The Swan Walking Challenge uses WA’s own Bibbulmun Track, from now to be referenced as’ the Track’, as the basis for walking milestones. I have been lucky enough to have actually explored this amazing stretch of Western Australia and thought I could add further insights into the Track. If you haven’t already, you can follow my Ramblings from the beginning:
Setting the Scene
- The 1000km Track is divided into about 55 subsections, comprising of 45 huts and passing through 9 towns
- My adventures work to the distance between huts and towns. The northern end of the Track has a number of smaller distances between huts for example I have ‘double hutted’ from Kalamunda to Hewetts (12.1km) and then on to the Ball Creek hut (12.8km)
- You meet people along the way, especially those hoping to complete an ‘End to Ender’, who have a very small window of time to achieve the distance they have set themselves and need to average upto 50kms daily; each to their own but definitely a hard slog!
- Guiding your way along the Track are small, yellow triangular markers with a black Waugal. These appear on trees and posts the length of the trail, if you haven’t seen one in a while it can be an indicator that you have missed a turn and need to backtrack; this is never a fun realisation.
The Adventure Begins
- The journey from Kalamunda thru Dwellingup has many highlights
- About 1.5kms from Kalamunda you enjoy the first spectacular view over Piesse Brook valley and then begins the first real taste of things to come taking on the first of many rocky descents that too often are followed by the equivalent ascent!
- I have discovered that when I hit a certain uphill gradient it doesn’t matter how much effort I put into it my body doesn’t keep up with others, it doesn’t matter whether I am on a trail with my pack on or if I am on a ramble closer to home with no extra load, my legs don’t maintain stride length. The main disadvantage is that I get less rest when I reach the top of a hill!
Have a Plan
When going on a significant hike it is good to have a plan of how to approach the day. When on the Track our plan is for a 10 minute break every 1.5- 2 hours. Having a plan and sticking to it are however two very different things.
- Sometimes you just don’t feel tired
- Stopping at the bottom of a hill is a big no- no, legs definitely don’t play nice when asked to resume going upwards!
- At other times it is raining so heavily or the wind is blowing so hard that there is a real reluctance to break
- The photo above was taken on a really wet day and the white plastic bags acted as a barrier from extra moisture penetration!
- What you need to remember is that you have a set destination that you need to arrive at each day; on a 20km day if you manage a 4km hour pace this is 5 hours of walking which doesn’t include stopping.
Factors to consider
Out on the Track, distance isn’t the only factor when considering your desired pace
- Terrain- lots of big hills, sand, water courses
- Weather can play an enormous role
- Also consider the personal factors of physical fatigue, wear & tear
- And the big one your emotions
Stopping for a break is an opportunity to:
- Take in the scenery
- To replenish the body with well-earned snacks
- And simply to get that pack off; the sensation of lightness you feel when initially having dropped the pack is impossible to adequately describe
Over the years what these snacks comprise of has changed and while I call them snacks they also cover what we eat for lunch. At different times we have carried:
- Dried fruit
- Biscuits (sweet or savory)
- Muesli bars or some other form of bar
Fluid intake is so very important, every trekker needs to be responsible and ensure they not only carry sufficient water but also remember to drink it throughout the day. I always carry 2L, plus an additional 750ml on particularly long and/or hot day.
Water can be:
- Carried in bottles
- Carried in its own hydration packs with a tube that feeds through your pack for easy access while on the move
- Replenished from a water tank located at each hut, it is recommended that you add water purifying tablets or boil it the night before
When reflecting on the first 200km stretch of the Track there are some definite highlights that come to mind:
- At 15kms you enjoy views of and around Mundaring Weir, hold on to your hat as you cross the weir wall, we watched as one blew and was lost into the Valley below. If you are lucky an icecream van is often parked up on the south side of the crossing or perhaps a pit stop before you cross at the Mundaring Weir Hotel is more your thing
- After 33kms the Helena hut can definitely be described as a room with a view!
- 36kms brings you to Chinaman Gully the lasting memory is steep in and steep out with a lasting sense of achievement when completed
- After 63kms you walk into Mt Dale, for me, this site will always bring to mind ticks, on my first visit on my approach to the hut I walked through two reasonably sized grass trees that while on opposite sides of the track , were overgrown and fairly close together. Unfortunately for me as I brushed through one of them I managed to collect about 20 pepper ticks that attached to the back of my legs. I am an unfortunate soul who has a not serious but prolonged reaction to a single tick bite let alone multiple. I needed to take antihistamines for the next three weeks with occasional flare ups for the next couple of months generally triggered by overheating causing itchiness
- Monadnocks campsite sits almost 100kms into the Track and the 13.6km day between it and the Mt Cooke hut covers some beautiful country through the Monadnocks National Park walking a sometimes challenging path for spectacular views to the summits of Mt Cuthbert, and Mt Vincent
- We tackled Mt Cooke on a particularly wet day, keeping your footing on wet and at times rather steep granite rock is not an easy feat and it is responsible for one of my many scrapes and spectacular bruises
- The 150km milestone is roughly celebrated by the views offered from Boonerring Hill, we have been lucky enough to stand at the peak and look down upon a wedged tailed eagle playing in the air streams below us
- Mt Wells has a hut with a difference; it is the reward for completing a very challenging upward climb. 175km into the Track it is the home of an operational fire-tower and trekkers enjoy a fully enclosed cabin rather than the usual 3 walled hut
- The final 20kms into Dwellingup is a particularly flat and easy stretch, it closely follows a largely out of use railway line, 10kms out is Etmilyn Siding, on one occasion we watched the Hotham Valley train carry passengers on a short trip to visit the site.
- The 200km milestone is Dwellingup; the Pub serves very generous and delicious meals
Arriving in towns is an opportunity to treat yourself, to eat ‘normal’ food and replenish supplies, to enjoy a shower, launder clothes and if you choose sleep in a real bed. The downside is that when you leave those replenished supplies mean a heavier bag!
The Bibbulmun Track Foundation has track notes broken down into 8 easy to carry guidebooks that provide regular reference points you should pass through on your journey. For more information check out their website: https://www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au/trip-planner/track-sections/
What snacks would you take?
It’s not too late join us in our Swan Walking Challenge: https://www.swanactive.com.au/swan-walking-challenge/
Trekking Name – Blue Eyed Babe