Mount FRankland South National Park
South Western Hwy
Directions - From the centre of Walpole, head west on South Western Hwy for 28km until you see the small sign for Mt Burnett. Take a right here and park in the rest area. The trail starts on the southern side with a new information board showing a map.
The Hike - With changed plans on a day exploring around Walpole, I was ticking off a few trails on my to-hike list. As chance would have it, as I was checking out at the Tingle All Over Backpackers I noticed a Walks Around Walpole paper brochure on the desk so had a bit of a look. The only place noted was Mount Burnett and based on the location, I wasn't sure it was going to be the best. As I passed it heading out to Mount Pingerup, it looked nothing more than a rest stop on the side of South Western Hwy but given it's close proximity to Mount Pingerup, I decided to check it out after that hike. Parking up in the rest stop area, it actually looked quite promising with wildflowers dotting all around the car park.
The limited information I had on this trail suggested it was a very short trail and I initially expected this to be a little loop to a granite outcrop. Reaching the trail head and the relatively new looking information board, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was longer than expected and the type of terrain ahead looked very nice. The little map showed a creek crossing and a small granite hill that the trail looped around with one of the local beetles perhaps hinting that more of him could be found at the creek crossing based on his position on the map. It's always the trails where you have low expectations that impress the most and this one was shaping up to be a nice little walk. Descending the small hill, through lovely looking forest filled with Blue Squills and many other wildflowers, I reached the low lying area that you wouldn't know was there driving past. Passage through the reeds and tall grasses is provided by a section of boardwalk that also keeps your feet dry in the wetter months when the water course here is flowing (and also protects the environment). Being springtime there was an amazing display of wildflowers sprouting up everywhere and the variety was already greater than Mount Pingerup.
Standing in the middle of the boardwalk with the sound of the creek water gurgling away, it was cool to look up and down where the creek flowed and see nothing but grass. These natural flood plains are common in this part of the state and the trees really don't like growing there. Prevalent all throughout this area were some fluffy looking White Banjine, plenty of Pink Boronia and a few Acacia varieties. The chorus of frog ribbits was strong but finding one to photograph was hard so I continued along the boardwalk as it reached the edges of the forest. The quality through here continued with the trail leading to the point where the loop section starts lined with more wildflowers than you could poke a stick at. With a nice canopy overhead, these were perfect conditions for the forest floor to spring into life thanks to the shadier conditions. Reaching a fork in the trail, the walking man points you to the right to start the loop and I was in no mood to argue so headed in that direction. Finding flowering Hakea, Grannys Bonnets, Hovea, Petrophiles, Chorizema rhombeum, Yellow Flag and more Blue Squills, the variety was some of the best I've seen on a trail in terms of sheer difference within a short stretch.
Reaching a large section of the lower granite slope that makes up the bulk of Mount Burnett, the exposed rock is a nice change. Still containing the green moss that loves growing in whatever free covering of soil that it can survive in, it looked very pretty in the morning sun. Skirting the base of the granite, it isn't long before you reach the forested section again and a return to the brilliant wildflowers. I'm not joking when I say I was genuinely expecting a new variety of wildflower around every bend and the trail pretty much delivered. I don't have the space on this post to put in every wildflower that I saw but the number of different types I photographed was 28 and I'm sure I missed quite a few more. Rising up to the highest point along the trail at 82m ASL (the creek is only 36m ASL), you enter a patch of really old forest with some super thicc boi trees. I love walking through forest like this where it's been left to it's own devices over the years and can grow to this size. Passing some rogue granite boulders, there was a nice Tassel Flower growing right in front of one that provided a nice contrast of new and very old. The trail feels like it winds around a lot but that just adds to the enjoyment as you never know what you'll discover around the next corner.
What I did discover around the corner was pretty cool with a Spider Orchid catching my attention in the undergrowth. After walking the Cape to Cape the previous week, my eyes were well trained to pick up the different wildflowers and orchids in the undergrowth so when I notice something unusual, most of the time it's one of the rarer orchids. Having not seen a Spider Orchid on Mount Pingerup, this put a smile on my dial and I spent quite a bit of time here on all fours trying to get some good photos of this variety (not sure of the exact name of this one). Chuffed by the find, my mind began thinking of all the possibilities of what laid ahead. Was I going to find a super rare orchid that I could name? Most likely not as this was a defined path that I'm sure they did a very good flora study on before installing but one can dream. Starting to descend, I reached a really cool granite platform that I guess you could call the summit, even if it was below the highest point of the hill. The reason for this is you get better views from this spot over the surrounding forest and across to surrounding hills, Mount Pingerup being one of them.