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Bibbulmun Track|Walk the Talk

Today, Tomorrow, Together

We’ve Come a Long, Long way Together

I’m Lauren from the Office of Development, and Mike has asked me to write this final blog post.

It is almost exactly a year since Mike came to see me with the idea of walking the Bibbulmun Track as a fundraiser for the Junior Years’ Redevelopment. What struck me then, and has stayed with me throughout the last 12 months, is Mike’s incredible sense of being a part of something so much larger than himself, of being prepared to truly walk the talk of his commitment. It was a ‘shiver up the spine’ moment 12 months ago, and it culminated with the same on Friday.

Because on Friday Mike completed what ended up being a little over 1,000 kms of walking by arriving at the Northern Terminus of the Bibbulmun Track.

Along to celebrate with him were some members of the MLC Leadership Team, his wife Shirley and sister in law Margot. Mike endured with good humour our whingeing about the 10-20 kms we had to walk (nothing in comparison to what he has done) as we dawdled, took endless rest breaks and chattered ceaselessly.

With the end of the track just metres away Mike insisted that we wait until everyone had caught up, and then sent the rest of us through first, before crossing the boundary that marks the end of the track himself. It was a euphoric moment that captured the essence of Mike’s achievement: joy mixed with selflessness, patience and humility. It was a real honour to be there.

There are so many people to thank.

First and foremost Mike’s family who have barely seen him at any holiday breaks this year and who have supported him, walked with him and collected him from many out of the way places in the South West. We also remember Mike’s brother in law, who inspired him.

Thank you to the girls of the Junior Years whose curiosity and enthusiasm were the starting point of the idea, and who have embraced this opportunity to support Mr Brown, and raised in excess of $10,000 so far. Our parents, staff, Middle and Senior Years’ students and Collegians has been marvellous too. Thank you to those who have donated, bringing our total close to $60,000. Thank you to the many people who sent messages of support or encouraged Mike when they saw him out on the track.

Of course there is still time to donate if you would like to by following this link https://give.everydayhero.com/au/bibbulmun-track-walk-the-talk. We will all have a chance to celebrate Mike at the MLC Colour run in November, so please come along and take the opportunity to toss some coloured powder at him as he runs a lap of honour. You can book tickets here.

Finally, thank you Mike. You’ve done so much for us this year. Given us focus, inspired us with your dedication and perseverance, and even managed to hold on to your sense of humour. It’s been a true privilege to work (and walk a bit) with you on this project. I can’t wait for the next time you say “I’ve had an idea..”.

The light at the end of the road

200kms, Balingup to Dwellingup. Sore feet, bad back and strained muscles, but what an experience. Over the nine days I was joined by several friends to walk different sections of the track.  It was great to have company along the way and not having to be totally on my own.  The wild flowers were beautiful and it’s obviously the time to walk the track as there were many people completing, or attempting to complete an end to end walk.  Just out of Collie I met Andy, an Englishman, who has come to Perth just to walk the track.  He’s planning to do it in 60 days. Saturday was the toughest day as I had to walk 44kms, mostly because I got lost for a while.  At least I could listen to the Grand Final and that kept me occupied.  Home for two nights and then I complete the last 80kms. Hopefully I’ll be celebrating on Friday night.

Trekking Trials and Tribulations

After four gruelling days walking 110kms and climbing some significant hills I arrived in Dwellingup.  It had been a very solitary experience as for three days I’d only passed one other hiker and there had been no mobile phone connection.  I burst into the Dwellingup Visitor’s Center just so I could talk to somebody, to hear another human’s voice.  The highlights of this section of the hike were the first signs of Spring, the wildflowers and the vistas from Mr Cooke and Mt Wells.  The low point was hiking up Mt Wells with a 20kg backpack with a slope that felt like it was at 75 degrees.  Also, not being able to linger at the top of Mt Cooke as I could see a rain squall heading to the granite top and as we know, granite and water cause slippery conditions. I had to dash off the hill as quickly as I could and didn’t spend enough time taking in the stunning views.  It was certainly a hard four days of hiking, but totally rewarding.

Challenges and Determination

Four days, 105kms and steep hills to climb.  The guidebook describes part of this section of the walk as being one of the more challenging areas of the track.  Coupled with predicted storms on Saturday I’m thinking that staying at home in bed would be a more comfortable option.  But, I’ve set this challenge and I need to fulfill this dream.  Hopefully by Tuesday I’ll be that much closer to completing the track.  Unlike the last time, I’m taking warmer clothing with me even if the backpack is heavier.  There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep and you can’t stop yourself shaking from the cold.  I am looking forward to some spectacular views from the top of Mt Wells to the surrounding area.

Civilization

After a week without mobile connection I eventually hit ‘civilization’.

The journey commenced on a cold, wet Saturday in Pemberton. First day I had my two boys walking with me, but for the last 6 days it’s been very quiet – very few people on the track. I wonder why?

In summary, stunning scenery, magnificent forests but lots and lots of hills. Just walked up the apply named, ‘cardiac’ hill!!!!

Arrived at Donnelly River Village just in time as all my clothes were wet from the rain. Thank goodness they had a washing machine and dryer. Stayed the night in the bunk house and had the luxury of a bed and blanket – it was heaven. I thought it was apt that the bunkhouse was in the old school building!

Thursday night was so cold that at one stage I was wearing nearly every piece of clothing available and I was still shivering.

Presently at Blackwood campsite, walked past Southampton homestead just stunning views. One day left with a walk to Balingup. Going to end there and not continue to Collie, just too cold and wet.

Highlight was walking past the halfway point. Now completed close to 600kms – just 373kms to go!

 

The Hard Yards

Last night I started to prepare for the next section of my hike. It was with some trepidation that I did this as it was 0 degrees in Collie that night and rain is forecast for Saturday. The plan is to walk from Pemberton to Collie, a distance of around 220kms. I will be staying in the dorms at Donnelly River and then have a break in Ballingup. There are some very demanding sections of the track ahead as I climb in and out of valleys. It is certainly going to test my resolve and determination.

Day 3

I awoke early, planning to hit the track at 6.30am. What I forgot was that sunrise was not until 7.10am and it was pitch black. Not only that but a thick mist covered the forest. I could hardly see the track. It wasn’t until 7.20am that I could see more than 50m ahead and bounded along the leaf covered track. I intended to arrive at Pemberton by 12pm, but in order to achieve this goal I’d have to push on – 20kms to travel in just over 4 and half hours. The problem was that I’d forgotten to take into account the steep hills. I walked as if I was in a marathon and barely stopped for rest and water. Eventually I reached the last hill up to the Gloucester Tree to be greeted by my wife and William. They gave me the energy to make that last climb as I was exhausted. The site of the Gloucester Tree signaled another section of the hike completed; 400kms completed just 576kms to go!!!

Day 2

One day was enough for William. I don’t think he fancied sleeping in the huts for one night as the temperature was predicted to dip to 7C. The day before he’d seen the hut at Schafer and I don’t think he liked what he saw!! After a leisurely morning, I hit the track at 10am commencing at the Wheatley Coast Road but this time heading North. As I disappeared into the undergrowth I could hear our car driving away. Over the next two days I would have to walk 40kms, sleep out in the cold damp forest and put up with my own company. It was a glorious day, the scenery again spectacular and the walk, while tough, was stimulating. I’m glad I decided to walk from South to North as along the track I came across a group of 20 people who had the previous night all squeezed into Warren hut – the hut I was heading to for the night. I was fortunate as I ended up being the only one spending the night on Sunday evening. That evening I lit a fire, got as close as I could for warmth and spent the evening staring into the flames as they flickered in the moonlight. Peaceful!!

Day 1

William, my youngest son, joined me on day 1 on the 20km walk from Wheatley Coast Road back to Northcliffe. We commenced the walk in a slight drizzle but soon the mist and rain cleared and we strolled purposefully through the amazing woodlands surrounding Northcliffe. It was great to have William along as it was a good time for Father and son bonding. We talked and talked and talked. There was a lot of fun and laughter as we stomped through the undergrowth. We arrived tired and weary at Northcliffe at 3pm but with lots of stories to tell.

Ready to Walk Again

Wednesday night I packed my bag ready for stage 2 of my walk. This is a short trip from Northcliffe to Pemberton, a leisurely stroll of 60 kms through the beautiful forests around Pemberton. Hopefully my youngest son will join me.. The weather forecast is looking favourable, just a few showers predicted on Saturday morning, might be a touch cold in the evenings. I’m really looking forward to getting back onto the track, recharging the batteries and enjoying the outdoor experience.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far. I am delighted to tell you that the fundraising total has now passed the $30 000 mark, well on the way to my $100 000 goal.

See you after the weekend,
Mike

Friday 14 April until Monday 17 April – Where have I been?

To answer this question, I feel I’ve been in another world so alien to what I’m used to. At one stage I stopped and looked out across the landscape and could see no signs of any form of human activity. No roads, no buildings, no fields, no mobile connection, no other humans; just the vastness of our wilderness which included snakes, spiders, wild pigs, kangaroos, emus, mice and numerous other animals.

I commenced the walk from Walpole and eventually was picked up, 130kms later, sore and weary at Northcliffe on Monday afternoon. I walked through rich Karri forests, bush land and swamps. Fortunately most of the walking was flat and in my desire to finish the walk three days early I walked 42 kms in one day.

Highlights were nearly being run over by an emu, the stunning location of the huts at Dog Pool and Lake Maringup. It was so peaceful and quiet, with the sun shining through the Karri trees.

Low point was when I was going down a slippery steep descent and because of the weight of the packing falling forward. Thanks to the poles Rev lent me I was just able to stop myself hurtling down the hill!

So, 337 kms completed. Feeling a real sense of achievement. My wife says I’ve lost 10 kgs and look the fittest I have in ages. All my clothes are falling off me. Maybe 16 days hiking on the track has its benefits.

Mike

200km down, 773 to go

200 Kms completed. I’ve made it to the Walpole Motel after a long and gruelling 32 Kms walk through the Tingle Forrest. It was one of those spur of the moment decisions. I’d arrived at the Franklyn Hut at 12:15, stopped, and thought, I could make it to Walpole tonight. What I didn’t see coming was the 3 Kms walk uphill – it just kept going and going and going!!! Eventually arrived at the top with nothing left in my legs, but had to keep going. The track certainly teaches you many lessons.

What was beautiful today was the walk amongst the Tingle Trees. So stunning, so mysterious and so awe inspiring. So different to the coastal section.

Arrived at the motel and enjoy a hot shower – joyous.

Mike

Giants

Amazing couple of days.  Sitting outside the Treetop Walk after sleeping at the Giants Campsite.  Yesterday woke to a stunning sunrise over Peaceful Bay, the photograph just doesn’t do it justice.

The hike up a steep hill to Giants Hut was excruciating.  Took all my energy and then had a close adventure with a snake.  Another fun day on the Bibbulmun Track.

Peaceful Bay

Peaceful Bay is certainly peaceful!!! It was great to eat fish and chips from the local store. This was a fitting reward after a couple of hard days walk: 20 kms on Friday followed by 23 Kms on Saturday. The problem was that much of the walking was over steep sand dunes that went up, then down again. Also about 10 kms along beaches.

The highlights over the two days have been the spectacular scenery and the kayak crossing of the inlet, plus the fish and chips. Only got lost a couple of times, but soon got back on track.

This afternoon, Sunday, I’ve a short walk to the next hut followed by the walk to the Giants Campsite. I’ll be walking among the Tingle Trees and the Tree Top Walk. Really looking forward to this section of the walk.

The body is holding up but the muscles are sore; would enjoy a massage!

140 kms completed, nearly half way for this section of the track.

Mike

Drizzle and Dunes

Left Denmark with a slight drizzle. Was anticipating heavy rain but God was with us and it remained dry until we arrived at William Bay hut. Just got lost once and had to take a slight detour. A close friend has joined me for three days and it’s great walking with another person. Again spectacular scenery, so special. All is well but heading off to do a difficult section along the beach.

Mike

The Simple Things

Rest day today at a bed and breakfast on the outskirts of Denmark. Four joys for the day:

1. Comfy warm bed
2. Great cooked breakfast
3. Clean laundry
4. Denmark bakery

Sometimes the simple things can give so much pleasure. Just restocking ready for the second leg walking to Walpole.

I’ve made it to Denmark

Well, I’ve made it to Denmark. What an experience – talk about testing your mind body and soul. Really pushed myself these last two days. On Monday I walked from the Torbay campsite to West Cape Howe. Had to say goodbye to the friendly bandicoot that was hanging around the hut. Along the track stunning views; the pictures don’t do it justice. Came across 6 kangaroos, 3 bob tailed lizards, 1 dead snake and one alive that I nearly trod on. Arrived at the hut tired and weary, as there were steep climbs that certainly made my muscles burn.

Today, walked 25kms and made my way to Denmark. First stop was the Denmark bakery as I run out of food and I was starving. Had to leave the hut at 6:40 as I’d arranged for somebody to pick me up from the Eden Road gate at 2pm and I misjudged how far I had to go- made it with 7 minutes to spare. Jumped out of my skin at one point when these large snake, nearly a meter long, crossed directly on front of me. Now enjoying a days break and the a friend joins me for the walk to Peaceful Bay. 85 km’s completed, nearly a tenth of the track – feels good. Lost about 3 kilos in weight, sore feet and muscles, but all fine.

Mike

Just a bit hungry

Pushed the body to the limits – 25kms, 8 of which were along the beach. Arrived in the hut and collapsed! All good though- seen some spectacular scenery, just stunning, the pictures don’t do it justice. Just about to start the morning ritual of packing the bag after eating porridge for breakfast. Didn’t bring enough food, but tomorrow I can hit the Denmark bakery.

Mike

Day 1 – Fueling up

All safe.  Wonderful hike walking from Albany to Sandpatch.  Climbed the hill and looked back to the Harbour and could imagine the ships getting ready to head off to Gallipoli and the Mid East.  Met a couple of fellow hikers who, like me, are foolishly walking the whole track.  Spectacular views particularly as I came around the corner to see the Southern Ocean and the Albany windmills.  Looking at a long hike on Sunday which will test my muscles.

Mike

One more sleep to go

Wish me luck as I start the first of my 1,300,000 steps tomorrow. I’ll be posting from along the track and letting you know my progress. Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me so far. Between the donations to Everyday Hero, those that gave at Sunset on the Green and the wonderful donations that have come from the girls and parents in cash we’ve raised over $8 000 already.

To make a donation you can go to https://give.everydayhero.com/au/bibbulmun-track-walk-the-talk
Mike.

973ms, 973 000 meters or about 1 300 000 steps.

Why am I doing this? Why am I contemplating walking this distance? Why would I take myself away from the comfort of my home and family to spend weeks tracking through the bush of WA? Why am I going to be wet, cold and sometimes miserable?

The answer is easy: I love our College and I love my job.

When I heard that our theme this year was Today, Tomorrow, Together, this really resonated with me and I thought what will my legacy be? How can I do something that can collectively pull our community together so that we will be remembered for our contribution to our College’s facilities. When I sit in Hadley Hall I think that it was because of the philanthropic efforts of others that we’ve this great building.

The Junior Years’ Redevelopment is a building that has been designed to meet the needs of the twenty first century learner. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, not only for our present girls and boys, but for future generations.

Besides wanting to help support the College with the fundraising for the new Junior Years’ building I also want to model to the girls that you’re never too old to go on an adventure. How can I expect the girls to be lifelong learners if I’m not prepared to step forward and have a go? I might not be successful in completing all 973kms, but I know that I’ll give it my best shot. It’s all about having a go and not worrying about failure.

I hope you’ll support my endeavors and help us raise this money. Together we can achieve this, and all our future plans and goals.

Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Mike

We’ll be with you every step of the way Mr Brown. I’m looking forward to joining you on the track at different points.

Ms. Cody

With you (in spirit) every step of the way Mike.

Peter O’Sullivan

Fantastic effort Mr Brown !!!

Grace Ivory

Mike you are a true inspiration. All our daughters have walked the Junior Years’ halls and I am thrilled to support this for further generations.

The Suann FamilyAnnette, Brett, Brittany, Tara, Alicia

Have a great walk and take some good blister packs. You are an inspiration to others.

Kate Padman

Go Mr Brown! We will be following your progress!

Ella Holmes

Every journey starts with a single step. Thank you for taking this journey for MLC

Lauren Major
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