Main features / Highlights
This walk is a relatively short and easy ramble mostly through picturesque, open wandoo woodlands, with some shorter sections of jarrah forest. Seventy percent of the route (the area east of Yarra Road) lies within one of the very scarce areas of remnant old growth forest. At present that area is still part of the State Forest and is not included in the nearby Wandoo National Park. It will hopefully be protected into the future by the proposed 3360ha ‘Russell Conservation Park’ as flagged under the current draft Forest Management Plan 2013-2023. Bauxite mining expansion plans to the SE remain a future threat. (See Bauxite mining on WalkGPS.)
Christmas Tree Well near the picnic area at the Start point was one of the old watering holes used in the days of stage coach travel.
The route is over reasonably gentle terrain, with only a few modest slopes around the low, laterite-topped, forested hills. Expect a few short sections of low scratchy heath.
Meney & Brown, 1985 (see Other Info.) have previously noted of this walk area that “the character and form of the widely spaced virgin wandoo creates a most unique bush atmosphere which is a delight to any bushwalker”. There are only limited forest views from the low hillsides, but the beauty of the woodlands combined with the prolific wildflowers in late winter to spring more than compensates for the limited variety in the terrain. M.&B. also noted that this area lies within “the largest remaining woodland of uncut wandoo in the south west, and is therefore of immense conservation value.”
Longer walk option: This walk can be combined with the eastern portion of the Running Brook Walk for more variety in terrain and some good views.
Option for more valley walking: See the Route notes for details.
Head north from the start point (at waypoint ‘START’) for about 150m on a sandy track to ‘1’, then veer NE off-track though light forest and low heath, soon climbing gently uphill to reach a small granite tor at ‘1-1’ after about 500m. Continue NE across very gentle terrain and through mainly jarrah forest. Cross an old vehicle track at ‘1-2’ and after ‘2’ veer slightly right (ENE) and descend the hillside to cross a broad, open valley floor via ‘2-1’ to reach Yarra Road (at ‘3’) after 1.3km. Then head ENE for about 250m to reach a small, low granite outcrop (at ‘4’). Veer SE around the hillside via ‘4-1’ for about 300m, then at ‘5’ head eastward and gently downhill via ‘6’ for almost 1km, entering wandoo woodlands before reaching the broad, open valley floor. At ‘7’ veer NNE along the valley floor. Cross a small stream course at ‘8’ after about 250m, then head north down the valley for another 250m (to ‘9’). Then veer NNE to head uphill quite steeply to reach (after about 300m) more open wandoo woodlands on a ridge at ‘9-1’. Veer left (northward) to cross a small saddle and reach a small but prominent dome-shaped hill at ‘10’, which is almost unvegetated except for a few tall powderbark trees (M.& B. 1985 aptly noted that this hill resembles a “giant anthill”). Descend the ‘anthill’ in a ESE direction and in less than 200m reach another a small hill top, this time with a local capping of laterite rock (at ’11’). From here head approx. SSE for about 800m, initially crossing via ’11-1’ a small side valley through open woodland and then ascending gradually, partly through a patch of young Parrot Bush to cross the flanks of a laterite plateau via ‘11-2’ to the laterite breakaway at the SW edge (at ’12’). Head a short distance (100m) along the edge of the plateau to ’13’ where the scattered fallen logs and limited views SW across the valley make this a pleasant place for a rest stop, close to the halfway point on the walk. Then descend approx. SW down the slope below the breakaway for about 50m (to ’13-1′) and then veer left and generally SE-ward along slope and through open forest via ‘14’ for about 300m to ’15’. Then head due south for approx. 1.6km, initially descending toward the very open valley floor, then climbing (via ’15-2′, ’15-3’, ‘16’, ’16-1’) back along the more rocky slopes below the eastern laterite plateau, passing through some more woodland and crossing small granite outcrops, including a small rocky promontory at ’16-1′; finally descend through mixed forest and shrubland to reach a small, low granite outcrop surrounded by sheoaks at ‘17’. (Or see Option below if you would prefer more valley walking.) Head a short distance (approx. 50m) downslope to cross a stream course (at ’18’) and then veer approx. NW, through open woodland to cross (after 500m) another stream where it runs across granite bedrock (at ’19’). Veer right to head initially northward uphill (on the SE flank of the central hill in the area). Then turn left (westward) to climb gently across the slope to reach a small rocky outcrop near ’21’. Head northward upslope to ‘22’, then turn left to head westward along slope, around the hillside for about 1 km via ‘22-1’ and ‘22-2’ through mixed forest. At ’23’ begin descending gradually NW-ward to reach the very open valley floor after 500m (at ’24’). Then head WNW to re-cross Yarra Road after 400m. Continue WNW another 400m (to ’26’) climbing gently back into mixed forest. Then veer approx. WSW and follow the gentle slope of the hillside for about 750m via ‘26-1’ and ‘26-2’. Continue westward to ’27’. Then veer SW to soon meet (at ’28’) the short track back to the start point at the picnic area.
Option for more valley walking: The slightly more rugged hillside along the SE part of the route between ‘15-1’ and ‘17’ can be bypassed by heading directly from ‘15’ to ‘19’. In this case after reaching ‘15’, descend southward to the valley floor and then simply head SSE-ward up the valley along the east bank of the stream course for 1km passing through mostly very open woodland, to rejoin the decribed route at ‘19’. Less than 200m before reaching ‘19’ you will cross a stream course which joins the main valley from a side valley to the SE. This short-cut reduces the total walk distance by about 0.7km and reduces the amount of uphill walking by a small amount.
Access / Directions
64km SE of Perth, along Brookton Hwy to Christmas Tree Well picnic area entry road on left (about 700m after Dale Pine Plantation and before Yarra Road). Follow the entry road to Christmas Tree Well picnic area about 500m off Brookton Highway (signposted on Brookton Highway). Park at the picnic area carpark.
To Brookton Highway and/or Dale West Road (dirt road) in south, and/or via Yarra Road (dirt road) which runs north-south.
Bauxite mining – WalkGPS page.
“Forests on Foot (40 walks in W.A.)”, Meney & Brown, 1985, pp.93-95 (Wescolour Press, Fremantle). – Includes a 9km walk which follows a partly similar route to this walk, plus good descriptions of the vegetation. Can be viewed at State Library of WA (book Call Ref. # 919.412 MEN).
“Forest Management Plan 2014-2023”, Conservation Commission of W.A. – Appendix 1, p.137 of the Plan identifies the area of old growth forest and proposed Russell Conservation Park (Plan ID#33).
“Future impact of bauxite mining” under ‘Alerts / Issues’ on this page.
Other map availability
“South West WA 25K Scale Topo Maps”, Greg Harewood & Landgate, 2015. – Digital raster; ECW format on 16GB USB. See tile #311-2133-I-SE for relevant map coverage.