Hammy, Carol, Amber and Gordon Russell, Scotland
9 April 2019
We first came across the Track in 1994 when Hammy and I were on a camping trip in Western Australia. Hammy said at that time he would like to walk the whole Track one day. A couple of decades passed, two kids arrived, and as Amber approached secondary school age we thought that if we were going to take a long trip, now was the time. Research had shown us that a couple of families had walked the whole Track but until we did it we did not appreciate that people doing an end-to-end with kids was quite rare. We expected to meet some kids on the Track, but realised pretty quickly there were not many on an end-to-end journey like us!
We had been motivated to undertake something a bit different and something that would require us to work together to complete. Our kids are used to travelling—something Hammy and I have always enjoyed—but the appeal of walking the Bibbulmun Track was that we would all be doing something together that was a challenge over an extended period of time. We were extremely keen to step away from the distractions of modern life for a period of time—and we certainly did that on the Bibbulmun Track!
Planning to get away from our commitments of full time work and our own business was the main challenge. After that the preparation for the actual walk became part of our lives. We worked together by email with the Bibbulmun Track Foundation and our coordinator Jim Baker—the assistance from the BTF was invaluable both before and during the walk.
The trip preparation in Scotland involved making travel arrangements, purchasing clothing and practising walking in boots all day! Once we arrived in Australia we needed to buy maps and snake bite kits, finalise our itinerary, set up food drops and organise our accommodation in the towns along the way.
We learned a lot on this trip—what it is like to walk everyday on a long distance walk—it's tough and it becomes all encompassing. You think and talk Track every day until it is hard to remember what you talk about normally, but after 51 days you feel that it has become a way of life—a tough but enjoyable way of life.
Our kids, at the ages of 9 and 11, rose to the challenge really well. Yes, we had tears but lots of laughter as well as they worked out how to walk, and how to enjoy it. Our favourite things were definitely quiet mornings at the campsites, the hilarity about food combinations (Track food is not exactly healthy eating!), meeting the wild life and the excitement of arriving in Track towns—something the kids really loved!
The Russell Family, 2018.
(Ed: The accompanying pictures say it all. As far as I am aware, this is the first time that a family with two young kids has flown half-way across the world to walk the Track—something I'm sure they will remember for a long time!)