As we found the biggest problem was finding out what there was, I have added these notes to assist any intending 'end-to-enders'. If you need any other specific information then you can email me and maybe I can help. We did collect a lot of local information which we posted back home as we passed through towns when we walked the track.
Maps and Track Notes. CALM produce an excellent set of eight maps to the entire track. These are essential to have. The track location is shown almost 100% accurate on the maps. The maps also include other information like height bar graphs which are full of errors and distance tables which often use names of places not shown on the maps - these two features are often not that helpful as they are at times misleading. I am sure they will fix these - in spite of the errors, the books were very good for first editions.
There are 2 guidebooks to the track, one for the north and another for the south. Only the northern guide book was available when we walked the track and while there are a lot of small minor errors the guide was very useful and worth having. The southern guide is now available and is also worth obtaining. CALM has a web site with some general planning information and about the track and is worth reading. Refer to my External Links page. The guide books provide details of the tracks location but have little information needed for planning a walk. The book described below is also needed.
The 'Friends of the Bibbulmun Track' (see my External Links page) group, produce an excellent small book (for $12) which describes most of the accommodation and commercial activities in the small towns along the way. The book describes all of the facilities that end-to-enders need. The volunteers did a great job with collating the information and it is worth carrying as its comprehensive. To assist those intending to walk the entire track, I will add notes here that you should add to the information in the guide and the Friends book. This information does not replace the Friends book and you will need it as well.
If you are intending to walk the track, then I encourage you to join the Friends group. This costs $25 a year. It is really good value as they produce a newsletter. It is full of information about track changes, current conditions and management issues like planned fires. You will need this information. The group is doing a really excellent job.
When to Walk. The best season overall is spring. This is because it is the wildflower season (IMHO, WA has the best variety of wildflowers in Australia) and there is also water in most of the creeks. The advice we received (from CALM) was to start at Kalamunda in September and walk south to finish at Albany in late October or early November. This was excellent advice. The weather charts for the track should assist anyone planning a walk.
If you start earlier at Kalamunda then the weather will be
wetter and colder. You can start later at Kalamunda but then it
will be getting warmer when you finish in late November. To walk
in the reverse direction is less desirable as if you start in
October at Albany (when the weather is nice) you will finish at
Kalamunda in December and will be walking in very hot weather
(40 Celsius, or over 100 Fahrenheit).
Of course, many walkers have already walked the Bibbulmun at periods other than the ones suggested above. The weather on this track is never extreme and indeed it can be walked at any time of the year. If you walk outside spring, you will miss the massed wildflower displays but instead will see scattered flowers from the more unusual plants. There is always something in flower.
Food Drops. It is possible to hide food in the bush
anywhere. The only problem, is that this has a risk of discovery
by others and damage from foraging animals. There is also the
problem of CALM potentially burning the forest and your drop.
To safeguard our food, we visited the towns, selected places to
stay overnight and left our food boxes with those people. This
had nil risk of loss and worked well but does require 2 days of
driving. Another method would be to post your food to the post
office in each town. Dwellingup, Collie, Balingup, Pemberton,
Northcliffe and Walpole all had post offices open 6 days each
week. Most post offices are closed on Saturday afternoons and
all day Sunday. Denmark also has a post office but is located
4 km off the track If doing this, do not post stove fuel. Petrol
and Methylated Spirits can be purchased in most towns. The third method
is to buy your food along the way - you can buy adequate amounts of
food in the small towns but sometimes it will lack variety.
We pre-placed food drops in Dwellingup, Collie, Donnelly, Northcliffe, Walpole and Peaceful Bay. If I repeated the walk, I would put drops at North Bannister (no shops here but saves starting with a heavy pack), Dwellingup, Collie, Balingup (instead of Donnelly), Pemberton, Northcliffe, Walpole and Denmark (instead of Peaceful Bay). All except the first place have reasonable shops to add perishables to dried supplies. All these places except North Bannister also have post offices saving a pre-trip visit. North Bannister is just out of Perth and is a short drive or you can get there to place your drop using bus services.
I would send in only special needs like dried food items and buy all staples like rice, pasta, dry biscuits, dried fruit, cheese and fresh vegetables in the towns along the way. We dry our own food and find it preferable to the commercial food that can be purchased in general stores. It is possible to walk the entire track by buying food along the way. Many walkers do it this way and as long as you do not mind much what you eat then this works fine. It will generally mean rice or pasta will probably be your main staple as they are readily purchased. We have some special needs hence we used food drops and added fresh food from the towns.
Buying Food. It is also possible to buy general store type food in most of the small towns. One exception that is often readily available in the eastern states and is nearly impossible to obtain in WA towns is 'salami' or other similar preserved meats. I do not know the reason for this but do not rely on buying preserved meat products in the towns.
North Bannister has no shops, it is just a road house with basic take away meals. Do not rely on buying anything here at all. If you hide a food drop here (or at Brookton Highway), make sure it has all you need until Dwellingup.
Dwellingup has a small general store with reasonable stocks of general food staples. Collie has a really large supermarket and you can buy most of the things you buy in any large supermarket, the only thing to watch for in Collie is that some small businesses like bakeries etc close early on some days. Balingup has a very small general store with little dried food, it was hard enough buying enough for a meal of fresh food for one night and should not be relied upon for walking basics. In contrast, do not pass up the bakery as it is excellent - the town map has it missing, it's just south of the bus stop.The small store at Donnelley River Village stocked some walking style food. While the variety is not great, at least you can buy some basics in small quantities suitable for carrying. Pemberton, is like Collie, having a good large supermarket plus several general stores and there is quite a good variety of food available here. If you need to buy new clothes, Collie and Pemberton have a reasonable range. Northcliffe is a small town but had a surprisingly large supermarket, not as good as Collie or Pemberton but you can buy a variety of food to resupply for the next section. Walpole has 2 large garage come general stores and between them you can buy a reasonable range of goods. Peaceful Bay has a general store at the caravan park, it is a seasonal place and can have groceries - out of season they stock very little food and I would check before leaving Walpole. We could not even buy bread on the day we arrived and discovered that fresh food is only available if ordered in advance. Denmark is 4 km off the track (about 1 hour walk each way) and is a medium size town with a good range of stores, no problem for resupply although it is a bit off the track.
Other Accommodation. The track is not a wilderness walk and does pass through several small towns. We soon got into the swing of things and looked forward to sleeping on a bed, having a shower and washing all our clothes each week. Most towns have a range of accommodation to suit most tastes and budgets. We used most types and stayed in hostel rooms, motel rooms and even B&B's. Most of the people we stayed with were enthusiastic about the track and very helpful.
While some walkers initially imagine they will camp in each town, you will probably look forward to something different and stay in serviced accommodation. This experience has also been noted for those who walk the Appalachian Trail in the USA. Allow for this in your budget as it will make a difference to your enjoyment of the track. Most towns have a good range with cheap places like caravan parks or hostels or more up market accommodation like motels and bed and breakfast cottages. The Friends booklet is very comprehensive for places to stay. Each accommodation type has its own benefits and we used a variety of types on our trip. One of the great benefits at staying at the more upmarket places was the availability of a washing machine or laundry service. When you use a tent or caravan park you have to do it yourself whereas when you go more upmarket they do it for you.This page used to have lots of comments about accommodation - this is no longer needed as the 'Bibbulmun Track Accommodation and Services Guide' is now comprehensive and covers virtually everything.
Equipment. Problems with mosquitoes on this walk is not obvious. In Western Australia it is possible to contract Ross River Virus through mosquito bites, so where possible, avoid them. While it is not possible to completely avoid being bitten, you can reduce the risk by carrying and using repellent. Also, I suggest you either carry a mosquito net for sleeping under, or camp in your tent each night.
Carry a tent. While the shelter huts are excellent, there is also the possibility that a hut is burnt down or even stolen as has already happened to Yourdamung. On some sections there are some nice campsites between huts you can use. During fire management burns, CALM does re-route the track and provide alternative campsites if needed. While these will have water and a toilet, do not expect a hut and when it happens you will be grateful to have that tent. A large tent is not needed as while it often rains, it is rarely very cold. Also a tent inner doubles as an excellent mosquito net.
Carry a fuel stove. Some camp sites are designated as fuel stove only and while they are described in the guide as such, this is not obvious at the planning stage. Most of us do not read every single line in a guidebook when planning a trip. The sites are Yourdamung, Blackwood, and all sites from Mt Chance east to Albany (basically from south of Northcliffe to Albany). Methylated Spirits and petrol was readily available in the towns. If you use shellite or gas, then you will need to add these to your food drops. Note that you are not allowed to send stove fuels through the post. Many shellite stoves will run on unleaded petrol - this is readily available in each town. Only do this if you are an experienced stove user and understand the risks involved. Petrol is more explosive than shellite and there are also additives in it which do block stove jets requiring regular cleaning. We used stoves for almost all of our cooking for the entire trip and lit a fire on a few rare occasions.
Latest Information. CALM has a web site with some general planning information about the track and is worth reading. Another information site is the 'Friends of The Bibbulmun Track' site which has some general information and maps and guides for sale. See my External Links page.