Beedelup Falls Walk Trail
Start - Beedelup Falls Car Park
Length - 4.5km (Loop)
Grade - Orange
Terrain - Single Track, Pavement
Vertical Climb - 173m
Time - 1-2 hours
Signed - No
Cost - National Park Fees Apply
Date Hiked - 9th October 2017
Best Time - All Year Round
Directions - From Pemberton take Vasse Highway west until you reach the signs for a right turn onto Vasse Hwy. Follow this for 14km until you see the well marked turn-off for Beedelup Falls. Follow the road all the way to the large car park.
The Hike - The final hike of my day was another location that I had visited before along the Bibbulmun Track but had not had the pleasure of hiking the whole trail. Similar to Big Brook Dam, I was here to rectify that wrong and purposefully left this one until last because I wanted the lighting to be just right in the late afternoon and it was a short drive back to my accommodation. Like Big Brook Dam, Beedelup Falls is located on the Karri Explorer tourist drive and is one of the spots where National Park entry fees apply so be prepared for that. The car park was practically empty when I arrived so I sat in the car enjoying the Karri FM (88FM) broadcast that only works when you are within range of the Karri Explorer sites. I heard a familiar name in Rod Annear from Parks and Wildlife providing his thoughts on the Karri forests so when he told me to get out of the car and "get a lung full of it (fresh air)", I obliged.
I was looking forward to doing this hike a bit more than Big Brook Dam as it was more of a nature walk on proper hiking trails and the area around Beedelup Lake looked a bit more hilly. It also contains a highlight called the "Walk-Through Tree", which I will talk about later. To start the walk simply take the paved path down to the gazebo that houses plenty of information about the area. This is where you can find the start of the hike if you plan to travel in a clockwise direction like I did. My reasoning was that I hadn't seen the first section heading clockwise previously and I wanted to give the sun a bit of time to set further in the sky to provide some better lighting conditions for when I arrived at the falls in an hour or so. Leaving the paved section simply follow the signs to the Walk-Through Tree and onto more familiar dirt tracks or if you want to cut some distance out you can skip the tree and walk directly to Karri Valley Resort by following the Karri Valley signs. I opted for the longer route because who doesn't want to walk through a tree and the switch to the dirt made me a happy camper as you immediately head uphill on the first of a couple of small climbs this hike has to offer.
The overgrown (in a good way) Karri forest was a joy to walk in with a mix of fallen trees covered in moss, wildflowers and a thick canopy, something I always enjoy photographing. The top of the climb arrives soon and it's a fairly flat walk on to one of the highlights of the trail, the Walk Through Tree. As the name suggests, it is a tree you can walk through but unlike several of the larger examples where the trunks have been burnt through (like the Giant Tingle Tree), the Walk Through Tree requires you to walk up a step ladder and duck down through the small hole. It has been tidied up with flush wooden boards to stop further damage to the tree and these boards have been "decorated" by the public for over three decades if my basic archaeology is correct. Having climbed through a few times and taken plenty of pictures I was interrupted by a couple emerging from the bush ahead.
They threw me off a little as I then followed the path they had just come from thinking this was part of the loop trail. Soon I realised it wasn't going to take me anywhere I wanted to be and doubled back to rejoin the correct trail. If you are reading this and are planning a trip then the Walk Through Tree is a short detour from the loop trail and you have to double back and follow the signs to Karri Valley Resort. After correcting my mistake I followed the trail downhill towards the edge of Beedelup Lake and the walk into Karri Valley Resort. This section follows a water course and had a very wet feel to it, highlighted by the occasional bit of muddy trail. Closer to the lake you are treated to a series of information boards letting you know what species of plant or bird you are meant to be looking at.
In my experience these are pretty hit and miss as the thing you are meant to be seeing isn't there and you are left looking confused as you look back and forth between board and bush. When you reach the flats again there is a quiet inlet of the lake you pass by before reaching the wide path leading into Karri Valley Resort. Here I passed a few people that were out for a short stroll before seeing many more as a bus load of tourists were arriving and herded to their various accommodation spots. I felt a little out of place with my hiking pack so quickly walked past the lake front buildings and headed towards the deserted jetty and beach for a closer look. In the mid afternoon sunshine it looked like a fantastic place to do some water based recreation but it appears no one was keen for a swim or canoe. The deck chairs laid out on the jetty looked like they were from a bygone era and it was a little melancholy seeing them a little aged and not being used.
Having not brought along my swimming gear I vowed to return one day, something that is definitely on the cards now that the RAC has bought Karri Valley Resort (which used to be owned by a cult in the 70s and 80s) and plan to do some much needed upgrades to it. Next on the loop trail was to pass over the dam wall that created Lake Beedelup. Karri FM have a story about how the area was once used to provide much of the hops to the Swan Brewery back in the day and they were said to have a unique flavour thanks to the soils in the area (don't quote me on this as I'm relying on my memory over a month after listening to it). A mini-golf course is located on the other side of the dam wall and again this is something I will check out later. Taking you back to proper nature, the trail follows an extension of the dam wall and with thick grasses I was hoping to see a snake or two but was disappointed by the local reptile population.
Meeting up again with a sheltered part of the lake where the Karri forest once again dominates, I soon came across a familiar site, the Bibbulmun Track. Having been here in June with a full pack on, the memories flooded back and I had a little reflection about that trip. From here on out I would be on familiar ground but that didn't stop me from visiting Frog Leap Jetty again, a short detour off the now much muddier main track. The scene was almost the same with fluffy white clouds dotting a baby blue sky but the big Karri tree that had fallen into the water next to the jetty looked different. My photos later confirmed that it had indeed snapped in one place since my last visit and was now jutting out of the water quite prominently. With more photos in the bag I moved on to the last hill of the hike and the finish at the titular Beedelup Falls. Walking past some fallen giants and through some thick Karri forest made this section a delight once again and soon the sound of rushing water filled my ears.
The boardwalks around Beedelup Brook and the falls were no less impressive the second time around and although we had a very dry June and a wet winter, the amount of water in the brook was no different. What was different was I saw other people enjoying the area so some of my photos were a bit rushed as they circled the boardwalks and came into shot. I had some fun rushing around the steps and on the suspension bridge (looking very similar to the one at Deep River), managing to take some long exposure shots despite the shaky nature of the bridge. With my fill of photos in the bag I reluctantly headed back up to the car park with another fantastic day hike in Pemberton under the belt. This area keeps on giving and Beedelup Falls is another gem of the Southern Forests.
Final Thoughts - This trail was less of a surprise to me given I had visited the area recently but I wasn't expecting the Walk Through Tree or surrounding forest to be as nice as it was. I thought the loop trail would be a boring access trail from Karri Valley that wouldn't contain anything terribly interesting.
How I was wrong. I mean it's not super breathtaking around every turn like a Bald Head or anything in the Stirling Range when it comes to scenery but in terms of Karri forest, it goes quite well.
Being quite a good length for a short visit, the loop trail allows you to see more highlights in a relatively short amount of time, leaving more time in the day to visit the local wineries or enjoy lunch. Having these short walks is a great way to ease people into hiking or cater to the more casual tourist not looking at spending most of the day on the Bibbulmun Track.
There is so much more to Beedelup Falls that the boardwalk section so if you are planning a visit then get your monies worth and make time to do the 4.5km loop trail.
Get out there and experience it!
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