Start - Off Grey Rd, Dwellingup
Length - 1.5km (Loop)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Single Track
Vertical Climb - 44m
Time - 1 hour
Signed - No but easy to follow
Date Hiked - 11th August 2019
Best Time - Winter to Spring
Directions - Located just outside of Dwellingup, from Pinjarra-Williams Rd take Grey Rd north (look out for Marinnup POW Camp signs) and follow this over the railway. Keep going until you see the sign for Marrinup Falls and turn left to follow Grey Rd all the way to the obvious car park area.
The Hike - With a cancelled photo shoot in the Wheatbelt, I had a free weekend to go out and adventure so made some plans to do some maintenance at the Sanctuary of Py on a beautiful sunny day. With winter providing some good rain and the wildflowers starting to come out in the Perth Hills, I thought I would check out Marrinup Falls on the way to see if it was flowing and as a fun side trip to the battling of the Soapbush and Prickly Moses that would occur later on in the day. Joining me today was regular maintenance helper and Assistant Regional Trails Experience Intern, Aron (aka 1A1R) and I let him have a sleep-in this time by picking him up at 7am. The drive out was pleasant as usual with the hills leading up to Dwellingup being some nice country to drive through.
Turning off at the sign for the Marrinup POW Camp (another attraction I might check out at a later date) we followed the gravel road over the railway and then located the sign pointing us towards Marrinup Falls. The gravel road leading there was easily done in my X-Trail but lower 2WD cars will have to take care over some of the puddles and potholes that dot the surface. The car park only fits four cars and I'm not sure there is room to park on the road leading in so be mindful not to block others if you arrive at a busy time. Luckily we were the only ones there upon our arrival so set about gathering all of our gear into our packs and putting on shoes etc. While picking up Aron and telling him of the likelihood of flowing water I realised as he went to get his tripod that I had left the camera attachment for mine in my office so would have to improvise today.
Having done a bit of research the day before, TrailsWA has this listed as 2.6km but the sign at the start said 1.3km (I clocked it at 1.5km with side trips) so it would end up being a briefer visit than expected. Heading down the hill we were on lovely single track with plenty of wildflowers out already. Reaching the end of the short tadpole section, I made an executive decision to head clockwise on the loop and I think this turned out to be the correct way for the conditions giving the lighting issues we had further down the track. The first point of interest on the hike is an open granite space with a lot of non-Leave No Trace cairns leading up the hill (given the path goes downhill they are not for navigation purposes). There is one rock that has weirdly been painted red so there's that to look at but I was more interested in the lovely moss and trying to find a good looking sundew (couldn't find one unfortunately). From there you cross a small bridge over one of the creeks that feeds Marrinup Falls and the fun part is not far away.
Here I spotted the first of a couple of places where Donkey Orchids were in bloom, weirdly right on the trail where you would think they might not survive being trampled. With the joy of seeing my first orchid of the season we continued on to the first of three cool rapids that are good fun to photograph and explore. Fortunately there is a flat platform from which you can setup your camera gear right in front of the biggest of the rapids in this area. I found a suitable rock and put on the cheap neutral density filters I bought off eBay ages ago so I could leave the shutter open for a longer period. The first few test shots were looking good, even though the sun was slowly rising and would soon be right in our field of vision. I moved around, trying different angles and settings before finding out there was more to explore on the upper level. Aron stayed behind to get more shots and to get creative with his underwater camera (not sure how they turned out) and I ended up finding another smaller set of rapids to apply the long exposure treatment to. I really enjoyed the effect of the swirling water in the finished shots in this area and will have to come back with my tripod on a cloudy day to get some better photos.
After getting our fill of photos and the sun also now reflecting quite brightly off the top of the main falls, we packed up and moved on to complete the trail (at this point we didn't know there were more rapids). Finding the second granite patch with a nice section of falls, Aron left me here to continue on exploring. There was only really one area to photograph here so once again I found a rock and waited for the shutter to close while admiring the beautiful surrounds. Unsure if Aron was coming back I decided to go find him as the sun was getting to a point where it was starting to become really bright. After a series of stairs I found Aron on the bridge overlooking the valley where the main section of Marrinup Falls is located. The views down the valley are quite an iconic scene for this walk but as Aron had not explored the side trail down to the main falls we decided to check it out.
Unfortunately at the bottom of the stairs I was greeted with glaring sunshine looking straight at the falls so with no chance of getting any decent photos we decided to skip this and make a return visit on the way home. Climbing back up the stairs we began the uphill journey back to the car passing through some pretty cool forest and another granite platform full of moss. It was here I spotted more Donkey Orchids and a different looking drosera variety in a small patch of moss that required me to get down on my belly in the dirt to photograph, much to Aron's amusement. The final stretch heading up the hill contained a nice section of foxtails right along the trail and this pleased me to no end. I caught back up to Aron at the junction where the tadpole section takes you back to the car park and we finished, agreeing that it was a short but sweet hike that was a perfect side trip on a day trip out to Dwellingup. We had a late breakfast at the always fantastic Blue Wren Cafe before heading to the Murray Campsite for a little bit of maintenance.
The Return - With no shots of the titular Marrinup Falls, we returned to check out the trail once again, this time with more favourable afternoon sunlight. After a quick stop to shoot both side rapids I soon joined Aron at the main falls where he had already setup his tripod and was playing with the settings. The main section is very reminiscent of Serpentine Falls but on a much smaller scale as the shape/angle are similar and both flow into nice pools of water. It is possible to explore up and down the valley and the various small rapids that can be found leading down the valley. This is a really cool area that was fun to explore, bringing out the small child in me, which to be honest isn't such a big difference from my normal behaviour. We spent a decent amount of time here just photographing from different angles before deciding it was probably getting a bit late and home would be a good option.
Final Thoughts - While not a very long hike, this is a perfect side trip if you're visiting the Dwellingup area. It's not a hard hike and there are a few points where you'll naturally spend a lot of time so it won't even feel like you've been on a walk at all.
Given the quality of the trail and the experience you'll get in winter/spring, it's weird that there are no signs pointing you off the main road to this hidden gem. It's been on my visit list for a couple of years now and with the right conditions I'm happy I finally got to tick this one off.
Unfortunately the falls don't flow year round so you'll have to wait until after some serious winter rains to see the water flowing at a good rate. This is best experienced in the short window between early July and early September (again dependant on the rains) where you'll also get the amazing wildflower display providing a colourful treat.
Get out there and experience it!
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