The Bibbulmun Track is one of Australia’s famous long distance bush walking trails. It is situated in Western Australia starting in the beautiful suburban town of Kalamunda and stretches 1000 km’s south down to the historical coastal town of Albany. This bush trail finds itself winding through Conservation Parks, National Parks, past reservoirs, through jarrah, marri, and wandoo forests, past mines and old historical timber towns. You will follow rivers, pass through farmlands, over huge granite boulders with views to die for of spectacular mist covered valleys and the amazing south-west coastline. As you can see this trail has quite a variety of scenery to explore. You also can experience this trail in a variety of ways with the choice of doing day walks, multi day hikes or even hike the whole 1000 km’s from one end to the other. There are guided tours available for either day walks or multi day hikes. For those who are happy to navigate on their own you can purchase the maps. The trail is set up with camp sites along the way if one chooses to camp or there are companies that are available now for pick up and drop off on the trail so one can sleep in comfort of a hotel/motel.
A Very Brief History;
The track had come into being in the early 1970’s and by ’79 the Bibbulmun was first officially open, this being part of the 150th year celebrations of Western Australia, and it only went as far as Northcliffe. It was named in the recognition of the local Aboriginal tribe known as the Bibbulmun people, who would walk long distances through the bush for their ceremonial gatherings. The signage is designed on the Waugal serpent, this meaning to the Aboriginal people, soul, spirit or breath. The Waugal is represented in black on a fluorescent yellow triangle sign that can be found along the trail nailed to the trees for easy viewing.
In ’94 the track was upgraded with huts and toilet facilities. These were initially done in the workshops with the minimal security prisoners. The inspiration came from the world-famous American Trail, The Appalachian Trail, also the track was extended down through to Albany making it the 1000 km’s it is today.
If you would like to learn more about the history and the people behind the development of this wonderful Trail check out the official site www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au.
How do you go about planning such a hike? First RESEARCH! As always you must know up to date information on any trail you do and know what would you expect along the way. Check out the official site @ www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au. Everything you need to know is on the site and if it is not contact them they are always happy to help.
Maps and Guidebooks;
Get up to date Maps. You can purchase these online from the official site or pick them up in numerous outdoor stores and bookshops. They are inexpensive and there is 8 in total that break down the trail into sections. If you only want to walk a certain section you do not have to buy all the maps, just get the one that covers that area you wish to hike, you can however purchase packs containing the Northern section (1st 4 maps) and the Southern section (2nd 4 maps). There are also books with information and maps in them. The books have great info on planning, history, track breakdown, small maps and more. Well worth the purchase and again they are found online at the official site or in outdoor stores and bookshops.
The Bibbulmun Track is a linear walk, so if you are only trekking sections at a time and don’t plan on walking back the way you came, you will need to work out a drop off, pick up. Maybe two cars, one at the end and drive back to the start. However you choose to do it be aware that the use of public transport is only limited to the towns.
If you are choosing to walk the whole trail from end to end, the recommended time is 6-8 weeks though some people choose to do it in shorter time. As you are spending a considerable amount of that time in the bush and not in civilization, you must plan carefully on the details of how to achieve this, for example your food etc. It is recommended to do food drops beforehand or arrange for someone to meet you along the way to restock. The official Bibbulmun site can help you with how to plan this as they have put together end-enders workshops.
Best time to be on the Bibbulmun is between the months of April to November. Any other time it is too hot to be out there and a higher risk of fire danger. Fire is a real possibility in Western Australia and it is important to learn how to survive if you are confronted with this in the bush. Research before you embark on a trek in the bush. Knowledge could save your life. Some sites worth a visit; www.dfes.wa.gov.au and www.headingforthehills.com. The campsites also have register books at them, do take the time to fill out the info at each hut. This is one way officials can track where you may be in case of an emergency. There is not always phone reception out there, also tell loved ones where you are, where you would expect to be at certain times.
Western Australia has a spectacular show of wild flowers and many are in bloom starting as early as August and continuing through September and October. We really love being on the trail at this time as it shows nature’s garden at its best. The wettest and coolest months are July and August, more so the further south you go, though from our experience Western Australia doesn’t get rain like other trails around the world. Always check the weather before hand, This can be seen on the official Bibbulmun site or go to www.bom.gov.au.
The campsites along the Bibbulmun are fantastic in our opinion. With 49 campsites in total and they are all comfortably spaced at a days walk apart. In the Northern half you find that they are approximately 10 km’s apart and the Southern half the distance can be up to 20 km’s apart. Most people find in the Northern half they might double hut, which means skip the hut in the middle. You can not book ahead for a spot in the huts though we do recommend going onto the official site and checking if any large groups have registered as it is a requirement for the larger groups to register.
What you will find at the campsites are;
- Wooden huts: these are three-sided open air huts with platforms for sleeping on. Some sleep 6-8 and some can sleep up to 15. There are no mattresses you are required to bring you own bedding. Don’t rely on space we would recommend carrying a tent just in case.
- Tent sites: there are designated cleared sections for you to pitch your tent. Be respectful and use them as there is no “free Camping” as such permitted.
- Rainwater tank: Some even have two. It is important to be aware that these run the risk of not having water in them if its been a particularity dry season. DO filter and treat your water, DON’T waste it as it is precious.
- Drop Toilet:
- Picnic Tables: some campsites have more than one.
- Fire pit: This is at most but not all. Be aware of the current fire restrictions, can check this on the official site. Use the designated pit don’t make your own.
What to Pack;
This depends on whether you walk for the day or 3 days or go end-end. The official site again has great info on this. Here is a list if you were to take a multi day trek on the Bibbulmun;
- Backpack, Size depends on what you can manage. We carry a 75 lt. Make sure you have rain protector.
- Tent, A must in case you get caught out. If we don’t have our tent we always carry our hoochie (large light weight waterproof sheet).
- Sleeping mat, you can get some great self inflating/light weight ones.
- Sleeping bag, be sure to get one that will keep you warm as some nights the temperature can drop. Look at a rating of -1c
- Waterbottle, should carry a min of 3 lt
- Water purifying tablets and piece of nylon stocking, must purify water and filter it. We also carry a Life-straw. For around $20 worth it.
- Compass, learn how to use it.
- Epirb, Important for safety. You can hire one if you don’t want to buy one.
- First aid kit,
- Food, carry enough for the time you are out there then add a bit more for emergency. Dehydrated pack are fantastic as they are light weight.
- Waterproof matches and or lighter,
- Cup/ plate/utensils etc. look at how you can multi use these so you are not carrying too much.
- Head torch,
- Wet wipes, sanitizing gel and your toiletries,
- Sunscreen and insect repellent,
- Toilet paper,
- Warm jacket,
- Spare change of hiking clothes, socks, underwear,
- Shoes, lightweight to put on in camp, Crocs work well,
- Hat, Beanie and Gloves,
- Thermals if you feel the cold,
- Walking poles, if you choose,
- Earplugs, if you want to avoid hearing snorers,
- Rubbish bag, you pack it you carry it! There are no bins out there so you must carry your rubbish out.
- Anything else would be extra but do remember you have to carry it.
If you don’t have things like Tents, Sleeping bags/ mats etc these can be hired. The Bibbulmun Track Foundation do Equipment hire. Check out their site for more Information.
Useful sites to visit;