I absolutely adore hiking. There’s something about being out in nature, challenging yourself to climb up nasty hills and staircases, taking photos of all the incredible natural gems you come across, being away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and in my case, falling over and picking yourself up, bruises, cuts and all.
And while I’ve managed to do a fair bit on my overseas travels – hiking along cliffs in Italy where one wrong step could literally have you plunging into the ocean below; walking through the jungles of Chiang Mai and even climbing active volcanoes in Bali – I am ashamed to say that I have not explored nearly as much of my own backyard here in Western Australia as I would have liked.
I’ve had intentions of doing lots of hiking and exploring the area by foot but I probably wimped out a fair bit especially during a very rainy and cold winter this year. And now that I will be moving to Brisbane in only a few weeks, I do regret not having gotten myself out there and exploring more.
So when a friend organised a couple of mornings of hiking along the Bibbulmun Track over the space of two weekends, I jumped at the chance.
About the Bibbulmun Track
The Bibbulmun Track is a 1000 km trail starting in the town of Kalamunda in the Perth Hills (about 30 minutes east of the CBD) and ending all the way down in Albany at the bottom of Australia. It is regarded as one of the world’s great long distance walk trails and rightfully so. To put the length of the hike in perspective, it would be the equivalent of walking from Paris down to Pisa in Italy. Yup, Australia is that big.
Where I fail to find the words, instead I found a wonderful description of the track from the official Bibbulmun Track website:
“The Track takes walkers through towering karri and tingle forests, down mist-shrouded valleys, over giant granite boulders and along breathtaking coastal heathlands. It passes through many of the most beautiful national parks of the south west forests and coastline.”
Completing the first 20 km of the Bibbulmun Track
Just driving out to Kalamunda to start the hike was a wonderful journey in itself. It was an absolutely gorgeous drive through the Perth Hills from my home in Kelmscott. With the sun shining down, there was a sense of magic in the air as I drove through Bickley Valley dotted with picturesque wineries and orchards – I will certainly have to come back here and partake in a wine tour.
Driving past all the Sunday morning cyclists however was an interesting exercise in patience and blind faith that I wouldn’t crash head-on with any oncoming vehicles while overtaking up a hill. After all, it was either that or take an hour to complete a 30 minute drive.
Our first hike on the Bibbulmun Track was an 8.5 km walk starting in Kalamunda and finishing up on Asher Road in Paull’s Valley. With the temperature making it all the way up to 31ºC that day and with a lot of hilly terrain, this was quite a challenging hike.
However with some stunning views and wildflowers everywhere, the struggle was absolutely worth it. We even passed waterfalls and rivers still filled with water, which is quite surprising given the late time of the year.
The following weekend we continued on the Bibbulmun Track, this time smashing out a total of 12 km from Asher Road and ending at the Perth Hills Discovery Centre. This was by far my favourite walk out of the two. For the first part, we found ourselves walking through a controlled burn-off, so there was a fair bit of smoke and charred trees, which added a sort of eeriness to our walk.
However once we got past the charcoal-hued scenery, the environment returned to its natural lush and green glory – quite a stark contrast!
At this point we also approached Mundaring Weir, the main source of water for the Goldfields region. The engineering behind this dam is truly fascinating and if you’re ever in Perth, I highly recommend a day trip out to Mundaring to visit the dam.
On the final stretch of our journey, we encountered some very tame kangaroos lazing about in the shade, which totally made my day because after missing out on photographing kangaroos when I visited Crooked Brook Forest in the Ferguson Valley, here was my chance to snap a kangaroo at long last!
Rediscovering a love for walking and being out in nature
These last two weekends of hiking made me realise how much happier, healthier and stronger I feel when I’m outdoors and moving around. These are certainly feelings I don’t want to let go of and I think it’s important that I keep up the habit of hiking or at least walking on a regular basis as a means of exploring and keeping fit.
Every time I go hiking I feel like some sort of hybrid of soldier and child. I love the challenge of a good hike and afterwards I feel like a battle-wearied soldier all cut up and bruised (because really I’m just a clutz) but feeling victorious as if I’ve won the war. It’s probably the Aries in me.
But then I also feel like a child on an adventure, intent on discovering as many interesting things out in nature as possible – from quirky looking plants to wild creatures, from stunning views and bodies of water to fields of pretty wildflowers. Again, probably the Aries in me.
It’s just incredible how much we take for granted out in our world and hiking has made me appreciate just how much natural beauty there is out there.
A new dream: complete the entire track and do more hiking in general
I have now added “completing the entire Bibbulmun Track” to my bucket list, despite the little issue that I’m moving interstate. It would be an absolute dream to be able to complete the entire thing in one go but for now I am content with just doing portions of it at a time – a pretty good excuse to come back to Perth for holidays!
A few months ago I also toyed with the idea of joining a hiking/bushcraft group and I think once I head over to Brisbane I am going to do just that. I am definitely going to get out there a lot more and see what kind of natural wonders are on offer in Queensland.
While it took me a while to finally come around, I am pretty excited about becoming a regular hiker and discovering more of the world’s natural beauty.
Have you ever hiked the Bibbulmun Track? Or do you have your own favourite hiking spots? Feel free to share your hiking experiences in the comments below.