A “horrifying” attack on Perth’s world-famous Bibbulmun Track has left two hikers in hospital after one was allegedly run down by a car before both were allegedly set upon by the driver wielding a shovel.
Matt Whittaker, 36, has been charged with one count of attempting to unlawfully kill a person, in relation to the incident, which took place on Saturday.
The incident happened not far from Perth in Paulls Valley, about 30 kilometres from the city centre and near the suburb of Kalamunda, where the trail — which runs 1000km from Perth to Albany — begins.
Police said a man and a woman from Finland, both aged 33, were walking the track when a driver ran down the man with his ute, before getting out and attacking him with a shovel.
According to police, the driver then “turned his attention” to the hiker’s female companion.
Despite his injuries police said her partner managed to get up and struggled with the attacker, dragging him to the ground.
Police said the attacker only let go once the woman picked up the shovel and struck him.
A passer-by stopped to help and the three of them restrained the driver until police arrived.
The male victim, his female companion and the driver of the vehicle were all taken to hospital.
The two victims are both 33-year-old Finnish nationals, visiting and working in Australia.
Police say they did not know the driver and had not been involved in any prior incidents.
The male hiker was discharged from Royal Perth Hospital yesterday.
Track community rocked by attack
Lead Guide of the Bibbulmun Track Foundation Steve Sertis said he spent much of his time on the track and never imagined something like this could happen.
“I thought it was some kind of April Fool’s joke, it’s the first time that we know of that anything like this has happened,” he said.
“It’s just horrifying, it’s something you wouldn’t even think would happen to anyone.
“It’s certainly way out of the ordinary, the Bibbulmun Track is generally a very safe place.”
Mr Sertis said thousands of people used the Bibbulmun Track and surrounding trails every weekend and there was a fantastic bushwalking community in the area who would be shocked at the news.
“The bushwalking community and all trail users are a very amicable community who look out for each other, so it says to me this was something way out of the ordinary and someone who probably wasn’t a trail user at all,” he said.
“I’ve always told people you can go out on a walk and enjoy your surrounds without having to be concerned for your personal safety in that respect.
“We don’t want people thinking this happens all the time and this is what to expect when you’re out on the Bibbulmun Track because it’s not.”
The Honorary Consul General of Finland in Perth, Ross Norgard, said the Finnish Embassy was offering assistance to the victims.
Mr Whittaker was not required to plead to a charge of attempting to unlawfully kill a person.
He made no application for bail and was remanded in custody until he appears in court again next week.