You always remember your first long-distance walk with great fondness, and I'm no exception. My first proper trek was this seven-day hike through the outback of Western Australia in the company of Scott, a park ranger and a perfect companion for my first walk. I had a fantastic time; it's probably fair to blame Scott for getting me into long-distance walking in the first place.
I bumped into Scott in Nambung, a small park just north of Perth, and he suggested we meet up in the Millstream-Chichester area in northern Western Australia for a trek through the outback. I readily agreed and a few weeks later we set off into the Chichester Ranges in the north of the remote Millstream-Chichester National Park.
We didn't follow any established routes; there aren't any in this part of the world. Instead we took a photocopy of the park map and decided on a circular route along river beds and over the top of the rolling Chichester Ranges, a route that took us miles away from the nearest civilisation and (for the most part) out of radio contact. We slept on the ground, which was a sensible move as it cut down the weight of our packs; the Pilbara is an incredibly dry part of the world, so bush camping is normally fine. Of course it rained for the first two days and soaked us to the skin, but at least this had the pleasant side-effect of making the rivers flow.
As a first long-distance walk, it doesn't get much more thrilling than this. What an introduction!
The bushwalk Scott and I made through the Pilbara wasn't an established route; we literally headed out into the Chichester Ranges and followed our maps, compasses and noses. Scott, being a park ranger, made sure we had things like radios and people who would come looking for us if we didn't come back, which is essential if you're heading out into the outback.
The route we chose went vaguely like this: imagine a square map, with north at the top, and three parallel rivers, each running from south to north (that's up and down the map); from west to east (that's left to right on the map) they're called Narrina Creek, George River and Pillinginni Creek. We started at the north end of Narrina Creek, headed south upstream, cut east from the south end of the creek to the south end of George River, then east again to the south end of Pillinginni, then northwards down Pillinginni, before turning west to cross the end of the George and head back to the end of Narinna, giving a vaguely square route. Here's the itinerary:
|Narrina Pool to Narrina Creek (North)
|Narrina Creek (North) to Narrina Creek (South)
|Narrina Creek (South) to George River (South)
|Rest day at George River (South)
|George River (South) to Pillinginni Creek (South)
|Pillinginni Creek (South) to George River (North)
|George River (North) to Narrina Pool