Directions - Located an hours drive from Perth, the trail start is on the south side of Brookton Hwy where there is a small car park. Look for the red Bibbulmun Track signs under the giant power lines roughly 12km after the Ashendon Rd turnoff.
The Hike - The arrival of Easter usually marks the start of the hiking season in Perth with the four day weekend providing ample opportunity to get out there and explore new trails or some old favourites. With my nieces coming up for a visit on Good Friday and me heading down south to drop them home on Saturday afternoon, Easter Monday was booked in as the only time to get out there and hike. Plans were made a while ago with the Oxfam Squad (although apparently only at the dog park) so only Tom & Mel would be joining me today (sorry Aron). This day walk on the Bibbulmun Track was one I had wanted to do for a while now and I probably should have squeezed it in last spring but it got pushed back to 2017.
Having seen Nature Mondays explore this section, Abyssinia Rock looked like a cool place to be and I decided we should extend the hike to the Canning campsite to get in some extra training kilometres (and work off the Easter chocolate). After a pretty wet summer, the weather recently has been fairly consistent and dry so I wasn't expecting there to be an explosion of green or colour at Abyssinia Rock. We left Fremantle about sunrise and headed out to the start point along Brookton Highway. It was about an hour’s drive to get out there and it is very obvious where to turn on Brookton Highway as the track crosses right under the powerlines in an open space. Big red Bibbulmun Track signs are also a giveaway that you are in the right spot and there is plenty of parking on the south side of the highway. We weren't the only ones out on the track with a car already parked there belonging to a couple of girls that had stayed at the Canning campsite and just as we headed off from the car an SUV pulled up with two more hikers we would chat with at the halfway point.
Despite the sparse and dry feel of the car park, the trail immediately heads into familiar jarrah and she-oak forest that is characteristic of the Darling Range. This area was affected by the bushfires of 2015 and is still regenerating so I was prepared for plenty of black tree trunks wearing green jumpers (how I see the regrowth as it looks like they all have green jumpers on). Having been out on Tom's section of the Bibbulmun Track near the Murray campsite the week before and seeing the difference three months can make on your ability to locate the trail, I was keen to see if the Darling Range section had experienced the same growth rates. Given this is a heavily frequented section and not close to a river system the regrowth wasn't as aggressive but it was pleasing to see the jarrah forest coming back to life after being devastated a couple of years back. The regenerating forest is a good distraction as the first couple of kilometres are all uphill but not in a particularly challenging way, just a constant grind. This is made easier after you leave the wide 4x4 track you start on and head into my favourite type of trail, narrow single track. After a spectacularly sunny Easter weekend the conditions overhead were rather grey and gloomy, something I had hoped would change when we arrived at Abyssinia Rock.
A smattering of purple wildflowers dotted the trail as we made our way up to the summit of the first climb and were greeted with views towards the southern hills of Mt Randall and Mt Vincent. With the legs feeling warm it was refreshing to be back in the forest and enjoying some quality time in the fresh air. The descent down towards Abyssinia Rock is fairly steep to start with before flattening out and descending once more. Thick she-oak forest surrounds the trail providing more of a canopy than the regenerating jarrah trees and with the grey skies looming overhead, it certainly felt a little gloomy. The she-oak forest is growing on me the more I walk it and I now enjoy coming across these little pockets, more so as large parts of the track around Perth is affected by bushfires or controlled burns. I've always loved a closed in feeling, something that is lacking for five or more years after bushfires rip through a jarrah forest so the she-oaks are becoming alright in my mind. It wasn't long before we rounded a corner and Abyssinia Rock came into view, sparking a small woo-hoo from everyone. We exited the forest and cast eyes upon the granite formation that has been dubbed Abyssinia Rock.