Wellington National Park
Directions - Located within Wellington National Park, Potters Gorge Campsite is well signed from the highway leading into the park. The trail head is located off the paved road leading down towards the water. Trail markers are orange for the Sika Trail.
The Hike - With my place of residence being taken over by a bunch of rowdy hens for the night I was asked to vacate home and seek alternative accommodation for the night. I took this as an opportunity to head out into the wilderness and perhaps get a hike or two in while I was there. Wellington National Park was meant to be a destination I visited earlier in the year on my annual South West road trip but due to my car issues I had to scrap the drive out here. With three decent sized hikes in the area and a couple of photogenic water bodies in Wellington Dam and the Collie River, this is one area I was looking forward to exploring.
2019 Update - Wellington National Park has undergone some serious prescribed burns over the last year (plus some flare-ups that resulted in more fires) so the area is not as pristine as it appears in the photos. Hopefully it will recover in the next few years but the soft grey Jarrah will be replaced by blackened trunks for at least another five years.
After helping setup for the party I packed my own gear in the car and set off for the two and a half hour drive out near Collie. The weather was perfect for late December with temps in the mid 20s for the Saturday and overnight rain turning into chance of a shower on the Sunday. I arrived at the newly renovated Potters Gorge just before 3pm and selected a camping spot in the unusually quiet (for a Saturday night) campsite. With four hours to complete the 10km Sika Trail before sunset I wasn't too fussed about pace so eventually wandered down to the start of the loop, dodging many a Jewel Spider (Christmas Spider) along the way.
For no particular reason I decided to do this trail clockwise and I was immediately greeted with some stunning Jarrah forest and a surprising amount of wildflowers for early summer. Every now and then you would get a glimpse of the shimmering water of Wellington Dam but the real treat in this area are the slopes of tall Jarrah trees and the mature undergrowth. Donovan and I have discussed at length the merits of Jarrah forest on Real Trail Talk and how awful it can be when it's constantly burnt out all the time so it was refreshing to see a patch where it has not been touched by the ravages of fire and brimstone. There was a nice canopy, the tree trunks weren't as black as the night sky and the undergrowth as I mentioned was a nice thick carpet but not overbearing like regrowth forest can get.
The trail follows the contours of the landscape, which was a nice bit of trail design and I came across a patch of what I suspect is not a native plant variety to the area. A thick covering of ivy like leaves washed over a section of the forest floor and being summer I appreciated the high levels of greenery still lurking around. After an enjoyable first kilometre you arrive at the car park for the Kiosk and a chance to grab a snack or two if you are feeling peckish. I had other business here as I had forgotten to grab some cash for the camping fees so popped in for a visit to pay via card, which they were more than happy to accommodate. With camping fees paid I headed back to where I left the trail and continued on my journey, this time along one of the many wider paths that take both hikers and mountain bike riders in comfort.
This trail is a dual use trail and judging by the tyre marks found along the trail, it is well used so be wary of traffic and don't hog the space. One creature I was happy not to be sharing the trail with was a group of Christmas Spiders that had constructed elaborate webs in the bushes nearby. Happy to photograph them from a distance and not get a face full of spider web I moved on to one of the long stretches of uninterrupted Jarrah forest. The thick Jarrah forest is broken up by a brief trip across Pipeline Rd where you get a break in the canopy and you get your first sighting of the water pipeline that runs from Wellington Dam to the surrounding areas (I think it is used by the local mines).