Mount Dale to Brookton
29th June 2019
The Hike - With my sectional end to end planned for completion in 2019, I had a few gaps to plug in the Darling Range section that required an overnighter or two. With a car required at each end to make it work I roped in Deputy Regional Assistant Logistics and Trails Coordinator, Aron (aka 1A1R), to come along for the journey. As Aron's vehicle is no longer operational we were joined by Jen and Sruthy who would be making their official debut on the website after previously being included on group hike photos on various other hikes. The sections we would be covering off that I hadn't done before included from about 5km south of the Mt Dale Campsite to Brookton Hwy and from Canning Campsite to Monadnocks Campsite. Over the years I'd hiked around Mt Dale and Abyssinia Rock but it was logistically easier to knock out the two uncompleted sections as an overnighter. Plus it was a good excuse to spend a whole weekend hiking.
Having first visited Mt Dale after the devastating 2015 bushfires, I was keen to see how well the area had recovered as it had been a sea of burnt reds, oranges and blacks on my last visit. Arriving at Sullivan Rock to drop off my car, I was annoyed to find my camera was playing up and wasn't playing ball when it came to the auto focus. On the drive to Mt Dale I tried to fix the issue but cleaning the lens and adjusting various settings but it didn't do a thing so I guess I would be manually focusing for every shot this trip. Slightly miffed at this situation it didn't take long for me to adjust to the manual focus for everything and beginning a two day, 45km adventure out in nature certainly helped that. Heading down Omeo Rd from the Mt Dale parking area, I was excited to see how the forest looked after four years of recovery. The group quickly left me for dead (Jen and Sruthy were only carrying day packs as they were heading back from Brookton Campsite after lunch) as I stopped frequently to take photos and also to check on the screen that they were in focus. Entering the forest that I know had been burnt, it wasn't easy to tell the difference between the areas that had survived the fires and those that were burnt quite severely. Being in a relatively high area and away from large water sources meant the quick growing species like Soapbush aren't going to be a problem after fires and the undergrowth looked quite settled.
The blackened trunks of the Jarrah remained and the epicormic resprouting was quite obvious but I was encouraged that this was going to be a pleasant walk through an area I have quite fond memories of. We stopped in for a quick visit to the Mt Dale Campsite where there is a nice collection of ancient Kingia plants towering over the area before moving on towards the Brookton Campsite. Happy to be at the back of the group snapping away, it was nice to get glimpses of Mt Dale as you made your way along the trail. While not a very big "mountain", I find its presence soothing and it's a nice feature in the landscape that you'll get to look back on from the top of Mt Cuthbert, Mt Vincent and Mt Cooke. After a record breaking month of rain during June it was lovely to see some wildflowers popping up occasionally, a bit later than usual after a very dry autumn. Reaching the 4x4 track that heads away from Mt Dale, this is where I had some of the more striking photos from my previous visit of a red and orange tunnel leading into the distance. The area has now recovered somewhat but this is where you can really notice that a major bushfire has come through. The area was fairly bare compared to the forests closer to Mt Dale and so the space between trees is more noticeable, along with the large green jumpers of the Jarrah trees (epicormic resprouting).