Wellington National Park
Directions - Take Coalfields Hwy towards Collie and turn right onto Wellington Dam Rd when you see the signs. Follow this all the way to the Kiosk and park in the car park there. The trail head is located just down the road towards the dam.
The Hike - Ever since visiting Wellington National Park back in December 2017 to hike the Sika Trail, I've been meaning to come back and check out the other two day hikes in the park. With the Jabitj (running water) Trail and Kurliiny Tjenangitj (come and see) Trail still left to do, I only had time for one trail and selected the Jabitj as it's rated the highest out of the three trails and was one I really wanted to explore. After a full weekend of hosting my niece as part of her birthday present, including a trip to Kaarakin for a school holiday wildlife ranger program, I set about driving her back to Funbury on the Sunday. After a lovely roast lunch at my parents place I headed out to Collie and parked at the Kiosk near the Wellington Dam Lookout.
Having not kept very good track of the time, I had arrived a bit later than I'd have liked to in order to get in the 13km return journey and complete the two hour drive back to Fremantle. With some rain forecast for the late afternoon I was hoping to get some sunny shots in before it all arrived to paint this hike in the best light possible. I was the only car in the car park when I arrived, weird for mid-afternoon during the first weekend of school holidays and the kiosk was also just as quiet. Finding my bearings I located the trail head that is a short stroll along the footpath to the west of the kiosk and had a read of the information boards there. Setting off, immediately you are thrown into a world of abundant Jarrah, mature undergrowth and the smells of the forest. Starting at the kiosk end meant it would be mostly downhill all the way to Honeymoon Pool so the first half of my afternoon would be fairly easy. The biggest drop is actually the first 500m or so as you descend from near the dam wall to the Collie River Valley below. Once you cross the road that takes you to the dam wall and down to Honeymoon Pool there's a series of steps taking you down to the pumping station that pumps water up the pipeline leading away from the dam for irrigation purposes.
The dam water itself is no longer fit for drinking due to high salinity and effects of the local mining operations so the area has been opened up for recreational purposes. There are big plans for the Wellington Dam catchment to be developed into a mountain bike and hiking hub and if this trail is anything to go by, it should be spectacular. From the pumping station you follow the pipeline briefly before starting along a single track path that will be home as you wind through the valley. Unlike some river walks (namely the Bibbulmun Track along the Murray River or parts of the Warren River) you are never too far away from the water and there are some great vantage points to take in the fantastic pools and granite features that are found in this area. The first of these happens not long after joining the single track with a wide pool down below the track. As you wind around this pool you get some great views looking back at the dam wall, connecting you with the history of the area and it's kind of a cool spot with the mature Marri and Jarrah trees lining the hill.
As you move along the path you start to see the rolling hills through the tree line and eventually the forest opens up to reveal this glorious vista of forest covered hills and granite platforms. With a dry summer and a relatively dry autumn in the South West, the mosses and undergrowth around the granite were still looking a little brown. Luckily the evergreen nature of the Australian forests meant the majority of the landscape was still green as I made my way down to the river bank on a little side trip where the trail splits. It only goes down to the river so you cannot get lost taking this wrong turn, I just wanted to explore the granite a bit more before joining the main track. Climbing up a minor hill you are greeted by a swath of grass trees with lovely views down to the meandering river. With the sun shining brightly, the water of the river was a dull turquoise colour as you viewed it heading downhill once more. This is a completely different look to the usual brown, tannin stained waters of other rivers in the South West as most of them have not been dammed. Being close to where the water is released from the Wellington Dam (the Collie River here will always have water in it) is the cause of this colouring. I do enjoy the effect and it does look pleasantly different in the photos, especially when contrasted with the bright green of the canopy and the occasional fern.
On the nearby slopes you can see another collection of grass trees rising up to meet the forest and across the river there is an old retaining wall close to the road. One feature of this hike as you look across the river is the presence of cars and people on the other side. The road leading to Honeymoon Pool is on the opposite side and with a few stopping points you might see people wandering the banks of the river. Another good thing about this hike is the patches of undergrowth and forest you go through that help to break up the river views and make it feel like every time you see the river it's for a good reason. As you ascend up the hill through one of these patches an opening provides a view down to the first of the rapids you'll see on the hike. While it would be fun to see them a bit closer, you can appreciate the size and flow of them a bit more from this raised position. As you continue on you come to a fun feature that reminded me of all the power lines you see in the South West, just without the power lines.