6 September 2023
On Tuesday 29th August, the community gathered at the Walpole Hotel-Motel to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Bibbulmun Track. As the Southern Terminus from 1989 to 1998, Walpole has always held a special connection to the track, with the Walpole Workcamp even being established to work on the track – work that continues to this day!
A bit of background on the Track: On 13 September 1998 the new Bibbulmun Track was officially opened in Albany. The Track had been significantly realigned, extended from Walpole to Albany and upgraded with the addition of timber shelters at the campsites.
An official function was held at the Bibbulmun Track Southern Terminus to open the Track and farewell a group of walkers, 11 of whom completed the first end-to-end. Along the way, they were accompanied by sectional walkers. The event was called Bib Walk ‘98.
In 2008, the 10th Anniversary was celebrated by an end-to-end walk starting in Albany.
Even though the official celebration isn’t until 13th September, the Walpole Hotel Motel was packed with people eager for some good food and a cold drink, especially for those walking the track, headed by Steve Sertis, Event Manager for the Bibbulmun Track Foundation serving as the lead guide for the walk.
Upon arriving at the pub, The Weekly caught up with Steve for a quick chat where he expressed how pleased he was with the event. Citing the large number of community members who arrived to show their support and of course, the incredible food provided by the proprietors Kris and Nate, which, I understand, was made entirely from local produce.
Despite the damp weather and grey skies that have become familiar to us all over recent weeks, the sun was shining, and the walk went smoothly with no one getting wet, although there were a few faceplants!
Entering the pub, we were greeted with songs from the wonderful Rob V of Dig the Dust fame– who provided the room with an ambience that made it easy for people to chat. Huge thanks are owed to Jenny Willcox, Dave Tapley and Robyn Christian for their incredible work organising the event, it couldn’t have gone better!
I think Jenny Willcox accurately expressed why the event was organised in her speech: “Today, we gather here to celebrate a milestone that encapsulates the very essence of our deep connection with the land and the spirit of adventure that resides within each one of us. As we stand before the 25th anniversary of the Bibbulmun Track, we are reminded of the remarkable journey that this trail has undertaken, shaping lives, fostering camaraderie, and etching stories of resilience and exploration onto the canvas of Western Australia's natural beauty.
As we take this moment to reflect on the journey that has brought us here, I am reminded of the vital role that the town of Walpole played in the inception and evolution of this iconic trail. Walpole, one of the nine towns that proudly cradle the Bibbulmun Track, holds a special place in the heart of this trail's history. It was here, in the year 1998, that the concept of the Bibbulmun Track was given life. The same year witnessed the establishment of the Walpole Prison Work Camp, a significant endeavour that would provide the workforce essential to erect the walkers' huts and bridges, and to extend the track's course as it reached towards Albany.
The journey has not been without challenges, forging a path through rugged terrain and untamed wilderness demands both determination and vision. However, it was with a collective spirit that the Walpole Community Resource Centre stepped forward, becoming the first registered "Friend of the Bibbulmun Track". The commitment and drive that flowed from this community served as the guiding light that led us through the darkest of forests and the steepest of ascents.
As we stand here today, the Bibbulmun Track stands not merely as a trail, but as a symbol of our unity with nature and our shared pursuit of the uncharted. Its corridors have echoed with laughter, stories, and the footsteps of countless adventurers, each contributing to its legacy, each leaving their mark on its path. Through sunlit days and moonlit nights, the Bibbulmun Track has been our canvas of discovery, inviting us to uncover the untouched corners of our world and to rediscover our own strengths.”
Before I end this article, I would be remiss if I failed to thank Kris and Nate of Walpole Hotel for not only hosting the event but showcasing such an array of local produce for the spread of food. It was delicious guys, thanks!
The day would not have been possible without the generous financial support of Lotterywest, together with Walpole CRC, Walpole Op Shop and the Shire of Manjimup
Regan Marsh, Walpole CRC