Can you help me plan my next adventure? The Nuts & Bolts of Walking the Bibbulmun Track

Following on from my Bibbulmun Track Overview post of a couple of weeks ago, I am starting to firm up my walking plans and I am not afraid to admit that I am a little overwhelmed by the scale of this adventure.

Yes, I have walked 1000’s of kilometres across Spain, Portugal and Italy, but this stroll in the Aussie bush is a whole new kettle of fish or 18kg backpack.

Can you help me?

Waugul - way marker on the Bibbulmun Track. Source: flickr
The Waugul way marker on the Bibbulmun Track. Source: flickr

This is what I have worked out so far:

Timing: My rough plan is to:

  • Start: on/about Friday 23 September 2022.
  • End: on/about 12 November 2022.
  • Walking Days: 47
  • Rest Days: 4

Distance:

  • Total: 1 005km
  • Average Daily Distance: 21.4km
  • Longest Daily Distance: 33.6km
  • Shortest Daily Distance: 13.3km (a toss up between two short days or one BIG day)
  • I suspect there will be some adjustments once I actually get out onto the track, get fit and find my walking legs.

Proposed Stages:

1. Kalamunda to Dwellingup: 10 days (passing through no towns or villages)

Rest Day: Dwellingup – Collect Bounce Box

2. Dwellingup to Balingup: 10 days (passing through Collie, into the Mumby Pub, out of the Mumby Pub)

Rest Day: Balingup – Collect Bounce Box

3. Balingup to Pemberton: 8 days (passing through Donnelly River Village)

Rest Day: Pemberton – Collect Bounce Box

4. Pemberton to Walpole: 9 days (passing through Northcliffe)

Rest Day: Walpole – Collect Bounce Box

5. Walpole to Albany: 10 days (passing through Peaceful Bay and Denmark)

DONE! Phew!

Helena Shelter. Source: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au
Helena Shelter. Source: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

What Will Be in My 65litre Backpack?:

  • Basically, everything I will need on a day-to-day basis.
  • Tent, Mattress, sleeping bag.
  • All my food.
  • Water and water filter.
  • All my clothing. Yes, back to carrying just two pairs of undies.
  • All my first aid, tech and other gear.
  • Sunscreen.

What Gear Do I Own?:

  • Clothes: My usual camino/walking clothes.
  • Backpack: new Osprey Ariel 65litre
  • Stove: new Jetboil Mighty Mo
  • Maps and guides.
  • Flynet!
  • and that’s all so far.

This is where you come in.

worldexpeditions.com - Walpole-to-Denmark
Walpole to Denmark. Source: worldexpeditions.com

For the hikers out there, I need advice on a whole range of gear and, as per usual, my budget is not limitless. I have done some research and very quickly realised that the more $$$ you spend, the lighter the gear becomes.  I need to find a happy medium somewhere even if it means I have to sacrifice a few grams/ounces.

Can you recommend the best, most cost-effective lightweight:

  • Sleeping bag: Down and rated to -5°C?
  • Self-inflating mattress: high R-rating/insulated?
  • Personal Locator Beacon or similar: I know nothing about these so I am really flying blind on this one. Help?
  • Powerbank: Even going bush I will need the capacity to recharge some devices on the go. Again, this tech-Luddite knows zilch! Another Help?
  • Coffee System: Yes, I can exist without coffee, but it is not an overly pleasant existence. How can I enjoy my daily long black/Americano out on the trail? I realise this is very much a luxury and will be the first thing to be sacrificed if I can’t find a lightweight option…a girl can dream though…

See? This is a whole new world for this camino-addict and I am excited to be learning new stuff.

Along the Bibbulmun Track. Source: thelongwaysbetter.blogspot.com
Along the Bibbulmun Track. Source: thelongwaysbetter.blogspot.com

Cost:

  • I don’t think I really want to keep track of the amount of money all my new gear is going to cost. Sometimes it is better not to know these things. 😉
  • I have been told that I should be budgeting for around AUD$2500 for the +40 days on the trail (around AUD$53 per day). This includes all my bounce box costs, food and accommodation, and resupply in towns along the way. I will also need to consider the cost of pre/post accommodation and flights/transport too.

What I Have Done So Far:

  • Dehydrator: I scored a dehydrator for Christmas and have been experimenting with this a little. I have attempted the usual herbs and fruit, and made a delicious batch of beef jerky/biltong. I plan to dehydrate as many of my trail meals as possible. Any tips of what I could/should be trialling in the dehydrator? Do you have any recommended meals? Or go-to websites? YouTube?
  • End-to-End Webinar: I sat in on a Bibbulmun Track Foundation webinar run by an experienced end-to-ender. It was really useful, really exciting and a tad overwhelming, especially when it came to crossing waterways and inlets by canoe! Talk about a multi-adventure adventure!
  • Bounce Boxes: For those novices just like me, I had to learn that a bounce box is a parcel of food (I am thinking of more dehydrated meals) and gear (soap and shampoo! Ah, the luxury!) that you send ahead of yourself to a town and it waits patiently for your arrival.  Other than my body-weight in chocolate, what do you recommend goes into the Bounce Box? Any must haves that you really appreciated when you opened up your own parcel?
Looking out over Glen Mervyn Dam, on the Collie to Balingup section. Source; thewest.com.au
Looking out over Glen Mervyn Dam, on the Collie to Balingup section. Source: thewest.com.au

What other advice can you give me?  I am completely open to all advice and any suggestions other than to stay home or book into a five-star resort!

I feel like such a newbie and I know that is a good thing It is forcing me to step out of my comfort zone and learn a whole range of new things.

And that is a good thing, right?

Please share all your wisdom in the comments below. Happy Trails

The Basics

What: The Bibbulmun Track is an epic stroll through the Aussie bush with native blooms, soaring trees and the odd snake.

Where: East of Perth, Western Australia, South, South, South until you hit the water and then East again until you hit Albany.

When: Aiming for Springtime 2022.

Waaleigh Shelter. Source: trailswa.com.auWaaleigh Shelter. Source: trailswa.com.au
Waaleigh Shelter. Source: trailswa.com.au

Why: For a big injection of Mother Nature and a long, long opportunity to stretch my legs.

How: By foot, car, plane, foot, plane, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, etc, plane, car, foot.

Who: Myself and a couple of fearless chicks.

Related Posts: For more background reading on my Bibb plans, read here.

Related Blogs: If you prefer to watch, rather than read, follow Caroline’s adventures along the full length of the Bibb.

Read About it: And if you prefer an armchair adventure instead of actually slogging along a long distance walk, grab a copy of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl decides to run away from her troubles by walking the Pacific Crest Trail on America’s West Coast. Little did she know what she was getting herself into or what she would be like at the end. Available from Book Depository.

Tree huggers on the trail. Source: responsibletravel.com
Tree huggers on the trail. Source: responsibletravel.com

#travelinspo #bibbulmuntrack #bucketlist #adventurebeforedementia #longdistancewalks #australianbush #westernaustralia #bushwalks #greatoutdoors

31 thoughts on “Can you help me plan my next adventure? The Nuts & Bolts of Walking the Bibbulmun Track

  1. The Travel Architect September 22, 2021 / 11:34 am

    Wow! Good for you! I must admit, I can’t give you much advice, but one thing I did think was in relation to your bounce box. In addition to chocolates and other luxuries, I was thinking maybe you should include a little note of encouragement from you to you, perhaps with an inspirational quote or something. You’re an old pro at these long walks, but if your resolve ever flags part way through, you could read the pep talk from yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure September 22, 2021 / 1:13 pm

      Now, that’s a nice thought! That will give myself a little pep up when I start to wonder what the bloody hell I am doing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Born to Travel September 22, 2021 / 1:59 pm

    Wishing you success in planning and completing this walk. Ten days is about the most we have ever done and that was in Nepal, where we could stop overnight in a tea house. Cheers, Mark

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure September 22, 2021 / 3:23 pm

      Yes, that is always a great way to walk/travel. I think that is why I like caminos so much as you get a dry bed and a shower (and a beer) at the end of each day. But it is a matter of ‘needs must’ at the moment until we can get traveling overseas again. Thanks for your wishes.

      Like

  3. margaret21 September 23, 2021 / 12:39 am

    I can’t help at all except to offer words of encouragement. This is way out of my experience and comfort zone!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Monkey's Tale September 23, 2021 / 12:51 am

    Wow what a trip!! Sounds awesome except the slithering things! A few gear suggestions that are probably not anything new but here they are: we prefer thermarest camping mats – look at the length of any brand, some sell cheaper ones but they’re very short and your feet will be on the ground, not comfy. We have an insulated one which is a bit heavy but more comfy than the others. Sleeping bag – Definitely get down-it’s far lighter and easier to pack, unless it’s going to rain a lot they don’t dry well. We use our down jackets as pillows so try to figure out something that will work well as a pillow, it helps a lot. Locator beacon – I’m not up on the latest brands but if you’ll be out of wifi areas get one that you can send the occasional ‘I’m okay’ message to someone. It’s a relief for you and them. Spot is what we’ve used and it worked very well. Other ideas- bring a bit of duct tape, are you bringing a kindle, or games like crossword/sudoku? Bring gatorade or something to add to your water because you’ll soon hate the taste of water. Also have a back up purifier system. We take either a filter or uv wand but have back up drops because we’ve had both of the others break on long trips. For your cache I don’t usually drink pop, but getting something sweet to drink like a coke feels so good, especially if it’s cold. Excited for you!! Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure September 23, 2021 / 10:04 am

      Thanks, Maggie. That is absolute gold. So much good advice there. I have a Steripen which I plan to take just to be on the safe side. Your tip about using a down jacket as a pillow is a great idea. I do have a blow up one, but this will save weight. I think I will end up weighing everything including my underpants! 🙂

      Like

  5. kayfuzz September 23, 2021 / 2:11 pm

    Hi Mel,
    I very got Sea to Summit Ember 11 down Quilt. Goes down to 2deg C weights 600gm. Bought on line from Backpacking Light in Melbourne $584.

    Sleeping pad….Nemo Tensor insulated long/wide. 8cm thick,595 gm R value 3.5 all season. Bought at Paddy Pallin $263.46 (after member discount).
    PLB, Rescueme PLB1 http://www.oceansignal.com. bought at Snowys $319…its small, weighs 115 gm. It’s distress signal only on communication. No monthly fees. Just register on line (free). The online registration lasts 2 years. You can hire a PLB from the Bibb foundation.
    Also I bought a water filtration system but decided it was bulky and cumbersome. I’m going to use purifying drops. They hardly weigh anything.
    Hope this helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure September 23, 2021 / 2:14 pm

      Excellent ta. Some group tips/links there. It is certainly way different to planning a camino, isn’t it?

      Like

      • kayfuzz September 23, 2021 / 3:18 pm

        Sure is. Having my first through walk with all my gear next week. I’ll be able to let you know how it all (and myself) performs.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. kayfuzz September 23, 2021 / 3:19 pm

    The PLB should say distress signal only…no other communication.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. wetanddustyroads September 23, 2021 / 8:36 pm

    I almost stop reading at the sentence where you mentioned a backpack of 18kg … 👀👀!
    We have never done such a long hike, but here are some things that works for us when go hiking:
    1) We used our K-Way Extreme Lite 500 down sleeping bags on both the Camino Frances and Portuguese Camino (and on several local hikes) and we love them. It’s very light (470g) and compact. When we hike during colder months, we add a silk sleeping bag liner – again light and compact … and we never slept cold!
    2) As for the Personal Locator Beacon: Here in South Africa, Spot is very popular (I see Maggie from Monkey’s Tale also suggested this). Here is a link: https://www.findmespot.com/en-au/
    3) Coffee system (I know – this is VERY important on a hike 😉): What about this: https://www.msrgear.com/ie/cookware/camp-kitchen-and-utensils/mugmate-coffeetea-filter/321003.html. My husband loves his coffee filter and we use it often on our hikes!
    I don’t know if the above is of any help … but all I want to say: You go girl!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure September 24, 2021 / 4:06 pm

      Thank you for all your suggestions. I love a Brains Trust! I will check out your tips. They sound like just what I need. Many thanks again

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Kelly MacKay September 29, 2021 / 5:59 am

    Good luck.Too many large vememous,creepy crawling biting, slithering, cridders there for me to hike camp with. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. carolinehelbig October 4, 2021 / 11:42 am

    How exciting! You sound really well organized and doing research/planning early enough. I think those are the keys to maximizing success of trips like this. My longest backcountry excursion was only 7 days and I’ve never done the package drops. Good for you for using a dehydrator. That may be my next purchase as I’m getting sick of the store-bought packages (convenient though).
    Here are a few things I’ve found handy: a light-weight silk sleeping bag liner is great for added warmth and for keeping my down bag cleaner over a long trip. I use a Katadyn 1 litre water bottle with built-in filter in conjunction with water purification tablets of same brand (and carry an additional regular 1 lL bottle. Very light and convenient (we only purify for drinking needs and boil for cooking). Compression sacks are a wonderful invention. I have so much more room in my pack and my stuff stays more orderly. I use a very old blow-up Thermarest that’s super comfy and almost as light as my hubby’s fancy, new one. I love chocolate too but it melts. For a much needed boost on the trail, I’ve become addicted to gummy-like candies called Honey Stingers (some have caffeine added). Not sure if you have a tent but I and everyone I know are very happy with MSR Hubba Hubba. Sorry, this has become rather lengthy and you might already know all this. Happy planning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure October 7, 2021 / 4:20 pm

      Thank you so much for your brain power on this one. I do have an old silk sleep sheet and had planned to take it. Your water purification system sounds good and I will check it out as an alternative to my Steripen. Thanks a million.

      Like

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