17 November 2016
The Bibbulmun Track Foundation has been successful in securing funding through the Peel Regional Grants Scheme to assist in the building of a suspension bridge to replace the Bibbulmun Track’s Asquith Bridge (otherwise known as Long Gully Bridge) which was lost in the Lower Hotham bushfire in 2015, and for Track realignment south east of Dwellingup in Lane Poole Reserve.
This $112,000 Royalties for Regions grant from the Peel Development Commission, combined with $100,000 raised and donated by Foundation members and funding from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, brings the building of a new bridge over the Murray River one step closer.
This $602,000 project will restore the continuity of the Bibbulmun Track, enabling end-to-end hikers to complete a true though hike of the Track and will attract sectional walkers back to the area.
Research conducted in 2014-15 revealed that there are around 300,000 visit days on the Bibbulmun Track annually. The number of people undertaking overnight walks has increased over the years with the average length of overnight walk being 5.6 days. The number of commercial tour operators has also increased. Most tour operators combine day walks with off-track accommodation, dining in local restaurants and visiting other attractions in the area. The Track passes through many regional communities encouraging benefits for local businesses such as accommodation, cafes, grocery stores and pharmacies. Indeed, the 2014-15 research highlighted that there is $13.1 million generated annually in direct expenditure.
The role that the Bibbulmun Track plays in the Peel region aligns with the Peel Regional Investment Blueprint with its focus on Tourism Excellence. The Blueprint identifies trails as being a key to the provision of a range of hard and soft adventure experiences and to enable visitors to access the natural environment in a sustainable manner. The Bibbulmun Track is a major part of the trail network and an attraction in its own right. The Track supports the vision of Peel District becoming a nature based tourism destination which attracts visitors to the region on a regular basis.
Being so close to Perth, Dwellingup is popular with weekend walkers who base themselves in town and enjoy day walks, or who walk out to a campsite for the night and head back to town the next day for a meal before driving back to Perth. The Bibbulmun Track Foundation and other tour operators also run various events and tours during the year which are based in the Peel. Log book entries from Murray Campsite, which is a two-day walk south of Dwellingup (excludes day hikers), show that:
- 70% of walkers were from the Perth metropolitan area, 9.4% were from interstate, and 7.3% were from overseas. The remaining 13% were from country WA.
- 23% of walkers were walking for up to 2 days, 40% from 3 – 7 days, 8.5% from 1 – 5 weeks, and 28.5% more than 5 weeks.
- 37% either started or finished their walk in Dwellingup.
- 40% of walkers were aged between 45 – 64 years and 7.4% were aged 65 years and over. 12% were 18 years and under which is high compared to other areas of the Track. Some of this is attributed to the number of groups including schools and youth groups which use the Track in this area for Outdoor Recreation excursions.
The realignment of the Track to the new bridge location has been mapped out by DPaW and marked by Foundation Support volunteers. Approvals for the new location of the bridge have unfortunately taken longer than anticipated, however it is expected that construction of the bridge will be completed prior to next winter.