Bibbulmun Track – Advice and tips on this long distance hike

What is the best section of the Bibbulman Track to hike?

Do you need a tent?

What is the water supply like on this famous 1000km adventure from Kalamunda, a suburb in the hills on the outskirts of Perth, to the historic town of Albany on the south coast of Australia?

We received an email from Bruce asking several questions about the Bibbulman Track, and in this post, we share Dave Tomlinson’s answers with other readers of “Our Hiking Blog”.

Regular readers will remember Dave’s excellent reports on the Bibbulman Track and The Great South West Walk.

We have split Bruce’s email into questions and then Dave’s answers.

My name is Bruce Bxxx and I was thinking about doing a hike on the Bibbulmun for the full month of December 2009. I am an experienced walker (Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker, trails in Tasmania, Argentina, Chile, Ireland, Scotland), though had a couple of questions I was wondering if I might bother you with.

Q: I understand Dec can be very hot on the Track…will I have problems finding water? I realize the shelters’ tanks should probably have some. But was wondering I might endure some very dry spells with empty tanks. I’ll probably start the morning off with 2 full litres in my pack.

A: December is summer time in Western Australia but it may not have the heat of February when I was on the track.
Dave’s water carrier – note the tannin stain – no problems to drink

Please be assured that you’ll have no problem with water.

The CALM (Conservation and Land Management) staff do a wonderful job maintaining the facilities and checking that tanks have adequate water. They are also supported by an army of volunteers along the entire track length. During my hike, a couple of the tanks had low water levels with a request to be conservative with it but it was never a problem. Because you can depend on water at every shelter only carry what you need to drink.

I consistently arrived at each campsite with only about 100m left in my bottle.

Carrying any more is pointless. Through the top of the northern section you can ‘double-hut’, which means you can refill halfway through the day and carry even less.

Q: If I walked from 2 Dec to 29 Dec…what would you recommend as being the best part? North to Mid? Mid to North? South to Mid or Mid to South? I probably only have enough time for 350 or so miles.

The question of which part to hike is a difficult one because it depends on the individual. Each section offers it’s unique beauty and tranquility. There are a few highlights though and the most popular section for many is the area around Walpole because of the huge and iconic karri trees.

Karri Tree

The southern section has some magnificent coastal scenery although the hiking is more difficult in parts because of the sand dunes. There are some beautiful areas of Jarrah forest in the northern section and I loved the rugged Pingerup Plains.

To be honest, I really can’t answer this question because it depends on what you prefer. I suggest you have a look at the track photos that I’ve uploaded onto the internet and see what inspires you. The link is: here to all my pictures .

Q: I’ll probably carry a 3 lb tent.

A: At the time I hiked the track there was absolutely no need for a tent.

Frankland River campsite

This could well be different in spring time when many people hike to see the wild flowers. However, with December being the beginning of summer I would suggest you don’t need it. So, unless you plan to camp between the shelters (where you won’t have water)

I suggest you leave it behind. The shelters comfortably sleep at least 8 people.

Q: Could I get by with a sleeping bag rated to 10 degrees C or 45 degrees Farenheit?

A: The sleeping bag is an interesting question because I don’t trust their ratings. Mine was rated at 5C and was only just adequate, especially in the southern section where it’s cooler.

So, to be honest I don’t think a bag rated at 10C would be warm enough.

For your comfort and peace of mind I’d suggest 5 deg C or even 0 deg C. Remember that the shelters are not fully enclosed. They are three-sided and although they are beautifully constructed and provide shelter from the prevailing winds, it can still be chilly at night.

Q: Any problems finding gas cannisters for stove (iso butyl mix)?

A: Providing your stove is a standard model, you won’t have any problem finding gas canisters.
Each town that you pass through will have them in either the supermarket, general store or petrol station. I used the butane canisters with the threaded connection. Depending on the time of year and the section of track you are in, you may be able to use the fireplaces to cook but fire bans are often in place during the summer period.

Q: Think I would need a fleece?

A: Dave did not address this question but I would, note answer to sleeping bag question, it can get cold at night! (Frank)

There is also another great post by Dave on the blog titled – Bibbulman Track planning – it is well worth reading in conjunction with this post.

Related Posts:
Bibbulmun Track – Part One – A very long hike
Bibbulmun Track – Part Two – The Southern Section

The Official Site:
Bibbulmun Track – Trip Planning

Many thanks to Dave Tomlinson for his fantastic words and pictures for this post.

Comments

  1. Juice says

    Hi guys, always good to read your blog Frank.

    Just to add to the answer's, with regards to a tent Bruce, I doubt you will need one. Especially if you hike the south section which is less accessable for City dwellers to visit on weekends. Despite that, you may want to carry a light insect net that you can hang up in the hut or between tree's. This way you will have something to sleep in even if it's not in the hut, and you'll also be protected from pesky mosquito's.

    As for the different section, I personally enjoy the south because of the rugged coast, tall (cool) Karri forest and giant tingle tree's. It's more remote then the north and the towns you visit have plenty of charm.

    The north mind you has some wonderful attractions, like for example the jarrah forests. Keep in mind though that wild flower season would be close to over and it will be pretty warm. My (This is a personal judgement) is that the north carries alot of risk due to the general heat of the days and the dry underbush in the forest – a fire hasn't been through for a couple of years now.

    Lastly, be ready to see some snakes and take the necessary precautions. Nothing too dangerous, just don't try kiss 'em.

    Hopefully see you on the track, I'll be walking from the 26 Oct to sometime late December – starting from the north.

    Matt

  2. Frank and Sue says

    Hi Matt,
    Was hoping you would notice this post.

    Thanks for the very valuable feedback and suggestions.
    You have certainly allocated a fair chunk of time to do the walk. (green with envy)

    Would love to hear how it all goes and hope you have a great trip and the weather is kind!
    Frank

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  4. Juice says

    Well frank, I looked at the track and thought I better not set a date which was unachieveable. I know a few people who have walked it with a limited time frame and have had to short cut area's or are forced into really long days with out rest days to enjoy themselves. I figured I would just leave the dates open and see how I go.

    I guess I'm lucky because I don't work that often (7 weeks in the first six months of this financial year), but it means I sacrifice alot as well. This hike is perfect for my budget as the huts are free.

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