Category: Roadtrip Worthy Adventures

Bald Head Walk Trail & Torndirrup National Park

Have you ever been to a location so beautiful that it makes you feel glad to be alive? It may sound a little odd, but that’s exactly how I felt while exploring the Bald Head Walk Trail.

Need to know info

Distance: 12km there and back ( we however did about 5km)
Trail Start: Isthmus Hill car park,  Murray Street, Albany, Torndirrup National Park
Time: 2 – 3 hours one way
Difficulty: Difficult
Stuff you’ll need: Sunscreen, water, hat, sturdy walking boots

The Bald Head Walk Trail

Our Bald Head Walk Trail experience did not go to plan. When we set off from Denmark, the sun was shining, albeit a little weakly but the skies were definitely blue. As we made the 40 minute drive to Albany, grey clouds began rolling in, and by the time we entered Torndirrup National Park, these ominous clouds had covered the sky.

Bald Head Walk Trail boardwalk

The wooden boardwalk up Isthmus Hill.

When we reached the trailhead, light rain was falling and thick white mist obscured our view of the coastline. Should we turn back and check out some other, drier tourist spots in the area? Probably. But first we decided to make the short 1km climb up Isthmus Hill to see if our walk would be worthwhile.

After walking up a slippery and steep wooden boardwalk through peppermint trees and coastal heath, we emerged on the top of Isthmus Hill. In the distance, we could just make out the striped rocks of nearby Stony Hill and the coastline of Frenchman’s Bay. But by then, that oh-too-familiar walking itch had set in so we agreed to go ‘‘just a little bit further.”

Isthmus Hill

Me trying to be positive about our cloudy view from Isthmus Hill.

As we rounded the next corner, I think we all shared an involuntary outburst of exclamations and swear words. The view was incredible. The thick white mist had parted to reveal a brilliant green isthmus that stretched out between two blue but very turbulent bodies of water below. You can’t turn your back on scenery this beautiful so we continued on the trail.

Bald Head Walk Trail

The sort of view that’s sure to make any nature fan feel giddy!

With every step we took, more and more of the coastline came in to view. To our left was Frenchman’s Bay. To our right was the Southern Ocean, which was putting on quite the show with huge waves crashing against the rocks below. As the peninsula narrowed, we spotted a sign and narrow path leading down to these fierce waves.

Bald Head Walk trail

Walking down to meet the monster waves

Normally, I’m a little hesitant around angry water, but my braver walking buddies saw no problem, so we made the descent to the rocks below where we met some of the largest waves I have ever seen in my life. These turquoise blue monsters were thrashing the rocks, making the sort of roar that reminds that you don’t stand a chance against them. As nerve-racking as that can be, that humbling feeling is one of my favourite things about nature and about this trail.

 

Bald head walk trail waves

While this photo doesn’t capture the scale of the waves, it does capture their excellent colour.

After we had filled our wave watching quota, we climbed back up and continued along the main trail until we reached a peak which I think is called Limestone Head. Here, our old friends heavy rain and mist returned, once again blocking our view of the surrounds. I also admit, that we had made the regrettable decision of not bringing much water, as we hadn’t planned to go much further than Isthmus Hill. So rather than push on unprepared and through bad weather, we turned back before reaching the trail’s namesake Bald Head.

Common Bunny Orchid

Common Bunny Orchid

While it was disappointing to cut the walk short, we did manage to catch a few glimpses of late-blooming wildflowers on the way back, like the Common Bunny Orchid, as well as plenty of droplet covered spiderwebs. Seeing as the trail features large granite and limestone outcrops, I’d be willing to bet that it also plays host to plenty of pretty wildflowers during spring. In fact, I’ve vowed to return to the trail during the warmer months to see if I’m right!

Torndirrup National Park

To make up for our shortened walk, we stopped in at a number of Torndirrup’s other wonderful coastal sights, including The Gap, Natural Bridge and The Blowholes. All of these are impressive in their own right, particularly the Gap, who’s new walkway gives you a bird’s-eye view into a deep, wave filled chasm. Torndirrup National Park is definitely worth a visit, even if Bald Head’s 12km trail is out of your comfort range.

The Gap Albany

Feel the rage of the The Gap!

Torndirrup National Park

Colourful lichen adorns the boulders surrounding the Blowholes.

 

The verdict

While our Bald Head Walk was a little damper, greyer and shorter than the experience of others, (see the posts of Life of Py & The Long Way’s Better for sunnier pics) it was still a spectacular walk with scenery that I think is best described as life-affirming. Let me know if you feel the same way!

Torndirrup National Park

That curved dome is Bald Head, as viewed from The Blowholes.

 

Denmark to Lights Beach Bike Trail

Mixing the Munda Biddi Trail and Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail to make our own scenic tour.

Need to know info

Distance: Approximately 25km one way
Trail Start: Denmark River Bridge or Lights Beach.
If you start at Denmark River Bridge, you’ll begin the ride on the Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail. If you start at Lights Beach, you’ll begin on the Munda Biddi Trail.
Time: 2 – 3 hours one way
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Stuff you’ll need: Mountain bike, helmet, sunscreen, water

Note: Sorry about the lack of trail map…someone forgot to turn on Strava. Luckily, you can find the map of the Lights Beach Munda Biddi section here and the Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Trail is visible on Google Maps.

Over the Easter break, we headed south to Denmark with the aim of squeezing in some nature time between our heavy schedule of easter egg eating. We’ve already ridden a few of Denmark’s popular cycle paths like Ocean Beach Cycleway and the Wilson Inlet Heritage Trail, but seeing as I am now the owner of a legit set of wheels, we were keen to explore some less paved terrain. Although eager, I am far from being an experienced mountain biker, so I was looking for trail in the Denmark area that was epic in scenery but still achievable in distance.

Our solution came from a bike riding duo we met at Greens Pool who mentioned a stretch of Munda Biddi Trail that crossed with the Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail. They assured us it would be a pleasant ride, taking us from the beach, through farmland and forest all the way back to Denmark town centre…and they were right. (Thanks guys!)

The Trail

Being a combination of two different trails, this 25km route uses rail trail, bitumen road, gravel paths and winding single track. It can be completed in number of ways:

1. Start at Denmark River Bridge and enjoy a cruisey, mostly downhill ride to Lights Beach.
2. Start at Lights Beach and challenge yourself to a few uphills before finishing with lunch at Denmark town centre.
3. Make it a return 50km ride, or a loop by following the Munda Biddi Trail along Ocean Beach Road.

Seeing as we were already near Lights Beach, we took the second option. However, if you can organise a lift back, I’d recommend starting at Denmark, letting the scenery at Lights Beach be your pay off. Which ever way you choose, here are some of the highlights and challenges you’ll meet along the way:

Lights Beach Denmark

Lights Beach – an epic start or finish to the trail

Lights Beach

Lights beach munda biddi

Weaving through the maze of dense underground.

One of Denmark’s most rugged coastal spots, Lights Beach offers fantastic views of the coast and Southern Ocean. While it’s far too rough for swimming, Lights Beach has impressive lookouts and plenty of rock pools to explore. The bike trail starts on the north side of the carpark (look out for the Munda Biddi Trail sign) and leads along the coast before quickly turning inland. Here you plunge into lush peppermint forest for a rollercoaster ride up and down hills, past a small waterfall and most likely a roo or two.

Road to/from Greens Pool

Munda Biddi Lights beach

Look at that coast line in the distance. See hard riding pays off!

This section will put your wrists to the test. This 6km stretch of red dirt road between Lights Beach and Greens Pool is extremely corrugated – so much so that it feels like you’re riding along a tin roof. Our handy tips for tackling this section include riding along the very edge of road, where the ground is slightly smoother, and relaxing your grip on the handlebars to reduce your chances of whiplash…just kidding.

Greens Pool

Greens Pool is one of Denmark’s most famous spots – and for good reason. Large, smooth rocks provide shelter from the harsh swells of the Southern Ocean, making it look and feel like a swimming pool. On calm sunny days, the pool’s turquoise water sparkles and is somehow enhanced by the promise of a Mr Whippy van up in the carpark. You’ll have to take my word for it, as I forgot to take any pics.

Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail

nornalup heritage rail trail Denmark Cycle Trail

Riding through young Karris

The full length of the Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail is 55km, but on this ride we covered just 12km. This short section still manages to pack in the scenery, passing through slices of karri forest and rolling green paddocks. You might even be greeted by some very chilled cows along the way!

denmark to nornalup heritage trail Denmark Cycle Trail

A patient boyfriend waits while I take photos.

The Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail is very easy to follow with blue train markers at regular intervals and bright red timber signs at every road crossing. Closer to Denmark town centre, you’ll also spot the familiar yellow Wagyl markers as sections of the trail overlap with the Bibbulmun Track. Take note: If you’re coming from Denmark, turn left when you reach South Coast Hwy and keep an eye out for the yellow Munda Biddi signs – they can be hard to spot as they lead into a very narrow strip of single track along the edge of farmland.

nornalup heritage rail trail

Overall, this route is a nice way get a glimpse of some of Denmark’s prettiest locations. Thrill-seeking mountain bikers might find it a little on the easy side, but if you’re happy to cruise along, it’s a wonderful way to soak up some excellent Great Southern scenery.

The Jabitj Trail

Jabitj trail

‘Jabitj’ is the Noongar word for running water – and you’ll see plenty of it along this excellent riverside trail.

Need to know info

Distance: 12km return or 6km one way
Where: Wellington National Park, 25 minutes drive from Collie town centre
Time: 2 hours one way
Difficulty: Moderate
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes, and bathers if it’s warm.

Where to find it

The Trail

Water, views and dense, green forest – they are some of the main things I look for in a bushwalk, and the Jabitj Trail is blessed with all three. Located in the Wellington National Park, The Jabitj Trail follows Collie River, taking you straight through the middle of an ancient river gorge.

Jabitj trail

The Collie River Valley in all its glory!

The trail begins behind the Wellington Dam Kiosk – look for the green boot print marker – and plunges straight down a steep incline until you reach a water pumping station. You could ignore the station and stick to the trail, but I recommend you take a quick detour to the left and check out the Wellington Dam Wall.

Wellington Dam on the Jabitj Trail

Gushing over the Wellington Dam.

Wellington Dam Wall.
While I’m normally all about the nature side of walks, I’ll admit that the Wellington Dam is impressive.The curve and size of the wall plays tricks on your eyes and the torrent that pours out from the dam wall is an excellent reminder of the unthinkable amount of water that is being held at bay. At this point of the walk, Jarrad raised the question of what would happen if the wall suddenly gave way…rather than dwell on that thought, let’s get back to the trail!

After the Dam, the trail takes you up a rocky outcrop and then curves around to give you an excellent view of the Collie River. Shaded by a canopy of trees and studded with mossy rocks, this part of the trail reminds me a little bit of Lane Poole Reserve in Dwellingup.

Jabitj trail 2

The first glimpse of Collie River on the trail.

Following this shady stretch, the trail moves into a drier, rockier and more exposed section a bush. Don’t worry, you only need to make one small hill climb before you’re once again greeted by the river’s edge and a fantastic view of the valley. From here on, it’s a constant stream of rapids, gentle pools and brilliant green water. Seriously, make space on your phone or camera, because you won’t be able to stop yourself snapping photos of this wonderful landscape.

Big Rock
Along the way keep an eye out for a gigantic, granite rock outcrop – creatively named ‘Big Rock’. Essentially a hillside of granite, it’s located on the other side of the Collie River and can be accessed via Lennard Road. The day after we tackled this trail, we drove to Big Rock and climbed almost to the top. It’s a very steep climb but it offers some incredible valley panorama, and a view down that will have your stomach turning somersaults.

Big Rock Jabitj Trail

It really is a big rock!

Honeymoon Pool
The final stop on the trail is Honeymoon Pool. This is a very popular camping spot, and deservedly so, because it’s beautiful. The pool itself is quiet stretch of river that is edged by peppermint trees and marris. There’s plenty of picnic tables and a handy boardwalk where you can sit and dip your feet in the glass-clear green water. If it wasn’t so cold on the day we visited, we’d have stripped off and gone for a swim!

Jabitj Trail

We named this spot Se-WREN-ity Pool because of the many blue wrens flittering on the water’s edge.

 

jabitj trail signage

The Jabitj Trail crosses paths with the Munda Biddi as well as the Kurliiny Tjenangitj Trail.

Tree on Jabitj trail

Burl on a gorgeous old Marri.

Being the endpoint of the trail, you can finish up at Honeymoon Pool and get a lift home, or you can follow the trail back to the start. Alternatively, you can follow our lead and use the Kurliiny Tjenangitj Trail and Sika Trail to get back to the Wellington Dam Kiosk. While it does add 2 or 3 extra kilometres and a very steep hill climb to your walk, taking this route home gives you some different, higher views of the valley. And thanks to DPaW’s excellent signage, it’s very easy to find your way back.
To wrap up, I cannot recommend the Jabitj Trail enough. It’s a wonderful walk with so many scenic spots to enjoy along the way.

Rapids, views, idyllic green pools – any nature fan is sure to be impressed. Definitely worth the trip!

 

 

4 stops to make in D’Entrecasteaux National Park

Salmon Beach at D'Entrecasteuax national park

D’Entrecasteaux National Park is one of the wildest and most rugged places you’ll find down south. Think jagged cliffs, lonely beaches and sand dunes that move on their own. A large part of the park is only accessible by four-wheel drive, but luckily for us proud Yaris owners, it’s also got a sealed road that takes you right up to the edge of some spectacular scenery. Heading down Windy Harbour Road from the town of Northcliffe, here are four places that are worth stopping the car for.

1. Mount Chudalup

Mount Chudalup doesn’t look like much from the road but don’t let that fool you. Surrounded by tall forest, the short 1km walk to the top of this giant granite outcrop rewards you with incredible 360 degree views of the national park. Even the trail itself is interesting, with vegetation that changes dramatically from lush karri trees, to dry banskia and grasstrees, to colourful moss and lichens as you climb the rock. Once you reach the summit of Mount Chudalup, you’ll have an excellent view of sand dunes, coastal cliffs and kilometres of heathlands.

Mount Chudalup D'Entrecasteaux National Park

The boardwalk to the top

For a different perspective, check out Way To Much Coffee’s blog post on Mount Chudalup and its surrounds.

Mount Chudalup D'Entrecasteaux National Park

Mossy rock and magnificent view.

Mount Chudalup D'Entrecasteaux National Park

The Summit of Mt Chudalup and a Jarrad for scale.

2. Salmon Beach

The next stop is secluded Salmon Beach. Edged by huge, ominous-looking cliffs, this white sand beach looks like it could be the set of a fantasy film; or at least inspire some poetry. We visited late Tuesday morning mid December, and we could only spot one other set of footsteps on the sand, so if you visit out of school holiday season, you’ll most likely have the beach to yourself. While this isn’t a spot for swimming, it does make a great place for a walk, dramatic selfie or just a moment of complete peace and quiet.

The view of Salmon Beach in D'Entrecasteaux National Park

If the view is this good from the carpark, imagine it up close!

Salmon Beach D'Entrecasteaux National Park

We had Salmon Beach all to ourselves.

3. Tookalup

The view from Tookalup is a good reminder than you’re just one tiny person in a giant world. Tookalup lookout gives you sweeping views across the cliffs of Salmon Beach to Point D’Entrecasteaux, and outward to an endless expanse of deep blue ocean. Signage at the lookout mentions that Tookalup is an excellent vantage point for spotting humpack and right whales during May to November. If you’re lucky enough to spot a whale from this magical spot, please let me know so I can be very, very jealous.

Tookalup D'Entrecasteaux National Park

The view to the right from the Tookalup lookout.

4. Point D’Entrecasteaux

Point D’Entrecasteux is the last stop on the drive and it goes above and beyond with scenery. This point is the start or finish of a number of short walks, including the Coastal Survivors Walk that takes you down to Cathedral Rock and Windy Harbour (this trail looked awesome, I probably should have done it) and the Pupalong Loop Walk that offers fantastic cliff views while being 100% wheelchair accessible. Another highlight of this spot is The Window – a hole in one of the cliffs that gives you a slightly frightening yet very photogenic view of the steep drop to the ocean below.

Window D'Entrecasteaux National Park

The perfectly framed Window view.

 Cliffs in D'Entrecasteaux National Park

Too close to the cliff edges of Point D’Entrecasteaux

 

While these were my four highlights of D’Entrecasteaux National Park, there are plenty more to explore nearby and along the way, like the tiny holiday settlement of Windy Harbour, Sunset Lookout, Gardner Lookout and Cathedral Rock. Plus lots of off-road adventures for those lucky enough to own a 4WD.

One final note:

There are no shops in D’Entrecasteux National Park so bring plenty of water and snacks for the trip. You can stock up on supplies at Northcliffe – I have it on good authority that Northcliffe bakery does a good old-fashioned chicken and salad roll!

Map & Directions

We accessed D’Entrecasteaux Drive via Windy Harbour Road from Northcliffe.
The town of Northcliffe is approximately a 35 minute drive from Pemberton.

The Cascades Walk

Last August, I visited the Gloucester National Park and was blown away by the beauty of Karri forest on the Gloucester Route Walk.  As wonderful as this trail was, I knew I had just scratched the surface of this magical place and vowed to return. Now in December, I’m back and ready to discover what else the forest holds – starting with a greener-than-green walk to The Cascades.

Need to know info

Distance: 6km one way. 12km return.
Where: Gloucester National Park, Pemberton
Time: 2.5 – 4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Cost: $12 national park entry fee
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes and possibly wet weather gear.


Why do this

The Cascades Walk is chance to immerse yourself in the heart of some of Pemberton’s lushest karri forest. The Cascades are a set of rapids that tumble over the rocks of Lefroy Brook. Towards the end of summer, the cascades slow to gentle stream. From winter to spring, they’re a raging torrent that churns foam and creates an impressive roar. We visited on a particularly drizzly day in mid December, and luckily for us, they were still putting on quite the show.

The Trail

Trail entry point at Burma Road and Eastbrook crossroad.

Officially, the trail starts at the Gloucester Tree and follows the Gloucester Route for the first couple of kilometres. Having already climbed that majestic beast and explored it surrounds on bike and foot, we decided to save a bit of walking and start at the crossroads of Burma Road and the Eastbrook Trail.

The official start of the trail takes you down a series of switchbacks, passing giant karris and giving you valley views along the way. You’ll then hit a bitumen road that you will follow until you reach the crossroads. From here, you turn right and head back into the forest. No matter where you choose to start, the trail is well signed posted with wooden signs and the friendly and familiar yellow Wagyl. (Yep, that’s right, The Cascades Walk is actually a stretch of the Bibbulmum Track.)

The cascades pemberton

Now this is lush.

When you’ve got into the swing of the trail and stopped marvelling at the towering trees, you’ll notice the incredible range of greenery. There are karris covered in day-glo green moss, deep green tree ferns, vines with bronze-edged leaves and plenty of others I can’t name.

moss on the cascades walk

Did I mention the greenery? Moss, moss and more moss.

Compared to the usual subdued greys and greens of Perth’s bush, the Karri forest looks like someone has used every shade of green in the crayon box – in the best possible way.

From the crossroads, the trail is flat and easy, and it continues this way for three or so kilometres.  After a little while, it might seem a little repetitive but that just means you have the opportunity to zone out and soak up the forest sounds, or catch up with your walking buddy. (Two of my favourite things about bushwalking! )

The Cascades Bridge Pemberton

The Cascades Bridge

Once you’re deep in the forest, you’ll reach another gravel road. Cross over this and now the trail starts showing some attitude, taking a few sharp ups and downs that will get the heart pumping.

Soon enough, you’ll hear the sound of running water and spot the Cascades Bridge, which is still used today by Pemberton’s tourist tram. From here, you’ll easily find the Cascades by following the boardwalk over the brook.

The Cascades Pemberton

The Cascades looking glorious even in mid December.

The Cascades boardwalk

The Cascades timber boardwalk leads you up and around Lefroy Brook.

A lot of care has been put into the facilities of the Cascades. There are picnic tables, information shelters and a wide timber boardwalk that gives you a good view of the falls.

The best thing is that even with all of this infrastructure, you can still get up close to the Cascades. In fact, if you’re careful, you can walk right out on to the rocks and find a spot to daydream alongside the water. On the very soggy and slippery day of our visit, we opted to follow the boardwalk further upstream to check out the more tranquil parts of Lefroy Brook.

Lefroy Brook looks peaceful but lampreys lurk beneath the surface.

 

Overall, The Cascades Walk is wonderful way to escape in the Karri forest and see one of the South West’s prettiest waterfalls. Plus, the dense forest means the trail is cool, damp and shady even on warmer days. Whether you go one way or take the return trail, add the Cascades Walk to your Southern Forests to-do list.


Map & Directions


The Cascades Walk is located in the Gloucester National Park which is located on Burma Road, just 5 minutes drive from the Pemberton town centre.

Once you’ve paid your $12 park fee, you can enter and drive through to the carpark. The beginning of the trail follows the same route at the Gloucester Route, which is marked with the yellow Bibbulmun Track sign.