges we could see. Of particular interest were the Prince of Wales range (Diamond Peak and Humboldt), Frenchmans, the Frankland range, the Western Arthurs and the Thumbs.
The weather was a little iffy, it didn’t seem to know if it wanted to rain or not, so a quick gear adjustment, snack and we were wandering back down. We didn’t get far before the rocks and button grass called for a few more photos, and a little later Ben’s exclamation had some of us admiring the light on Humboldt, while others were taken by the cotton wool cap Wedge was temporarily sporting.
But we did eventually get moving. The good thing about a road walk, especially downhill, is that it allows you to walk abreast and chat with more people than just those in front or behind you. And so we did just that. I chatted with old friends about people, walking and walks… and a little later dropped back a bit and got to know some more about Glen and Michael, who fitted in perfectly. They were laughing and joking as much as the rest of us right from the word go, which is always a good sign 🙂 (you do have to be slightly nutty to get on with some of us!).
Back at the cars, I decided I was glad of Twelvetrees Range’s addition to the peak baggers list, as even if it isn’t a big climb, it is a grand spot to view the southwest from, and really quite easy to get to (if you don’t mind a bit of a drive!). We made a slight detour to Ted’s Beach for water, before heading off to Cullen.
Cullen is an interesting mountain, as its true highpoint is not the summit marked on maps, but is the northwestern point. I’d been before on a Pandani trip, and we’d done Druid’s hill on the same day, but the walking and views are so nice it was worth a repeat trip, especially with people who hadn’t been.
It’s off track walking through low alpine scrub, and only just long enough to make you feel like you’ve deserved a long break on top needed to soak in the 360 degree views! We wandered up in no real hurry, stopping for plenty of photos, the odd sit down, or refuel. The weather had improved remarkably, and with a slight breeze if felt like a summer’s day! Occasionally we’d detour from the very decent wombat pad we were following to climb on rock, or take a slightly more interesting/fun approach.
The only bit that’s slightly annoying is the last 20-30m through slightly thicker scrub. I’d told Graham and Ben, who were leading, to look out for little bits of old pink tape, which I’d remembered being difficult to spot. But Graham’s keen eyes had a piece picked out from quite a distance away, which made getting to the summit a lot easier.
He got to the summit first, and immediately climbed onto the concrete pylon thingy that serves as a survey marker. Ben joined him, and the two perched precariously on top. That, of course, raised the question (challenge) of how many people we could fit on top at any one time! Ben had jumped down by now, so up I went, and with a leg up from Monika, and a hand from each of Graham and myself, Ben climbed back up. The three of us wobbled for a bit, long enough for Glen to take a few apparently unphotogenic photos, before Ben got back down the way he’d got up, I took a jump, and so too did Graham. Glen joked that he now understood the reason for needing to sign the visitor’s waiver prior to commencing the walk ;)!
Having made the summit, we settled into a lazy mix of photo taking, lunching, and relaxing in the sun. It wasn’t hard to take. There was no need to rush, but the time came that it was clear we were ready to start heading back down, and so we bid Cullen farewell.
The easy work of simply retracing steps meant it wasn’t long before banksia wars began. The war quickly turned into a game of catch (some of the ‘pods’ were quite large and might have hurt a bit had they hit their target). At one point Graham yelled out to Ben and threw one, but it went wide. Ben responded in turn, also throwing wide. A moment later, Graham did the same, and threw something to Ben.
Finally a perfect aim, and Ben reached out a hand and caught it.. only to drop it immediately upon realising Graham had tricked him, and thrown a wombat scat instead of a Banksia pod! That had us laughing, and we did readily concede that Graham had won that fair and square, though later at the the cars Ben couldn’t resist the cheeky remark along the lines of, “Graham throws well when he’s throwing shit!”.
That did put a bit of a dampener on the banksia throwing, but it was quickly replaced with a spot of button grass bouncing. Having come into existence on a walk to the Beehive, Ben was the real expert, and despite the paucity of decent sized button grass clumps that would allow for a good run, he soon had Monika, Glen and Michael all having a go, which made me grin widely!
Michael and Glen led the way down, and back at the cars we sat, then lay, on the road, soaking up the sun’s warmth. We ate some more, talked and joked, relaxed and even played a bit of frisbee with the lid off Graham’s lunch box.
We stayed lying on the road as one car drove by.. and though in hindsight we could have for the second some time later, we didn’t, given it was on the side we were lying on.. Graham then had to tempt fate by lying in the middle of the road, but moved pretty fast at the sound of another car coming!
We figured that was our cue to get moving (or we’d never leave), but instead of heading for Celtic Hill (the third possible mountain I’d planned if we had time), we decided to head to the Creepy Crawly Nature Trail (which I don’t think I’ll ever live down). Keeping in line with the mood of the day, the joking just intensified as we geared up and set off on the walk. To give you a hint, on our return Graham posted a photo he’d taken of the lot of us at the start, with the following caption:
“A memorable and unexpected walk in the southwest made a virtue out of necessity. A foul weather forecast for Bastion Bluff prompted Plan B orchestrated by our fearless and resourceful leader and the Creepy Crawly Walk it was. We were a little apprehensive but armed with maps, GPS and Becca’s formidable navigational skills we felt reassured and although parts of the boardwalk were a little slippy, and the horizontal brutal in places, it was a great trip. We even had a 5 minute off-track foray into dense myrtle forest but still managed to make it back to the cars before dark and without recourse to head torches. Thanks to Becca for her calm, unflappable leadership and to the group for smiling through adversity; another great success for Pandani and the South West; we’ll be back!”
And so you see why I don’t think my reputation will ever be quite the same again!
On the drive home we were surprised to see a sea eagle near Maydena, but apparently sometimes they come inland!
All up: Twelvetrees: 7.2km (including my retrace to collect camera), 2 hrs, 413m ascent.
Cullen: 4.1km, 3 hrs (including a very decent lunch break), 424m ascent.