Kondil Wildflower Park
Start - Off Barrabup Road
Length - 3.1km (Loop)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Single Track, Vehicle Track
Vertical Climb - Flat
Time - 1 Hour
Signed - Follow the Purple Boot
Date Hiked - 9th October 2020
Best Time - Late Winter through Spring
Traditional Custodians - Wardandi People
Directions - From the centre of Nannup, head north along Vasse Highway for just under 2km then take the left turn onto Mowen Road. Take the first left onto Barrabup Road and follow this until you see the car park on the right hand side for the Kondil Wildflower Park. Walk through the gates and the trail head is a little further ahead with a modern sign telling you all about the various walk trail options.
The Hike - The Kondil Wildflower Park has been on my to-hike list for quite a while but I always wanted to visit during spring because you can't visit something called a wildflower park in any other season. Nannup is a town that I had always passed through on my travels to places further afield like Pemberton or Northcliffe but in 2020 I visited this idyllic country town quite a few times on various trips. Cutting my 2020 Spring Road Trip short after ruining my Nikon D7500 on the Tagon Coastal Trail, I had some time at home before heading back out for the Pemby Trail Fest.
With all day to get from Freo to Pemberton before the 6pm Night Run that I had signed up for, I stopped in at Funbury to see my parental units and then made time to visit the Kondil Wildflower Park on my way through to Pemby. Being the heart of spring in the South West, I was expecting a colourful walk through the forest and for it to take a lot of time as I meandered along and photographed everything I could find. With my new Nikon still awaiting a quote to be fixed (ended up being the cost of a new camera), I resurrected my old Nikon from the shelf and hoped that it would last a couple more hikes. The autofocus sensor hadn't worked for well over a year and bits were falling off so I'd have to reacquaint myself with manually focussing once again. When I first put this trail on the to-do list, I thought it was a short 1km walk that was a stone's throw from town but doing more research in 2020, I found it to be a 3km trail and while still close to town, you still need a car unless you want to add a couple of hours to your walk.
Being in the middle of the September school holidays, it was a nice sight to see a number of cars in the car park with the sounds of families exploring the area when I got out of the car. Immediately after stepping out of the car I could see plenty of different wildflowers lining the car park so I was excited to get exploring to see how many different varieties I could find. The start of the trail is actually down the vehicle track a little bit with a big metal sign providing information on the various walks in the area. Along with the 3.1km Wildflower Wander that goes around the perimeter (the one I did), there is the 2.5km Sheoak Walk through the middle of the park and a short 700m family friendly Woody Pear Walk. I only had time for one walk so picked the longer one that sounded the best, not that I have anything against Sheoaks (I love them) but I was here to see wildflowers. Following the purple boot marker, I decided to do the loop in an anti-clockwise direction so set off along the old Wildflower Drive that I assume at one point you used to be able to drive along. While this means the walk is mostly on vehicle tracks to start, it means a wide walk where you can swap from side to side looking for different species.
Straight off the bat I was lucky to spot a White Spider Orchid lurking in the undergrowth, an orchid that I had been on the lookout for on every trail over the past three weeks with varying success. As I was taking photos a lady struck up a conversation with me about the place, telling me what to look out for and it was nice to have a local (I assumed) providing advice to those out enjoying the trail. Along with the Spider Orchid was a great number of Cowslip Orchids, Grannys Bonnet, Kangaroo Paws, Fringed Lily, Cow Kicks, Acacias and Drosera. While most of the walk is through Jarrah forest that looks to have been logged maybe 40-60 years ago given the size of most of trees, about 200m in you reach a low point where there are a great number of Paperbarks. Just off track there is a little swampy area that is well guarded by a couple of gnomes and after granting me passage to the water's edge, I was staring at a gnarly looking scene of twisted, dripping Paperbark and muted greens. Continuing on, the trail returns to vehicles tracks through the forest and I was in my element just meandering around. I was fortunate with the lighting on this walk with the partly cloudy conditions providing the perfect balance between brightness and softness.
The different wildflowers kept coming with new species popping up as I wandered along including Rose Banjine, Blue Squills, Yellow Flag, Cottonheads and Boronia. After spending most of the last three weeks doing coastal hikes like the Cape to Cape and various trails around Albany and Esperance, it felt really comforting to be back in the Jarrah forests of the South West. While the majority of the trees are regrowth from logging activities, there are some habitat trees left over from when that practice was followed more closely than the current clear-felling operations. Full of character and thick masses of twisted wood, I always love seeing trees of this girth. About a kilometre in you reach an intersection of trails and it isn't quite clear where you are meant to go due to a lack of purple boots to follow. I knew I needed to turn back on myself at some point so turned left and stuck with my decision. Thankfully I was right and continued through some pretty lush forest on either side. Again, new wildflowers kept popping up and I took my time crouching down, getting the right focus (mostly) and enjoying the variety of colours and shapes.
Heading down this track was a real delight as it had sections of both open woodland and closed in forest with a thick understory. The Balgas through here were very healthy with big patches of them sort of fencing off the forest and providing a barrier that is sometimes needed on these regrowth walks. In the open sections the colour spread was pretty cool to see thanks to the white and pink Banjine scattered across the forest floor. Mixed in with the mass of colour were little pockets of individual flowers including Milkmaids, Hooded Lily, Donkey Orchids and Purple Enamel Orchids. Arriving at another intersection, the trail links up with the Old Timberline Trail, a mixed use trail that heads out and explores the logging history of the area and one that I'm aiming to come back to do on my bike in 2021. Spotting a trail marker for the Old Timberline Trail that is in the form of an axe design, I wasn't sure if I was still on the right path but then the return of the purple boot was a relief. This final stretch towards the finish had some of the best forest with some larger trees much closer to the edge of the trail. While still sporting some signs of previous burns, the mostly grey Jarrah was lovely to see as I enjoy the way the bark looks so soft.
A little off the trail I caught sight of something unusual so went to investigate the oddity. What looked like some bread dough that had been left on a fallen tree ended up being a fungi that had expanded and bloated to form a funky feature of the forest. Not wanting the walk to end, I moved even slower, soaking in the fantastic scenes and the changing landscapes. Walking through an area that sits lower than the little Paperbark swamp I passed either, the Jarrah gave way to more Paperbark and then back to Jarrah as I headed up the hill. This was a lush finish to the hike and moving onto single trail was a nice touch at the end. This is where the Woody Pear Walk runs through and I was busy looking around for one of these unique plants but couldn't quite find one (at least that I thought). Walking through a thicket of Balgas to reach the information board at the start topped off what had been a thoroughly enjoyable walk. With my wildflower spotting over, I headed into Nannup to stock up on tea from the coolest tea shop in Western Australia (Tiny Tea Shop) and grab some afternoon tea. I survived my first official trail run that night and running through the Karri forests around Pemberton was something different and very enjoyable.
Final Thoughts - Nannup is much better known to mountain bikers than it is to hikers thanks to the Munda Biddi running through town and having an annual mountain biking event.
Driving through the area I always think the area has so much potential and it's a shame that there isn't more hiking trails within a close radius to town. If you're on a desktop or tablet then have a look at the map on my South West Hikes page and you'll see a dearth of hiking trails in the Nannup area.
That being said, the Kondil Wildflower Park is worth a visit to Nannup for, especially if you stick around and have a meal in town or check out the shops. The annual Tulip Festival is a fantastic event that in 2020 ran over various weekends in August and September is a good excuse to head and visit this area.
The trail is a mix of vehicle tracks and a little bit of single trail but the real delight is spotting the variety of wildflowers that line the edges. I love photographing the wildflowers of Western Australia but you don't need to have a camera here to enjoy what's on offer so load up the car and pay a visit to Nannup.
Get out there and experience it!
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