15/08/2006 - 22:00

Not for Profit: Keeping Bibbulmun on track

15/08/2006 - 22:00

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Far more than simply encouraging more urban dwellers to ‘go bush’, as was originally intended, the Bibbulmun Track has become so popular it is now regarded as one of the world’s best long-distance walk trails.

Not for Profit: Keeping Bibbulmun on track

Far more than simply encouraging more urban dwellers to ‘go bush’, as was originally intended, the Bibbulmun Track has become so popular it is now regarded as one of the world’s best long-distance walk trails.

And, since it opened in 1979, the track has brought significant financial benefits for the regional communities it passes through.

Winding through some of the most spectacular areas of the state’s South West, the 1,000-kilometre track, stretching from Perth to Albany, takes in breathtaking jarrah, marri and karri forests interspersed with sections of the Great Southern coastline.

Charged with the task of managing, maintaining and marketing the track, the Bibbulmun Track Foundation works closely with the Department of Environment and Conservation (the recent amalgamation of the Department of Environment and CALM), local industry and the local communities.

Executive director Linda Daniels says the foundation’s main task is to support the DEC in fulfilling the objectives of the track management plan. This includes the coordination of volunteer groups in maintaining the track, providing walkers with a wealth of valuable resources and information, and coordinating a series of events to raise awareness of the track.

“Our aim is to improve the walker experience, as well as to protect the surrounding environment and make the track environmentally sustain-able for the long term,” Ms Daniels said. “The foundation also works closely with the government and local shire councils to cooperatively align the track in the best way.”

The track has undergone several re-alignments since its opening, most notably in 1988 when the newly formed CALM undertook a significant overhaul of the Bibbulmun, including the relocation of an entire section to avoid conflict with bauxite mining.

Another major overhaul in 1993 was due to conflicts with other land uses, namely mining, forestry operations and roads. This realignment retained less than 10 per cent of the original trail but added a significant extension, taking the southern terminus a further 200km further east to Albany.

Ms Daniels said that, in the past 12 months, walkers had injected a total of $21 million into the nine regional communities located along the track, spending money on accommodation, food and supplies, as well as visiting local attractions such as galleries, wineries and restaurants.

“The foundation is really the voice of the community, as well as the walkers,” she said.

The foundation currently has 2,000 members and relies on memberships and corporate sponsorships, as well as an annual grant from DEC. The foundation also raises funds by selling merchandise and through events.

Ms Daniels said the foundation’s event calendar operated as a fundraising tool and encouraged people to take the walk for the first time as part of a guided or group walk. Events range from children’s afternoon walks to six to seven-day hikes of sections of the track.

One of the foundation’s key annual fundraisers is the Mountain Designs Bibbulmun Team Challenge, a four-day adventure experience incorporating physical and mental challenges, with a focus on team-building, communication and leadership.

Teams of four compete against each other in a series of heats held between October 5 and November 5.

Companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, the National Bank and Pitcher Partners have made the event part of their team-building programs.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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