Mokare Heritage Trail
Directions - The official trail head is located about 1.5km south east of the centre of Denmark along Hollings Rd at the Rivermouth Bridge. There is some parking available near the bridge. Alternatively you can start at the bridge next to town as the loop still takes you past here.
The Hike - After finishing my first sectional end to end of the Bibbulmun Track, I had an enjoyable night in Albany, celebrating with a well deserved meal and wine at Little Italy (recommended). Thanks to the difficult logistics of my final five days on the track, my car was located back in Denmark so the next morning I had booked the TransWA bus back to pick up my car before checking into my AirBnB in Albany for a few days rest. My accommodation had breakfast in the package so I headed down to find Sarin, the amazing host at the Guesthouse Albany in the dining area with fresh coffee. An enjoyable breakfast with Gandalf and Pixie was had before we all headed off to the bus station (they were heading back to Perth). With a warm and sunny finish to my Bibbulmun journey, the weather had turned with some lovely south coast drizzle setting in for the morning.
Given check-in at my AirBnB wasn't until 2pm and I wasn't entirely confident that my car would start again once I got it going (this would be the last road trip for Newt before dying), I decided to spend a bit of time in Denmark before moving on. After having a mid morning snack at the bakery and checking out several of the stores that make Denmark special (I love a good crystal shop or crafty homewares store), I grabbed my camera and thought I'd check out the Mokare Heritage Trail. Donovan from The Long Way's Better had highlighted me to this trail back when he did it and it seemed like a fantastic way to spend an hour or two. It's great having an accessible and enjoyable walk so close to a country town that doesn't feel like you're in a town so with my casual walking shoes on I headed off to the start. Having walked this route already a few days prior as I headed into Denmark from the Bibbulmun Track, it was a familiar sight when I reached the bridge at the mouth of the Denmark River. A father had taken his son out for a play on his bike so I patiently waited for them to clear the bridge before taking many photos of the grey and moody conditions.
The old wooden bridge is a lovely object to photograph and a great place to fully take in the beauty of the Denmark River. To the south you can see the mouth where it opens up into the Wilson Inlet, although it was a little difficult on my visit thanks to the clouds and the rain but it still looked magical. To the north is where the trail will take you through the Karri lined river banks into a world of wildflowers, Paperbarks, reeds and bird life. I was lucky enough to spot a few pelicans on my walk to the bridge and I think the two that I saw eventually decided to take up a spot right in front of the bridge on an unseen log. The Pelican became a bit of a common sighting on my post Bibbulmun break and I managed to get a good shot of the two of them as they stood on the water having a break. The path from the bridge takes you along the Munda Biddi towards Albany but another Mokare Heritage Trail sign points you down a set of stairs and off along the river. I stopped for a while here just photographing the bridge from down below and admiring what would be the first of many cool scenes involving the gnarly Paperbark trees that line the edge of the river.
Being a walk close to town the trail is pavement but this was a good thing today as I think it would just be a series of puddles on a day like this. Moving along at a very gentle pace, I was loving all the mossy details on the Paperbarks and bigger trees that dotted the trail. Speaking of bigger trees, there was a monster up ahead that looked like it could have come from the Fangorn Forest. A sprawling array of thick limbs, it looks to be a pretty popular spot that unfortunately may have been slightly loved to breaking point. There was a limb that had snapped off and was laid on the ground, hopefully this was a naturally occurrence rather than from people climbing on the tree too much. It was an impressive sight to behold and definitely a highlight along the trail. Moving on, the path continues to wind along the edge of the river where you'll see a nice collection of wildflowers in spring right on the edge of the trail. I was lucky with the drizzle that they all had that extra sheen that comes with the moisture and most still had beads of water clinging onto their delicate forms. Glimpses of the river come into view and on a calm day like I had, the reflections on the surface of the water look really cool, especially when you get a stretch where the massive Karri trees on the other side are exposed.
Another great feature of the walk is the variety in bird life you'll see feeding and travelling along the river. The Pelicans seem to use it as their main highway, casually gliding up and down the gentle waters but there were plenty of other species if you stopped and looked around. Lots of finches and wrens were busy in the Paperbarks but were very tricky to photograph and I accidentally spooked a Little Pied Cormorant as I rounded a corner, it making a hasty exit along the river. If you are interested, there is a great resource from Birds WA about what you can find in the Denmark area that can be located here. As you approach closer to town and the South West Hwy bridge, there is a section to the right of the trail that is inundated during the wetter months and is home to a melody of green tones. From grasses to reeds to mosses and lichens, this was another pretty special place that was highlighted by a pop of purple thanks to the wildflowers that are found along this stretch. If this was my daily walk then I would be a very happy person and with the cooler climate of the south coast meaning more chances of rain compared with Perth, I would be in heaven.