Southern Forest Road Trip – Nanga to Shannon

The Plan

The plan for this Road Trip was to meet at Nanga Campsite, and the next day drive the Murray River Fireline, cross the river at Driver Road, go to Hoffmans Mill, continue to Wellington Dam and Honeymoon Pool, and then make our way to Boyup Brook via Trigwell Bridge, Eulin Crossing and Condinup Crossing.

If we got that far we were going to head further south to Jayes, Mayanup, Tonebridge, Lake Muir and maybe overnight at Fernhook Falls. It was an ambitious plan and previous experience/common sense indicated that I should plan some alternative campsites short of the hoped-for destination. There were five of these, each an hour shorter than the previous. Hopefully we didn’t need six – although our previous experience in the area over many years meant we knew of a few more alternatives, if required.

So, how did actuality compare with planning?

Mushy tested the range of his vehicle by doing about half of the next day’s course on Friday night before heading to camp. Apparently it was not so scary in the dark.

The DPaWs Nanga Campsite was full and we were in the ‘overflow’.

Into it

Within a few kilometres along River Road we encountered our first ‘wake up and take notice’ section of track. After that it was simply an interesting drive through the bush.

There is an ugly mudhole 100 metres before Driver Road.

We turned west off the Fireline onto Driver Road.

More Mud

Leaving Driver Road we turned into Muddy Landing Road and encountered a interesting mudhole 2.3 kilometres up the track.

We later stopped at Hoffmans Mill for a coffee break. This is a beautiful DPaWS campground in the heart of the jarrah forest. 

Through the Jarrah Forest

Our Road Trip took us further south through the jarrah forest to the Harris River Dam Lookout.

Leaving the Dam we bypassed Collie and headed to Wellington Dam, a convenient location for lunch.

We detoured into Honeymoon Pool Campground after leaving the Dam and then took River Road south. Our Road Trip took us past the 170 metre tall GWN TV Mast.

Onto Pile Road to the King Jarrah Tree.

Gnomesville is just down the road from the King Jarrah Tree.

The countryside was still very green.

Blackwood River Country

After a bit of a bash along the bitumen we stopped at Trigwell Bridge.

A Mr W.J.R. Trigwell built the now derelict bridge in 1921 with the help of his father. The new bridge retained the name of the original builder. It crosses the Blackwood at a majestic, 1200 metre long pool. 

Looking for a crossing with water over it, we headed to Eulin Crossing.

It seemed that despite the better than average rainfall in the Blackwood Catchment we were a few weeks too late to find water at the four non-bridge crossings of the river (Eulin, Condinup, Wilyungulup, Jayes). Not so in 1994 on the way to start of our Blackwood Source Expedition.

Read more about that pioneering boating trip here.

We crossed the Blackwood River again at Condinup.

The Gregory Survey Tree, an important historical marker, is three kilometres further on.

After refuelling in Boyup Brook we headed out of town to Wilyungulup Crossing. It, too, was dry and one had to look carefully to even realise that it was a river crossing. South on Terry Road.

An early stop (compared to most of our Road Trips) allowed us to enjoy a swim in the Blackwood River.

Heading Further South

Next morning we left Jayes on Winnejup Road and headed along Boyup Brook Kojonup Road through Mayanup to Chowerup.

South to Tonebridge. The local government authority has converted the previous day use only area at the bridge over the Tone River into a beautiful campsite suitable for about six or so overnight stayers.

Lakes in Earthquake Country

Next stop was at little-known Lake Unicup. Interesting place. Formerly used for waterskiing, that activity is now banned. This 200 hectare lake is brackish in winter and then turns saline in summer.

Red Lake is 10 kilometres further south.

Lake Muir is another two kilometres south. It, Red Lake and Lake Unicup are part of the same internal drainage containing a complex of wetland systems.

The Bird Observatory at Lake Muir is a fine example of DPaWs’ increasing inventory of high quality, recreational infrastructure that provides better access to attractions on the lands they manage.

Frustration

We were to then waste the rest of our available time trying to find a way to the South Coast Highway through the forest to the south west of Lake Muir. It is a logging area bounded by three National Parks and the impressive gravel roads all look to be heading in the right direction but one is then confronted by a ‘No Entry’ sign.

Thwarted, we tried to find Granite Peak campsite. Somewhat of an understatement to say that the track was overgrown.

After leaving Granite Peak we again searched for a way to the highway but were stymied at every turn.

We headed back to Perth.

View Graham’s short video of the Road Trip.

 

Text (1260 words) by
Kim Epton.

Photographs (67) by
Kim Epton
Craig Dixon
Michael Orr

Video by Graham Howe

© Kim Epton 2018
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