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The Bibbulmun Track, Western Australia’s world-class walking Track, has captured the imagination of thousands of people since its realignment and revamp a decade ago, and has been a catalyst for changing the face of bushwalking in Western Australia.

 

The Bibbulmun Track: 1,000 kilometres of unbroken natural environment across Western Australia


Sstretching almost 1,000 kilometres from Kalamunda to Albany, the Bibbulmun Track winds through some of the most beautiful natural areas on the South West coast. The trail also goes through nine rural communities of Western Australia. It was designed for people with varying fitness levels and interests and can be walked as part of a relaxing day in the bush, an overnight or weekend camping adventure, or as an eight-to-10-week end-to-end hike.

photo of walikers and beach

walkers overlooking Quarram Beach on the Bibbulmun Track

There are few places on Earth where walkers can experience nearly 1,000 kilometres of unbroken natural environment with the scenic variety offered by the Bibbulmun Track. Well equipped campsites with rustic sleeping shelters, water tank, picnic table and pit toilet, are spaced no more than a day’s walk apart, usually in places offering spectacular scenery, providing safe and convenient facilities and a welcome haven at the day’s end.

A step back in time

The idea of the Bibbulmun Track was born in 1972 when avid bushwalker Geoff Schafer approached then Minister for Forests H D Evans with a concept to encourage urban people to get out in the bush. The Track was officially opened in 1979 as part of Western Australia’s 150-year celebrations. In 1988, the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) significantly overhauled the Track, which was realigned and extended to Walpole.

By the early nineties, the growth of the mining and forestry sectors, increased water catchment areas and road development were impacting heavily on the Track, so in October 1993 the decision was made to undertake a major overhaul of the Track which included a radical realignment, retaining less than 10% of the previous Track. This "new" Bibbulmun Track, modelled on the Appalachian Trail in the US, was built with a great sense of community ownership. A coalition between government, the corporate sector, schools, service clubs outdoor and bushwalking clubs and the wider community combined to “Build a Better Track.”

Magnificent Tingle forest near Walpole

Officially opened on 13th September 1998 the Track now provided quality access to the widest variety of scenic and natural attractions, and the significant south coast extension, taking the southern terminus some 200 kilometres further east to Albany, thereby fulfilling the original dream of a Perth-to-Albany walk.

The Bibbulmun Track was named in recognition of the Aboriginal Nyoongar group who lived in an area south-west of Pemberton. This name was considered appropriate as it recognised the Bibbulmun people’s practice of walking long distances for ceremonial gatherings.

Scenic diversity and biodiversity

The Bibbulmun Track is truly a unique facility, a green corridor of high biodiversity that links Perth with Albany. Careful planning has created a Track that passes through 22 national parks and other reserves and also links many of the key attractions and scenic spots. The Track is also easily accessible from nine rural towns that add to its value by allowing visitors to walk with a day-pack and yet sleep in off-track accommodation. In Spring walkers can enjoy an enormous array of wildflowers for which Western Australian is famous for.

The northern half of the Track has large jarrah, marri and wandoo forests only found in this part of WA. As the half way point of the Track is reached walkers encounter their first karri forest with these magnificent trees dominating the scene for the next 250 kilometres or so. And as the Track heads towards the south coast walkers experience breath taking views along far reaching beaches, wetlands of paperbarks, extensive coastal heathlands, and the towering tingle forests in the "Valley of the Giants" with whale sightings between June and October.

Managing the Track

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Panoramic Views from Mt. Cooke

The Bibbulmun Track Foundation was established in 1997 to support the now Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) in the management, maintenance and marketing of the Track. This not-for-profit community based organisation, funded mainly through membership, sponsorship and grants, has developed many programs and activities in the last ten years in line with its mission “to support the management of the Track so it becomes, and remains, a long distance trail of international significance and quality.”

To ensure the Track’s long term protection and sustainability more than 350 dedicated volunteers are involved in the major Track maintenance program, administered by the Foundation and generously supported by the Foundation’s premier sponsor, Boddington Gold Mine.

This maintenance program was inspired by Jesse Brampton who initially approached CALM with his ideas regarding a new Track after he had walked the Appalachian Trail in 1988 and credit has to be given to his vision for the concept of a bush trail that would be sustained by the efforts of the communities through which it passed. Like many others, Jesse was struck by the wonders of the wilderness on the Appalachian Trail, and affected by the camaraderie of other walkers, but one particular event stuck in his mind.

Steps to beach on the South Coast

He walked into a campsite and encountered three generations of a family; grandfather, father and son. The grandfather explained that this was “their section of the Trail.” The Appalachian Trail was completed in 1937, and since that time had been maintained by volunteers who each had responsibility for their piece of the Trail.

This concept of a community support group to sustain a long distance walk track has been replicated on the Bibbulmun Track and the maintenance volunteers have developed the same sense of ownership of ‘their’ section of Track. They carry out lightweight tasks— such as pruning, clearing minor obstacles, replacing trail markers and keeping campsites clean and report regularly on conditions likely to affect walkers or the long-term future of the Track itself. These reports are vital in formulating works programmes for DEC who do the heavy work.

Who’s walking the Track

In the most popular northern section, within a day’s drive of Perth, about 85 percent of the walkers are local, with equal numbers of interstate and overseas walkers making up the balance. The most recent figures show that international and interstate visitors now account for nearly 40 percent of walkers along the south coast parts of the Track. Word-of-mouth and advertising have promoted the Track to such an extent that one in three walkers from outside WA planned to walk part of the Track before arriving in the State. The Track’s increased popularity has translated into formal recognition by government and tourism bodies. In 2004 and 2006 the Bibbulmun Track won a prestigious WA Tourism Award for "Significant Tourist Attraction" and a Highly Commended in the 2006 National Award, a recognition of the high standard of facilities and services on offer and the increasing number of walkers.

Foundation products and services

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Relaxing at 3 sided shelter, canning Campsite

As well as offering a free information service to walkers, trip planning for its members and equipment hire, the Foundation has developed a unique range of tourism products to meet the needs of local, interstate and overseas markets.

Take a walk

The Bibbulmun Track has the allure of the wilderness experience but can be walked in relative safety. It is well marked, maintained to a high standard, is rarely far from towns and has many vehicle access points, making it more accessible than many other long-distance walking Tracks around the world— and it’s FREE.

x For more information, maps and guidebooks, contact the Bibbulmun Track Foundation on (08) 9481 0551 or by email.

The Bibbulmun Track website also has a wealth of helpful and useful information.

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