From left Ms Jodie Hanns MLA Member for Collie-Preston, Mr Joe Northover, Wiilman Noongar Elder and Traditional Owner, Hon Reece Whitby Minister for Environment and Climate Action.
We acknowledge the Wiilman people of the Noongar nation as the Traditional Owners of the land through which the trail passes.
Walkers from all over Western Australia have been waiting for the highly anticipated opening of the of the Wiilman Bilya walk trail, part of Collie’s Wambenger Trails Network.
Last Friday, 9 September, the Minister for the Environment and Climate Action, the Hon Reece Whitby, announced the opening of a further 56km section of the trail at a ceremony on the new 94 metre Kaniyang Wiilman pedestrian bridge spanning the Collie River.
The complete 87km Wiilman Bilya walk trail will circumnavigate the Wellington Dam water body over 4 nights and 5 days highlighting the beautiful Collie River Valley, starting and finishing in Collie. The trail passes through a mixed forest of jarrah, marri and yarri (blackbutt) with granite outcrops and providing some spectacular views of the waters of Wellington Dam.
A Welcome to Country ceremony at the opening was conducted by Wiilman Noongar man, Joe Northover. Minister Whitby was accompanied by local MLA, Jodie Hanns (Member for Collie-Preston) and other local dignitaries.
Also at the opening were local bushwalking enthusiasts including members from the Bunbury Walking Club, Hike West and the Bibbulmun Track.
There were also representatives from local and Perth based walking and adventure businesses who were keen to get a look at the new trail and plan new walks for clients. Staff from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and contractors who constructed the trails and facilities were also present.
Kaniyang Wiilman pedestrian bridge across the Collie River Photo credit Rod Annear (DBCA)
The first section of the Wiilman Bilya Trail, from the north side of Wellington Dam to Hamilton Causeway on Coalfields Highway was completed in 2013. The newly opened 56km section of trail runs from Collie, along the east side of Wellington Dam and finishing at the south side of the Wellington Dam Wall.
One of the recommendations of the recent WA Hiking Strategy 2020-2030 was to develop more half-day and full-day loop trails near population centres and adjoining long trails such as the Bibbulmun Track. The Wiilman Bilya Trail is helping to fulfill that recommendation by offering a great multiday loop walk that will start and finish in Collie.
The Wiilman Bilya campsite shelters have been designed as group shelters. This includes a roofed shelter with one or two sides fully paneled, but no bunk beds or sleeping platforms. There are picnic tables, water tanks, a drop toilet and numerous tent pads to cater for groups of up to twenty.
While there are numerous mountain bike trails as part of the Wambenger Trails network, the Wiilman Bilya is a dedicated walk trail, named after the traditional Noongar group (Wiilman) and the Noongar word for river (Bilya).
When complete, the trail that starts and finishes in Collie combines sealed dual-use paths near town and a mixture of dedicated single-track forest trails and minor vehicle tracks that pass mostly through State forest and Wellington National Park.
The Wiilman Bilya Trail includes four campsites (Kooboolong, Yakkan, Arcadia, Nyingarn) and also passes through the Potters Gorge campground (bookings on Park Stay are essential) enabling a multi-day circuit walk around Wellington Dam, or shorter options. It can also be used as an alternative route into Collie for walkers on the Bibbulmun Track.
Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to complete the whole trail as the bridge below the Wellington Dam wall is closed while it is being replaced by the Water Corporation. Some small linking sections of trail on the north side of the dam are also still to be completed. DBCA is working with Water Corp to provide a new, more direct route across the top of the dam wall and will complete other trail work soon.
Although the complete trail cannot be walked right now, other options including a loop back to Collie are available using the Wiilman Bilya and the Bibbulmun Track. See 3 trail options in the map below.
Before you head off on your adventure, make sure you have purchased the large fold out “Walk the Wiilman Bilya Trail” map with an insert outlining the 3 options for multi-day and day walks in the the area. This contains a detailed map and all your safety information. Now available for purchase from the Collie Visitor Centre for $4.95.
There are currently 3 walk trail options, chose one that suits your ability and time frame.
© Trails WA Projects 2022