13 September 2018
On 13 September 1998, Western Australia’s longest walk trail, the ‘new’ Bibbulmun Track, was opened by the Hon. Cheryl Edwards, the Minister for the Environment at the time. Stretching over 1000 kilometres from Kalamunda in the Perth Hills to Albany on the south coast the Track passes through some of the most beautiful and wild areas of Australia’s South West.
20 years later, the 2000th person to walk the length of the Track from end-to-end has just registered their achievement. Twynam Cunningham, who turned 60 halfway through the journey, walked from his mum’s place in Albany, to his sister’s house in Cottesloe via the Bibbulmun Track. “Every step of the way was a pleasure” he said. ”I’ve walked a bit through the world over the years and I would say the shelters and the raw beauty of this track has been an absolute stand out.”
18% of all registered end-to-enders are from interstate and 12% from overseas with British, German and American hikers topping the list – some returning multiple times.
Of course, the majority of hikes on the Bibbulmun Track are short walks from a day up to a week and walkers can either base themselves in one of the nine towns along the way or embark on a wilderness adventure staying in the purpose-built campsites.
Named in recognition of the first inhabitants of the south west region, the Bibbulmun Track was designed to draw city folk into the country and gain an appreciation of the bush. This original vision has certainly been fulfilled with walkers returning time and again to the Track and contributing over $13 million a year to the regional economy.
The Track is maintained in partnership between the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and the volunteer-based, not-for-profit Bibbulmun Track Foundation. In 1998, 32 volunteers signed up for the Foundation’s ‘Eyes on the ground’ maintenance programme. Now, around 400 volunteers contribute over 30,000 hours annually to help maintain the Track, run the busy office and guide events for all ages. 2500 members and a range of partners, including Newmont Boddington Gold, help support the work of the Foundation. This will include a major works programme over the next three years to upgrade the ageing infrastructure to ensure that the Bibbulmun Track remains a world-class recreational resource for another twenty years.