Down South Tour – Upper Blackwood River to Yeagarup Beach

A short run to Carberdine Pool on the Arthur River would get our Down South Tour ‘out of town’ over the March Labour Day long weekend of 2017. Two hours south along the Albany Highway placed us at the top of the Arthur River, well positioned to follow the beautiful watercourse down to our private campsite at Winnejup Falls.

The planned route for our road trip was to pick up the Arthur River (same as the Blackwood River) at Duranillin after following the Boyup Brook-Arthur River Road from the hamlet of Arthur River. From there we planned to continue along the river to Moodiarup, Glenorchy and Eulin Crossing before coming to Condinup Crossing.  Recent flooding rains may prevent crossing the river at Eulin – and at Condinup.  There are alternatives.

From Condinup it is a beautiful drive into Boyup Brook where we would visit the historic Flax Mill.  I wasn’t confident that my planned way out of town via the Wilyungulup Crossing would be open.  Again, there is an alternative. Next on the planned route was Jayes Crossing – again a doubtful proposition with all the water about. The alternative route is quite a few kilometres around. After Jayes it would be a clear run to the campsite at the base of the Winnejup Falls.

Depending on river levels, the planned seven river crossings for the day would probably fizzle out to none.

From Winnejup we planned to travel to Yeagarup Dunes (via Manjimup and Pemberton), drive down to Warren Beach and the head back via Callcup Hill.

Monday was to be a drive through the northern jarrah forest visiting Wellington, Stirling and North Dandalup dams before heading home.

As I often say in my reports of our trips – “the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley.”

Greg, Joe, Kevin and I arrived at Carberdine Pool around 3.00 p.m. Graham and Debbie arrived a little later just as Tim, the owner of property adjoining the reserve, arrived.  He invited us to camp  on his property under a peppercorn tree.  It was a much better spot than where we were.  We shifted camp.

Mike, Sue, Harrison, Nick and Carrie arrived soon after. Kerry turned up not not long after them.  Andrew arrived much later (around 11.00 p.m.) and it was to be next day till we saw Fish.

Evidence of the recent flooding of the river was all round.  At the peak of the flood the river was 200 metres wide at this point.

We headed south on Albany Highway and a kilometre past the hamlet of Arthur River we turned onto the Arthur River-Boyup Brook Road.  This is prime farming country.

First stop was Duranillin where we waited for Nick and Carrie to rejoin the party after an unintended diversion towards Albany.  I found a few interesting tracks near the river.

Next stop was to see one of the jewels of the Great Southern – Lake Towerinning. A magnificent water sport playground in the heart of farm land.

Glenorchy Bridge was closed for repairs so it meant that we stayed on Arthur River-Boyup Brook Road a bit longer. The floodwaters of the previous week had drained away and I was fairly sure Eulin Crossing would be open.  It was, enabling us to ‘cut the corner’ and get back onto Arthur River-Boyup Brook Road.  After a few more kilometres of bitumen I turned off at Condinup Crossing Road. This crossing, too, was open.

We stopped at the Gregory Tree, an important baseline marker used by surveyor Augustus Gregory (after whom Mt Augustus is named) in the 1850s when marking out blocks in the area.

We stopped for lunch at the Flax Mill in Boyup Brook. This rich, mixed farming town would have to have some of the best sporting facilities in country WA. After lunch I headed south out of town on Terry Road, confident the Wilyungulup Crossing would be open. It was, despite signage to the contrary left in situ by less than diligent council workers.

We continued to Jayes Crossing and I headed into the site of the old community hall at Jayes.

I decided to take Jayes Road and Flax Road to Winnejup – interesting country that I had not previously been through.

When we arrived at our ‘private campsite’ at the base of Winnejup Falls there was a family group enjoying a picnic, there to see the remains of the floodwaters. With the arrival of ten 4WDs they didn’t stay long.

There was plenty of time left in the day to see ‘The Slide’ at Winnejup Falls.  Cliff Hills, Greg Barndon and myself, with the help of numerous others, created ‘The Slide’ in 1999/2000, allowing Winnejup Falls to be navigable for the first time.  The previously-unusable rapid, one of the largest in southern WA, was subsequently used for the Australian Down River Canoeing Championship as well as providing the major obstacle on The River Race, a two day power dinghy race.

Dinner was to be a ‘community affair’.  Each person was to prepare a specific course. A great success.

Next morning (declared ‘Loud Shirt Day’), on the way to Yeagarup Dunes, Warren Beach and Callcup Hill we stopped at Manjimup to refuel. Passing through Pemberton we ran smack bang into a bicycle race.  Nick reminisced that he had competed in the event a few years earlier and had no intentions of repeating the experience.

We were greeted by DPaW Rangers at Yeagarup wanting payment to enter the National Park.  In exchange for which we got a bag of goodies designed to help ‘keep Australia beautiful’. We aired down and headed to the dunes.

The broad expanse of brilliant white sands leads into an interesting bush track to Yeagarup Beach.

Yeagarup Beach fronts the angry Southern Ocean.  I have never seen it calm here and I don’t believe I ever will. Although here, at the edge of Australia, calm is a relative term.

Everyone successfully crossed the Warren River and we then realised that we had no photographs so Graham went back and did it again.

We headed south-east along the wide open expanse of white sand.

Lunch was at the Meerup River.

We had no need to cross the river but others decided it was worth a try.

It was time to get off the beach and that meant going up Callcup Hill. Along the way back to the Callcup Track we spotted some carefree partyers having some creative fun. It looked inviting but the chance of hydraulicing an engine was too great to consider getting involved.

Our fun began at the start of the Callcup Track. Just getting off the beach was a challenge for some.

I never really did establish what the issues were but it took us two hours to get all vehicles to the top of the hill. Once the correct tyre pressure was found (between 8 and 12 psi, depending on the vehicle) it was an easy climb.  Two psi meant the difference between success and failure.

At the finish of that adventure we made our way back to Winnejup for an enjoyable night around the campfire – or so I am told.  I fall asleep fairly early.

Next day it was time to pack up and head back to Perth through the northern jarrah forest, visiting Wellington, Stirling and North Dandalup dams along the way.

We stopped at the ever-expanding Gnomesville.

Biting March flies had been annoying all weekend but were to get far worse at Wellington Dam.

From here we intended to visit Stirling Dam but both access roads on the southern side were closed and we were  unsure of the access from the west so we decided to cut the trip short and head home.

© Kim Epton 2017-2018
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