Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Wellington National Park and Discovery Forest

 
 











 
Wellington National Park is a beautiful area situated in the Ferguson Valley about 45 minutes East of Bunbury, 30 minutes West of Collie, or 2 hours South of Perth. There are many places to explore and to enjoy the outdoors which is what we like doing best. The Collie River runs through the national park and the Wellington Dam is the major water catchment for the area. There is many a walking track, swimming hole, and things to discover so it is somewhere Cameron and I have found ourselves visiting a couple of times already, and will continue to visit again over the next few months. In this post I will include road names to make it easier for you to find where we went.

The first time we visited Wellington National Park was after we visited Gnomesville, also located in the Ferguson Valley. This first time we just followed our noses and signs leading us to first to Wellington Discovery Forest, then the National Park. I am not sure where the boundaries lie, or what the difference is, but the whole region is nice. We followed Wellington Forest Rd which is an unsealed road, but it is suitable for a 2WD. This road took us to the discovery centre. Here there is a sheltered area with some information about the Jarrah Walk which is a self guided walk. Along this walk there are interpretive signs which talk about the Jarrah, Marri, and Yarri trees, the differences, and where they grow. Along the walk there is an option to do the Total Forest Trail which is about 10 Kms one way so we decided we would head back to the Discovery Centre and continue exploring the area.

After the Discovery Forest we continued driving until the end of the road, upon which we turned right onto Pile Rd, then left onto Falcon Road. We were now in the National Park. Falcon Rd is sealed, but quite narrow and windy in parts so careful driving is advised. We were heading to Wellington Dam but got side tracked, so more on the dam in a moment. We turned down Lennard Dr as we could see the river, but didn't realise it was a one way road. It was a good mistake though. This particular day exploring happened to be in the middle of school holidays which meant there were more people out and about enjoying the beautiful day. Taking Lennard Rd was a good mistake because it got us away from the crowds for a bit of time.

As we drove along Lennard Dr there were several places along here with parking, for the lookouts, picnic areas, swimming holes and nice areas for fishing or canoeing too. The names of the spots are: Rapids, Big Rock, Little Rock, and Longpool. The water in the river is beautiful and clear as this section is the closest to Wellington Dam and the water outlet, although the temperature would be cold being in a mountainous area, and from the dam. We spent a bit of time at the Rapids, climbing on the rocks, listening to the water, and appreciating the beauty of the place.

We weren't quite finished exploring for the day yet and wanted to see Honeymoon Pool so at the end of the road we turned right onto River Rd. Again we had forgotten it was school holidays and when we got to Honeymoon Pool it looked quite busy so decided to call it a day and come back another time.

Our second time to Wellington National Park we spent time at Wellington Dam and Honeymoon Pool. We entered the National Park from the South and followed Falcon Road again, but this time didn't get side tracked. When we looked at the dam wall both from the top or bottom we felt small because it is so big. It was initially built in the 1930's during the depression, and was finished by 1933. The need for more water in the region has seen the dam height be increased twice, first by just one metre, then again later by another 15 meters! Today the Dam today is 366 metres wide, and 34 metres high.

These days there is a lookout tower overlooking the dam wall and the Collie River. The area that is now car parking, and the quaint, little, cosy and friendly Wellington Dam Kiosk was the original living quarters for the builders and their families. The living quarters were mere tents. The area that was once a quarry where certain building materials were dug for and used on the dam is now referred to as the amphitheatre and is used for abseiling and rock climbing, and at the bottom of this area there is a picnic area complete with nice shady trees and BBQs. The owners at the Kiosk were lovely, and had a range of maps and brochures of the area. They have only just taken it over so I wish them all the best. They also told of us some nice bush walks so we will keep you posted.

After visiting the dam we were going to look at Potter's Gorge, but due to the recent strong winds and rain, the road was closed. There are two main areas allowed for camping in Wellington National Park and Potter's Gorge is one of them. Caravans are allowed at Potter's Gorge. The other designated camping area is Honeymoon Pool, and this time there was no one there so of course we went and explored. Honeymoon Pool IS NOT SUITABLE for caravans. Tents or small camper vans only. There are signs everywhere stating it. The road through is narrow, some spots are larger but they are to accommodate a larger tent and room for a car, but a caravan would not fit let alone reverse, or adjust. The road to Honeymoon Pool is also a dirt road but 4wd is not needed. There is BBQs and small fire pits both at both camp grounds.

The water at Honeymoon Pool and the Gelcoat rapids 500m downstream is just as beautiful as the water from Lennard Dr. I would be tempted to swim only that it was the second last day of Autumn and our breath was foggy from the cold air temperature so the water would have been even more so. A great place for a swim in summer though.

Other activities that are popular in the Wellington National Park are bush walking, fishing, canoeing, white-water rafting, and mountain bike riding through the mountain bike trails at Mount Lennard. Most people could easily find something they enjoy at Welington National Park.

Happy travels
Jeni