Millstream Wetlands Walk
Millstream National Park
Directions - Located an hours drive south of Karratha, the Millstream portion of the Millstream Chichester National Park is located on the south side of Roebourne-Wittenoom Rd with clearly marked signs showing you the turnoff. Take Millstream Rd until you reach the entrance signs for Kanjenjie-Millstream Rd and then follow this road until you reach the car park for the Millstream Homestead. The trail starts at the homestead and can be done in either direction.
The Hike - With our time at Karijini sadly coming to an end, our trip was far from over with a few days in Millstream Chichester National Park on the cards to round off our Pilbara adventures. Leaving Karijini we had one last stop on the way out, a visit to Hamersley Gorge. Being on the way between Karijini and Millstream we figured it was easier to do on a travel day but was in for a disappointing shock when we arrived.
We had heard from the rangers that the famous Spa Pool was closed due to too many accidents but when we arrived it seemed everything but the walk down to the gorge was closed off. Accidents happen, I get it but sometimes people are just cavalier with their own safety trying to get a cool photo or to a place they are capable of getting to. It was sad not to be able to experience the last gorge walk of our trip in it's full glory but the rangers have requested funding for better facilities to make it safer to reach Spa Pool. I had a good chuckle after visiting here when the Explore Parks WA Facebook account shared a picture of Spa Pool, clearly the people running the socials aren't in the loop when it comes to park closures and proper etiquette (they often share videos and photos of drone shots from places where you need a permit that the casual tourist does not have). With the disappointment of Hamersley Gorge behind us we moved on to what lies ahead at Millstream Chichester National Park, a couple of hours drive away.
Reaching the turnoff for Millstream was a relief after a long stretch of corrugated gravel roads that were much worse than when we drove down them a week prior. Driving on the entrance road to Millstream you would be forgiven in thinking that a great national park couldn't possibly exist in a place so flat and lifeless but hidden away from the main road is an oasis waiting to be explored. Arriving at the homestead was a real eye opener with the green lawn, palm trees and rustic old building at odds with the natural landscapes we had just experienced in the past week. We would be staying at the volunteer run Mulla Mulla Camp (for workers and school groups) located behind the rangers station but first we had to locate one of the rangers. They were out doing work around the park and weren't responding to the UHF channel so we decided to go exploring and check out the nearby Wetlands Walk that started from the homestead. Even from the homestead you wouldn't think of finding what awaits you on the other side of the lawn but as we wandered down towards the thick forest of palm trees, snappy gums, silver Cadjeput forest and reeds it became clear that this was no ordinary place.
The homestead exists because Millstream was once a pastoral station from 1865 to 1964 before it became a national park in 1970 (the homestead was a tavern between 1975 & 1986 before being converted to the visitor centre). The wetlands have been somewhat preserved from their time as the local recreation spot for the residents of the homestead but the planting of non-natives like the date palm, Indian water fern and stinking passion vine has had a strong effect on the landscape. Crossing the stream we were wowed by the large collection of date and cotton palms that have taken over the place. It's an impressive sight to behold and the piles of fallen fronds brought back bad memories of having to deal with my own 35yo date palm at home. While a little unnatural, it isn't too far off the mark with the native Millstream palm being the local around here but overshadowed by the much taller non-natives. This local variety is featured quite heavily in another walk within the park and is a surreal spectacle to behold. The gentle walk continues as you meander around the palm trees and towards the Cadjeput forest, a large paperbark like tree with a white trunk and eucalypt type leaves.