I live in Perth and, up till recently, I’d never set foot on the Bibbulmun Track. I’m a trekker, I’ve trekked to Everest Base camp – twice – yet I’ve never walked on the closest long distance track to my home.
The Bibbulmun Track runs for around 1,000 km from Kalamunda on the eastern outskirts of Perth to Albany in the south west of the state and is a world renowned walking trail. Hikers come from around the world to walk on this track, they spend months, sometimes years, planning the 8 week walk to become ‘end to enders.’
But you don’t have to do it all in one go. Let’s face it not many of us have the luxury of being able to take off from our work and family commitments to spend a couple of months exploring ourselves and the world that we’ve found ourselves in.
This track is easy to split into sections, you can do day walks or you can spend a few days or even a couple of weeks on certain sections and this is the most popular way to do the walk.
So, I figured it was time to see what all the hype was about and get out there myself. For my first taste of the Bibbulmun track, a friend and I headed up to Kalamunda early one Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago for a day walk. We were lucky, it was a beautiful day – cool first thing but sunny and pleasantly warm once we got going.
When I’ve never done something before it’s the little things that tend to stress me out the most – like, exactly where does the track begin and where do I park the car! Turned out it was easy. We parked in Coles carpark on Railway Rd, walked across the road and right there was the entrance to the track.
From there it’s a short stroll before you come to a local road which you need to follow downhill for about 50m before you get to the track proper. Even at this point it’s well signposted with the familiar triangular snake markers. The stylised design of the markers is the Waugal, a creation being of the Nyoongar people who inhabited the south west of Western Australia and it points you in the right direction for the full length of the track.
The views in the early morning light, out over the valley on this first section of the track, were stunning. We didn’t rush, we took it all in, we took photos and we stood spellbound for a few minutes overlooking the treetops in the valley beneath us.
After that the track follows a creek for a while and, once again, the scenery and the rocky outcrops had us reaching for our cameras and exploring.
Then came the serious, more technical part.
On a stretch of the track around 4 kilometres long there are rocky, narrow paths that have you climbing several steepish hills and then descending again as you get over the ridges that line the Helena River valley. This section may be a bit of a challenge if you haven’t done any of this type of walking before but it’s perfectly doable, just take your time.
After that it was another flat stroll till we came to Pauls Valley Rd and the Kalamunda Camel Farm. We’d decided that this would be our turn around point and we stopped for lunch and a coffee at the Camel Farm café. It shows how much I know about my own city in that I didn’t even know there was a camel farm in Kalamunda. There were tourists and families having camel rides and the place is also popular with trail bike riders who use it as a starting point for many of the trails in the area.
Then it was back the way we came. We enjoyed walking it in reverse and managed the second half quicker than the first. If you want a shorter walk and don’t want to backtrack then take two cars and drop one at your finishing point before starting the walk.
All in all we took around five and a half hours return but we certainly didn’t rush, we were distracted several times along the way, we stopped for a snack mid morning as well as our lunch break at the camel farm and at one point took a wrong turn and slightly misplaced ourselves, which resulted in a wasted half hour as we figured ourselves out. (Our own fault, we were chatting too much and missed the obvious marker pointing us up a track to our right – but in our own defence we weren’t the only ones who missed that marker.)
It’s a walk I’d certainly recommend to any novice walkers who want to try their hand, and their legs, on a stretch of the Bibbulmun Track. You never know, you might get hooked and take to longer sections next time.
Some steps you should take:
- Take one of the Bibbulmun Track maps for the section you intend to walk. These are available from Mainpeak stores in Perth and Cottesloe or from the Bibbulmun Track Foundation. You can buy them online at www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au/
- Follow the yellow Waugul markers along the track.
- Make sure someone knows where you’re going and the approximate time you expect to return.
- Take a small day pack with you and include first aid items, snacks, insect repellent, sun screen, sunglasses, sunhat and a water/windproof jacket.
- Take plenty of WATER – and make sure you drink it.
- Wear sturdy walking shoes or boots.
- Take note of the weather – April to November is the best time to walk the track but always be aware of possible hot weather or rain.
- Be sensible but, above all, ENJOY the experience.