Find out the latest news about the Track and the Foundation before you set off for your next walk.
4 November 2021
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21 October 2021
With a 1000 kilometre Track and 53 campsites there is always something to be done and BTF volunteers and Parks & Wildlife staff have been very busy with both practical work and with planning.
Due to the increasing scope of maintenance being undertaken by the Foundation a dedicated maintenance manager was appointed in May. Improvements to the maintenance program will include the provision of more training opportunities for existing volunteers and an introductory training day and mentoring opportunities for new volunteers.
This is a summary of work in the field undertaken over the past year – and a preview of what is in the pipeline.
Newmont Boddington Gold, Eyes on the Ground Maintenance Program 2020 -2021 FY
Maintenance activity picked up in the second half of 2020, following the COVID-19 related disturbance earlier in the year. By the end of the financial year the number of hours logged by volunteers was 20% above the average of previous years. District Field Days bring the maintenance volunteers together for work and training days, supported by the support volunteers in planning, logistics and resourcing. There are usually six events in each calendar year, one for each PaWS District, normally during the autumn and spring work periods.The circumstances early in 2020 resulted in a concentration of Field Days in the spring period. Work focused on Yourdamung, Schafer, West Cape Howe, William Bay and Noggerup Campsites and the Track in the vicinity of each of these.
Carrying the momentum into 2021, Field Days have been held at Mount Cooke, Arcadia, Torbay, Woolbales and Maringup Campsites and the nearby Track. As a result of this focused work these campsites have been reconditioned, repaired and renovated. The work on sections of Track in the area involved significant clearing of vegetation regrowth, signage upgrade and/or renewal of erosion control structures. In association with their presence at Field Days, members of the support volunteer team completed other more technical tasks, such as brushcutting of regrowth in the Pingerup Plains and replacement of the retaining wall at Maringup Campsite.
Support Volunteer Projects
In addition to their assistance at Field Days and tackling tasks reported by maintenance volunteers, the support volunteer team continued to develop and implement strategic projects including:
- Further Track stabilization work at Conspicuous Cliff, Quarram Dunes and Mt Hillier and the monitoring and maintenance of previous work and survey/planning for future erosion control.
- Planning, procurements and preparation of five tonnes of material airlifted to various points in the Albany District.
- Extensive erosion control works either side of Sandpatch Campsite relaying conveyor belting and installing significant numbers of log water bars and steps.
- Assisting the PaWS Project Manager to develop the scope of work and schedules for campsite upgrades funded under the WA Government economic stimulus package.
- A realignment at Ficifolia Road to significantly reduce the amount of road walking.
- Preparation of multiple Disturbance Activity System (DAS) proposals for future realignments.
- Extensive maintenance of Mt Wells hut surrounds and fire tower.
- Improvements at Mt Cooke Group Campsite including weather proofing the shelter, installing seats and building steps.
- Preservation maintenance and inspection of River Road Bridge.
- Painting of large quantity of jarrah marker posts.
Ongoing works include:
- Removal of obsolete boot cleaning stations.
- Installation of new notice boards and signage in the shelters.
These projects involved close liaison with the Recreation and Trails Unit and with the Parks and Wildlife Districts who provided support with logistics and materials.
Recreation & Trails Unit Projects
The Southern Trail Terminus was completed in early September, providing an iconic and fitting departure or arrival point for Bibbulmun Track and Munda Biddi Trail users. The facility integrates nicely with the existing park setting and was built and finished to the highest standards of quality and workmanship. The project was largely funded through the WA Recovery Plan and a grant from Great Southern Development Commission, with City of Albany project managing the construction phase.
With funding through the WA Recovery Plan, good progress was made on upgrades to eight of the aging campsites. Shelter upgrades were completed at Gringer Creek, White Horse Hills, Yourdamung, Boarding House, and Yabberup Campsites. This involved verandah extensions, new roofing, and new water tanks and plumbing plus additional tent sites.
Tenders have been received for the remaining package of works, comprising shelter upgrades at the remaining three campsites, Harris Dam, Gregory Brook and Grimwade and toilet replacements at all eight sites. This work will be rolled out as budget permits over the remainder of the financial year.
Monadnocks Group Campsite
Planning is well underway for the new Monadnocks Group Campsite, with a site selected approximately 450m east of the existing standard campsite, featuring spectacular views to the east. The new campsite will provide groups with an appealing two-night hike option combined with Mt Cooke Group Campsite and relieve the pressure on the standard campsites along the popular Monadnocks section. The various environmental and heritage surveys and approvals are underway, and the campsite design is also progressing well.
Perth Hills realignments
A package of nine potential realignments within Perth Hills District are steadily being evaluated, with the corridor evaluation stage well underway. Aboriginal heritage surveys and desktop flora surveys have been completed on most, resulting in some dropping off the list. Two have been selected to pursue as the highest priorities; one southbound from Helena Campsite, and the other southbound from Dookanelly Campsite. Dieback surveys will be the next key step for these.
Nullaki Peninsula route
Planning of a formal alignment along the Nullaki peninsula is progressing, with several options investigated, and a conceptual alignment mapped out and ground truthed. The alignment is intended to provide a formalised, sustainable trail linking the Wilson Inlet sandbar crossing with the existing trail along the northern shoreline of the peninsula. Importantly it will skirt around the threatened saltmarsh community near the tip of the peninsula and be designed to prevent erosion within the sensitive foredune vegetation.
The redesign and update of Track maps by Parks and Wildlife was completed during the year. New cardboard packaging for the northern and southern map packs was also developed. The new maps are printed on specialist paper resulting in a product that is more environmentally friendly compared to the previous plastic maps.
Other trail projects
Several trail projects funded through the WA Recovery Plan are underway that will complement or improve the Bibbulmun Track. In William Bay National Park, a dual-use trail is under construction between Elephant Rocks and Waterfall Beach, providing a fantastic loop walk when combined with the Bibbulmun Track. Planning for the Valley of the Giants trail network is progressing well, with the draft concept plan including upgrades to the Bibbulmun Track and several new trails linking with the track. In Wellington National Park near Collie, work is progressing on the Wiilman Billya trail, which will form a five-day hiking loop with the existing Bibbulmun Track and Wellington Spur Trail.
2021 – 22 FY so far:
- Led by Support Volunteers, a large group of volunteers spent two days clearing and improving the Mt Dale loop – a delightful spur off the Bibbulmun Track.
- Volunteers put some hard work into clearing and improving Ball Creek Campsite and surrounds.
- Two sections along Lights Beach were remarked.
- Parks and Wildlife and BTF volunteers managed to pave a way forward in finding a suitable route on the Nullaki Peninsula – here’s hoping the surveys and checks can provide a long-awaited final solution for an alternate route.
- Field Day at Blackwood Campsite
What’s in the pipeline…
- Two erosion control campaigns in Albany District (between now and Dec 2021)
- Preparation of loads for helicopter lift for South Coast erosion control campaign 2.
- Five erosion control campaigns on the south coast between May and November 2022.
- Field days.
- Erosion control in Dwellingup & Wellington Districts.
- Various realignments when/if approvals come through.
- Ongoing maintenance program.
7 October 2021
The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions has a responsibility to promote and conserve our parks and reserves so that visitors can access, enjoy and appreciate Western Australia’s extraordinary natural environment into the future. The Bibbulmun Track is one of the world’s greatest long distance walk trails and is an outstanding example of such recreational opportunities.
The use of wheeled vehicles and devices has not been permitted on the Bibbulmun Track as a general rule. The Track passes through extensive areas of Dieback Risk Areas (DRA), where the movement of wheeled vehicles is restricted by law to minimise the potential spread of dieback. The department assesses requests for access into DRA in regards to disease risk and other environmental impacts on a case-by-case basis. If the request is considered appropriate and necessary a DRA permit is provided. Conditions under a DRA permit include:
· Use of a wheeled trailer is only permitted in dry soil conditions.
· Maintain and clean the wheeled trailer so that it is free of soil, vegetative matter and root material prior to entry into Disease Risk Areas.
· Ensure no movement or transfer of soil occurs at any time within Disease Risk Areas.
As you can imagine, this would be difficult to achieve while on the Track.
Environmental impacts from a wheeled trailer can include damage to the tread of the track, especially in soft, sandy or muddy conditions. The continuous wheel track can damage erosion features, which have often been installed by volunteers.
In addition, the Bibbulmun Track was designed as a walking track and not designed for wheeled modes of travel. The Track is classified as Class 4 under Australian Standards 2156, which in part describes Class 4 tracks as ‘generally distinct without major modification to the ground. Encounters with fallen debris and obstacles are likely’. This represents the character of the Bibbulmun Track and is part of the experience hikers seek. It is important that people are aware that any attempt would be a very demanding challenge and may not be practically or physically possible, and not easier for people with physical limitations.
While there are sections of the Track that may be suitable for a wheeled trailer, typical obstacles along the Track would include the following.
- Fallen trees/logs – along the full length of the Track, there are a considerable number of fallen trees over the Track. Not all of these logs are removed or cleared from the Track. Many have been left in place to assist in deterring trail bikes and mountain bikes. The larger logs may have sections cut out to form steps to assist walkers.
- Rocky outcrops – large sections of the Track traverse ridges and through rocky outcrops, requiring walkers to hop from rock to rock and clamber through boulders.
- Log bridges – within the karri forests in the south west, there are several log bridges, with steps onto the log on either end and a narrow tread suitable for single file walkers.
- Soft sand and beaches – particularly along the south coast, there are numerous sections of the Track aligned along beaches and constructed through deep sands in coastal dunes.
- Steps – There are steep sections of Track in various locations, requiring the construction of steps and flights of stairs to assist walkers and protect environmental values. Many sections of stairs/steps are significant and there are no alternative routes due to thick vegetation.
- Inlet crossings – there are four inlet crossings along the south coast that need to be traversed –
· The Irwin Inlet is crossed via the use of canoes stored onsite, with walkers loading their packs into the canoes and have to paddle across the inlet.
· The Parry Inlet is crossed via a season sandbar, or a long alternative walking route around via the roads if the sandbar is not crossable.
· The Wilson Inlet can be crossed via the seasonal sandbar and walking around the edge of the inlet to connect up to the track, via car ferry from Denmark around to the Nullaki Peninsular, or a long alternative walking route via trails and roads around the inlet.
· The Torbay Inlet can be crossed via a seasonal sandbar, or a long alternative walking route around via the roads if the sandbar is not crossable.
- Fencing stiles – the Track crosses many land tenures, including state government managed lands (various agencies), local government and private property. As such, there are numerous fences to cross, and while some have gates, many have stiles installed to assist walkers over the fences.
As the Bibbulmun Track is designated as a walking track a lawful authority is required for any wheeled access, which considers all of the above information, as well as visitor safety.
In order for people to make an informed decision about a potential hike with a wheeled trailer it is important that they understand the Track conditions and the challenges that pulling a trailer would present. We know of a few people (who managed to be granted a permit) that have tried to use a trailer and have given up early in the piece with one person stating that it took them almost 10 hours to travel 3km on one section.
An alternative for hikers with wheeled trailer is the Munda Biddi Trail, as it was designed and built for wheeled modes of travel and aligned outside of DRA. Walkers are permitted on the Munda Biddi Trail.
20 September 2021
With the onset of spring, activity of our Track maintenance volunteers continues apace.
Sectional maintenance volunteers will be out visiting their sections – perhaps checking for any fallen timber after the winter storms, tackling some early spring regrowth, or tidying their campsite.
We have seen with pleasure the progress of the shelter upgrades. Gringer Creek, White Horse Hills, Yourdamung, Boarding House and Yabberup are now done (with the toilet replacement and some minor issues still outstanding). The work was completed by contractors engaged by DBCA. Harris Dam, Gregory Brook and Grimwade are the last on the list, with contracts yet to be awarded.
BTF volunteers are involved in several current projects – some large, some small. These include the approval process for multiple realignments, a new group campsite near Monadnocks, refurbishment of all timber components of the suspension footbridge at One Tree Bridge, redoing the Track marking in the area Lights Beach – Mount Hallowell, and consideration of a viable authorised route on the tip of the Nullaki Peninsula (see www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au/news/latest/wilson-inlet-sandbar-crossing for recent detail).