BIBBULMUN TRACK: A BEAUTIFUL AND EPIC JOURNEY OF AUSTRALIA’S SOUTHWEST

The Bibbulmun Track is a long distance walking trail in Western Australia that runs from Kalamunda, just east of Perth, all the way to Albany.

The track runs for 1,003.1 kilometres and is regarded as one of the world’s great long distance walk trails.  The track was originally suggested in 1972.  

Bibbulmun Track

There were a number of local groups interested in the tracks foundation and many of those groups played an important role in bringing the original idea for the Bibbulmun Track to fruition.

The Forests Department of Western Australia, Perth Bushwalkers, Western Walking Club, Youth Hostels Association, Scout Association of Australia, and the Speleological Research Group of Western Australia all played a significant part in the idea of the track actually becoming a reality.

Through these people’s hard work, the Bibbulmun Track was opened in 1979.  However, the track’s route has been changed twice due to it passing through significant sections of forest that were at risk from forestry, bauxite mining, and dieback.

The Bibbulmun Track is a walkers only track with no vehicles of any kind permitted.

There is a parallel long distance biking track farther west called the Munda Biddi Trail.  Bibbulmun Track

Those hoping to tackle the Bibbulmun Track generally break the journey up into nine sections, unless, of course, you are hoping to walk the whole trail in one go, which is a lengthy endeavor.

Below is a quick breakdown of the nine sections of the Bibbulmun Trail.  

The Darling Range: Kalamunda to Dwellingup – 202 kilometres.  Just 24 kilometres east of the centre of Perth, in the rolling Perth Hills, sits Kalamunda, the northern terminus of the track.

This is the longest of the journeys between towns as there are no towns or settlements between Kalamunda and Dwellingup.  As such, walker will have to plan ahead and organise food drops.

Dwellingup: Dwellingup to Collie – 122 kilometres.  Dwellingup sits at the heart of a timber and fruit-growing region.  The town is the gateway to the Lane Poole Reserve and the Murray River, which provides a variety of outdoor adventure and recreation opportunities.

This section should take around seven days and six nights and has a very remote feeling.  Large portions of this section do not have mobile phone coverage.  Bibbulmun Track

Collie: Collie to Balingup – 82 kilometres.  Collie is known as a coal-mining town.

The town is a thriving small community that provides all the necessary facilities a walker needs.  The track links to Collie via a 2.7 kilometres spur trail.

This section is much shorter than the first two.  Most walkers will be able to complete this section in only three nights.

Walkers should be aware that parts of the track on this section can get inundated during late winter, so if you are walking during this time, make sure to have waterproof boots.

 

Balingup: Balingup to Donnelley River Village – 60 kilometres.  This short section is a transitional section where walkers will start to see jarrah, marri, yarri, and karri forests.

Some of these trees can’t be found anywhere else in the world.  Additionally, the karri is the second tallest flowering gum in the world.

This section is also literally a transitional point in that it is along this section that walkers will reach the halfway point.

 

Donnelly River: Donnelly River Village to Pemberton – 100 kilometres.  This section allows walkers to pass through the historic Donnelly Mill, One Tree Bridge, and Chappels Bridge.  Additionally, walkers get to follow the Donnelly River for most of this section.

However, despite its proximity to the river, this section has some of the hardest hill climbs of anywhere on the track.

There are a number of riverside campsites, restful swimming holes, and beautiful old-growth karri forest.  Closer to Pemberton, walkers will come across Beedelup Falls and Big Brook Dam.  Bibbulmun Track

 

Pemberton: Pemberton to Northcliffe – 55 kilometres.  This short section is known for being a pleasant walk through karri forest.

This section is home to the Gloucester Tree, which is only a short 61 metre climb off the main trail.

This section should only take around three days and two nights.  There are two campsites along the track in this section, the Warren campsite (in a karri forest) and the Schafer campsite (on the banks of a swimming hole)

.  

Northcliffe: Northcliffe to Walpole – 140 kilometres.  This section passes through a few milestones.  First and foremost, are the diverse ecosystems of the Pingerup Plains, which is the first encounter walkers will have with the Southern Ocean on the walk.

This is the most remote section of the track with few roads and almost no signs of civilization for eight days.  Walkers should prepare accordingly.

 

Walpole: Walpole to Denmark – 127 kilometres.  This section is the perfect mix of forest and coastline.  However, after passing by Peaceful Bay, it also provides some of the toughest days on the whole Bibbulmun Track.

Walkers start in the karri and tingle forests near Walpole and the Valley of the Giants.  Walkers are then led along the rugged south coast of Western Australia until they reach the canoe crossing at Irwin Inlet, just past Peaceful Bay.

It is after this point that walkers will have to endure three of the toughest days on the track. Each day will be more than 20 kilometres over a mix of long beaches, soft and steep sand dunes, heathland, and some forest.

 

Denmark/Albany: Denmark to Albany – 85 kilometres.  Denmark to Albany is a relatively easier coastal section.

However, walkers will need to plan ahead in order to cross the Wilson and Torbay Inlets.  This section offers a number of swimming spots and some of the best, uninterrupted coastal scenery or anywhere along the track.

Once walkers can see the West Cape Howe National Park windfarm, they are approaching the end of their epic journey along the Bibbulmun Track.  Bibbulmun Track

Accommodation and Services

Fortunately for walkers, there are a number of businesses and organizations along the Bibbulmun Track that offer all the necessary goods and services a walker needs in order to finish the track.

In each of the track towns, there are an array of walker-centric accommodation options that range from simple backpacker hostels to luxurious five star accommodations where walkers can pamper themselves before setting out on the next stage of their journey.

 The track towns also have a number of pickup and drop off services that will pick you up and take you back to your start point so that walkers don’t have to walk the same section to get back to where they left off from.

Of course, the track itself is lined with a number of campsites that are spaced such that they are around a one-day walk apart.

Those who are interested in walking the whole trail should check out the Accommodation and Services Guide at bibbulmuntrack.org.au.

How to Get There

As previously mentioned, the northern terminus of the Bibbulmun Track is only a short distance from the centre of Perth.  As such, it is very easy to reach the track as it is very easy to reach Perth.

Perth is one of the largest cities in Australia and is the largest city in Western Australia.

It has a large international airport that is serviced from a number of international and domestic destinations.  

Albany, site of the southern terminus is also relatively easy to reach.  There is an airport in Albany.  However, it is only serviced from Perth.  

  

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