Bibbulmun Track - Kalamunda to Mundaring Weir
Start - Bibbulmun Track Northern Terminus
Length - 15.71km (31.42km return)
Rating - Red
Vertical Climb - 990m (total)
Time - 3-5 hours (6-10hrs return)
Date Hiked - 10th May 2014
Directions & Hike GPS data available in the Life of Py Info Sheets
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I thought I would start out in a familiar neck of the woods so to speak with a trail I have spent many winter days trekking in my younger years. The Bibbulmun Track stretches over a 1000km from the Perth Hills down to Albany in the south of Western Australia. This world famous hiking trail takes it's name from the Noongar people native to the area and it's accessibility means it is friendly to hikers of all experience and fitness level.
The start of my trek today began at 6:30am at the very start of the trail in the town of Kalamunda. After ceremoniously walking through the gateway that signals the start point you scamper down a narrow path until you hit a local road and start to wonder if you took a wrong turn. After following the road downhill for 50m you soon come to the real start of the trail marked with a colourful red sign marked "Bibbulmun Track" accompanied with yellow snake pointing me in the right direction.
The first kilometre descends into a small valley and out into an open meadow where you may spot a few locals walking their dogs. From there you start an uphill stretch that takes you to the start of the Kalamunda National Park and some stunning views of the forest.
After soaking in the views for a while with a cup of tea in hand I looked behind me and the first of the rains were bearing down on me. I just managed to shift all my valuables into a dry section of my rain jacket as the clouds began to empty. One of the great joys I take in hiking is when it gets a bit wet so I was loving the change of weather as I bounded down the trail and into the valley below.
The track follows a creek for a few hundred metres that is normally dry at this time of the year but as we had just received 70mm of rain in the last week there was a small trickle in places. If it does rain on your hike like it did today be careful as the trail turns into a small creek and keeping your socks dry becomes a challenge along with trying to keep your footing on the rocky sections. There are some great places to do some rock hopping and get closer to the small waterfalls (Warning - this will make you act like a kid again).
The next four kilometres is the most technical and varying section of the trail with narrow rocky paths and steep(ish) climbs. After reaching the valley floor you start ascending the ridges that line the Helena River Valley. This section is very rewarding and the variety of scenery certainly distracts you from the effort required to get you up and over the hills.
A few climbs and descents later the trail starts to flatten out and you can start to rack up the kilometres without breaking much of a sweat. The Jarrah and Marri forest that you trek through provides great protection from the elements. At this time of year it was surprisingly green but the recent rain had added a coating of water to everything that gave it that fresh look.
There are copious amounts of Australian Grass Trees and other natives covering the forest floor and a spider had spun an impressive web very close to the path although I couldn't see any sign of the creator.
You reach the first sign of civilisation in over an hour when you cross Pauls Valley Road and pass the Kalamunda Camel Farm. There is food and drink available here but as it's only 6km into the hike these weren't necessary. The car park was full of activity as it is the ideal place to start exploring the mountain biking trails in the area (I will eventually be exploring these trails later in the winter).
The flat run continues as you head towards the first campsite at Hewitt Hill (there are several dozen at 10-25km intervals all along the trail). At about 9km from the start it would have to be a very short first hike to necessitate staying there but I suspect it is for hikers making the return trip. With a sheltered sleeping area for twelve, large water tank (not always full in summer/autumn) and a toilet, this campsite ticks all the boxes. The below photo is a view from the top bunk of one of the sleeping areas and there are worse views to wake up to in the world.
From Hewitt Hill I continued on the track to the point where it meets up with a horse riding trail and a mountain bike trail (part of the Kalamunda Circuit). This was the furthest point I had ever been on the Bibbulmun and the legs were feeling good so I decided to stretch out and see if I could make it to Mundaring Weir.
This part of the trail ascends slightly as you start to straddle the ridges of the Helena River Valley and the catchment area below. Stop for a rest here as there are some breathtaking views of the valley from the trail, which is now a fire break/access track.
The stunning views continue as you head off the fire break and on to some narrower single track. A final climb up towards a gravel car park that serves as an access point to the Golden View is made shorter by the promise of a rest and lunch. I was hoping to make it all the way to Mundaring Weir but as this was my first extended piece of exercise since the X-Adventure Race in Dunsborough in late March I didn't want to spend the last hour of the hike in agony.
The Golden View turned out to be a great halfway stop with stunning views towards Mundaring Weir (looking a bit dry) and the catchment area of the Helena River Valley. There is an extensive wooden deck jutting out from the hillside that provides a sweeping view of the valley. With a roast beef roll in hand I sat myself down on the deck and soaked it all in. The peace and quiet was not meant to last as I heard a few spots of rain on my jacket and turned around to see a wall of water closing in. A quick rush to put my shoes back on and pack my lunch away and I was away again for the long hike home (I did have a second go at lunch at Hewitt Hill).
Final Thoughts - There is a reason why the Bibbulmun Track is world renowned and a favourite with locals. This tiny section provides some good variety and with the various access points along the way you can cater your hike depending on your fitness levels or time restrictions.
I love this trail and it really does give you the opportunity to escape the fast paced world we live in. I saw a handful of fellow hikers (mainly middle aged women or young couples) and everyone was happy to say hello at the very least. The overnighters were happy to stop and have a chat (easily spotted with their heavy packs and rain gear) and exchange knowledge of the conditions.
I may have started with the best rated trail Perth has to offer but that's the beauty of exploring new trails, you never know what is out there.
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