The upside of being unprepared.
Not all nature adventures go to plan. Sometimes the reason why is out of your control, like a change in weather, or a less than friendly animal encounter. Other times, it’s down to your poor planning and is completely your own fault. This week, it was the latter reason that led to us changing our plans and our walking route.
The plan was to tackle the King Jarrah Trail; an 18km trail that winds through the jarrah forests of Dwellingup. We got up early (for us), packed our water and supplies, then set off to Lane Poole Reserve where the trail begins. Dwellingup is a 1 hour and 40 minute drive from the city, so by the time we had arrived we had consumed a lot of coffee, a lot of sugar and were more than ready to get walking. However, one thing we hadn’t counted on was a “Trail closed for fire damage” poster plastered on the entrance of the King Jarrah Trail. Yep, we didn’t think to check to see if the trail was open. Rookie mistake.
If you’re planning on going to national park, always check the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s alert page. It will tell you if there are any closures or emergency alerts, like flood or bushfires. A two-minute check of this site will not only save you a wasted trip, it could potentially save your life. Anyway, back to the story.
At this point our Nature Monday plan was ruined. But luckily for us, it was ruined in the best possible place. Lane Poole Reserve is not only beautiful, it also has tonnes of nature goodness on offer. There’s sections of the Munda Biddi Trail and The Bibbulmun Track to explore, kayaking, bike paths and plenty of other, albeit smaller, walk trails to choose from – this is probably why it’s one of Perth’s most popular camping spots.
(Unofficial) Murray River Walk
Once we parked and got hold of map (here you go), we could see what other non-King-Jarrah-Trail options we could choose from. We were intending to find an actual trail but we got sidetracked and headed to the sound of gushing water. After exploring what turned out to be the Nanga Falls, we found ourselves on short but well-worn track along the edge of the Murray River. With several rope swings and tracks leading to campsites along the way, the trail was the obvious handiwork of many years of campers. The trail took us over huge fallen logs, through blackberry thickets and down slippery mudslides – which was surprisingly a lot of fun. Who doesn’t want to feel like Indiana Jones every now and then?
What was even more exciting was…
wait for it… WE MET AN ECHIDNA ON THE TRAIL!
Just in case you don’t know, I’ve always wanted to see an echidna in the wild, and finally my wish came true.
Because I lack any self control, I screamed in excitement, which sent the poor little guy waddling off under a bush. Sorry echidna! And sorry to you, as I didn’t get any photos except this blurry shot of his spines.
After our echidna experience, we continued on until we reached a set of rapids, which filled the water with masses of white foam. This is where the trail ended, so not wanting to trample through the undergrowth; we turned back, ready for the next adventure.
Nanga Brook Trail
Our next stop was the Nanga Brook Trail. Another small walk, this 4km trail follows the Nanga Brook through to the old Nanga Mill site. This trail is less of bushwalk, more of a pathway as it crosses through clearings and picnic sites. However, it’s still interesting, especially if you’re keen to read and learn about the history of the old mill site. Not to mention, the abundance of mushrooms, fungi and moss along this track weas incredible. A must for any fungus fan!
Island Pool Trail
A 10 minute drive from Nanga Brook, the deceptively named Island Pool Trail was the last stop on our Lane Poole Reserve tour. Expecting more riverside adventure, we were surprised to find this 2km trail is actually a steep loop that takes you up through jarrah forest. What this trail lacked in islands, it made up with views over the hills and beyond. Plus, it added a great little burst of cardio to our relaxed day. (To clear up the mystery, the trail is located opposite the Island Pool campsite, so the name is not completely misleading.)
Not wanting to drive home in the dark, we decided to call it a day after the Island Pool Trail. While we may not have conquered the King Jarrah Trail, we still had an excellent time at Lane Poole Reserve. We ended up exploring some smaller trails we probably would have overlooked and I finally achieved my echidna encounter dream. Maybe there is an upside to being unprepared!
To wrap up this post, I can’t recommend Lane Poole Reserve enough. While it is a bit of trek for a day trip; the landscape, the river, and the serenity make drive worthwhile. If you can’t squeeze a visit into one day, why not get some friends together and stay the night?
I’m definitely adding a Dwellingup camping trip to my to-do list, oh, and the King Jarrah Trail of course!
Map & Directions
Lane Poole Reserve covers over 55,000ha, so there are many campsites and parking areas that make good starting points. Lane Poole Reserve is a national park so it does have the standard $12 per car entry fee.
If you’re keen to explore the Nanga Brook area or the King Jarrah Trail, the best place to park and begin is at the Nanga Mill campsite, off Nanga Road.