Making light work of Cape to Cape maintenance with mechanised wheelbarrows
Friends of the Cape to Cape Track is a volunteer group formed in 1998 to assist Parks and Wildlife Services to maintain and develop the Track. Over the past three decades, the organisation has been pivotal in developing the trail from pre-1998 conditions to what is now an iconic long-distance track.
Through this grant, the organisation was able to purchase machinery to support volunteers in maintaining and protecting the world-class Cape to Cape Track. The equipment provided through the grant has enhanced the experience for volunteers, increased accessibility to the Track and ensured surrounding vegetation has been protected.
To improve the volunteer experience for Friends of the Cape to Cape Track, resulting in improved maintenance and increased interest in the conservation of the Cape to Cape walking track.
Friends of the Cape to Cape Track Inc.
- The mechanised wheelbarrows have been used to carry out maintenance on the track in areas it was previously difficult to take heavy supplies to.
- Less damage to fauna along the Cape to Cape, with timely repairs to boggy sections of the track.
- Mechanised wheelbarrows allowed for better management of volunteer time and more rewarding experiences.
- Sharing resources with other community groups and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions reduced running costs, provided storage options and amplifies conservation outcomes in the local area.
Nature trails offer several important benefits to individuals and the broader community. In addition to the health benefits of physical activity including walking and running the trail, research demonstrates that natural walking trails can effectively promote pro-environmental behaviour. This is achieved by celebrating the identity of a place and supporting people to form bonds with nature and each other . Volunteer programs are also known to deliver positive outcomes for participants, including improved mental and emotional health .
As more walkers discover the benefits of walking the Cape to Cape Track, looking after it becomes an ever-growing challenge. Erosion is a significant issue, with the edges of paths wearing away and the surrounding vegetation affected. As a result, infrastructure is required to maintain the quality and accessibility of the trails and protect nearby vegetation and landforms.
Friends of the Cape to Cape Track developed a Track Maintenance Program, where individuals, groups or families can 'adopt' a section of track and carry out basic maintenance, including light pruning, minor erosion control, litter collection and bush rehabilitation.
The maintenance work requires volunteers to transport materials, which can be a challenge with the nearest vehicle access point sometimes up to several kilometres from the worksite. As a result, volunteers have been increasingly requesting assistance to carry loads, which the organisation has previously addresses by hiring helicopters, but this is no longer feasible due to increasing costs and limited availability.
Friends of the Cape to Cape Track used the Lotterywest grant to purchase two mechanised wheelbarrows, which were purpose-designed for carrying loads over rough terrain and on narrow trails. Mounted on rubber tracks, the wheelbarrows can traverse boggy, stony and sandy terrain while minimising damage to the trail's surface.
An agreement was developed between the organisation and the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) for the DBCA to securely house and maintain the machines and provide a trailer for transport. In return, the DBCA can use the wheelbarrows at no charge if working on the Cape to Cape Track and a small charge if working elsewhere in the Park.
Impacts and outcomes
The wheelbarrows have provided value on several occasions, including when a section of the Cape to Cape Track between Moses Rock Road and the Quinninup waterfalls was experiencing heavy usage and needed maintenance. The three-kilometre walk passes through boggy land and provides the only access for the increasing number of people wanting to view the falls. This has resulted in damage to the fauna, which is caused by walkers trying to avoid boggy sections of the track.
To mitigate the damage, the DBCA, in consultation with Friends of the Cape to Cape, was able to install duckboards and crushed limestone using the wheelbarrows. Features including the wheelbarrow’s adjustable tray width, mechanical tray tip and skid steering provided a high degree of manoeuvrability.
Additionally, the petrol engine provided power to drive the loaded wheelbarrow at a range of walking speeds that could be adjusted according to the gradient, load and terrain.
Better management of volunteer time and more rewarding experiences
By purchasing two wheelbarrows, the turnaround time between loads was reduced and the organisation could make the most of the volunteer effort on Busy Bee days when the number of volunteers increased significantly.
Sharing resources reduces running cost and increases impact
Other not-for-profit community groups, such as the Friends of Meelup Park, were invited to use the wheelbarrows for a small fee that covered running costs and contributed towards the insurance payments. This model supports collaboration and amplifies conservation outcomes in the local area.
- Choi, S., & Kim, I. (2021). Sustainability of nature walking trails: predicting walking tourists’ engagement in pro-environmental behaviors. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 26(7), 748-767. https://doi.org/10.1080/10941665.2021.1908385
- Koss, R. S. (2010). Volunteer health and emotional wellbeing in marine protected areas. Ocean & Coastal Management, 53(8), 447-453.
Acknowledgement of Country
The Western Australian Community Impact Hub acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are based, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation and extends that respect to all the Traditional Owners and Elders of this country. We recognise the significant importance of their cultural heritage, values and beliefs and how these contribute to the positive health and wellbeing of the whole community.