Harvey Wildflower Walk
Directions - Located just outside of Harvey, from the centre of town head east along Uduc Road until you reach South Western Highway. Turn left and follow the highway until you reach the turn-off for Honeymoon Road. Turn right and keep going up the hill until you reach the car park for the wildflower picnic site on the righthand side of the bend in the road. The start of the trail is on the eastern side of the car park and you follow the Grass Tree trail markers.
The Hike - Harvey is a town that most people in WA will associate with orange juice, milk, beef and farming but for me Harvey means going out to a maintenance trip on the Bibbulmun Track. In the hills east of Harvey lies the Kingdom of Py and most of my visits are not in peak wildflower season so I've never thought to add on the Harvey Wildflower Walk to my day trips out here. With a free weekend available in late spring, I thought I would do a wildflower survey of the kingdom followed by a visit here to see what was still in bloom.
After a really enjoyable wildflower survey of the kingdom and a scouting mission to realign the section off the excessive vehicle tracks, I had more than enough time to get this one in before driving home. I absolutely love the drive out to my section along the edge of Harvey Dam and have always thought it was a great shame that there aren't more trails in the area. Unfortunately the hypocritical rules that Water Corp have about using water catchment areas for recreational purposes (but strip mining and pine plantations are perfectly fine) mean that the area is not living up to its full potential. The best we have is this short 1.8km loop that is on the northern side of the dam and must either be a legacy walk trail or be technically out of the catchment zone. I had been alerted to this trail a couple of years back by fellow trail enthusiast Just the Sound of the Breeze and had been meaning to check it out ever since. Now would be that day and I was hoping to see some late season orchids and a bevy of wildflowers dotting the edge of the trail. Arriving at the car park, I found two older ladies there, all kitted up for the walk and both excited to photograph some wildflowers with their phones.
They seemed to be moving super slow, so I gave them a bit of lead time to head off along the trail as I could see this first section had nice views and I didn't want people in my shots. Taking a while to put my shoes back on and rehydrate, I figured ten minutes was enough time. I was expecting a bit of an unused and ad hoc trail through here with an old information sign at the start and nothing else so was surprised to see a proper trail marker attached to a post. With the camera prepped and ready to fire, I headed onto the trail and it didn't take long before I found something to photograph. Some bright yellow Cottonheads were just off to the left and this was followed by a Purple Tassel, Australian Painted Lady (butterfly), Morning Iris and some kind of white and yellow pea variety. The forest was impressive along the side of the hill and the views you could sort of see from the car park were starting to get closer. There are a couple of picnic tables through this first section if you just want to stop and enjoy some lunch here among the wildflowers and what a spot it is with the tall trees and granite outcrops leading up the hill. The real winner through here besides the wildflowers was the views overlooking Harvey Dam Reservoir with the trail being set on the hillside and offering some sweeping vistas looking across the water.
I caught up to the two ladies as the views started to open up and they were admiring a Cow Kick that was visible from the trail. They asked me if it was an orchid and after I gave them the correct name thy requested I stop and yell out if I saw an orchid. I assume they were there to find a Spider Orchid and I was also keen to see one so had the wildflower radar on the maximum setting. It was slow going as I continued along the edge of the hill, walking like an emu with my head bobbing around and investigating every wildflower on the edge of the trail. There was plenty of variety through here with Salt and Pepper Bush, Triggerplants, Kangaroo Paws, Milkmaids, Couch Honeypots and even an early flowering Marri tree. We certainly are blessed to have some biodiversity in Western Australia and it turns these short walks into some a bit more magical at this time of year. Reaching a granite outcrop, I had a bit of a poke around hoping to find something more exotic but was "only" got more new varieties including a Grevillea, daisies and some drosera. While I was expecting the wildflowers to be good on this trail, the views were what really topped off the experience and made it clear what a shame it is that this is the only walk we have in the area.
Moving on, I was still on the search for new wildflower varieties and the trail delivered. A Pink Kunzea, some kind of Petrophile and Blue Leschenaultia were among the finds but as the trail reached a gravel road and another rocky platform, the weeds started to appear. It's not unusual around the edges of farms like where this walk is located but certainly detracts from the excellent natives that are found here. At this point you cross Honeymoon Road to continue the loop and I was unfortunately presented with a bit of a scorched and blackened landscape thanks to some recent prescribed burns. It wasn't fun to see and I found it to be an odd patch to burn as it is bordered by a paved road on two sides and farm paddocks on the other two sides. Not expecting to see anything of note I raced through here, looking at how high the burn had gone and being disappointed that in most places it had reached up into the canopy. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt here as later on some of the trees had avoided the burn. Finishing the loop by crossing over the road again, I was treated to one last wildflower find with a Yellow Buttercup brightening up the area. Walk over, I was happy to have finally visited.