With Australia Day 2021 falling on a Tuesday we were presented with the opportunity to have a five day/four night Road Trip to Western Australia’s spectacular south coast.
Ten vehicles left Harvey and headed to Brunswick Junction and the Brunswick Hills. We didn’t tackle any of the difficult/extreme tracks for which the area is renowned, choosing instead to head to Wellington Dam via Beela Road.
Our campsite was at Jarrahwood Pool.
On Saturday we left Jarrahwood, refuelled at Bridgetown and headed out on Seaton Ross Road that would take us south to Shannon. Track closures stymied my plan to turn south on Edwards Road, then Whim Landing Road, then Warrup Road, and then Telephone Track. We arrived at Corbalup Road and finally were able to turn south. Thirteen kilometres further on and we were back on our planned route.
We turned on to Muir Highway for nine kilometres and then turned south again on Deeside Coast Road – a great drive!
The planned trip along the Great Forest Trees Drive was ‘off’ because recent bushfires had left parts of the Drive potentially unsafe due to still burning trees and logs.
We headed to Fernhook Falls.
The Walpole Wilderness Area is one of the great treasures of Western Australia and the Mt Frankland Lookout is one of the best places to see a good portion of it.
From Mt Frankland it is only 26 kilometres to Walpole where the group refuelled and bought stuff that should have been brought from Cockburn. There was plenty of daylight left to do the Frankland River Circuit – a complicated route that highlights numerous features along the Frankland River north of Walpole. I have developed/expanded the circuit since 2018 and it is now 61 kilometres in length and takes in Nornalup Inlet, the Knoll, Hilltop Lookout, Giant Tingle Tree, Frankland River, Circular Pool, Monastery Landing and the Conspicuous Cliffs. But we decided to leave the Conspicuous Cliffs until tomorrow.
We crossed Sappers Bridge, did a U turn and re-crossed it.
The drive from from Sappers Bridge alongside the Frankland River is one of the most beautiful tracks in WA.
We arrived at Eco Park with plenty of daylight remaining to set up a comfortable camp.
First stop was the Conspicuous Cliffs. The view of the beach and extending coastline is absolutely magnificent.
Then on to Mandalay Beach. None of the beaches in this area are accessible by vehicle.
We regrouped at Banksia Camp and the headed to Broke Inlet.
Lunch was at a clearing complete with a squatters’ shack on the shore of the inlet.
The occasional soft stretch of track meant that it was a good idea to keep the vehicle in 4WD. Although oncoming traffic was light, the number of blind bends was the major concern for the lead vehicle.
The lead group of vehicle got to a point where the track opened out to the shore of the inlet. Here the group waited for the rear echelon to catch up. We all then headed to the mouth of the inlet.
There being no other way out, we returned the way we had come. At a four way intersection we took the track north and drove to the eastern end on the Inlet. We couldn’t find a track through to Chesapeake Road so we followed our inward track out.
The return to Eco Park was punctuated by a need to refuel and get coffee at Walpole.
Time to see some of the Spectacular South Coast. We drove to Peaceful Bay, aired down and hit the beach. The bar of the Irwin Inlet was open. There was no way across. The water was too deep and the bottom too soft. No further eastward travel.
We returned along the beach to Peaceful Bay, drove along the edge of Irwin Inlet and out to the highway. The turnoff to Boat Harbour is seventeen kilometres to the east.
Having already aired down we were able to drive directly to Boat Harbour. In 1849 Surveyor General John Septimus Roe recorded during his Russell Range Expedition, “A mile beyond this, brought us out upon scrubby coast hills overlooking a snug boat harbour.” And it’s been known as such ever since.
The group gave Boat Harbour and surrounds a thorough checking out and we then headed into the Quarrum Nature Reserve.
We found our way to Little Quarrum Beach.
We pushed on to Big Quarrum, fully expecting it to be impassable as a result of the sand being washed away in a storm a couple of years ago. While a high clearance vehicle could be driven over the rocks from one beach to the next there was no imperative to that so we took photos and turned around.
We couldn’t drive to Peaceful Bay (Irwin Inlet outlet notwithstanding) but the day was not yet over. Like so many beaches on the south coast there is only one way in and out. And so it is with the Quarrum beaches. We drove out to the highway and, as soon as we were able, got onto to dirt roads that would take us to into Bellanger Beach.
Once on the beach we drove to the mouth of Nornalup Inlet. Here the water is constricted to less than 100 metres and we spotted dolphins and rays hunting for their daily feed.
We then drove to the eastern end of Bellanger Beach. John got bogged and Graham went to retrieve him which ended up with both of them being bogged. Scott retrieved both together. 300 h.p. at the wheels helps.
The day’s fun was at an end so it was time to air up and return to our temporary summer residence at Eco Park.
Departing from Eco Park we tried a new track along the Frankland River that became an interesting addition to the Frankland River Circuit.
North to Mt Frankland and then on to Lake Muir Bird Observatory.
The Observatory looks out over Cowerup Swamp (part of Lake Muir). It occasionally has water in in it.
Lake Unicup is only a few kilometres to the north.
We stopped for a break at Tonebridge.
The Road Trip finished at Donnybrook.
© Cockburn 4WD Club and Kim Epton 2021
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