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Two new sections of the Wadjemup Bidi project on Rottnest Island are now open to members of the public.

Funded through a A$559,000 partnership between the Rottnest Foundation and BHP Billiton, the two new sections of the walking trail include the ‘Karlinyah Bidi’ and ‘Wardan Nara Bidi’.

The Wadjemup Bidi is a conservation initiative which helps to direct and formalise access through path realignment, construction of beach access structures, rehabilitation, signage and education. It has greatly improved access to popular bays and vantage points, making these areas safer for everyone to enjoy.

The Karlinyah Bidi is approximately 6 kilometres and leads visitors through the beautiful bays of the northern beaches while the Wardan Nara Bidi is approximately 10 kilometres and allows visitors to explore the beauty of the Salmon Bay coastline before guiding visitors inland to the WWII guns and tunnels, followed by the Wadjemup Lighthouse and the world class surf break at Strickland Bay.

Rottnest Foundation Chairman Jeff King said the trail was part of a landmark partnership between Rottnest Foundation and BHP Billiton to preserve and converse the unique environment of Rottnest Island.

“This is the largest philanthropic investment from a corporate partner the Island has ever received in support of protecting and enhancing the environment of Rottnest Island and really helped to accelerate the Wadjemup Bidi and make it a reality. The trail project connects visitors with the beautiful natural features, abundance of wildlife and rich cultural history that the Island has to offer in an environmentally sustainable way”, said Jeff.

BHP Billiton President Iron Ore Edgar Basto said that the outcomes of this partnership were intrinsically linked to one of BHP Billiton’s core values – sustainability. “This partnership will help to leave a legacy for future generations of Western Australian families as well as visitors to the State and we are pleased to be able to support such an important project,” he said.

The trail offers a strategy to minimise the pressures of tourism on the iconic Island destination by formalising access and directing foot traffic to visit different bays taking pressure off over-populated sites during the high season.

Interpretative signage helps to foster appreciation of the cultural significance, multiple histories and environmental dynamics of Rottnest and encourage visitors to better appreciate, protect and respect the Island.

The two new sections of the walking trail, the Karlinyah Bidi and Wardan Nara Bidi, feature improved beach access at Narrow Neck, Catherine Bay, Little Armstrong and Armstrong Point, new facilities to improve visitor experience and an appreciation of Aboriginal heritage by way of storytelling audio boxes and interpretive artwork.

Peter Farmer, a Noongar artist who created the Mamong Djoororts (Whale Tracks) sculpture located along the Wardan Nara Bidi said it was an honour to be able to create a piece of art for the Island.

“I discussed the project with my wife and family, as I knew about the history of the Island and together we decided on a meaningful concept. My Aunty Kerry-Ann Winmar tells the story of the Mamong Djoortorts that is heard through an audio sign at the site. It felt good to give back to our community and create a sculpture that connects to our culture” he said.

A short surfing documentary has also been produced that can be accessed by QR Code at the famous surfing location Strickland Bay. It includes interviews with well-known WA surfers and commentators, interweaving iconic footage and images of surfing from the 1950s to the current day.

The project also involved closing ad-hoc informal access through revegetation with over 6,900 seedlings being planted by BHP Billiton employees and Rottnest volunteer groups.

The Wadjemup Bidi greatly enhances the Rottnest Island experience by providing a new outdoor educational activity for school kids, a platform for new cultural and environmental tours, an alternate course for sporting events and a new recreational experience to be enjoyed by the community of Western Australia.

Four sections of the 45 kilometres Wadjemup Bidi are complete and the Rottnest Foundation is actively seeking funding to implement the fifth and final section.

The Wadjemup Bidi is open all year round and information on the open trail sections can be attained from the Rottnest Island Visitor Centre.

For further info please visit http://www.rottnestfoundation.org.au/

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