Saturday, 24 October 2015

Bibbulmun Track (WA) - Inglehope Rail Crossing to Nanga Rd

A relatively easy day on the Bibbulmun Track, this sectional day walk follows an old rail formation from Inglehope Rail Crossing to Dwellingup, passing many historic sites along the way. Morning walkers can be treated to the Hotham Valley train passing by near the Track, with Dwellingup offering some good dining options before the trail continues on through lush jarrah forests to Nanga Rd. 

Distance: 18 km (one way)
Gradient: Relatively flat with a few minor ascents and descents. 
Quality of Path: Generally clear and well maintained. 
Quality of Signage: Well signed, with the Waugal providing very clear directional information. 
Experience Required: Other than distance, this section is easy and could be walked with little to no Bushwalking Experience
Time: 5 Hours, including lunch in town
Steps: Some steps in places, particularly alongside the rail formation but relatively short.
Best Time to Visit: Late Winter/Early Spring
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The Inglehope Rail Crossing is on Inglehope Rd off Pinjarra-William Rd 10km east of Dwellingup. The turn off is signed by not overly clear. The Nanga Rd crossing is however very easily identified, with Bibbulmun Track signs indicating where the Track intersects the road. 

After getting a bit confused trying to find the turn off for Driver Rd to complete the section of the Bibbulmun that Murray Campsite is part of, Alissa and I regrouped to try Inglehope Rail Crossing to Nanga Rd via Dwellingup instead. The turn off for Inglehope Rd was much easier to find, with the railway line making the access point very clear. With ample parking for our car, we followed the tracks as they headed west towards Dwellingup. 

The section immediately after the Inglehope Rd access point is literally on the tracks, as trains no longer run on this stretch of the train line. Just before reaching an area where the ground has literally fallen out beneath the metal tracks, the Bibbulmun veers left, and continues adjacent to the train line for some time. 

This area has some lovely examples of what we assumed to be Wandoo. As with our last walk in the Dwellingup area, we were very impressed by the lushness of the forests compared to further north.

The track up to Dwellingup is very easy, but what it lacks in physical challenge is more than made up for by its historic value. The track passes by the rail platform for Etmilyn, a station still used by the Hotham Valley Forest Railway - the last still operating developmental railway in Western Australia. 

Walkers who time their arrival right will be in for a treat - being able to watch the Forest Train as it heads along the railroad tracks to Etmylin. 

Even though it travels fairly slowly compared to mass transit trains, walkers should be able to encounter the train again as it returns back to Dwellingup. 

As the Bibbulmun approached the former townsite of Holyoake, the track becomes slightly more winding and hilly, and eventually rises up an easy set of stairs to head along an old vehicle track. 

At this point the track passes by what used to be the town of Holyoake - one of many towns completely razed by a serious, catastrophic fire in 1961 that all but killed the timber industry for the area. As a result, few returned to these townsites, with some introduced plants and wooden signs being the only markers of what once was. 

As the track heads closer to Dwellingup it passes through some wetter areas, and walking the trail in Springtime is well worth it for the myriad of colours on display. There are many houses in this section and even a cider house for those considering taking a detour for a quick tipple. 

Eventually, the vehicle track reaches sealed roads, with the Waugal markers leading walkers into town. 

Passing by the Dwellingup Visitor's Centre, the area provides walkers with an interest in rail history and chance to see some old carriages and train paraphernalia on display. The Visitor's Centre itself is worth popping into, with a display on Dwellingup's pioneer era including a giant Mack Fire Truck. 

From the Visitor's Centre, the track passes through Dwellingup, which features a lovely rose garden near the middle of town. 

For walkers doing an End to End, Dwellingup is the first real track town and an IGA is conveniently located literally along the track. 

When in town, we like to visit the Blue Wren Cafe as they offer a good selection of hearty fare, and even cater to dietary requirements. Many of the cafes around town are very busy on weekends with many walkers, cyclists and motorcyclists down for the weekend popping in for lunch. 

After stopping for lunch, Alissa and I continued along the Track. Just before leaving town, the track passes by what we presume to be a replica of the kind of huts sleeper cutters slept in. 

The track beyond is very much in keeping with the lush Jarrah forests we have come to expect from the Dwellingup area. Along the way walked by the roots of a massive fallen tree and we were intrigued by how the roots had come out so neatly. 

That walk to Nanga Rd seemed to go on for quite a while, although in reality it was only about 70 minutes all up from the Sleeper Cutter's Hut. The Nanga Rd crossing is a good spot for a car shuffle, as there is ample space on the side of the road to park up a vehicle. 

Although fairly long in kilometres, this is an easy day on the track and would be suitable for those looking to extend their distance while maintaining a relatively flat gradient. While there is some nice forest walking in this section, the main attraction is definitely the historic element and I would thoroughly recommend walking this section on a weekend morning in Spring to get the best of the wildflowers, accompanied by views of the Hotham Valley Train as its chugs along its tracks. 


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