Island Pool Walk Trail
Lane Poole Reserve
Directions - Located between Charlies Flat and Tony's Bend campsites in Lane Poole Reserve near Dwellingup, from the centre of town head east along Pinjarra-Williams Road until you reach the Nanga Road turnoff. Follow Nanga Road until you reach the turn for the Lane Poole Reserve entry, turning left and following the sealed road into the park. Follow the signs for Charlies Flat campsite as you join River Road and drive along the edge of the river. The Island Pool car park is well signed and the walk trail begins from the upper car park on the hillside above the river.
The Hike - Lane Poole Reserve is a popular weekend escape about an hour from Perth and provides what I've always seen as a more American style of camping experience. Most of this is down to the mass of pine plantations in the first part of Lane Poole Reserve making it feel unlike the typical Australian bush scene. With many campsites to choose from on both sides of the Murray River (advanced booking required), there is plenty to do here from walks to mountain biking to kayaking or just lazing around at camp.
I pass through this area at least four times a year doing Bibbulmun Track maintenance in the Sanctuary of Py a bit further upriver but this was my first visit to Island Pool to take in the 2.3km walk trail. I honestly can't say why I've only just decided to do it now but I've definitely stopped off to admire this spot a few times when it's been a beautiful misty morning. My to-hike list getting shorter and shorter might have something to do with that so with a Sunday in early July put away to do some maintenance, I decided that this would be the time I finally made time to hike it. Passing through on my way to the Murray Campsite, it was a chilly -1C according to my car thermometer as I stopped to take photos of the mist hanging around in the valley. It was certainly a bit fresh as I walked along the edge of the river (still in my warm ugg boots) towards the rapids and then back around to the main viewing point at the bottom of the stairs. I was happy with the moody photos but had work to do so would take in the walk trail on my return journey. That took a little longer than expected thanks to some inconsiderate Prickly Moses that had gotten too big and fallen over onto the track, plus all the Soapbush that I think will require a brush cutter to trim back on my next trip.
With the Makuru days slowly getting longer, it was still only a few weeks after winter solstice, so I would be pushing it to finish my maintenance and get the walk in before the light disappeared. Arriving back at Island Pool a bit before 3:30pm, I ended up having plenty of time to get in a walk and my hope was that this side of the hill would be bathed in glorious afternoon light as the sun descended towards the horizon. With the temperature being a much balmier 12C and some sturdier shoes on than my ugg boots, I grabbed the camera and set about finding the start of the walk trail that I knew ascended up the hill leading away from the river. Locating the information board in the upper car park, I spotted a walk trail marker leading into the forest and headed in that direction. I was sure this was a loop trail but as I walked further, I couldn't see where the loop joined back up. Sure it would all work out in the end, my eyes were busy scanning for different varieties of fungi that had been semi-prolific in the Sanctuary of Py. This area I've found to be a late bloomer in terms of wildflowers compared to the rest of the Darling Scarp with minimal varieties in bloom during the winter months.
Making up for this was some impressive Jarrah forest with some enjoyably girthy trunks of a soft grey colour that I love to see. One of two wildflower sightings for the walk occurred early on with what was confirmed by user kingia on iNaturalist as Point Leaved Acacia (Acacia urophylla) and was being beautifully backlit by the bright afternoon sunshine. With the first half of the walk rising up the hill and averaging a 15% gradient, the bulk of the effort is at the start. This was fine with me as it meant a gentle finish and the quality of the Jarrah forest, along with the abundance of Balgas, made for a pleasing walk. With a few fallen logs laying around, I was on the search for fungi and my only find of the whole walk was some bracket fungi attached to one of the rotting logs right next to the track. Being away from the moistness of the river, I wasn't expecting the same level as what I'd seen during my maintenance but some more would have been nice. Continuing to climb, the trail weaves and meanders through the forest on a much different path than is suggested on the information board, which is just a basic loop. Again, I was fine with this as it opened up all sorts of angles to photograph and it felt a bit more varied than if it was a rough circle. Reaching higher ground meant the views started to open up looking down the hill and across the river valley.
At the top of the climb there is a flatter section an I noticed some Bull Banksia trees ranging from tall examples to much younger upstarts. The views from up here were worth the effort from the climb and it had me thinking back to when I hiked through here on the Bibbulmun between Dwellingup and Collie in 2018 as the Bibb is only a short distance to the east. Starting the descent, the trail continues to snake around, taking you on some switchbacks to flatten out the gradient in points and this was where I found the second wildflower of the hike, a Tree Hovea. Hiding in the shadows, it was a bit hard to photograph given the low levels of light but I was determined to have a splash of colour mixed in with the seemingly endless Jarrah and Balga shots. Reaching the lower slopes, the sun pouring in through the canopy had me in an almost euphoric mood as I enjoyed the last of the Jarrah forest. Arriving back at the car park, I wandered down to Island Pool for some last photographs looking over this wide stretch of the Murray River. I was happy to see some Pacific Black Ducks paddling in the water and a couple of playful Blue Wrens jumping around on the ground near where I was exploring. What a lovely end to the day and I have finally added the Island Pool Walk Trail to this ever expanding website.