Bibbulmun Track - My Opinion of the Track

My Opinion of the Track

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My opinion of the track

Overall, it was an interesting walk and well worth doing. Much of the publicity claims it to be one of the 'worlds best walks', well in my opinion this is an exaggeration. There are better walks in Tasmania (example the 28 day West Coast walk, and the 1 week South Coast Track), Victoria (Australian Alps Walking Track) and New South Wales (all of the Blue Mountains) but, in comparison, the facilities on most of those walks are lacking. The Bibbulmun Track does have the 'best' facilities - there are three sided shelter huts at each campsite along with private tent sites, tank water and a toilet. The track also has the 'best' wildflowers in Australia (IMHO). It is fairly well signposted and does avoid roads where possible. It is not a wilderness walk as the track passes through a lot of state forest which has been logged (tree farms is a better description), passes through pine plantations, crosses farmlands, passes a gold mine, a working sawmill and also visits several small towns along the way. There is also some excellent scenery in some sections and the track does cross a wide variety of landscapes.

From Mt Pingerup looking to Broke Inlet

Would I walk it again? Well probably not, as there are many other good long walks I also want to do as well and the Bib track is certainly not the 'best' (IMHO). It was a 'good' walk and well worth walking once from end-to-end and I would recommend the experience to other walkers. Personally, there are some sections I will walk again as they were very enjoyable and worth a second visit. In some ways doing a long walk like this track means you really get to see a region and appreciate where the best areas are for future visits.

The northern section from Kalamunda (Perth) to Dwellingup was one of the best sections. It passed mainly through jarrah forest which is often rather scrappy in appearance (it has been heavily logged) but there are some scenic areas, some interesting peaks to climb and an excellent variety of wildflowers. I expected this area to have little interest but in fact enjoyed it and would walk here again. The Monadnocks and White Horse Hills were the highlights of this area. Perhaps I enjoyed it because I expected very little!

South from Dwellingup to Collie, the track followed the Murray River valley south and this was a less interesting area that was made worse by poor track alignment. Perhaps there are reasons for the track's location, but it did seem to avoid some features and places that walkers would like to see. In general the area around Collie was not very exciting but of course there are exceptions and the orchids (and wildflowers) in the Lane Poole Conservation Reserve were exceptional.

Track on dune tops near Boat Harbour

Collie to Balingup is a short 4 day section similar to the one north of Collie but there was more variety in the scenery. At one stage the track crosses a long stretch of farmland and shows how difficult it can be to find a suitable location in a heavily developed region. South of Balingup, the forest changed to tall Karri trees. While these trees are initially impressive to look at, walking through them is not that interesting after a couple of days. The forest understory was often tall scrub providing very few views and even less wildflower variety. This forest continued through to Pemberton and we found this section overall to be the low point of the track. The forest hardly ever changed and the track often climbed and descended steeply for no apparent reason. Apparently, this section is the most popular with locals from Western Australia because tall shaded forest is rare in the state. While I agree the trees and forest are often impressive, it still does not change the fact that there was less variety. End-to-end walkers on the Bibbulmun spend two weeks in this forest - the first few days were good but after that it was just more of the same and few views. Undoubtedly others will have different opinions here. I feel the important issue is that all end-to-enders will find some parts of the track less interesting than other sections and this applies to any long walk. Expect this to be part of a multi-week walk. As an example, the Friends newsletter shows that other walkers disliked the region near Perth and loved the forests. This shows that we all have different opinions so don't go too much but what others say (including me) but go and see it for yourself and form your own opinion.

Past Pemberton, the track followed the Warren River and while the forest floor became clearer and more interesting, the track siting still left a lot to be desired. The track again climbed and descended a lot while following a river. The rivers are fairly flat and the valleys have no cliffs so these climbs seemed unnecessary. At one point the track approached a rapid (the first for the day) and instead of passing the rapid (a rare interesting feature in Western Australia) the track climbs steeply away from the river then descends past the rapid to the flat river again thus bypassing it. I felt that the track in this area was put through with little thought about what walkers would like, rather it was put through where it was easiest for a bulldozer driver. As the track approached Northcliffe, the tall forest was left behind and it followed a reasonable route past farmlands. The latest newsletter (winter 1999) states that there has been some track re-siting in this section and I would expect this section to have significantly improved. This is one of the strengths of this track - they do listen to users and do take action to make it even better.

Cowslip orchids are very common in October

From Northcliffe to Walpole is about one weeks walk and was one of the best sections. The track crosses sandy regions near the coast and there were views from granite peaks, open plains to walk across and the first beach. One feature of this section is Lake Maringup, a shallow lake behind the coastal sand dunes which was well worth visiting. The track east of the lake has problems though, as it crossed a deep long swamp. For almost 2km the track was over knee deep in water and I would expect it to be underwater almost every spring. While this section of the track is not actually difficult to wade through, it is a daunting obstacle to walkers with limited experience. Overall the track was well signposted and easy to walk and this flooded section presents an unexpected obstacle. Comments have been made about the unexpected swamp and some walkers have followed roads to avoid it. The track has since been re-sited to higher ground and bridges over the creeks have been constructed. In spring there is still lots of wading through flooded sections but they are no longer too long - 2km was a long way across water! This is why this is a good track - it is being actively upgraded and improved.

From Walpole, the track heads inland again passing the Tingle Trees which are interesting because they are different and they do not become boring as you only see them for two days. It then heads back out to the coast, which is then followed eastwards to Albany. We enjoyed all of the section from Northcliffe to Albany and would enjoy repeating it again some day. Small changes will probably occur to the track along the coast to reduce erosion. Also the crossing of Wilson Inlet can be a problem and the boat operator has changed several times. It is also possible to walk across the inlet mouth during the drier seasons thus avoiding the boat. A proposal has also been made for a public telephone on the Nullaki Peninsula - this will be very useful if stuck on the wrong side of Wilson Inlet. Again consult the friends newsletter for the latest details.

If walking this track I strongly encourage you to join the 'Friends' group to obtain the latest information. This track is actively worked on and improved and it helps to have the latest information.

Advice for 'End-to-Enders'

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Last updated : December 8th 2015