By Glenyce Johnson, Founder of Wandering the World
A long-time friend of Wandering the World, Mike Woods from Western Australia, was recently awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. He is one of the founding members of the Bibbulmun Track Foundation, having been involved in the rebuilding of the track since the 1990’s. Mike received this honour this year, for his commitment and work on the development of the track.
We are in the fortunate position of being able to chat to Mike about the “Bib Track” as it’s known, and with Wandering the Word recently adding the Bibbulmun Track to our Australia product range, we have some insider knowledge to share with our walkers considering undertaking this path.
As attested by Mike, “The Foundations mantra when we first started rebuilding the Bibbulmun Track in 1994 was simple; we wanted a world class walking trail in the south-west of Australia that was accessible to all. And that was what we made. The South Coast is a rarely visited part of Australia, and when the Track was laid down, it was aligned to take in the best the coast had to offer. Spectacular views, pristine beaches and inquisitive wildlife. Western Australia gets very few visitors compared to the rest of Australia and this part of the Coast is even more rarely visited. The environment is fragile, so we need to be careful of ‘loving’ this part of WA to death.”
Mike has walked many separate sections of the track several times and in 2008 he took on the challenge of walking and guiding the full 1000km, to become what is known as an “end to ender”. As Mike recalls “even for someone who was an experienced walker in the south-west, I was surprised at the diversity of the environment that we walked through. There is nothing like seeing a country on foot and at ground level if you really want to get to truly know it.”
We asked Mike if he had a favourite part of the track. While he is a raving fan of it all, in his opinion “one of the more interesting parts of the Track, is the Walpole to Denmark section, the Tingle trees around Walpole will remind Victorians of their Mountain Ash trees. These monsters soar up into the sky and their heavy canopies can sometimes make the light in the forest underneath seem like evening. Something that is not commonly known about the Tingles is they have no tap root. Just a shallow root system with a buttressed base. There are 3 described species, the Red, the Yellow and Rates Tingle. Take the opportunity while you are here to do the Tree Top Walk just outside Walpole. Built by Parks & Wildlife, it is an amazing way to get up into the tree canopy and experience the Tingle forest”.
Another unique highlight of the Bibbulmun Track, Mike says “is an area called the Showgrounds in Irwin Inlet, a remote section of the track, where the only way across the Inlet is to paddle. There are 6 canoes provided with paddles and life jackets, for hikers to use to cross the inlet. Please remember to leave an equal number of canoes on either bank – hikers walk in both directions! “
As an experienced walker on the Bibbulmun Track, we asked Mike if he had any special tips for Wandering the World walkers considering heading West.
“Make sure you pack your bathers and a small travel towel” says Mike, “so that when you get to Green’s Pool in William Bay National Park you can take advantage of this beautiful place and go for a swim. It’s protected by some large boulders so it is a must do. The water can be chilly but just suck it up and take the plunge!”
He also wisely advises to have plenty of water to drink (a minimum of 2 litres), as the south west can get very warm. He mentions the track can get some good squalls coming through off the ocean so a good daypack with a waterproof cover, waterproof jacket, a hat and sunscreen are also essential.
And a final piece of advice from Mike, “Don’t miss the small things down here, WA is the home of wild- flowers but you have to keep an eye out. Have Fun!”
A big thanks to Mike, for those words of wisdom. It’s great for us to be connected with someone in the know and hear his thoughts on a unique walk in this remote part of Australia.
Wandering the World are offering two guided walks on the Bibbulmun Track in 2021.
We look forward to sharing this rarely explored south-west region of Western Australia with you.
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