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Ambergate Reserve

Ambergate reserve

Busselton

DirectionsLocated ten minutes from the centre of Busselton, head south along Bussell Highway and then turn right onto the Busselton Bypass. Keep going until you reach the left turn for Queen Elizabeth Avenue, following this for 10km until you arrive at the car park on the left hand side. Head through the green gazebo to start to the loop trail, where you'll also find information about the reserve. 

The Hike - Ambergate Reserve is one of many tiny postage stamp sized nature reserves dotted around WA that are there to represent what the environment used to look like before everything within sight was cleared for farming. Ambergate was originally part of the Group Settlement Scheme where British immigrants came out to WA in the 1920s to clear land for agricultural use. It was the brainchild of James Mitchell and the more I read about this guy, the more I tend to dislike what he did to the state in terms of encouraging excessive land clearing (he was nicknamed Moo Cow by local press). 

You'll see what I mean about the postage stamp sized reserve if you change the map at the top of the page to Satellite view and zoom out until you can see Busselton and Cape Naturaliste. Now classified as a nature reserve and well looked after by the Busselton Naturalists Club, Ambergate Reserve is a really enjoyable space with a wealth of biodiversity that is best seen during the spring wildflower display. Because of the specific timing for seeing this place in its prime, I was saving this one for when I could get down during orchid season (Late September to November). With a rapid fire four day road trip planned for late September into early October, I actually visited Ambergate a couple of times. The first was a late afternoon stopover on my way from the Meelup Trail to that nights accommodation in Pemberton but after walking the first part of the loop, I decided the light wasn't good enough for capturing everything the way I wanted and I still had an hour and a half of driving to get to Pemberton (it was almost 5pm when I started).

 

Vowing to return, I did just that on the final day of the trip as I was back in the area to hike other trails. With a crisp spring morning providing a lovely atmosphere for sauntering through wildflower filled woodland, I was excited to see what I could discover. With the incredible biodiversity that Western Australia has to offer and Ambergate being regarded as a botanists delight, I knew this would be a special place. While there is a dieback station to clean your shoes, it's been vandalised by mindless idiots, which is why I always carry a spray bottle with 60% methylated spirits and 40% water in the car. The reserve is intersected by two roads so the loop walk is broken up into four distinct sections with different vegetation types and plant species throughout them. Having already walked this first quarter, I knew it contained a great variety of wildflowers. It is the most consistently forested part of the walk and early on I discovered Prickly Moses, a Swamp Spider Orchid, a Karri Spider Orchid, Rattlebeaks, Conospermum flexuosum, Boronia dichotoma and Milkmaids to name a few.