Lane Poole Reserve
Directions - Starting within the Chuditch Campsite at Lane Poole Reserve, from Dwellingup head towards Nanga Road and drive south until you reach the turnoff for Nanga Mill. Continue through Nanga Mill and follow the signs to Chuditch Campsite. Park at the information board before the loop road around the campsite and walk into the centre of the loop where you will find a large undercover area and trail head for the Chuditch Trail.
The Hike - Being responsible for looking after a section of the Bibbulmun Track near Dwellingup, I visit this area many times a year. Until this year, my travels had never taken me to hike the Island Pool Walk Trail and the Chuditch Trail but I was more than happy to rectify that in 2022. Having hiked the Island Pool Walk Trail earlier in the hiking season, I made a special trip out one Saturday afternoon to finish off the last of the day hikes in Lane Poole Reserve.
I had been saving this hike for spring so I could experience it during wildflower season and to better showcase what this stunning bit of Jarrah Forest could look like. Driving out to Dwellingup, I was going to be walking in a combination of light drizzle and grey skies but this just so happens to be my favourite kind of weather for hiking through the forest. Thankfully the Nanga Road Bridge had been deemed safe enough for vehicles under four tonne, after a safety evaluation shut it down for a couple of weeks, so I made my way in via the Nanga Mill entry and was soon at the Chuditch Campsite. The start of the walk is a bit confusing and after parking at the information board at the start of the campsite loop, I got out to wander around and find the trail. When it didn't appear anywhere, I looked at the map a little closer and it suggested the start was in the middle of the loop around the campsite. Driving around to see if there was any parking closer to the start, I ended up back at the information board so had to walk in.
The trail head is located right next to the big undercover area that serves as a communal kitchen and seating area for those staying at the Chuditch Campsite, which was unusually empty for a Saturday afternoon but I think an important football match had something to do with that. Finally starting the Garmin, the trail takes you through the Jarrah Forest surrounding Chuditch Campsite, across the loop road and then towards the Chuditch day-use area that provides river access. The start was really pleasant with the unmistakable look and feel of the Jarrah Forest soothing my soul, along with some older examples of the Balga providing focus points for my photos. After 400 metres you pop out onto the road for the day use area but the trail continues through the island created by the road looping around on itself. Reaching the little side quest down to Island Pool, I decided to check out what this spot looked like as I'd only ever experienced the views from the other side of the river. With grey skies, it wasn't very photogenic but was still a nice break for photos.
Heading back up the stairs, I walked along the entry road into the day-use area, noticing the first Water Bush and Flame Peas I would end up seeing on this hike. It isn't very obvious where the trail is meant to go from here but continue towards the main road and the trail picks up on the other side, about 30m to your right. After a brief walk on an old rail formation, you take an easy to miss right turn and enjoy one of the few sections of single trail along this hike. This starts a mini climb as you weave among the Balgas that are numerous along here, before reaching the old rail formation that will be home for the next couple of kilometres. Settling into a rhythm, I was happy to be out and about in the Jarrah Forest with the wet smells making for a multi dimensional experience. Doing what I normally do on hikes at this time of year, I was busy scanning both sides of the trail for anything of interest, which there was plenty. Holly-leaved Hovea was plentiful along here, with different types of Wattle providing a splash of colour to proceedings.
While spring had certainly arrived, I was pleased to see a Bracket Fungi attached to the stump of a former tree that had a couple of different mosses and lichens growing off it. It's these little details sprinkled throughout the wide landscape that I enjoy and as the years have progressed, my hiking experience has been enriched greatly by not focusing on speed but getting the most out of my time on the trail. Continuing along, the history of the trail is on show with the long curves visible proof of the railway lines that used to cut through the forest, built to transport the timber being felled for various uses around the world. Wanting to mix up the photos so it wasn't endless shots of wide trail bordered by Jarrah Forest, the environment provided plenty of options to photograph. Drosera vines, a favourite of mine, were scattered on the edge of the trail along with more Flame Peas, including some strewn throughout the leaves of a Zamia Palm. This long stretch of rail formation was proving an enjoyable walk but I was wondering when I was going to reach the loop section.