Friday, 27 September 2019

Kawana Walk (Dryandra Woodlands National Park)


One of the shorter family friendly trails in Dryandra Woodlands National Park, the Kawana Trail explores the forest immediately adjacent to the Lions Dryandra Woodlands Village. Heading through a mix of Brown Mallet and Wandoo woodlands as well as dryandra-filled heath, this pleasant trail is all the more vibrant and special during Western Australia's wildflower season



Distance: 3.3 km (loop)
Gradient: Fairly even and easy, with very minor ascents and descents in places
Quality of Path: Clear and easy to follow path - mix of purpose built walk trail with sections along a vehicle tracks
Quality of Signage: Well signed over its entire length
Experience Required: No Previous Bushwalking Experience Required
Time: <1 Hours
Steps: No formal steps
Best Time to Visit: Late Winter-Late Spring
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The trail starts at Lions Dryandra Woodlands Village. From York-Williams Rd head east on Tomingley Rd for 9.4 kilometres then turn left into Dryandra Woodlands Village. Parking and trailhead located to the east of the road opposite the village.



On my way home from an excellent time in Fitzgerald River National Park, the lack of any longer trails left to do meant I had the opportunity to fit in some other walking opportunities on the way home. With limited trails between Fitzgerald River and Perth that I've not yet done, the plentiful trails of Dryandra Woodlands were calling. Although Alissa and I had enjoyed the woodland scenery when we last visited to do the Woylie Walk, it had been close to three years since I last visited the park and my plan had been to make up for lost time by completing the long Lol Gray Walk Trail. Being by myself and with the start of the walking looking poorly marked, I took this uninviting start as a sign to tackle something else instead, and with the 3.3 kilometre Kawana Walk starting from the same trailhead it seemed like as good a walk to do as any other. 



I was immediately taken by the stunning forest scenery on offer. Compared to the often samey (and regularly burnt) scenery of the Jarrah forest, I've always loved how Dryandra Woodlands features a greater diversity in canopy species - particularly the very pretty smooth barked varieties of Eucalypt. Brown Mallet is the main tree in the area, and while it was heavily logged in the past due to its high tannic content being prized for the tanning of leathers and its strength making excellent tool handles, the trees in the area are taller and more mature than many of the thinner examples seen throughout the park. 



Given how relatively thin Brown Mallet is, it was really interesting to see one with a large burl along its side. This is relatively uncommon sight through the mallet woodlands, and it was thus an early highlight of the trail. 



Less impressive but equally interesting was the remnant stump of a much larger tree that used to be in the area. Grey and faded with the middle burnt out, it was sad to think about how much larger and more mature the forest would have been through this area, and yet in a lot of ways Dryandra is much more of a safe haven for native flora and fauna than the surrounding farmland.



Reaching a trail junction, the first of the Kawana Trail's markers made an appearance. While sparse compared to some other trails like the Bibbulmun Track, these markers are well placed and frequent enough that it is very easy to follow. 



While Brown Mallet's tannins make for a relatively inhospitable understory for many species, what species do grow in the woodlands put on a spectacular show during the wildflower season. These wildflowers make the walk; in a lot of ways the Kawana Walk is pretty samey when it comes to scenery, and it is the wildflowers that give it a lot more detail and interest. As such, I thoroughly recommend saving the trail for wildflower season to see it at its best. 




Continuing along the walk, the trail is a mix of purpose built single file walk trail and vehicle tracks, with trail junctions often being the point of transition between the two styles. 


  
As always, the single file walk track is the superior experience of the two, and the stretches walking through the open woodlands on walk trail were absolutely glorious. 



Again, the myriad of wildflowers made for extremely engaging walking, or as Mark from the Life of Py might say, the devil is really in the detail. 


  



After some fine single file walk trail walking, the Kawana Walk reaches a broad stretch of vehicle service/fire break trail and then turns left to head along the trail. 



Thankfully the fire trail walking is brief before returning to narrower trails through the woodlands. At this point of the walk, Wandoo became more dominant than Brown Mallet, which was perfectly fine by me as it is one of my favourite Eucalypts.



While there were some minor slopes through the first 500 metres of the walk, the trail is mostly gentle until just towards the end of the walk when the landscape becomes a bit more geographically varied, with a number of ephemeral gullies alongside the track. The area had a strong similarity in appearance to the Wandoo sections along the Eagle View Walk Trail in John Forrest National Park, as well as some of the similar looking slopes in the nearby Boyagin Rock Nature Reserve



Not far from the end, the trail rises up it steepest climb along a moderate ascent, before turning to then run parallel to the road and reach the end of the loop at the trailhead. 



Recently I had a discussion with friends about sameness on a trail, and we agreed that sameness is a great test of your own personal preferences for scenery. I for example am quite happy to walk fairly repetitive coastal scenery while I find repetitive Jarrah forest walking mind-numbingly dull, while Mark from the Life of Py leans more towards the opposite view. In a lot of ways, the Kawana Walk is quite a repetitive walk with very little in the way of broad, sweeping scenic variation over its length, however I really enjoyed this short trail. I love smooth barked Eucalypts, the tidy appearance of the sparse understory and forest that is not horribly burnt, so this was definitely up my alley, and the wildflowers made it all the more spectacular. While a slight walk given its 3.3 kilometre walk, this is nevertheless an enjoyable trail with lovely woodland scenery and one I would recommend to people who enjoy the forest types on display in the Dryandra Woodlands.

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