Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Trekin' around Wellington National Park

Ferguson Valley really is a magical place, whether you want to explore the rolling green hills, wonder through mystical Gnomesville, scope out the dam, camp or hike. We had previously been to the dam, and had been meaning to check out some of the walks around the Wellington National Park.

Most of the hikes are around the 10 kilometre mark. The Sika and Jabitji trail can be started from the cafe at the dam. From the campsite Honeymoon Pool you can embark upon the Jabitji (from the other side) or Kurliny Tjenagitj trails. We spent the night at the newly renovated Potters Gorge campground, the Sika trail runs through there so we decided that would be our trail for the day!

We didn't begin our walk until late in the morning, about 11:00 am. Our plan started to only do the Sika trail anti clockwise. A quick tip to anyone deciding to do this, when find yourself following a pipeline up a hill, not long from the camp site, the dedicated path turns left rather soon. We accidentally continued to the top of the hill, then returned down Wellington Dam Road adding a few extra kilometres to the hike. Far from the worst of problems, but the sealed and unsealed roads we started on weren't quite as exciting as the rest of the walk!

One thing I personally love about Wellington National Park is all of the grass trees about. They really are nice and seem a lot more common on the western side of the country. When they fall apart and they also look like a bunch of cockroach shells. This looks really bizarre when scattered over a 4wd track!

Once we reached the most north east part of the Sika trail, we decided to push our walk a little further and jump over to the Kurliny Tjenagitj trail and eventually jump on the Jabitj trail back to the dam. This made the walk significantly longer, but definitely worth it. We were told the Kurliny Tjenagitj is really worth checking out and with the Noongar word “Kurliny Tjenagitj” translating to “Come and See” it's no wonder!

As we continued down the Kurliny Tjenagitj we found our way to a lookout point giving us spectacular views of the hills. On one side of the lookout, the grass trees climbing up the hill with the mountains behind looked absolutely amazing! With us combining the three tracks, this also happened to be the halfway point for us. The fact a lonely picnic table was sitting by the cliffs edge made the decision to make this the perfect location to have lunch a no brainer!

The descent to the base of the hill was more narrow and and rough to walk than the rest of what we had done. It was in no way difficult, but with the heavy storms that hit the region over the winter, we did need to climb over a few of the large trees that had came down.

Western Australia is well known for its wild flowers. Spring is the time for the countryside to light up a heap of magnificent colours. We did this walk at the beginning of September, we found some of the flowers had opened up, but most were lush and green, ready for their bud's to burst very shortly. The flowers we did see were pretty and fragrant none the less.

Once we were at the base of the hill, we met with the Collie River. Following this west takes you to Honeymoon Pool, east to the dam. We continued east enjoying the early spring warmth of the sun and the sound of the water running through the rapids beside us. Ducks and other birds were also enjoying the afternoon sun getting up to all sorts of mischief.

We hadn't done many bush walks for a while as winter in the south west is rather cold and wet, but by the time we made it back to the cafe we were buggered!

Steve and Dianne, the couple running the cafe were happy to see us arrive. They were kind enough to fill our water bottles as we sat down to enjoy an ice cream. At this point it was almost 4:00pm so we decided to spend another night in Potters Gorge, rather than look for another place to spend the night.

Rather than take the Sika trail back to the campsite, we took a quick detour to walk along the sandy beach by the dam. This was a nice way to end the walk, varying up the scenery yet again with the soil colours varying from a light yellow to a rich dark red. There were also some old trees that had snapped in the past, the soil around their roots had eroded and they appeared like wooden octopus along the shore.

While we haven't actually stayed at Honeymoon Pool, we have been through, noticing it is quite a nice campground. We found Potters Gorge a great place to spend a couple of nights. It has been closed for a couple of years due to weather damage and renovations. When we first drove in, it was quiet and all the campsites looked great. Clean and tidy with a picnic tablein most spots and fire pit for every spot! The bathrooms are clean and well maintained drop toilets. While most of the campground is complete, the boat ramp and group sections are still under maintenance. Camping fees here are only $10 a person and will be picked up by Steve and Dianne when they do the rounds.

As we've written before, Wellington Dam is well worth checking out, but if you have the time to camp and trek around it, you cannot go wrong! You can also hire bikes from the cafe if you would rather ride around the national park. A part of the Munda Biddi mountain bike trail (Perth to Albany) goes through the national park along the Kurliny Tjenagitj and Jabitj trails so be sure to lookout for bikes when walking. Steve and Dianne also are very passionate about the area and happy to impart on all sorts of info and advice. They were even kind enough to drop us off some cake after we finished our walk!

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