Age no barrier for determined duo

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Prue Fairbrass and Chris Martin at the finish line in Albany.
Camera IconPrue Fairbrass and Chris Martin at the finish line in Albany.

There were mornings on the Bibbulmun Track when Chris Martin was so cold she could not use her fingers.

Her walking partner, Prue Fairbrass, had to help her with basic tasks like doing up buttons.

At the age of 77, Ms Martin struggled with the freezing morning temperatures in WA’s southern forests.

But the two “tramping” friends from New Zealand carried on, day after day for seven weeks, until they had completed the 1003km track.

They arrived in Albany on Thursday, tired and hungry but buoyed by a great sense of accomplishment.

Chris Martin and Prue Fairbrass at the start of the track in Kalamunda
Camera IconChris Martin and Prue Fairbrass at the start of the track in Kalamunda

“My hands were literally useless until about 10am because I was just so cold, but you still go on doing it,” Ms Martin said. “You’re not always happy. You can sit and cry and feel miserable.

“I said, ‘I’m never doing this again’, but I just love it.

“Everyone around us, our friends are dying of some ghastly thing or the other back home — life’s too short.

“You have to think of something, follow it and not be put off. Now it’s done we can go home and carry on gardening.”

The Bibbulmun Track runs from Kalamunda to Albany, through WA’s South West forests and along the south coast.

The friends pose for a picture in a giant tingle tree.
Camera IconThe friends pose for a picture in a giant tingle tree.

Ms Martin and Ms Fairbrass had flown to Australia to tackle the Bibbulmun Track after hearing about it from a fellow hiker on the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand.

It was the longest walk they had done uninterrupted and it came within a year of both of them having half-knee replacements. They did very little planning, because that’s the way they like it.

Their diet consisted mainly of packet porridge, packet pasta, crackers and cheese.

Ms Fairbrass, 74, jarred her knee about 26 days into the walk, but managed to push on.

Chris and Prue at a scenic lookout on the South West coast.
Camera IconChris and Prue at a scenic lookout on the South West coast.

Her favourite part of the track was Sullivan Rock, a scenic granite outcrop.

“There were two or three spots on the track where it was a bit overgrown but they have the Friends of the Bibbulmun Track to clean it up. We were really impressed with it.”

One of Ms Martin’s highlights was the stretch of the track along the rugged south coast.

“From Walpole to here has been absolutely astounding,” she said.

“I’ve never seen seas like it. We had storms, we had everything. It was amazing.”

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