In late November 2018 Ron and I made a second recce to determine a route for the Great Southern Road Trip, very loosely based on the WA 4WD Association’s newly created ‘The Track’. It was on this trip that I determined the optimum route would be away from the forest and bear little resemblance to The Track.
The plan to travel via Canning Dam to the Brookton Highway was thwarted by a Police roadblock on Canning Dam Road. A body had been discovered in the bush and a murder investigation was underway.
We re-routed and got back on track at the Millbrook Winery in Jarrahdale. We continued south along the line of dams that provide water to metropolitan Perth – Serpentine, North Dandalup and South Dandalup.
The hills water supply dams are a much under utilised recreational resource. They all have great facilities and are beautifully maintained and reasonably close to Perth.
Leaving the beautifully maintained grounds at the dam we wound our way through the forest to the nearly overgrown Marrinup POW Camp – a little-known gem of Western Australian heritage.
South through the devastation caused by bauxite mining in the Northern Jarrah Forest, crossing the conveyor belt numerous times, to Wellington Dam and on to Wellington Mill.
In its heyday, Wellington Mills was one of WA’s biggest timber mills. Between 1896-1919 it boasted a post office, butchers, bakers, barbers, tea rooms, library, billiards hall, a blacksmith, wheelwright, stables, churches, schools and a population of about 800. With the decline of the town many buildings were sold and removed to other areas. A devastating fire in 1950 destroyed most of what remained. Today, the location is more noted for the quirky Gnomesville just down the road.
We took Mungalup and Best Roads to Glen Mervyn Dam, a very popular skiing and camping spot.
Just south of the lake is the famous bush tavern at Mumballup. We camped at our private campsite at Winnejup.
Great Forest Trees Drive
Next day we continued the push south to Great Forest Trees Drive at Shannon.
Shannon Dam was built in 1949 to ensure water supply for the town of Shannon and the timber mill. The Lake is about 1.4 kilometres from the start of the Great Forest Trees Drive.
The one-way Great Forest Trees Drive leads back to the South West Highway. It is then a 25 kilometre run on the bitumen to Preston Road, leading to Fernhook Falls and Campground.
Eighteen kilometres east of Fernhook is the remarkable Mount Frankland, a significant landmark in the Walpole Wilderness. The Wilderness Lookout attached to the side of Little Mount Frankland is another fine example of DPaW’s excellent infrastructure providing a universal, high quality experience.
The extent of the Walpole Wilderness was created in 2004 and features a vast, natural and wild landscape that embraces the very essence of Western Australia’s southern forests and coast. Majestic old jarrah, tingle and karri forests surround imposing granite peaks, peaceful rivers, wetlands and tranquil inlets. On the coast there are sandy beaches, sheer cliffs and the relentless, ever-rough Southern Ocean. The Walpole Wilderness encompasses seven National Parks and 360,000 hectares.
We left Mount Frankland and camped in the forest.
To The Coast
Many of the roads on our planned route were closed due to logging or disease control, causing a total re-think on route planning. We moved out of the forest and down to the coast.
We made our way back to Walpole and took the Mt Frankland Road towards Lake Muir. We made repeated attempts then to get through to Muirs Highway by using tracks that we had tried earlier in November. We found a bridge across the Warren River but access to the HIghway was blocked at a private camp.
Defeated we returned to ‘known’ country at camped at Red Lake, two kilometres north of Lake Muir. Red Lake, Lake Muir and Lake Unicup (10 kilometres north) are part of the same internal drainage containing a complex of wetland systems.
The trip homewards was through the Wheatbelt. We diverted to Dryandra, a place that I had been meaning to visit for some time.
© 2018-2020 Kim Epton
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