Mount Adelaide Nature trail
Directions - The trail head is weirdly located in one of the bigger car parks near the Anzac Centre on the corner of Apex Dr and Forts Rd. Look for the two big information boards and if completing the walk in an anti-clockwise direction start heading towards Forts Rd.
The Hike - Having completed the Bibbulmun Track, I decided to book a couple of extra days in Albany to relax and enjoy one of my favourite towns in WA. With some drizzly weather forecast for at least the morning, I was looking forward to lounging around my quirky AirBnB in my pajamas and drinking lots of coffee while I watched the rain. All went to plan in the early hours of the morning but then the sun came out and I soon started to feel like heading outside and seeing more of Albany. With my car in a delicate position of maybe starting, maybe not starting, I was left with walking as my only option of getting around. Having been walking 20-30km a day for five days, I had plenty of energy in the legs so made a quick plan to head up and do a loop walk to Middleton Beach, mainly so I could write-up the Ellen Cove to Albany Port walk for the website.
With proper clothes on and a rough idea of where to go I headed into town and up towards the Anzac Centre. I had previously walked the Mount Clarence Heritage Trail on a visit in 2017 so decided to take in the Mount Adelaide Nature Trail that loops around the bottom part of the granite hills. The walk from town is all uphill and a good way to get the blood pumping and I noticed they had started prepping for the mountain bike races that were organised for the upcoming weekend. Having to take the less scenic route to the Anzac Centre meant I skipped Apex Drive and the beautiful trees planted to honour fallen WWI soldiers. I reached the car park that serves as the pretty uninspiring trail head and had a look at the information board that shows you the various plants and animals found on the granite hills around Albany. Figuring that the Anzac Centre would be nice to see first, I headed off along the path on Forts Rd towards the very impressive building that is the Anzac Centre. There is a lot of history throughout this area from old gun towers to a museum so if you have an extra hour or so then it is worth checking out. Having visited the Anzac Centre on my 2015 trip, I can say that it was a very moving experience and made all the better by being up on the hill and having the view of King George Sound where the ships would have left on their journey to war.
With the good weather, the views from this area were looking fantastic and was a great reminder of why I love Albany. The granite domes and islands all around the harbour provide a dramatic landscape and Albany's fickle weather conditions certainly add to that (more of that in the next post). There were a good amount of people around, enough to make it not feel like a ghost town and and not enough to make it feel crowded. Just past the collection of old guns and missile launchers I found the correct path heading off towards the Middleton Beach direction. A dual use trail for the most part, the Mount Adelaide Nature Trail skirts the sides of the hill and doesn't actually take you to the top of Mount Adelaide. There is a sign pointing you off on another trail to reach the summit but for life of me I can't remember why I didn't take it. I think I had my bearings off and thought I would eventually reach the excellent Convoy Lookout but this didn't turn out to be the right assumption. Luckily the views along the regular trail are still pretty good when you get a clearing and my eyes were busy scanning the sides of the trail for wildflowers and orchids. While some wildflowers appeared, there was a disappointing amount considering the last five days on the Bibbulmun had been through similar terrain and was a riot of colour everywhere.
As I rounded the corner on the eastern side of the walk, the views overlooking Ellen Cove and King George Sound were simply stunning. Some dramatic looking clouds were rolling in and the whole vista was looking extremely photogenic. With no one around I took my time photographing the scene ahead of me and came across a nice wooden platform from which to do this. I had expected this to just follow the dual use trail all the way around to the start with a short single track section linking it all up so was pleasantly surprised to find the trail ducking off into the trees on a narrow path. The wildflowers that were missing from the early part were found in abundance here so I was a happy hiker. The character of the trail changed dramatically here and the exposed feeling of the earlier section, although necessary to get the great views, was replaced with a calmer and more relaxed tone as you meandered past granite rocks and through the thick tree cover. As it continued along I could see glimpses of the houses down near Middleton Beach and started to prematurely think about how I was going to get down there to start my next walk. The trail pops back out onto the dual use trail and I was on the home stretch on what was the first of many great trail adventures that day.
The signage here gets a bit confusing with one of the wooden signs pointing you up the hill and back towards the start while another one close by has you continuing along the dual use trail. I looked at my GPS and surmised that the trail up the hill was the correct one and followed that. Nearby I was intrigued by some very yellow looking trees that looked like they had been sprayed but on closer inspection it appeared to be a natural phenomenon, perhaps a lichen that has developed that particular colour over time. The last little section on single trail up the hill was a lovely way to finish and contained a few more wildflowers that I hadn't seen on the walk so far including a Native Geranium and a Southern Cross. At the top of the hill I reached the trail head again and found a cyclist pulling a small trailer full of trail markers. She was extra friendly, asking me about my walk and then I remembered seeing a post of Facebook telling all mountain bikers to put on a happy trail persona as there were some issues between walkers and cyclists in the area in recent weeks. She wished me a good day and headed off to continue setting up for the mountain bike festival that was taking place the next day. I appreciated the friendly if somewhat over the top nature and thought we should all just be like that all the time.