Bridgetown River Walk
Start - Off South Western Hwy
Length - 5.2km (Return)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Single Track
Vertical Climb - 83m
Time - 1-2 hours
Signed - Yes, Occasional Marker
Date Hiked - 25th September 2020
Best Time - Autumn to Late Spring
Traditional Custodians - Bibbulman People
Directions - From the centre of Bridgetown head south along South Western Hwy over the bridge and turn left into the Blackwood River Park. The start of the walk is at the base of the old wooden bridge and heads in an easterly direction.
The Hike - After a lovely hike at Boyup Brook taking in the Skeleton Bridge Walk, the goal for the day was to make my way down to Walpole. Originally I had planned to take in a couple of walks around Walpole I'd previously done just to update the photos on the website but when I was passing through Bridgetown I decided to instead take in a trail that had been on my to-hike list for quite a while. The trail in question as you can probably guess is the Bridgetown River Walk and it's exactly as advertised, a walk along the river in Bridgetown. This was always a walk I had planned to do in combination with a few more around the area but having completed most of the existing trails near here, it never made sense to drive all the way out for one walk, even when I had been visiting my family in Funbury.
Given I had to drive through Bridgetown to get to Walpole and with nothing to do in the day except hike and drive, now was the perfect time. Making things much better was the emergence of some dark clouds that would provide some more even lighting to proceedings. Parking up in the Blackwood River Park, I decided to walk this one without my day pack and just meander along the path with just my camera and my thoughts. I started at the main traffic bridge that crosses the Blackwood River as I wanted some shots of the old wooden beams that exude a lot of country charm. Immediately I was pleased with how much bird life was around with a Pacific Black Duck splashing around in the middle of the river, a Eurasian Coot feeding it's adorable little chicks in a shallow pool and some bigger Mallard Ducks having a wander on the banks of the river. From the area close to the bridge you can look all the way upriver with the tranquil tree-lined water making for a lovely scene. I joined the paved path near the car park again and headed east to pick up the trail, passing under some metal Black Cockatoo sculptures hiding in the trees. This first section leading towards the foot bridge 600m into the walk is a really pleasant part with several lots of steps leading into the water and some nice reflections of the trees on the opposite bank.
Departing the car park area, you continue along the pavement until the foot bridge comes into view. This is a great vantage point to look back down the river and get some cool shots of the traffic bridge reflecting off the surface of the water. Crossing over to the other side of the river, I was looking forward to a peaceful meander through the lush forest that lined the banks. As I joined the path on the other side, I spotted a bright Blue Fairy Wren flittering away on a nearby post. Normally they are pretty skittish birds that don't stay still for very long so I quickly focussed my camera and started snapping away. The beautiful boy actually did a few different poses for me and I was able to creep forward a fair way until it decided that I was too close and flew off. With that cool interaction in the bag so early, I was in a chipper mood as I continued on. With a winding path ahead of me and the winter greens of the non-native grasses providing a lush feel, this was turning out to be better than I expected. Some lovely old trees had survived the chop that usually comes with the creation of a town and not being in an area that would be burnt for safety reasons, had a lovely soft grey texture (Jarrah) or tough cracked bark (Marri).
The views of the river as you go along range from sneaky glances down the hill to open stretches only obscured by a few trees. It's nice that a connection has been maintained all along the walk as sometimes with these close to town walks, you don't have great access thanks to private property intruding on what should be public spaces. Although the ground covering was largely non-native grasses, I was still pleasantly surprised to see a collection of natives lining the trail including Bracken Ferns, a yellow pea variety, some different Acacias, a Zamia and purple Hovea. Going up and down the gentle gradient changes along the path, I was impressed with how well the private properties are mostly hidden away from view. Early on there is a banked hill that provides a barrier but as you go further along you are aware of the houses that line West Blackwood Terrace. It is a town walk after all so it's to be expected and overall the impact is minimal. Eventually you do have to leave the path and walk along the end of West Blackwood Terrace as it ends in a little cul-de-sac. The main reason for this is an exposed creek running down the side of the hill that is easier to cross on the already established culvert. The property at this junction was fun to pass as there were some goats and alpacas having a graze in the front paddock along with some metal emu sculptures that were quite lifelike at first glance.
Heading back into the forest I heard the familiar call of a Red Tail Cockatoo and began searching the canopy for the source. These cheeky birds are a favourite of mine and I love seeing them whenever I'm out hiking. I found the culprit but with the grey skies it was really difficult to get a decent photo of it with the end result being a little washed out. The final section here provides some of the best river views with the path going quite close to the water and the opposite bank was free of buildings. Noticeable along here were a good number of skeletal trees on the other side of the river. I'm not sure if this is the result of salinity, previous floods or something else but the eerie white trunks certainly stick out. Reaching the turnaround point, the trail marker points you left and up the hill towards town. There is a longer loop that takes you into town and back over the Traffic Bridge but I still had to get to Walpole and walking through the streets of a country town wasn't on the agenda today. Heading back to the start, I put on the jets as it was mid afternoon and I wanted to get in a hike at Mount Frankland before checking into my accommodation. The return leg was just as enjoyable and I always love seeing things from a different perspective.
Final Thoughts – Bridgetown is one of my favourite towns in the South West so I was happy to return for the completion of the river walk.
As far as town walks go, this one is very enjoyable and well worth the stop to complete. The Blackwood River is one of the great rivers of the South West and it's a shame we don't have more walks that interact with it. Thankfully this is a pretty good trail taking you along the edge of the river with enough to make you feel like it's an escape into nature.
This was the second of my two timber bridge featuring Blackwood River walks for the day and despite having the same basic description, they were chalk and cheese in their experience. Different but still enjoyable in their own little ways.
Having visited Bridgetown a couple of days prior with Caris and my parents, I didn't feel so bad that I didn't wander around town but if you are visiting then make sure you add an extra hour on to peruse the quirky shops and galleries.
Get out there and experience it!
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