Harris Dam to Collie
Bibbulmun Track

Harris Dam

Collie

21.1km

373m

4-7 hours

The Hike - Our final day on the Bibbulmun Track between Dwellingup and Collie and with dry socks and shoes thanks to a roaring fire last night, it was shaping up to be a lovely walk into the largest track town that doesn't have a starting/finishing terminus at it. With no rain expected today we would have an unusually dry day (for this trip at least) so all we had to worry about was keeping warm to start the day and we were set. Deciding it would be best to get an early getaway we were packed up and ready to leave by 8:30am with our packs considerably lighter than when we left both Dwellingup and Driver Rd. Another lovely forest sunrise lit up the canopy as we headed back onto the closed 4x4 track that services the campsite and departed towards the first highlight of the day, Harris Dam. Before you reach the second dam of the Bibbulmun if you are travelling north to south, there is some more fantastic Jarrah forest to walk through and a very divisive point of interest.

About 3km in and within walking distance of Harris Dam is a little fairy garden made up of magical figures usually associated with kids fairy tales. I have no problem with these things as it's a good way to bring kids out onto the trail and I believe there has been work to clear lots of the plastic items that are bad for the environment. Sometimes you need a bit of whimsy in your life and if this sort of thing makes you annoyed then take a step back and think of a child’s face when they'd been promised a trip to a fairy garden and they find nothing. Exactly...With a few photos in the bag we descended down the hill to Harris Dam and after a full day the previous day of no camera fogging, I came across the issue again. Slightly annoying as it wasn't even that humid or wet, I hoped that it would eventually sort itself out so I could enjoy the last day's walk. As we reached the waters of the Harris Dam spillway, it had defogged enough that I could take photos but the scenes in front of us were not done justice by the soap opera haze that ruin the images.

 

A peaceful and quiet morning meant that the water had a lovely mirror finish to it and with the limestone look of the spillway making everything look very French countryside (been watching a lot of Tour de France lately). We both took a lot of photos as we stared out at this picturesque waterhole that serves as a getaway for the residents of Collie. Crossing the bridge over the Harris River (now just a stream) we arrived at the Harris Dam Picnic Area and the first tarmac road since the conveyor belt a few days previously. We didn't check out the dam wall that is located off track and powered on back into the series of trails leading away from the picnic area. This is where we got the first taste that we were approaching Collie with several areas looking like they are frequented quite a lot by dirt bikes. Lucky for us they weren't around today so we could enjoy the nondescript Jarrah forest. Soon we arrived at the first of three power line crossings, a reminder that Collie is home to some large coal powered stations that feeds most of Perth electricity demands. 

Being out in the open we could appreciate the sunshine and use the opportunity to lose a layer or two of clothing. It was a weird feeling being warmed by the sun but a welcome one so we moved back into the forest where the sun was less apparent. Despite being regrowth forest, the quality here wasn't too bad with some taller trees sprinkled in around the thinner trunks that formed a fairly thick tree coverage. This kind of walking was very pleasant during the middle stretch of the day with not much to do but admire the forest and take photos of it all. Sure there was evidence of trail bikes using the area but for us that day, we had the whole forest to ourselves. Making a good pace I decided that in a slight opening in the forest we would stop for lunch and it turned out we were close enough to Collie that we had reception once again.

Enjoying the last trail lunch of the trip and a catch-up on social media was nice but with the end goal in sight it wasn't long before we dusted off the pants and continued on our merry way. Not long after our lunch stop we came across a bit of a traffic jam of trails with the Munda Biddi, Bibbulmun and another MTB trail all converging at a small bridge. Having previously remarked to Aron about if we would share paths with the Munda Biddi, it was funny to have it happen not long after. It's also a friendly reminder that Collie is a significant trail town and you are coming up to a built up area that is used by many people. A further reminder up ahead comes in the form of the first paved road you will cross today, Mornington Rd. Having seen the tarmac at Harris Dam Picnic Area, it wasn't so much of a shock to the system but there's always something weird about coming across a road on a multi-day hike. I feel like I'm in a zoo as passing cars have a look at you and probably wonder what you are doing with your giant pack in the middle of the forest.

 

Soon after Mornington Rd was another shock and something that may sound silly but I didn't notice until that point, I saw my first fence in I can't remember how long. Not sure why that made me stop but I guess I had been used to walking through nature reserves and state forest with no man made limitations apart from tracks. Thinking about it now, this section has that luxury for longer periods than any other section so I've never really noticed until now. Also throwing me off at this point as we walked down a very straight 4x4 track was the different coloured trees to our right. Having not seen a Wandoo tree all trip, there was an entire forest of them just sitting there with their golden trunks and masses of shedded bark. I wonder if someone was replanting in the area and decided that Jarrah was a bit boring and just planted a better looking tree instead. Along with the Wandoo there were a few wattles providing some excellent colour we had been lacking on this trip due to being out of wildflower season. At this stage and I can't remember what triggered it but Aron started to run off into the distance. Something that is understandable given he'd spent a week with me and probably wanted to get away as quickly as possible but I caught on and started running to catch up.

 

I think we were testing how light our bags were and if we could potentially run the final 8km but we soon realised the error of our ways. Getting off the straight 4x4 track we passed some evidence of bogan activity and left next to the track was an empty can of "Wild Boar" that I had a chuckle at because...pig hunters. Crossing another landmark in Patstone Rd we were now traversing pockets of forests separated by roads so this part of the day felt disjointed and I was keen to get it over with and reach Coalfields Hwy. I got into mental maths mode trying to figure out how long it would be instead of just enjoying the walk and was soon a little too far ahead of Aron. Eventually we reached the railway that runs parallel with Coalfields Hwy and we stopped to take photos. Aron saw the tail end of a bunny rabbit disappear into the bushes as we crossed the bleak looking railway (the clouds had once again gathered) and made our way along the small track between paddocks that leads to the highway crossing.