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Bibbulmun Track – Kalamunda to Albany: An end to enders perspective

Bibbulmun Track Northern Terminus

Source: PerthNow

The Bibbulmun Track is the longest walk trail in Western Australia and is about 973 km in length.  The real distance does vary marginally as the track is subject to frequent diversions (both temporary and permanent).  The Track’s northern trailhead is at Kalamunda, a hills suburb of Perth and the southern trailhead is at Albany, on the southern coast of Western Australia.  The Track leaves Kalamunda, travelling through jarrah/marri forests, before entering the karri forests and then the tingle forests as it snakes south. Eventually the Track emerges on the southern ocean for the final coastal run into Albany, hence it is often called the forest to the coast track.  Along the way there are 48 campsites (three-sided shelter, bush toilet, water tank, picnic tables, and fire ring) and the Track passes through seven towns. Over the length of the Track, an average days walk is about 18 km (based on a 54 day walk).  The track is very accessible, allowing for short family walks, to-day walks to overnighters, to going end to end.

Bibbulmun Track End to End Certificate

Bibbulmun Track End to End Certificate

I had the pleasure of completing my end to end of the Bibbulmun Track in 2003, walking the common way, from Kalamunda to Albany and whilst I did keep a diary of my walk, my sojourn along the Track I have managed to lose all my photos of the walk so have not written up in great detail my experiences. Instead I keep up this quick and dirty overview of the Track and regularly update this blog with updates on the Track and its condition.

Bibbulmun Track Maps and Documentation

The main documentation on the track are the two guidebooks published by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) (formerly the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM)).  These are “A guide to the Bibbulmun Track: Northern Half” (2nd Edition) (2002) which covers the Track from Kalamunda to Donnelly River Village and “A guide to the Bibbulmun Track: Southern Half” (2nd Edition) which covers the Track from Donnelly River Village to Albany.

In addition to the guidebooks, DEC publishes a series of eight maps covering the track.  Maps 1 to 4 cover the northern half and maps 5 to 8 cover the southern half. The maps were updated in 2003 and are in a scale of 1:50 000 and printed on virtually rip-proof and water proof paper. The maps are:

  1. Map 1 Darling Range – Kalamunda to North Bannister
  2. Map 2 Dwellingup – North Bannister to Harvey-Quindanning Road
  3. Map 3 Collie – Harvey-Quindanning Road to Mumballup
  4. Map 4 Blackwood – Mumballup to Brockman Highway
  5. Map 5 Pemberton – Brockman Highway to Middleton Road
  6. Map 6 Northcliffe – Middleton Road to Broke Inlet Road
  7. Map 7 Walpole – Broke Inlet Road to William Bay
  8. Map 8 Denmark/Albany – William Bay to Albany

 Bibbulmun Track Sections

The Bibbulmun Track is “divided” into 58 sections.  While the Track is divided into sections, its is not uncommon for end to end enders or section walkers to walk more than one section in a day, so the sections are delineated only by the placement of campsites or towns and should only be a guide to planning a walk schedule.

The Bibbulmun Track Foundation has now developed an excellent interactive Section by Section Guide. They have divided the Track into nine sections and for each section the Guide provides an interactive map where you can highlight the site of Track Towns, Access Points, Campsites, Inlet Crossings and Visitor Information Centres.  They also provide quite informative details on the section. All worth a read if you are looking for information on various sections of the Track

Helena Campsite Bibbulmun Track

Helena Campsite – Source: Bibbulmun Track Foundation

1. The Darling Range – Kalamunda to Dwellingup

This section is 202 kilometres long and starts at the northern trailhead which is in the Perth Hills, 24km east of the centre of Perth in Kalamunda. This section is the longest section between towns – Kalamunda and Dwellingup being the only towns. Mundaring Weir and North Bannister do not have re-supply facilities for walkers.  The campsite spacing on this section, well through to North Bannister is around 10 km providing an opportunity to double hut.  The first campsite is at Hewitt’s Hill which is a nice campsite. From Hewitt’s Hill the Track crosses the Mundaring Weir reaching Ball Creek campsite. Personally I would camp at Hewitt’s Hill and then walk straight through to Helena campsite which is a much nicer campsite. From Helena the Track drops down to the river before climbing up to Waalegh (expect to see the city lights here) and then on to Beraking campsite, Mt Dale campsite, Brookton campsite and at last into the bush proper and on to Canning campsite. In my view the walking improves from here, with the next campsite being at Monadnocks (allow time to climb the rock). From Monadnocks there is some nice climbing of Mt Cuthbert and Mt Vincent before reaching Mt Cooke campsite.  From Mt Cooke campsite the Track climbs Mt Cooke, the highest point in the Darling Ranges and then drops down to the Nerang campsite. The next campsite is in my view the coldest campsite on the Track, Gringer Creek. To compensate for the freezing here, there is a short spur track to the North Bannister roadhouse and bar.

From Gringer Creek the Track crosses the Albany Highway continuing on to White Horse Hills campsite, Mt Wells, Chadora and the flat walk into Dwellingup.  I found from White Horse Hills through to Dwellingup to a pretty uninspiring section to walk. There is something unappealing about walking through well logged jarrah forest.

Diversions and Updates Advice for the Kalamunda to Dwellingup section of the Bibbulmun Track

  1. May 2013 – The drop-box toilet at the Mt Wells campsite is reportedly out of action
  2. May 2013 – Fire bans now lifted for the 2013 winter – fires allowed in fire rings only
dookanelly_campsite_bibbulmun_track

Dookanelly Campsite – Source: Bibbulmun Track Foundation

2. Dwellingup – Dwellingup to Collie

The Dwellingup to Collie section is 172 kilometres long.  Dwellingup is in a timber and fruit-growing district east of Pinjarra. It is the gateway to the Lane Poole Reserve and the Murray River. I found this section a really good walk with probably one of the harder sections being between Dookanelly and Possum Springs.  From the Murray Campsite right through to Yourdamung Campsite, there is a sense of remoteness … at last one can feel that they are getting away from it all. Well except for Alcoa’s mining operations that is.  The Bibbulmun Track leaves Dwellingup taking a short route through to Swamp Oak campsite before edging around the Lane Poole Reserve to Murray campsite and climbing up to Dookanelly.  From Dookanelly the walking gets tough through to Possum Springs and then eases off through to Yourdamung, and Harris Dam campsites and then on to Collie.

Diversions and Updates Advice for the Dwellingup to Collie section of the Bibbulmun Track

  1. May 2013 – Fire bans now lifted for the 2013 winter – fires allowed in fire rings only
noggerup_campsite_bibbulmun_track

Noggerup Campsite, Bibbulmun Track – Source: Bibbulmun Track Foundation

3. Collie – Collie to Balingup

The Collie to Balingup section whilst only 82 km is a nice walk for the most part as it takes Wellington Dam area; nice walking in my view. The first two campsites on this section, Yabberup, and Noggerup campsite are really nice campsites set in quality jarrah forest. After Noggerup the Track goes back to well logged jarrah forestry through to Grimwade and then back into farming country on the way to Balingup.

Diversions and Updates Advice for the Collie to Balingup section of the Bibbulmun Track

  1. May 2013 – Fire bans now lifted for the 2013 winter – fires allowed in fire rings only
mist_at_blackwood_campsite_bibbulmun_track

The view from Blackwood Campsite – Source Bibbulmun Track Foundation

4. Balingup – Balingup to Donnelly River Village

The section from Balingup to Donnelly River Village is another short section being only 60 km.  This section includes the no-fires Blackwood campsite which sits high above the valley and the Gregory Brook campsite, a great spot on the Brook. Nice for a soak in the warmer weather for sure.

Diversions and Updates Advice for the Balingup to Donnelly River Village section of the Bibbulmun Track

  1. May 2013 – Fire bans now lifted for the 2013 winter – fires allowed in fire rings only. Note that fires are not allowed at Blackwood campsite.

5. Donnelly River – Donnelly River Village to Pemberton

The Donnelly River Village to Pemberton section is 100 km and spends a fair bit of the distance in the Donnelly River valley. This in turns makes this section one of the toughest along the Track with a lot of ups and downs. There are nice campsites on this section to make up for the hard going: Tom Road is great for swimming, Boarding House is in a nice campsite on a creek, Beavis has a great swimming hole and Bedeelup a heck of climb to the loo.

Diversions and Updates Advice for the Donnelly River to Pemberton section of the Bibbulmun Track

6. Pemberton – Pemberton to Northcliffe

The Pemberton to Northcliffe section is a mixed bag of 55 km. It starts out with some nice karri forest walking and then as one gets closer to Northcliffe the experience becomes less; the joys of development I guess.  The Warren campsite is a nice spot in the karri and the Schafer campsite offers walkers a swim.

Diversions and Updates Advice for the Pemberton to Northcliffe section of the Bibbulmun Track

  1. May 2013 – Fire bans now lifted for the 2013 winter – fires allowed in fire rings only

7. Northcliffe – Northcliffe to Walpole

The Northcliffe to Walpole section is 140 km and at the wrong time of the year can involve a lot wet feet walking.  The first campsite as you head south is the Gardner campsite which is on a nice watercourse. From Gardner walkers continue to Lake Maringup Campsite on the edge of Lake Maringup.  The next campsite south at Dog Pool is one of the highlights of the Bibbulmun Track.  From Dog Pool the Track works it way through the Pingerup Plains, a low-lying area that is prone to inundation during winter.  There is a couple of high points across the plain. The first being Mt Chance and the Mt Chance campsite. The climb of the granite rock is worth it for the views.  The other highlight a little further south is Mt Pingerup. It is well worth making the climb for a short break from the Bibbulmun Track.  Southbound walkers leave the Pingerup Plains at Woolbales Campsite as they head to the coast via Mandalay Beach and on to Long Point Campsite. It is worth working your way down to Long Point for a look along the coast here.  From Long Point the next campsite is on Mt Clare which is only 10 kilometres from town. I camped at Mt Clare on my end to end but really could have pushed on those few more kilometres into Walpole.

Diversions and Updates Advice for the Northcliffe to Walpole section of the Bibbulmun Track

May 2013 – Fire bans now lifted for the 2013 winter – fires allowed in fire rings only

8. Walpole – Walpole to Denmark

From Walpole the Bibbulmun Track heads back into the forest via the Valley of the Giants and then back out to follow the coast pretty much all they through to Albany.  The Walpole to Denmark section is 127 kilometres.  Beyond Peaceful Bay and the canoe crossing on the Irwin Inlet, are three very challenging days, each more than 20km. Between Peaceful Bay and Denmark there is a mix of long beaches, soft and steep sand dunes, heathland and some forest.  Heading south the first campsite is the Frankland River campsite, probably the most beautiful campsite on the Track. Moving south from Frankland River the Track the next campsite is Giants which is just inland from the Valley of the Giants.  The Track then heads back to the coast and the Rame Head campsite.  From Rame Head the Track reaches Peaceful Bay, a picturesque holiday spot on the edge of the Southern Ocean. Peaceful Bay, whilst not a town is small community that does offer accommodation and some services for Track walkers.  Not long after leaving Peaceful Bay the first inlet crossing is reached; the Irwin Inlet. Canoes are used to cross the 150 metre Irwin Inlet.  It is always important to make sure that two canoes are left on each side of the inlet so please do the right thing.  As I recall from the Irwin Inlet the walking is pretty hard going with some pretty average Track alignment through to Boat Harbour Campsite. Mind you Boat Harbour does make up for it!  Once again the Track alignment leaves a lot to be desired at times as the coast is “followed” through to William Bay campsite. There is an inlet crossing on this section at Parry Inlet. I didn’t have any issues crossing here and by all accounts it is generally a fairly straight forward one. The beach south of Parry Inlet, Mazzoletti Beach can be closed at times during winter due to severe storms and beach erosion. Just keep an eye out for the closure signs.  William Bay campsite is another one in a great spot. It is worth climbing a bit higher to catch the sunset over the bay. The granite rock forms around here are pretty amazing as well.  From Williams Bay the encroaching development of Denmark impacts on the walking experience: this is one of those shut-up and get it done sections.

Diversions and Updates Advice for the Walpole to Denmark section of the Bibbulmun Track

Crossing the Torbay Inlet Bibbulmun Track

Crossing the Torbay Inlet on the Bibbulmun Track – Source: Duncan C-R @ Flickr

9. Denmark – Denmark to Albany

The last section for southbound walkers is the last 85 kilometres from Denmark to Albany.  Officially it seems now days the Track stops at Denmark and then resumes on the southern side of the Wilson Inlet.  If you are lucky the inlet will be closed and it is a simple walk across. Alternatively with advance notice you may be able to book a boat to take you across the inlet. Otherwise you need to arrange a lift or walk. Details on the options can be found on the Bibbulmun Track Foundation website.  Once walkers have negotiated Wilson Inlet, the next campsite is mozzie central, also known as Nullaki Campsite. If you don’t walk from Denmark, it is probably worth moving on from Nullaki campsite to the much nicer campsite at West Cape Howe. From here the walking improves as the Track explores some of our southern coast on the way to Torbay Campsite and the crossing of Torbay Inlet.  After Torbay Inlet there are two new campsites, well when I walked the Track back in 2003 there was just the Hidden Valley campsite on this stretch. Now there is the Muttonbird campsite and the Sand Patch campsite either side of the Grasmere Windfarm. From here it is all “down hill” to the southern terminus at Albany.

Diversions and Updates Advice for the Denmark to Albany section of the Bibbulmun Track

Accessing the Bibbulmun Track Trailheads

The northern trailhead is about 26 km east from the Perth General Post Office and is on the corner of Mundaring Weir Road and Railway Road, Kalamunda (hills suburb of Perth).


View Larger Map

The southern trailhead is 409 km south of Perth (via road) at the Old Railway Station on Proudlove Parade (300 metres east of the southern end of York Street), Albany.


View Larger Map

Bibbulmun Track Northern Trailhead

Public transport to the northern trailhead is via Transperth buses which service Kalamunda regularly from Perth city. See the 285, 287; 298, 300; 302; 303 timetables. There is no rail service to Kalamunda.

Bibbulmun Track Southern Trailhead

The main public transport provider to the southern trailhead is Transwa.  Transwa services Albany daily.  The applicable timetables are S1, S2, and S3.

Other major access points include North Banister, Dwellingup, Balingup, Pemberton, Northcliffe, Walpole, and Denmark.

Bibbulmun Track Resources

18 Responses to Bibbulmun Track – Kalamunda to Albany: An end to enders perspective

  1. Ian Jackson April 2, 2012 at 6:34 PM #

    Hi, I am interested in walking parts of the track but am more interested in cycling. Can you offer any advice or point me in the right direction to get help please? Thanks, Ian jackson

    • Aushiker April 2, 2012 at 10:51 PM #

      Hi Ian. Thanks for you comment. I am a little confused but as to your intentions. Are you looking to walk the Bibbulmun Track or ride your bike on it? Riding a bicycle on the Track is actually illegal.

  2. sha April 7, 2012 at 1:35 PM #

    Hi, can you please tell me if the water in tanks need to be treated before drinking or can one just drink them as they are – I noticed that you only talked about the filtering and not treating. Thanks

    • Aushiker April 15, 2012 at 10:54 AM #

      Good question and whilst I don’t bother to generally treat the water in anyway other than maybe using a piece of stocking to filter out the wiggly things in the water, if you have any concerns at all I would treat it, more so if you are vulnerable to stomach upsets.

      The water is captured from the hut roofs so unless an animal gets caught in a gutter it should be okay.

      Oh, it will often have a brown tinge to it due to the tannin from the trees.

      • Paul April 16, 2012 at 11:03 AM #

        Hi Sha,

        I have never treated water I have drunk from the tanks, but, I recently read a report from someone who had contracted gardia from drinking water from these tanks, he didn’t say what section.

        So, you may want to consider treating the water before drinking.

        Winter rains will be with us soon which will refill the tanks but this time of the year they are probably at their lowest, dirtiest levels.

        • Aushiker April 16, 2012 at 11:19 PM #

          Thanks Paul for the reminder that one does have to be careful. I don’t surpose you have a link to the report? Would be interesting to see if there is more details and if the water from the tanks was the source.

          • paul April 17, 2012 at 5:04 PM #

            My memory is the comment was in the most recent monthly update email from the Track Foundation. The guy said he caught it from water from the Track Tanks and for everyone to be careful. Suggest you contact the Foundation for more info.

  3. sha April 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM #

    Also i would like to know if one needs to buy all the maps for end to end hiking or the two guide books will suffice.

    Thanks

    • Aushiker April 15, 2012 at 10:51 AM #

      Thanks for your question and my apologies for the delayed response. I have been away. Personally I would if I had to make a choice go with the Bibbulmun Track maps over the guide books for a couple of reasons. One they are lighter but more importantly they are easier to read and in an emergency situation may provide sufficient detail to allow you to get out to a road or help.

      The Bibbulmun Track are handy for the detailed notes but really I don’t find them necessary. I keep an eye out for trail markers and if I haven’t seen one for about a kilometre, I simply back track to make sure I am heading in the right direction.

      Hope that helps.

  4. Kerry August 9, 2012 at 7:55 AM #

    Hi,

    Has anyone done the North to South walk starting at sometime in late March? I was just wondering if this is a good time for the 2 month trek, or is Spring more suitable start date?

    Thank you.

    Kerry

    • Aushiker August 9, 2012 at 9:00 AM #

      Thanks for your question Kerry. March and April [link to BOM temperature map] can often still be quite warm so you may be walking in rather warm conditions for a while but as you head south it will cool down. You are also coming off the dry season so water may be limited, particularly in the northern parts and of course the bush will be dry and will not have that same feel and look to it as later in the year. Personally I would if possible go in August/September/October timeframe but again there are trade-offs: colder and wetter :)

  5. Alison September 1, 2013 at 2:29 PM #

    Great overview-thanks so much-just started researching doing the first part from Kalamunda.(not sure how far we will get) Could you tell me if there are safety issues for two 50 year old ladies walking on their own if using the campsites. Also i notice the Mundaring to Dwellingup would take a couple of days and we would have to use the campsites.

    • Andrew Priest September 6, 2013 at 2:15 PM #

      Hi Alison. I am aware of single women walking the Track so I don’t think there would be any ehanced risks for the two of you. Of course as always just be aware of your surrondings.

      Walking from Mundaring to Dwellingup will take a bit more than two days :) Realistically you are probably looking at around 10 days as it is 202 kilometres of Track.

  6. Justin December 7, 2013 at 5:46 PM #

    a lot of it was “nice” – is that as good as it got?

    • Andrew Priest December 8, 2013 at 7:20 PM #

      For me yes; I guess others may find it more stimulating and others less so. Really depends on your other experiences I would suggest.

      • Justin December 8, 2013 at 7:40 PM #

        ive climbed great wall, seen everest from tibet side, friendship hwy, train through tibet – i guess this will be a come-down?

        • Andrew Priest December 9, 2013 at 5:40 PM #

          I really cannot say … it is a person thing and will depend on your expectations. If you are comparing it to Everest then I would probably say yes, but that is really me. You may have a different perspective.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bibbulmun Track Realignment – 18.6 km north of Northcliffe – Wheatley Coast Road | Aushiker: Bicycling & Hiking in Western Australia - May 21, 2010

    [...] Environment and Conservation has advised on May 20, 2010 that a track realignment is place on the Bibbulmun Track 18.6 Km north of Northcliffe – Wheatley Coast Rd (Refer to Map [...]

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