Balmoral POW Camp – Three Mountains Walk overview

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  • Main features / Highlights

    This mostly on-track 29km circuit walk is longer than others on WalkGPS and so includes a night camping at the popular Monadnocks Campsite on the Bibbulmun Track. The walk begins and ends at the historic Balmoral POW Camp, 10km ESE of Jarrahdale township. It enables walkers to enjoy arguably the best section of walking in the northern jarrah forest within the Monadnocks Conservation Park, including ascents of Mounts Randall, Cuthbert and Vincent and the splendid views from these. Interesting outcrops and giant boulders, some ‘hidden’ in the surrounding forest, can also be located in several places along the route. The route includes 7km walking on the Bibbulmun Track within the Monadnocks CP  east of Albany Highway and 10km along the Balmoral Track through state forest west of the Highway. The other 12km includes 2km of off-track walking, but is mainly easy walking along pleasant old forestry tracks plus about 3km of easy walking on a minor gravelled road shared with the Munda Biddi Mountain Bike Trail. The best time to do the walk is in springtime, during the peak wildflower season when the jarrah forest comes alive with colour especially along the Balmoral Track. Groves of giant grasstrees (Kingia australis) can also be spotted in a number of locations along the Track.

    The Monadnocks Campsite (which includes a 3-sided shelter; at waypoint ’20’) on the Bibbulmun Track is located after the initial 11.5km of the walk. See Nearest campsite/s below for more info.

    Enjoy this overnighter walk while you can; sadly bauxite mining is likely to commence across the state forest area west of Albany Highway within the next five years and will most likely destroy the Balmoral Track and this circuit walk opportunity, unless EPA and government recognise the growing importance of near-natural areas such as this as an irreplaceable social amenity for Perth’s growing population and for nature-based tourism centred around nearby Jarrahdale.

    Before departing after the walk, have a wander around the remnants of the historic Balmoral POW Camp on the 500m loop trail (see Other info.) to learn a little of the interesting history of this camp. During 1943 and 1944, Italians from North Africa were shipped to Australia and sent to POW camps, including this one near Jarrahdale. Remnant foundations of a pump house and washhouse/ablution block, drainage system and a fireplace chimney of the former mess hall can be seen.

    The walk overlaps in part with the Three Mountains and Two Mountains – Randall, Cuthbert Day Walks and with a short section of the Mount Randall Walk.

    Shortened (19km) walk option: Groups can do a car shuffle at the start of the walk to leave a vehicle at the east end of the Balmoral Track, at the Sullivan Rock carpark to either reduce the walk distance by bypassing the Balmoral Track and/or to offload backpacks before commencing the final 10km along the Balmoral Track. See Directions notes.

  • Route notes

    From the start point (at waypoint ‘START’) at the carpark at the historic Balmoral POW Camp walk, follow Balmoral Rd eastward from ‘1’ to the junction with Frollett Rd on the left. Follow Frollet Rd northward for 200m and at ‘3’ veer right to follow Bulldozer Rd (also shared with the Munda Biddi Mountain Bike Trail) NE-ward. After 1km, at ‘4’ locate the entry to an old forestry track on the right. Follow the track eastward for 1.8km to reach a T-junction with a N-S track at ‘5’. Cross the track and continue ENE-ward off-track through quite open forest (mainly mixed jarrah and bull banksia) and soon cross a stream course. Reach an old gravel pit at ‘5-1’ and veer left through heathland to reach a vehicle track at ‘6’. Turn left to follow this old forestry track initially northward. Notice the distinctive stands of grey-white-trunked Bullich (Eucalyptus megacarpa) along the valley floor to the left. The track curves to the right (eastward) after ‘6-1’. Low-lying swampy heathlands can be glimpsed through the forest on the left. At ‘6-2’ the track turns left (NNE) and climbs gently through the forest. After 600m, at ‘7’, veer left (NW) off-track through heathland to reach a nearby small, low granite outcrop at ‘7-1’ which makes a good spot for a rest-stop. Continue NNW off-track to another nearby low outcrop at ‘8’. (Or see Option 1 below for an alternative route from ‘7-1’ to ‘12’ through an impressive forest area.) Then veer right (NNE) and soon ascend through forest to rejoin the forestry track at ‘9’. Veer left to follow the track uphill for ~ 300m. At ‘about ‘10’, or when the track starts curving left (westward), turn right and head off-track northward upslope through mixed forest to reach at ‘11’ 37 Mile Rd (and the Munda Biddi MBT). Follow this minor gravelled road initially NE-ward. At ’11-1’ obtain a good view of the rocky summit of Mt Randall, 2km ENE. The road then curves eastward. Scaffold Rd joins from the right at ‘12’. Continue NE-ward along 37 Mile Rd. Cross a track junction at 37 Mile Rd (the Munda Biddi MBT takes the track to the left) to soon reach Albany Hwy at ‘13’. Cross the Highway and head ENE off-track and initially gently upslope through open forest via ’13-1’ to meet an old forestry track at ‘14’ after 1km. Follow the track ENE. It soon flattens. Turn left at about ’15’ to follow a more recent (2020) roughly bulldozed sidetrack. (Or see Option 2 below to explore a nearby area of interesting large boulders and cave.) Pass around the soil mound at the end of this short bulldozed track and continue northward uphill (via ‘15-1’) through forest that is recovering from a hot prescribed burn in 2020. Try to follow the remnants of an old foot-track which is marked by occasional small cairns. (This popular foot-track was temporarily obliterated by debris from the 2020 prescribed burn.) Pass near the foot of a large, steeply sloping outcrop on the right and at ‘16’ turn left (westward) to climb a small gully between large granite boulders. Turn left again to reach a marvellous vantage point at ‘17’ at the top of the outcrop just below the summit of Mt Randall. The panoramic view to the SSE across Mounts Cuthbert, Vincent and Cooke is one of the best in the Darling Range and you can see the terrain along much of the walk route from this single location. Optionally, make the short climb to ’17-1’ near the boulder-strewn summit area of Mt Randall, from where there is another good view southward. Return to ‘17’ and then walk northward along the outcrop to ‘18’. Then turn right to descend down a short granite rock slope and follow another foot-track NE-ward along a broad ridge. The track is a little indistinct in places though small rock cairns have been placed as occasional markers. It turns eastward at ’18-1’ and continues through open forest, and soon descends via Mt Randall’s eastern ridge. Veer SE at ‘19’ to cross an open, low-lying area bordered by dense shrubland and at ’19-1’ – where the foot-track may be less distinct – pick a way through the fringing shrubland to soon reach at ‘26’ the Monadnocks Campsite (3-sided shelter). Camp here overnight.  Next morning, follow the Track generally SE-ward from the campsite. (The Bibbulmun Track is marked by ‘Waugal’ markers, with black ‘serpent’ on yellow background). The track soon crosses an old vehicle track at ’20-1’, then after a further 2.5km reaches the large bald granite outcrop and rock cairn at ‘21’ near the summit of Mt Cuthbert. There are great sweeping views across the eastern Darling Range from here, including to the distinctive, cone-shaped Mt Dale 25km north. The walk route now follows the Bibbulmun Track southward for 3.3km across the summits of Mounts Cuthbert and Vincent. After passing by the summit of Mt Vincent at ~’22’ the Track soon starts a steepish southward descent during which there is a good view of Mt Solus 12km SSW, plus part of ALCOA’s extensive bauxite mining now expanding rapidly across that part of the Darling Range. During the lower part of the descent, soon after re-entering the forest, the Bibbulmun Track bends sharply from westward to SE-ward to follow a spur ridge. At ‘23’ cross an old vehicle track to leave the Bibbulmun Track and head SW-ward along the spur track and across the large Sullivan Rock granite outcrop. Cross Albany Hwy at ‘24’ and cross through the Sullivan Rock carpark, partly following a short foot-track past a historic water well lined with rocks. Locate the signed Balmoral Track trail-head on the western side of the carpark (after ‘25’). (See Option 3 below for a shortened walk option involving an initial car shuffle.) Follow the Track initially generally westward. (The Balmoral Track is marked by ‘bootprint’ markers, on a black background, and in places also by yellow triangles and yellow fluor paint blazes on occasional protruding rocks. Tree branches are also frequently aligned along the track edges to help follow the track where it can become quite indistinct on the often gravelly surface.) After 500m, at ‘26’ reach an old rail formation track. Turn right to follow the form. track NNW-ward for 1km to ‘27’. Then turn left at the trail markers and follow the foot-track westward, soon reaching a gentle outcrop at ‘28’. This is a picturesque spot for a rest-stop in winter and spring, with sizeable rock pools fringed by mosses, and the backdrop of Mt Vincent, 1.75km ENE. Continue generally westward, crossing a forestry track in a valley at ‘29’.  The Track crosses further small valleys at ‘30’ and ’30-1’ separated by gentle ridges. Spot the nice grove of tall grass trees along the way.  It then descends through mixed jarrah and bull banksia forest to reach Herold Rd at ‘31’. (Note the often hard rocky ground and pea gravel associated with the laterite surface along this part of the track; suggesting this area will be a likely target for the proposed widespread bauxite strip-mining that has been proposed to commence around 2025.) Turn left to follow Herold Rd to its junction with Millars Log Rd at ‘32’, passing another group of tall grass trees on the right. Veer right to follow Millars Log Rd for only 100m to the Track markers on the right at ‘33’. Leave the road here, veering right to follow an old timber rail formation track WNW through tall shrubland and heath flanking the southern bank of 39 Mile Brook. The Track eventually curves left (WSW) and passes through jarrah forest to reach a short branch of Frollett Rd at ‘34’, near another large Balmoral Track sign. Follow Frollett Rd via ‘35’ to the nearby junction with Balmoral Rd and turn right to return westward back to the Start point at the Balmoral POW Camp. Before departing, have a wander around the historic camp on the 500m loop trail (see Other info.) to learn a little of the interesting history of this camp.

    Option 1, Alternative route from ‘7-1’ to ‘12’ through an impressive forest area: Instead of continuing to ‘8’ etc after ‘7-1’, return to the track at ‘7’. Cross the track and head eastward uphill to meet another forestry track at ‘8-ALT’ after ~200m. Turn left to follow the track initially ENE-ward (notice a large marri on the left of the track at ‘LGE-MARRI’ and large jarrah nearby to the right). After 700m the track turns northward to join Scaffold Rd at ‘9-11ALT’. Follow Scaffold Rd to rejoin the described route at ‘12’. This option is slightly shorter than the described route and passes through some very nice forest, but bypasses the good view to Mt Randall.

    Option 2, Short detour to large boulders NE of ‘15’:  Instead of turning left at ‘15’ you can opt to veer NE off-track to reach a cluster of tall ‘sentinel’-like rocks including the striking ‘Fang Rock’ within 200m. Then head WNW roughly toward ’15-1’ and look for another large rock cluster and investigate the cave below one of the rocks. Rejoin the main route at about ’15-1’. This very worthwhile small off-track diversion doesn’t significantly add to the total walk distance. This is a popular area with boulderers.

    Option 3, Shortened (19km) walk option: Groups can do a car shuffle at the start of the walk to leave a vehicle at the east end of the Balmoral Track, at the Sullivan Rock carpark to either reduce the walk distance by bypassing the Balmoral Track and/or to offload backpacks before commencing the final 10km along the Balmoral Track. See Directions notes.

  • Access / Directions

    75.5km from Perth city.  South on Kwinana Fwy; Turn left into Mundijong Rd and follow east. Turn right South Western Hwy onto  Albany Hwy and then almost immediately after left onto Jarrahdale Rd. After passing through Jarrahdale township turn right onto Balmoral Rd,. Follow Balmoral Rd (initially sealed, then gravel) for 10.5km and turn right into the entry to historic Balmoral POW Camp, a short distance before the junction with Millars Log Rd and Frollett Rd. Ample space for several vehicles in the parking area.

    Note: For walkers in a group with at least two vehicles and preferring a short walk of only 7.5km on the second day, a car shuffle could be done to leave a vehicle at the east end of the Balmoral Track, at the Sullivan Rock carpark (~waypoint ’25’). Then use that vehicle to transport the groups (or just their back packs) back to the start point from Sullivan Rock on Day 2, bypassing the 10km pack carry along the Balmoral Track. In that case the best driving route to the start point on Day 1 would be via Albany Hwy and then Millars Log Rd from immediately south of Sullivan Rock. CAUTION: Be wary of leaving cars visible overnight at Sullivan Rock carpark as it is unfortunately a frequent target for car tampering and vandalism.

    Google Map

  • Nearest campsite/s

    Monadnocks Campsite: A 3-sided shelter on the Bibbulmun Track (at waypoint ’20’) is located after the initial 11.5km of the walk and provides the ideal overnight camping location. Amenities include potable tank water and toilet.

    NOTE: Bibbulmun Track sleeping shelter restrictions –  Check Overnighting on WalkGPS for info. on access to the Track shelters, especially if planning an overnighter for a group of 8 or more walkers.

  • Escape route/s

    West of Albany Hwy: Exit in NE to Albany Hwy via 37 Mile Rd. Exit to Balmoral Rd in SW. Exit to Millars Log Rd from Balmoral Track and then east to Albany Hwy or west to Balmoral Rd.

    East of Albany Hwy:  Bear west or southwest to Albany Highway.

  • Other Info.

    “Bibbulmun Track, Guidebook 1, Darling Range”.

    “Balmoral Trail”,  Jarrahdale Heritage Society – downloadable map (pdf)

    “Jarrahdale Tracks and Trails”, Jarrahdale Heritage Society booklet.

    “Monadnocks Conservation Park”, DBCA – Parks and Wildlife site – Unfortunately this provides no significant information and no management plan appears to exist for the Park as yet.

    “WWII Prisoner of War Camp Trail”, Jarrahdale Heritage Society – downloadable map (pdf)

    “Perth Rock Climbing Guide”, Climbers’ Association of W.A., 2010 (2nd ed.) – Includes a climbers’ perspective on the granite ‘slabs’ and boulders of Mount Cuthbert, Mount Vincent and Mount Randall.

    Trivia: What is a “monadnock”? (Click on link for answer.)

    Other map availability

    South West WA 25K Scale Topo Maps”, Greg Harewood & Landgate, 2015.  – Digital raster; ECW format on 16GB USB. See tiles #301-2133-III-NE, #303-2133-III-SE, #306-2133-II-NW and #308-2133-II-SW for relevant map coverage.

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