Directions - Located in the hills east of Harvey, from South West Highway, take Logue Brook Dam Road and follow this past Lake Brockman/Logue Brook Dam as it becomes Clarke Road. Keep driving until you see the signs for Hoffman Mill. The trail starts at the red wooden sign on the eastern side of the campsite area.
Note - As at November 2022, this area has been closed as Alcoa expand their mining operations ever further into the Northern Jarrah Forests. I'm leaving this post up as a historical reference of what the area looked like and the flora that was found here.
The Hike - Hoffman Mill was always one of those places that I had been meaning to visit but never quite got there. With a maintenance visit to the Kingdom of Py lined up for September, I decided to schedule in a visit to the area as it's only a relatively short detour from where I access the Bibbulmun Track for maintenance. Arriving at the Hoffman Mill Campsite around mid afternoon, I was the only person there at what I had assumed would be a popular camping area.
It was a Sunday so maybe that had something to do with it but either way, I wasn't fussed as I was here to check out the Bridge Trail that starts at the campsite. Listed as 2.5km by TrailsWA, I thought it was worth checking out and being September, the wildflowers would at least be out if the trail turned out to be a little average. At the time I had no idea about the plans for this area to be closed as Alcoa continues their environmental destruction of the Jarrah Forests, something I witnessed on my roundabout way of getting here from Harvey-Quindanning Road. If you want to know what the area around here will look like soon, check out this post from my Munda Biddi ride in 2021, showing the effects of strip mining a shallow layer of earth to mine the bauxite. As at November 2022, this whole campsite will be off limits to the public, so we lose another trail and another place to camp out in nature.
Having said that, the immediate area around Hoffman Mill is a bit of a pigs breakfast of non-native trees, weeds and looks completely out of place to the surrounding forest. Finding the start of the trail at the red wooden sign next to the water, which is actually the upper reaches of the Harvey River, things looked more promising where the trail seemed to be headed. Crossing the bridge, I stopped to enjoy the babbling brook for a moment, taking photos of the old timbers that hold the bridge up. Turning right after the bridge, you pass a few rogue pine trees before joining onto an old rail formation that runs parallel to the river. As much as I don't like logging, it's preferable over bauxite mining as at least some of the forest survives and regenerates over time. Unusually, there are pieces of the old rail line still here, with bits of the metal railway dotting the edge of the trail plus the timber sleepers in their original location.
The more I moved away from the campsite, the better it got thanks to the forest looking more natural and a few wildflowers popping up (although nowhere near the quantity and variety I had seen earlier that day doing maintenance). Still, it was nice to see a Little Pink Fairy Orchid just off the trail and a large number of Blue Quills along the gravel of the old rail form. Passing through a little She-Oak Grove was nice as I love these trees, and this led to a section that ran right up against the edge of the creek. Home to a few Swamp Banksia, flowering Water Bush and a white Grevillea that I'm having trouble identifying in the numerous wildflower books I own, this was the best section of the whole walk. It leads to the second bridge, important for a trail named the Bridge Trail. This second bridge is much the same with weathered wood crossing the river, where I found a few bracket fungi clinging to the side of a tree. Enjoying the last interaction with the river, I left the bridge and started the smallest of climbs that takes you up into the surrounding Jarrah Forest.
A mix of Jarrah, Marri and She-Oak, the closed in feeling of the canopy through here was lovely and the sight of a few mature trees was great to see. At the top of the climb you reach an area that is noticeable as regrowth forest but that's to be expected in an area that used to be a mill. The wildflower finds continued as I spotted a Honeybush, Holly-leaved Hovea and Prickly Hakea resting in the undergrowth. The last part of the trail leading back to where visible signs of the campsite starts to appear is a gentle amble through the forest. Reaching an open space, the trail markers disappear so it's not entirely obvious if you follow the internal roads of the campsite or if there is a dedicated single trail. Not that it matters anymore but I had a wander through the campsite, checking out the old equipment that has been left here as historical artifacts from the old logging days. Walk over, I returned to the car and departed back to Fremantle, happy to have finally visited Hoffman Mill.