Find out the latest news about the Track and the Foundation before you set off for your next walk.
3 December 2020
The Friendship Trails project is an initiative of the World Trails Network, whereby trails in different countries team up in the name of partnership, mutual publicity and international cooperation. It is hoped the concept of Friendship Trails will spread internationally to promote the culture of walking and boost tourism. This will promote the sharing of information regarding building and maintenance of trails and management of trail organisations. The Bibbulmun Track Foundation aims to identify nine international trails to pair with each of the nine sections of our Track.
We have established two Friendship Trails with the Bruce Trail in Canada (Balingup to DRV section)
and the Jeju Olle in South Korea (Denmark to Albany section).
An agreement has been signed with the Transcarioca Trail in Brazil (Kalamunda to Dwellingup), but progress has been delayed due to COVID-19. A fourth agreement is being established with the El Camino de Costa Rica (DRV to Pemberton section).
Impact of COVID-19 on World Network Trails.
COVID-19 affected all trails world-wide, including our partners…
Jeju Olle, South Korea
“We are still asked to refrain from big gatherings, but small gatherings are now allowed, with the condition of wearing masks at all times. As such, we have resumed our programs and outdoor events.”
“In Korea, we had seen rapid decrease in cases until couple weeks ago; however, we have just had group infections which could lead to a wider spread than the first wave in Korea. Consequently, Korea now has stage two social distance rules which limits gathering to 50 people at indoor events and 100 people at outdoor events.”
Bruce Trail Conservancy, Canada
“We have resumed our hiking program with restrictions on group sizes. The hikes must maintain social distance, there is no carpooling or organised overnight trips allowed We also have not resumed our larger events and are taking a very cautious approach to fully reopening. Most of our staff are working from home and our region is requiring masks in all indoor public spaces. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 100, with social distancing measures.”
The Thousand Miles Trail Association, Taiwan
“The Thousand Miles Trail Association (TMI Trail) has been back to normal since May, with restrictions on public gatherings lifted. However, people still have to give their names and contact details at gatherings and events, practice good personal hygiene and wear face masks if they cannot keep a safe distance from others or when using public transportation. All our events that were postponed from February to April have resumed and people are eager to get outdoors”
Cotswold Way National Trail
“All activities stopped on March 23rd and staff are still working from home. Our volunteers continued to walk as part of the Governments exercise outdoors allowance in the first few months, but with restrictions lifted they are now walking the Trail as before, avoiding busy times and carrying hand sanitizers! We have not restarted our guided walks. Our work parties only restarted in early July with maximum groups of six. The countryside has been extremely busy and we have seen more people out walking and picnicking than ever before.”
Paths of Greece
“We went into lockdown soon after the first cases, and this helped our country to have very low numbers of infections. The price to pay was the impossibility to go outdoors, especially for city dwellers. During lockdown, the amazing thing was that Greeks - for the first time in history—started walking like crazy in the cities! In late May, restrictions were lifted and people started exploring our trails again. However, due to closed borders we lost the spring hiking season. Now in summer, the pandemic seems uncontrollable and almost all of our trails are closed.”
The Bibbulmun Track Foundation is doing well. The Western Australian border is closed, and COVID-19 cases have remained manageable. The Track is very busy with people who would normally go overseas looking at alternatives. Our Marketing Manager has been encouraging people to get out into our beautiful outdoors and our membership has shown a small but steady increase. We cancelled or postponed many of our events but are now running them again.
To all our Friendship partners, the BTF hopes everyone is able to keep well throughout this challenging time and that it won’t be long before we can visit each other’s countries again.
23 November 2020
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the Foundation really couldn’t achieve what it does without the work of all our volunteers. Whether holding the fort in the office, carrying out Track inspection and maintenance, guiding events, collecting and processing Track user statistics, and more – every one of our nearly 450 volunteers is truly appreciated.
To recognise this contribution, all volunteers were invited to a “thank you” morning tea on 15 November. This annual event includes the acknowledgement of volunteer contributions made during the previous year, as well as the recognition of long-standing volunteers. It’s an opportunity to share the successes and challenges of the year, and catch up with other lovers of the Track.
Volunteer Manager Helen Grimm thanked volunteers for their efforts during the year – for continuing their contribution if they were able during the period of ‘lockdown’ and travel restrictions, and for making up for lost time when restrictions lifted. She thanked all volunteers for their ongoing commitment and dedication, especially when working in isolation from the core of the organisation.
Volunteers also heard from Board Chair Kath Broderick, and from Support Volunteer coordinator Charlie Soord about some of the projects completed during the year.
Regional events were also held in Albany (for Albany District volunteers) and Peaceful Bay (for Frankland District volunteers).
19 November 2020
In the Vision Survey undertaken in 2017, members were asked
“Are there any sections of Track which, if an alternative is available, you think should be realigned?”
While two-thirds of respondents indicated that realignments of the Track were not needed – 31% felt strongly that the Track should be taken off gravel roads and 4WD tracks where possible.
In some circumstances, use of roads as part of the Track is unavoidable. Constraints include: local flora and fauna, private property, Dieback disease and water catchment areas.
However, the list of suggested realignments was compiled along with input from BTF staff and volunteers.
A small SV team set about walking them all over several seasons to determine where realignment wasn’t necessary but improved erosion control – with regular maintenance – would be sufficient. The final list, about 75% of the original, included track sections in Perth Hills, Wellington, Blackwood and Frankland Districts.
Based on requests made to P&WS before the vision survey, approvals were granted for three realignments to bypass severely eroded track between Helena and Waalegh. They were constructed during 2017/2018 and have made a great improvement to walkers’ enjoyment.
Realignment approvals must be submitted using DBCA’s Disturbance Approval System (DAS). From the DAS opening statement “The objective of the DAS is to inform the assessment of risk to environmental, social and economic values of a proposed activity on lands managed by the DBCA. The purpose is to ensure approved activities are consistent with departmental objectives, associated management plans, land use categories, and to remove or minimise impacts to As Low As is Reasonably Practicable (ALARP).”
To speed the process two SVs, who volunteer in the department’s Recreation and Trails Unit, have been trained in submitting online DAS proposals. They soon discovered the necessary complexity in gaining the first approval. Time spent with local P&WS staff, particularly Flora and Fauna Conservation Officers and Regional Aboriginal Engagement, resulted in desktop and field survey reports that were attached to the DAS.
In early October approval was received for the first proposal, a short realignment in the Quarram Nature Reserve between Boat Harbour and Parry Beach. That realignment was constructed in early November, the final part of the South Coast stabilisation work under the NRM Grant.
Preliminary work has started on DAS inputs for Perth Hills and Wellington District realignments, while further DAS proposals will start for three in Frankland. One Frankland realignment will move the track off Ficifolia Road, vastly improving walker safety.
Almost all work for the planned realignments has been, and will be, performed by support and sectional volunteers.
Construction will start in 2021. In the meantime, the Foundation’s volunteers will continue with their maintenance and other project work to improve the Track in line with our Vision for the next 10-20 years.
9 November 2020
The Foundation’s AGM was held on 29 October and, in addition to providing an opportunity to update members on our activities for the year (you can read the Annual Report here), an election was held to fill the four vacant positions.
Three positions were filled by returning Board members: Kath Broderick, Charlie Soord and Patrick Tremlett and we are pleased to welcome newly elected member Tristy Fairfield.
The volunteer Board members bring a wealth of experience and skills to the task of guiding the strategic direction of the BTF – so let’s meet them!
Our current Chair is Kath Broderick. She has over 30 years’ professional experience in natural resource management and is Director of Broderick and Associates – a consulting business specialising in governance and capacity building. Kath also bring experience in advocacy, environmental management, and strategic management amongst other things. She is a keen swimmer and bushwalker, and a member of the maintenance team looking after Frankland campsite and the stretch of Track on either side. Kath is working her way along the Track to complete a sectional end-to-end.
Deputy Chair, John Holan, has worked in a number of roles including as a police officer, a tour guide in Africa and Asia, then – after completing a degree in accounting – as a Forensic Accountant. His wide range of experience brings business development, financial management, legal and tourism skills to the Foundation. John enjoys hiking on the Track with his young family, introducing them to the wonders of nature.
Mike Wood was founding Chair of the Bibbulmun Track Board back in 1998 and only retired as Chair in 2019. Mike has had a long career in the outdoor industry including guiding in the Nepal Himalaya, and 24 years as the franchisee/manager of a chain of Mountain Designs stores in WA. He has won several awards and was announced as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in 2020. His excellent networking and advocacy skills, business acumen and outdoor recreation knowledge have contributed greatly over the years. Mike was co-lead for the 10th Anniversary End-to-end walk.
Based in Albany, Bruce Manning has been the CEO of the Great Southern Development Commission since 2000. Bruce has a long involvement with land-care and land management issues and is a founding Board member who provides a valuable, regional-based perspective and a passion for the environment. Along with business and strategic planning skills, Bruce brings advocacy, marketing, tourism, environmental and risk management experience. He has been a maintenance volunteer since 1997, contributing to the care of Sandpatch campsite and the Track between there and Bay View Drive.
Charlie Soord worked as a Learning and Development Consultant in the mining industry, and has many years’ experience working with volunteers, and participating on management boards. Now retired, he is intensely involved with Track management and maintenance as a Support Volunteer coordinator and sectional volunteer for Mt Clare campsite and the Track on either side. He is also a volunteer in the Recreation and Trails Unit of DBCA where he works on various aspects of trails management. Skills Charlie brings to the Foundation include human resource management, risk management, and training. Charlie completed his sectional end-to-end in 2010.
As a retired drafter of legislation, Patrick Tremlett plays an important role with policy and governance issues such as updating our constitution in line with the new Association rules in 2017. With a strong governance, legal and statutory background Patrick ensures the BTF complies and documents everything according to the regulations. His wisdom and writing skills are often sought by the staff. Patrick is a volunteer guide and Team Leader of the maintenance team which looks after Noggerup campsite and the Track section leading there from Mumballup. He has been bushwalking since he was at school and hopes to continue for a while yet!
Tristy comes to us with a strong background in the governance of not-for-profit organisations, having served for several years on the boards of Conservation Council WA and Renew, and the council of the Australian Conservation Foundation. She has qualifications in Commerce and Applied Corporate Governance, has worked for both CCWA and the ACF, and is currently the Director of Low Carbon Australia. She is passionate about the environment and conservation and is a regular walker on the Track.
The Board also comprise two representatives from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).
Peter Sharp is the Director of Parks and Visitor Services, a major division within the Parks and Wildlife Service of DBCA. In this role, he has oversight of several units including Recreation and Trails. Peter brings strong advocacy, political acumen and stakeholder engagement skills to the Board along with human resource management, legal and tourism expertise.
Stephen King is the Trails Coordinator of the Recreation and Trails Unit. His previous roles in the Department encompassed dieback interpretation; conservation, fire management and recreation management at both District and Regional level; and work with Bold Park and the Swan River Trust.
The remaining position on the Board is held by our Executive Director, Linda Daniels, as an ex-officio member.
Linda has been ED of the Foundation since 2003 and is responsible for reporting to the Board and keeping them abreast of operations as well as any external issues that may impact the Foundation or the Track. Key roles include staff and project management, financial management and liaison with the Department, industry and community partners. She has just walked the Cape to Cape Track end-to-end and hopes to be able to complete the Bibb Track one day!
Farewell and Thank You
This year, we farewelled Marielle Sengers from the Board, after two years of service. Thank you for your contribution Marielle.
27 October 2020
Myrtle rust is an introduced and highly invasive fungal disease of Myrtaceae plants, including eucalypts, bottlebrushes, paperbarks and peppermint trees. It has now been found in all Australian states except Western Australia and South Australia.
It was first detected in New South Wales in 2010 and has spread across the eastern seaboard and to parts of the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Victoria. To protect WA from myrtle rust, import measures were introduced in 2010 to restrict the entry of Myrtaceae plants and plant parts into the state—including cut flowers, foliage, seed, fruit, tissue cultures and dry plant material—except under approved conditions. Imports from overseas to Australia are regulated by the Federal government.
However, there still exists the risk of Myrtle rust spores spreading to WA via wind, as well as on equipment, vehicles and clothing that have been in contact with infected plants in the eastern states. Experience in other states has demonstrated the difficulties in containing this pathogen, with eradication not being achieved. It is unlikely then that myrtle rust can be eradicated if detected in WA, unless it is detected early, and contained to a small or isolated area and the spore load is light. This highlights the urgent need to learn the signs and symptoms of myrtle rustle, and to report anything that might look like myrtle rust.
Impact of myrtle rust
Myrtle rust attacks young plants and new growth on plants in the Myrtaceae family, including eucalypts, bottle brush, paperbark and peppermint. The plant family Myrtaceae dominates many major WA ecosystems, including iconic eucalypts such as jarrah, karri, tuart and wandoo. More than half of Australia’s Myrtaceae species occur in WA, and more than 1800 species are found in the south-west of the state.
Two of the most susceptible host trees are endemic to WA – WA peppermint and Geraldton wax. Heavy infection can result in the death of highly susceptible hosts. If myrtle rust was to establish in WA, it has the potential to cause broad scale damage to national parks, bushland reserves, home gardens, commercial operations and amenity settings, such as parks and street plantings.
What to look for
There is almost nothing else that causes similar symptoms on Myrtaceae. Look for:
Masses of bright yellow or orange-yellow spores.
Lesions on young, actively-growing foliage, as well as floral buds and young fruits.
Rust lesions on plant species such as bottlebrush are purple in colour and sometimes spores are dark brown.
Buckled or twisted leaves.
Severe disease in young trees may kill shoot tips, causing loss of leaders and a bushy habit.
Over time or in association with other threats myrtle rust may kill plants.
How does it spread?
Spores of myrtle rust are wind borne and spread readily under suitable climatic conditions. Rusts are highly transportable. In addition to wind, the below are examples of what can easily transport spores, or transport contaminated soil/plant material, if they have been in infected plants:
Infected plant material.
Clothing, shoes, hats.
Other personal items.
Skin and hair.
Current import restrictions restrict the entry of myrtaceae plants into WA except under approved conditions.
Familiarise yourself with signs of myrtle rust, and check plants often for signs of the rust.
Keep records of inspections and plant movements.
Practice good nursery and garden hygiene.
When purchasing new plants or cuttings, ensure they are healthy and free from disease.
Visitors to natural areas
Any activity in natural areas has the potential to spread myrtle rust, including bushwalking, cycling, weeding, revegetation, camping and more.
When entering bushland areas, arrive clean, leave clean (refer to Arrive Clean, Leave Clean Commonwealth guidelines).
Ensure all items that could be contaminated are disinfected, laundered, or brushed free of mud, soil and organic matter before entering and exiting bushland.
This is particularly important if you have been in contact with natural areas outside of WA.
Use a solution of 70% ethanol or methylated spirits in 30% water to disinfect items.
Washing your clothes using a standard washing machine with detergent will kill myrtle rust spores.
Do not move soil or plant material into or out of bushland areas.
Use wash-down stations and boot cleaning stations if they are available (in WA these stations are used to prevent spread of phytophthora dieback).
Always stay on roads and trails