Published on: 6 December 2013

Heat, rain, wind, snakes, sharks and flies, the Year 10 Venturers returned last week with an enormous sense of achievement after completing the 11-day expedition through the bushland and coastal setting of Walpole-Nornalup National Park. Head of Humanities David Proudlove chronicled some of his group’s challenges, magic moments and brushes with Mother Nature.

Day 2 – Bibbulmun Track
… A long hot day of 28km was an early and severe test for many, despite the beauty of the surroundings. Highlight was a 2m brown snake silently slithering along the track beside us for 20m, completely unperturbed by the visitors!

Day 3 – Valley of the flies!
… despite the rain the Valley of the Flies lived up to its reputation. Hiking east towards Broke Inlet, sandy tracks but high spirits, all accompanied by the bazillion bush flies of the Walpole Fly Squadron. Boys competed to see who might guess the weight if flies were added to their packs (the locals preferred to ride than fly for some reason!). Wikipedia will decide the winner on our return! Best guess so far may be 0.05g per fly so around 20kg of extra weight!?

Day 6 – Singing in the rain
Wet again and this was the day the group broke into song! None of your trendy Jay Z or Eminem but rather an impressive (or embarrassing) encyclopaedic knowledge of Katy Perry and One Direction hits! To the sound of Teenage Dream we stride on through wet sandy tracks towards our camp at Banksia West among peppermint trees above a bay of golden sands. Spot of the day was a 1.5m reef shark cruising just offshore as a small group of boys thought better of a swim!

Day 7 – Mandalay Beach
Mandalay Beach, always a highlight and already warm at 9.00am. Long walk to Little Long Point for camp but joyous atmosphere as we encountered a long drop toilet – the first ‘normal’ facility for four days! A brief encounter with another CCGS group and we were back in our own little world … Made it to squatter settlement. Lovely weather for 15km hike along Bibbulmun Track to Little Long Point, a jewel in the Venture camp site crown.

Day 8 – Mount Clare
Mount Clare for the night among the tingles and karris. Lovely to be away from the sand and most of the flies. Evening journaling on a granite outcrop, looking out to another beautiful sunset and a distant glimpse of the grey-blue Broke Inlet far to the west, where we had paddled three days before. Evening meal of chorizo gnocchi widely agreed to be BOV – best on Venture! Early to bed as 4.30am wake up for kayaking on Deep River. Amazingly everyone was up by 4.45am, not even a grumble… but a noticeable lack of singing!

Day 9 – Deep River defeat!
Oh no! Very strong easterly winds made the canoe session a brief slog along the Deep River with river actually flowing upstream, along with the occasional errant paddler. Eventually we admitted defeat and loaded onto a familiar bus, the school coaster, driven by a familiar, though more whiskery-faced Neil Saggers! A sort of early Christmas present, appropriate as Neil is only a week or so from having the perfect Santa look. A short bus ride once canoes collected, then a 7km hike to our Frankland River Bibbulmun track hut campsite.

Day 10
Wandering down through sheoaks, marri and jarrah, our back-marker is the last man out of the forest. Warm and fuzzy – impossible not to feel elated at what has been achieved by all. Dreams of the impending supper of hot dogs and watermelon are almost tangible, and much discussed! Eight sausages is reputedly the Venture record, something that brings a gasp of awe and respect from even the hungriest hiker.
BTDT – ‘Been there, done that!’