6 October 2020
In early 2018, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions started a partnership with Google, to capture imagery on key tourist trails and attractions for inclusion on Google Street View. Many attractions and parks were eventually included (see https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/connect/read/get-bird’s-eye-view-google-street-view). Significant promotional and informative benefits were anticipated from the project. As one of the state’s iconic Long Trails, the Bibbulmun Track was – of course – included.
A lot of planning went into developing a schedule which captured first the major highlights of the Track, and then filling in the gaps as far as possible. Some complicated logistics were involved! Walking could only be undertaken in fine weather. If it started to rain while filming, the volunteers had a raincoat to put on “Wilson” (as the unit was affectionately nicknamed); the 15 lenses then needed to be cleaned to ensure no droplets were present when filming restarted. Even brushing past wet, overhanging vegetation had to be avoided. Rain also disrupted the schedule when needing to access DRA areas.
The presence of shadow in the image was not desirable; this generally limited walking to about 5 hours through the middle of the day. Start and end points for each session needed to be accessible by vehicle – fortunately we had the full support of the P&WS in accessing the more difficult sections.
A total of 20 volunteers contributed hundreds of hours of their own time to collect the footage during the latter parts of 2018 and 2019. The volunteers worked in teams of 3-4 people, rotating during the day between the roles of carrying the 15kg, top-heavy camera/backpack unit, a walking support person, and driving the support vehicle between access points. We take our hats off to all the volunteers who participated in the project!
A typical day for the team involved travel to and from access points, a careful process of powering up the recording unit (and the reverse at the end of the session), covering the allocated distance and interacting with walkers to minimize complications in the footage. At night the team would charge the plethora of batteries which supplied the camera unit, radios and Spot Tracker.
While the original intention was to capture the whole Bibbulmun Track, we were left about 300km short of our goal when the project was suddenly halted in October 2019. Completed sections include:
- Northern Terminus to Harvey-Quindanning Road
- Highlights sections: Trees Road to Harris Dam, Lyalls Log Road to Mumballup, Lowden-Grimwade Road to Kirup-Grimwade Road
- Balingup to Chesapeake Road (east of Lake Maringup)
- Highlights sections: Banksia Track to the east end of Mandalay Beach, Giant Tingle Tree to Nut Lookout, the canoe shed on the east side of the Irwin Inlet channel to the east end of Big Quarram Beach, William Bay Road to Denmark Rivermouth Trailhead, Tennessee Road South to Cosy Corner, Muttonbird Road to Sandpatch carpark, and Bayview Drive to the Southern Terminus.
You can view your favourite section of Track – or plan for your next walk – by these steps:
- Open Google Maps (www.google.com/maps)
- Zoom in to the area of interest
- Click the yellow person icon in the bar on the bottom right of your screen – the available Street View imagery will show up as a blue line
- Click on the blue line – it will open street view
- Navigate by clicking ahead on the path to move forwards; to turn on the spot, click and hold, then drag the image around. The yellow person icon in the navigation square on the bottom left of your screen will show the direction you are facing.