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.