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First Hike Project Report: The Wiilman Bilya Trail

Like playing table tennis, holding hands and having a conversation, there are some things that just cannot be done alone! Putting together a successful hike is one of these things.

Over the weekend of October 12-13th First Hike project had a hike planned along the Wellington Spur Trail, the notice of intent form was in and approved, our volunteers had their instructions of who to collect and where to meet the group, the support vehicle knew the routes to be travelled, the Bibbulmun Foundation had lend us all the extra gear we needed to accommodate this larger group and all was set..... or so we thought. Unfortunately for us, the conditions were just perfect for FESA to conduct some prescribed burns in exactly our proposed hike location so we were informed on Wednesday that the trail was being closed to hikers and, what with the repairs to the toilet block at the other group hut on the Spur trail, we were going to have find a solution before Saturday. Nothing like a challenge huh?

A quick call to our friends over at Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions led us to meet up with Nick Evans (we like to call him Super Nick!) who took the time out between fighting fires, fielding calls from Perth office and washing out the cobwebs from his long-service-leave to show us a trail which, not only did we not know about before then but also was perfect for our purposes. He drove us to the start of the trail, talked us through the in’s and out’s of the location and then agreed to meet us on the side of the road on Saturday morning with the gate key! Your starting to understand the Super Nick part huh?

The Wiilman Bilya Trail mostly follows the water line from the north western tip of Wellington Dam just west of Collie all the way to Potters Gorge 19.7km away. There is a group campsite 1km into the trail called Nyingarn and that is where we set up base and conducted our walks from. Normally, we would have the participants laden up with backpacks, sleeping bags, mats, rain gear, camp cookers, food, etc and hike our way into the campsites for an exhausted night of storytelling and dinner. This time our lucky group walked 1km unencumbered to the camp where we all set about putting up tents, mats, sleeping bags, cooking areas and generally having a good look around...... and what a pretty campsite it is! All the sites are up on the hill to the back of the hut on levelled ground in among all the plants under the canopy of trees. The huts itself looks over the dam and there is heaps of area at the front to enjoy the water, take pictures or build cairns with the flat rocks.

The hikes we did were amazing, the forest was old and accommodating and the rain stayed away until we pulled away on Sunday afternoon! We would like to thank everyone who made this hike possible and for FESA for protecting us from run- away forest fires by conducting prescribed burns..... we really couldn’t do any of this without you. Cheers!

WELCOME IS THIS SIMPLE… The First Hike Project takes newly arrived refugees on hikes to introduce them to the Aussie bush and as a way of welcoming them to Australia.  Find out more at https://firsthikeproject.org.au/

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