Lake Seppings | Tjuirtgellong
Start - Off Golf Links Road
Length - 2.9km (Loop)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Single Track, Boardwalk
Vertical Climb - Flat
Time - 1 Hour
Signed - Yes
Dog Friendly - Yes
Date Hiked - 28th September 2020
Best Time - All Year Round
Directions - From the centre of Albany head north on York Street until you reach the big roundabout where Albany Plaza is. Take a right here onto St Emile Way and then a left at the roundabout onto Middleton Road. Follow this all the way to the Middleton Beach area and turn left onto Golf Links Road. There is a well sign car park on your left where you'll find the trail head.
The Hike - With a few days in Albany to take in a variety of new trails during the best time of year, I decided to follow up my Mount Melville walk with a trip out to the Middleton Beach area. I have very fond memories of this area thanks to family holidays at the old Esplanade Hotel and later at one of the many holiday units you can rent close to the beach. During various summers holidaying here as a kid I had no idea there was a lake nearby and it only popped on my radar a few years ago when searching for new walks to do around Albany.
Having been on my to-hike list for a while, this was the trip where I would finally get around to visiting to see what was what. My last trip to the area was very fortuitous with a lovely stroll at Mount Adelaide followed by a really enjoyable walk back to Albany along the Ellen Cove to Albany Port trail. Arriving at the car park, there were a few cars around because this is a popular spot for locals to walk their dog. As I was getting my gear together I spotted a couple of long boi greyhounds arriving back at the car park after their walk around the lake. The information boards at the start of the walk give you an indication of what to expect and that is mostly that this is a haven for birdlife. I am always a fan of seeing birds on a walk and with my new camera and longer zoom lens, I was excited to hopefully get some better shots in the bag. It doesn't take long to feel like you've escaped the urban environment as you walk along the pavement into the dense wetland scenery. Enjoying a world of Peppermint Trees and Paperbarks, you can tell right away that this type of vegetation is the perfect place for birds to enjoy.
It's well protected, there is lots of debris to use for nesting and it's close to the water. It doesn't take long for the first lookout point to arrive with a small boardwalk section leading out over the water a nice way to get your first look of the lake and take in your bearings. It was a bit of a cool and windy afternoon when I visited so I didn't hang around too long, wanting to get the blood pumping to warm me up. From here you can see across the lake towards Mount Adelaide and Mount Clarence and they provide a nice feature to admire along the walk. I ran into my first encounter with one of the locals not long after the lookout with a King Skink sticking around long enough for me to take a photo. These medium sized lizards are a feature of the Middleton Beach area with the pavements being their favourite place to sun themselves. This lush section leading towards the northern corner is really enjoyable walking with an enclosed feeling among the Peppermints and Paperbarks.
As you reach the first big turn to start heading south, you become more aware of the urbanisation of this area. To your right is the edge of someone's property and although it still looks green, it's not the same as what you've just walked through (the fence is also not a nice sight). What I was enjoying along the corner was a large swath of Bracken Fern and a few wildflowers to add a splash of colour. The stretch leading towards the bird hide isn't the prettiest part of the loop with the raised path flanked by grasses and well away from the native vegetation (on the lake side of the path). Nonetheless, I still enjoyed looking towards the lake and seeing what I could spot and I was lucky with a Red-eared Firetail and what I think was a Purple Crowned Lorikeet. If you've visited here and want to know what bird you've photographed then check out this guide, it's been a big help for me writing up this post to save me from saying "grey spotty bird with red bits" and "parrot of some kind". Right near the turnoff for the bird hide I spotted a New Holland Honeyeater and it reminded me of home as we have a family nesting in one of the trees in my backyard. Never afraid to pose for a photo, this one clung to the branch for quite a few shots.
Reaching the entrance to the bird hide, I was excited to sit down and have a good look for all the different types of bird I could find (yes, I'm turning into an old man). The walk along the boardwalk leading to the hide was too interesting to just rush past so I spent a good amount of time admiring the Paperbarks thriving in the water and watching out for birds, lizards and insects. Finally entering the bird hide, I put my pack down and picked a good spot to indulge my inner twitcher. Last time I did something like this it was on the Kepwari Walk in Esperance and given the limited time we had there before the light disappeared, it was nice to have the luxury of time on my side. Off in the distance I could see plenty of nesting White Ibis, cruelly given the colloquial name of Bin Chicken, I really enjoy seeing these birds on my afternoon walks in Fremantle. Even here they don't get a mention on the information boards, which I think is a bit unfair. While there wasn't much activity happening close to the bird hide, I got some long distance shots of some Eurasian Coots and an Australian Grebe that were keeping their distance.
While I could have stayed there for a long time, it was too long to wait until dusk when I believe there would have been more activity. Leaving the bird hide I had better luck along the boardwalk with a skink staying long enough in one position for me to photograph it and a brief encounter with a Musk Duck before it disappeared into the protection of the Paperbarks. Joining the loop trail again, you head towards an open area that is the site of a recent rehabilitation effort. It's nice to see an effort being made here to restore the area to something resembling native vegetation to provide a wildlife corridor between Mount Adelaide and Emu Point. In 10-20 years this place will be unrecognisable from it's current form and will be much better off for it. The lake itself has a bit of a sad history dating back over 100 years when it went from nature reserve around the 1900s to the site of a rubbish tip before a push in the 1980s by the Apex Club of Albany saw it gradually rehabilitated and the walk trail completed in 2004. While there is still much to be done here, it's in a much better place thanks to the care received by local groups and hopefully it is a place that many different bird species can call home for generations to come.
The sparse rehabilitation section was made enjoyable by the thought of the area being preserved and a sighting of a Purple Swamphen lurking on the edge of the lake. I reached a narrow section of the lake where there is a little land bridge that takes you across to the other side. This was a scene I really loved and the lone tree in the middle really makes the photo for me. From the vantage point in the middle of the land bridge, I was able to see a few nesting spots for various birds in the extensive reeds. Joining a section of boardwalk through a sensitive area that is also prone to flooding, you leave the reeds and head into the thick Paperbarks again. The boardwalk ends very quickly and a damp and muddy path became a bit of a problem for the shoes I was wearing. Just like the Harewood Forest Walk, my Puma knits were struggling with grip and weren't very water resistant. Luckily there were sticks placed over the deeper puddles that I could use to negotiate and I told myself that I should just wear my trail runners on every walk I do. Distracting me from the puddles and wet feet was a Red Capped Parrot hiding on the trees that I only just spotted out of the corner of my eye. Even with the zoom lens it was hard to capture but it was nice enough to hang around while I tried.
The last section leading back to the car park runs parallel to Golf Links Road and there is no escaping the sounds and occasional sight of the passing cars. It wasn't too busy on my visit and I decided to concentrate on looking towards the lake again to enjoy the final bit. The scenery is still excellent and there was a good amount of new wildflowers to see including a pretty Grevillea, Karri Hazel, Purple Flag and a Native Geranium among others. The real treat is the section of boardwalk right along the edge of the lake where you get some stunning views looking across the reeds and over the lake. This was a nice finish to the walk and after passing the little building that I thought was another bird hide (it's just a pumping station to keep the water levels down), the loop finished and I was back at the car park. A thoroughly enjoyable walk that will make any bird watchers happy or those simply looking for an easy walk in a pretty area.
Post Hike Activity - Not wanting to retire to my AirBnB too early and still a couple of hours of light left in the day, I thought I would go check out a place I had been meaning to visit for a while. Misery Beach may have a terrible name but is one of the best beaches in Albany to escape to. Located near Whaling World and right next to the start of the Bald Head Walk Trail in Torndirrup National Park, I wanted to come here to see the big granite dome that rises from the water and extends up into the sky. I would be hiking Bald Head in a few days time so this was a good way to get excited for that hike and enjoy a gentle stroll along the pristine sands. This is a really cool spot on the edge of King George Sound and when no one else is around it feels extra special. I spent a bit of time wandering the beach here, sitting on the sand to do some breathing exercises and admiring the granite slope. This is what holidays are about for me, taking the time to slow down, visit random places on a whim and spending time doing not very much at all.
Final Thoughts - Albany has a lot going for it and I've always been a big fan of the fantastic walks they have down here. With a great diversity of hiking options around the city, having a bird filled walk around a lake close to town is another string in the bow for Albany.
While it won't provide the thrills of a Bald Head or a hike in the Stirling Range, sometimes it's nice to slow down and just enjoy a casual stroll while searching for as many birds as you can find.
Lake Seppings may have a bit to go before it's fully rehabilitated but for now it's still an enjoyable place to visit and one I highly recommend if you're holidaying in the area.
Get out there and experience it!
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