Deep River Walk Trail
Walpole-Nornalup National Park
Directions - From the centre of Walpole, head west along South Western Hwy until you reach the turnoff for Tinglewood Rd. Turn left and follow this all the way to the car park where you'll find an information board on the western edge of the parking loop.
The Hike - With a full day of exploring Walpole, my camping spot for the night was at the Mt Clare Campsite on the Bibbulmun Track. After walking around the Giant Tingle Tree, the storms had finally arrived that had been promised all day. Driving out to the Mt Clare car park, I made a decision that I wanted to do the Deep River Walk Trail that takes in the section of the Bibbulmun leading past the campsite towards the suspension bridge before looping back up the hill. Figuring I would have enough time before sunset, I start around 4:30pm and made my way into the forest for a trail that I really enjoyed the few times I have visited over the years.
With the darker clouds now set in for the rest of the afternoon, as soon as I stepped into the forest it was going to be hard to get the best photos. Cranking the ISO to pretty uncomfortable levels, I would have to deal in order to get the shutter speed to a point where the photos weren't super blurry. Immediately the joy of being immersed in the forest was a great feeling and this section of the forest near Walpole is something special. The highlight around here are the Tingle trees, a unique and girthy tree that is only found in this part of the world. A bell shaped beauty, the Red Tingles that you'll see along this hike are magnificent to behold and really make this trail one of the best near Walpole. Initially you pick up the Bibbulmun Track waugyls that are accompanied by some other markers that form part of this walk and the short walk to the summit of Mt Clare. Heading along a vehicle track, the sounds of the birds, the smell of the damp forest and the depth of the greenery really hits you and made for a wonderful way to end a great day exploring trails.
Passing one of the iconic Tingles that you'll see on this trail, I remembered it from my first visit out here in the summer of 2016. This one is framed nicely in the forest with a little gap in the undergrowth allowing you to fully appreciate the size of these forest giants. Although I was aware that it could rain at any point and I still had to grab my camping gear and walk into camp after this hike, I was taking my time exploring the fringes of the trail to inspect the different wildflowers and plants. Seeing some old favourites like the purple Hovea, Golden Buttercup and Tassel Flowers, I was happy to finally experience this area in the spring. Reaching the side trip to the summit of Mt Clare, there is a wooden board pointing you into the vegetation and it isn't long before you reach a little granite platform. Here I found some lantern shaped blue flowers that I had not seen in this form before. I think they were at the early stage of flowering and looked pretty cool in the low light. This first section of granite is not the summit, instead you head left and follow that trail all the way to the final bit of granite where the nice views are.
I saw nice views but it takes a bit of wandering around to get the right perspective. On my previous visits the views were a little limited thanks to the cloud cover but this time they were dark enough to provide a really cool contrast to the scene. There was still a calmness to the air with the occasional rumble of thunder in the distance and I really enjoyed standing there taking in the moody scenes of rolling hills in the distance covered in excellent Karri and Tingle forest. Having a bigger zoom on this new lens was really nice here with the ability to get the tallest of the branches in the foreground and the deep forest in the background. It was a nice moment but I was aware that the storm wouldn't hold off forever. Doubling back, I was keen to see if anyone was at the Mt Clare Campsite and I was also looking forward to the run down the hill where I knew I would be immersed in some amazingly damp and green forest. Rounding a corner and seeing the Triple Tingles of the campsite, it brought a big smile to my face as this is one of the best campsites on the whole track.
I was last here in winter of 2019 and it was last day into Walpole on a week long hike. Unfortunately the weather wasn't fantastic and it had started raining before I reached the Deep River suspension bridge and I was soaked through by the time I reached the shelter. Looking forward to an empty campsite, I heard some noise and realised I wasn't alone. Tom, a German hiker doing an E2E had setup camp here and we exchanged pleasantries, talking about his experience so far and my plans for the rest of the afternoon. Telling him I would be back in an hour, I left him to his dinner and headed off into the forest to begin the long descent as you scrub off about 170m of elevation all the way down to the Deep River. Last time I was here it was a little disappointing to see the after effects of a burn with the forest not quite springing into life just yet so I was keen to see if it had recovered. Descending down, I was happy to be nice and dry so I could enjoy the quality through here as it's just a really pleasant place to be. There were some bits that seemed like they still hadn't recovered but on the whole there was much to enjoy thanks to the mix of girthy trees, bright green moss and the occasional fungi hiding in the damp places.