Health, Hygiene & Safety

Tents and tent sites 
Tents are warmer, keep the bugs out and great to have when the shelter is full.
Tents are warmer, keep the bugs out and great to have when the shelter is full.

All the Bibbulmun Track campsites have tent sites around or near the shelters. There is no booking system for the shelters and it is recommended that tents be carried, as space in a shelter cannot be guaranteed. All walkers who intend to stay overnight in a shelter on the Track should carry a tent, in case the shelter is full on arrival. Groups of more than eight people are not permitted to occupy a shelter until after 6pm. Tents must be pitched in the sites provided at the campsites. No camping is permitted in water catchment areas - ie most of the Track between Kalamunda and Collie, and south of the Blackwood River. The Bibbulmun Track Foundation offers walkers a tent hire service.

Waste
Each campsite has a pit toilet.
Each campsite has a pit toilet.
 

Toilet facilities at the campsites are to be used when available. Where no toilet facility is available, waste and toilet paper must be buried 15cm deep and must be at least 100 metres from any body of water. Minimum impact bush walking and Leave No Trace camping principles must be adhered to by all. No food, litter or sanitary items are to be put in the toilet, buried or left at the campsite, on the Track or in the bush. This includes organic items such as apple cores and fruit peel. Leave nothing but footprints!

Fires

A small fire is more than enough.
A small fire is more than enough.
Campfires are a tradition in Australian bush walking. However, the environment is becoming less and less tolerant of campfires, particularly in the surrounds of the Bibbulmun Track campsites. Many campsites have been stripped bare of firewood due to the continual use of fires. Fires, if lit at all, should be kept to a minimal size. There is no point in having a raging fire when a small one provides more than enough warmth. Remember the old Aboriginal saying: "White man make big fire, sit far away - black man make small fire, sit close”. Campfires may be lit only at approved campsites. The Blackwood and Yourdamung campsites and all the campsites between Albany and the Shannon River are designated as no fire zones all year round. They do not have fireplaces, and in these campsites, fuel stoves only must be used. 

See also: fires at campsites and fire survival measures.

All walkers must take care with fire. No one is permitted to light a fire on days of very high or extreme fire danger. Under these circumstances, operate a fuel stove only at the campsite. Under no circumstances should a fuel stove be used in or near a tent. Check the current fire conditions as fire bans usually exist between December and April each year. All fires must be totally extinguished before you leave a campsite.

Water

Water should be treated with respect. Water tanks at campsites are not filled other than by rainfall and the water must last through long dry spells. Untreated water may contain micro-organisms and particles, which can cause diseases such as gastro enteritis. Drink only treated water - this includes treating water taken from the campsite water tanks. Do not assume that creeks or watercourses indicated on the maps actually have water in them. Most are ephemeral and run only in peak rain periods, and then only very briefly.

Detergents

Enjoying the water view after days in the forest.
Enjoying the water view after days in the forest.
Everyday soaps and detergents should not be used in the Australian bush. They are harmful to its biodiversity. Biodegradable toothpaste should be considered, and sanitizing gels that require no water and leave no waste are a must. They can be purchased at most outdoor equipment stores and pharmacies. Walkers should not bring everyday soaps, detergents or shampoo to use in the bush.

Water catchments

The Bibbulmun Track passes through 12 harnessed water catchments between Kalamunda and Collie and even more further south. The supply of clean water is crucial. All walkers must observe rules and regulations designed to protect our water supplies.

First aid

Knowing even basic first aid comes in handy.
Knowing even basic first aid comes in handy.
The following information should only be used as a guideline and should not replace your first aid training! You should also carry an appropriate first aid kit.

Snake bite 

  • Immediately apply pressure on to the bite.
  • Keep the person calm and completely at rest.
  • If the victim is bitten on a limb, apply a firm compression bandage over the affected area, roll it toward the extremities and then back up over the affected area, as close to the body as possible.
  • The bandage should be firm but not tight.
  • The limb should be immobilised with a splint or sling.
  • Once applied, the bandage should remain in place until medical care arrives (try to bring transport as near as possible to the patient). Never remove the bandage. Trained medical personnel will do this.
  • Do not wash the venom off the skin, as this will assist in the identification of the snake.
  • Most bites occur on the ankle or lower leg, so wearing gaiters, thick socks and sturdy boots will help prevent snake bites.

Bee stings

  • The barb from a sting should be removed if it remains in the flesh.
  • Remove the barb by brushing or scraping sideways; never pull the sting out as it will inject more venom.
  • Raise the affected part and apply a cool compress or chemical ice to reduce swelling.
  • Anyone who has an allergic reaction should also be treated as for a snake bite (see above). 

Heat exhaustion and dehydration

Exposure to hot and humid weather may lead to these conditions as a result of normal body cooling processes becoming inefficient. The person may feel hot, faint, giddy, thirsty, complain of nausea, cramps, headache, and will appear clammy with excessive sweating, rapid breathing and have a rapid pulse rate.

  • Assist the person to rest in shade.
  • Sponge exposed skin with cool water.
  • Ensure the person drinks plenty of cool water preferably mixed with electrolytes.

Sprains and strains

Sprains occur when a ligament around a joint is over-stretched or torn, or when a muscle or tendon is over-stretched or torn. Similar aid is required in both cases.

  • Assist the person to be comfortable.
  • Raise the injured part to reduce swelling.
  • Support the injury with a firm bandage, and apply a cool compress over the bandage for 10 minutes.
  • Rest the injury for up to 48 hours.

Learn how to remove a tick correctly.
Learn how to remove a tick correctly.
Ticks

  • Remove the tick by levering it out carefully with tweezers. Do not squeeze or pull the tick as it may inject venom.
  • Check the rest of the body, including hair, skin creases and ears.
  • Other options include using Vaseline or perfume spray, which may help by intoxicating the tick thereby making it easier to remove.

Bleeding and wounds

  • If too much blood is being lost from a wound or injury, stop the flow of blood by pressing firmly on the wound with a bulky sterile dressing.
  • Keep firm pressure on the wound for 10 min with the person resting. If the wound is on a limb, elevate the limb.
  • Comfort and reassurance will slow heartbeat and reduce further loss of blood.
  • Minor wounds should be cleaned and dressed.

Please note that this information is only a guide to assist in emergencies on the Track - adequate preparation is also essential when planning a Bibbulmun walk. Be first aid trained!