So you live in Perth and want a 4X4 weekend getaway. Look no further than the charming forest village of Dwellingup nestled under towering jarrah trees.
This feature was originally published in 4x4 Australia’s February 2011 issue
Once a timber town, Dwellingup was incinerated in 1961 when 26 lightning strikes ignited an inferno that also eliminated the mill town of Nanga. Today, it’s all about the heritage of the area, and with Lane Poole Reserve to the south offering a number of water-based activities on the Murray River, Dwellingup has a lot to offer.
Start with a visit to the information centre to pick up a copy of the Nanga Heritage Circuit trip notes, a must to avoid getting lost in the spider web of tracks. The Forest Heritage Centre is worth a look around and if you like camping with creature comforts, then the Dwellingup Chalets and Caravan Park is the place to stay.
For a more basic camping experience, Lane Poole offers a number of excellent campgrounds along the river. Baden Powell and Chuditch are great for tents and camper trailers; Nanga Mill is better for caravans (pick a site by the river).
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With something for everyone in the family to do, the four-wheel drivers can set off knowing they won’t be keeping anyone waiting.
From Dwellingup, the road becomes unsealed about 9km into Lane Poole, near the Baden Powell campground; continue by following the signs toward Nanga Mill, travelling about 12km along an extraordinarily scenic drive. The circuit (and trip notes) start at Dingo Road, where you should stop to engage 4X4 and set your odometer to zero before turning right.
Follow those trip notes like a bible, and do take the time to stop and examine the numerous heritage sites. There are old trestle bridges tucked high up in the tree canopy, and decaying timber tracks and tramways cutting your path.
In some sections, the track narrows to a corridor of branches and the odd deep pothole filled with water can get you into strife if caution isn’t used. Watch for wildlife: emus sometimes bolt down the track in front of your fourby as if leading a convoy.
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After about 39km you’ll veer right onto King Jarrah Form, and you will need to watch carefully for markings carved into tree trunks and stumps. You’ll cross the King Jarrah Walk Trail and after another 6km the circuit ends and you will return on Dawn Creek Road.
When it is warm, rafting, canoeing, swimming and fishing on the Murray River are all great fun. The 1000km-long Bibbulmun Track traverses the reserve, as do many other walking tracks. For mountain bikers, there is a 10km loop and also a section of the Munda Biddi Trail.
The place is fun, it is pretty, and it is nearby. So pack up those toys and head south-east of Perth for a weekend getaway that you will want to return to again and again.
WHEN TO GO
Anytime that the track is dry and/or open.
50km, or 105km return from Dwellingup.
Travel 100km south-east of Perth via the Mitchell Freeway, turning east on Mundijong Road then south on the South Western Highway, branch south on Del Park Road to Dwellingup.
Dwellingup Information Centre (pick up trip notes here): S32°42’46” E116°03’44”
Dingo Road/start of circuit: S32°48’19” E116°05’34”.
WHAT TO BRING
Food and water, recovery gear
4X4 with high clearance
Very narrow track in some sections. Travel circuit in a clockwise direction (and hope no one comes along the other way!) Deep potholes, limited pull-outs, no U-turns.
CAMPING & ACCOMMODATION
Numerous campgrounds (toilets only) in Lane Poole Reserve, Dwellingup DEC office; 08 9538 1078, dec.wa.gov.au.
Dwellingup Chalets and Caravan Park; 08 9538 1157, dwellingupcaravanpark.com.au.
Dwellingup History and Visitors Information Centre, 08 9538 1108, murray.wa.gov.au.
Nanga Heritage Circuit trip notes – essential to avoid getting lost.
Guide to Lane Poole Reserve, Dwellingup
DEC Nanga topographic map
Captain Fawcett Commemorative 4X4 Track, running south for 105km from Dawn Creek Road to Quin Danning Inn, near Boddington.