Monday, 12 January 2009

Bibbulmun Track: The huts

The huts are one of the best assets of the Bibbulmun Track. After just having completed the Appalachian Trail in the US I was expecting a similar hut system but the Bibbulmun track huts surpass the AT hut by far!!!! They are much more spacious, cleaner and provide more services then the AT huts. And best of all: There is no mice problem! (Although I have read in some trail registers that other rodents might threaten hiker supplies - but this does not seem to as much of a problem as on the AT. I never had my food scavenged.)

First of all each hut has two rain water tanks. As there is not much reliable surface water in this area of the world this feature is crucial. Despite hiking in their summer all the tanks were full. Don't be surprised if you find a stocking over the tank tap: This is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in there. I treated all my water to be on the safe side, but most hikers drank just straight from the tank.

Each hut has an outhouse and it is still a mystery to me how they manage that they do not smell badly. I have had some very gross outhouse experiences on the AT, but here - nothing! Most outhouses even provide toilet paper! Just beware of spiders that can hide under the toilet seat. Always check before sitting down or you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. Some huts even provide fire places with fire grates and seats but of course always obey fire restrictions.

As the Bibbulmun Trail has a cooperation with the Western Australian Correctional Facilities these fantastic huts have been constructed by prisoners. They are prefabricated in the prisons and then assembled on the trail. All the campsites on the Bibb Track are accessible by some sort of dirt track and this is how building material and water tanks can be brought in. Usually those tracks are not open to the public and only suitable to 4WD so you do not have to worry about traffic.

There are two hut models: One with bunk typ sleeping and one with one big sleeping platform only. Either type can accommodate 12 - 16 people. But crowding is usually not a problem in this trail. In more than half of the cases I had the shelters to myself and if I had company it was usually only one or a couple of other hikers. Even if the shelter was full you can always stay at the adjecent camp site. Next to each hut several campsites have been cleared but usually do not get much use.

Each shelter comes equipped with a covered bench an table and an outside bench and table. There is a broom for cleaning the hut and a trail register and log book. Former hikers have often left reading material which often seduced me to cut the day short and just stay and relax. Mostly you will find Australian Reader's Digest but I have also come across book in German and Dutch - all depending on who has recently hiked the trail.

In the beginning outside Perth the huts are very close together with a distance of only 7 to 10 km between them. This allows the hiker to easily get used to hiking. Later on the distance between the huts grow up to 15 km to 20 km, but they are never further apart than a bit over 20 km. This means that any type of hiker can enjoy the Bibb Track. I usually "double-hutted" by hiking about 40 km every day using the first hut for an extended lunch break in the shade and the second hut for staying overnight. But if you want a more leisurely approach you can just hike from hut to hut doing only about 20 km every day. You are also by no means restricted to staying in or at the huts: You can camp almost anywhere. Staying close to the shelters is just very convenient for getting water.

The huts are generelly located in a very scenic location often close to the water. You very often either have a nice view or access to a river or lake for swimming. This picture shows the view from my favourite hut that is located right next to a little lake perfect for a nice cooling swim after a day of hot hiking.

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