Directions - Located between Balingup and Bridgetown along South Western Highway, take the Blackwood Road turn off the highway, following the signs for Greenbushes. The trail starts from the information board in front of Heritage Park, opposite the Greenbushes Discovery Centre.
The Hike - The Greenbushes Loop was the first South West trail I ever did for the website as part of a June 2015 road trip visiting Quinninup and then Albany, way back when things were very different to how they are now (long term TLoP readers will remember the black background days). This was a post I had always meant to revisit as my first hike here was shot on my Sony Xperia phone as I didn't think I had packed my DSLR (I had and it was in the boot the whole time). As such the photos were minimal and of very poor quality (although apparently still good enough for TrailsWA to use them on their page for the trail).
I added updated photos after I came through here on the Bibbulmun Track in 2018 but with only three paragraphs of writing for the 16km loop, this was always a trail that wasn't up to scratch with everything else on the website. Never really organising a time to come back and do the half day circuit, in 2022 I have made time as part of a day to re-shoot the Bridgetown Jarrah Park and take in the Balingup Racecourse Flora Reserve. After a serving of my dads world famous pancakes (I drove down to stay with my parents the night before), I headed off to Greenbushes to reunite with one of the OG TLoP trails. Although I had recently hiked the 5km section that it shares with the Bibb, I didn't really remember much apart from the area around Greenbushes Pool and Schwenke's Dam, so this would almost be a brand new trail experience for me. With a chilly Djilba morning greeting me as I arrived, there was also a blanket of fog to provide a bit of atmosphere to the first part of the walk. This is one of the reasons I like to get out early as I love seeing places in different conditions, with mist and fog being one of my favourites.
Despite seeing an upturn in fortunes since my last visit thanks to the increased demand for the lithium that is mined nearby, Greenbushes was almost a ghost town as I parked on the main street. For a town with two pubs, I find it odd that there is only one cafe and it doesn't open on the weekends. Finding my bearings, I took some snaps of the main strip and set about starting along the trail in a clockwise direction. This would see me visit Greenbushes Pool first but would also mean a not very enjoyable finish, relative to the rest of the hike. Being prepared for this, I scooted off towards Stanifer Street and the exit out of the town section of the walk. This is much shorter than the finish and the local Anglican Church was looking spooky in the morning fog. Spotting the big wooden sign that signaled the start of the forest walking, I was happy to be back in my beloved Jarrah forest. Although initially following the edge of a farm, some nice wildflower finds kept me distracted until the route takes you along single trail leading into the forest. It felt good to be in the dampness of the Jarrah forest again with plenty of wildflower finds early on to complement the swathes of wattle lining the trail.
For the most part this section of forest leading to Greenbushes Pool was very enjoyable, with some older character trees appearing the closer I got to the car park. Seeing a larger example of one of my favourite plants in the world, the Snottygobble, was a delight, even more so given it contained a few fruit in various stages of ripening. Reaching Greenbushes Pool, I crossed the gravel car park and found another person photographing the little jetty. Not wanting to disturb her, I decided to check out the little boardwalk trail that I didn't remember from my last visit. Heading along the edge of the water, the boardwalk explores the Paperbark swampland with plenty of fungi and wildflowers loving this area. I stopped at the wooden lookout before turning around and heading back to the jetty but you can explore much further if you want to. With the jetty now free, I took my own snaps before locating the trail again and heading to the left of the pool to continue.
Heading through a thick tunnel of vegetation to cross the creek flowing from Greenbushes Pool, there were some Paperbarks here that reminded me of little alcoves on the Mokare Heritage Trail. Heading past the secondary car park and playground located on this side of the pool, you have to walk down the access road to the car park before sighting a trail marker pointing you onto single trail. This next section would be a mixed bag in terms of scenery but the interpretive signage lets you know why. I like that the trail doesn't shy away from the history of the area and when the landscape looks different, the signs are there to say what the reasons are. In this case there is a short stretch that was previously rehabilitated but not with local plants so it really stands out. Once you do reach more natural looking forest, as you walk towards Schwenke's Dam, the wildflowers return and there are glimpses through the trees to the edge of the water. After passing a man made Black Cockatoo nesting site on the edge of a vehicle track, I was soon staring at the wide dam wall.