Mount Observation – Pony Hill Walk overview

This walk offers very pleasant, easy walking through picturesque, open wandoo woodlands within Wandoo National Park.  This general area lies within one of  the largest remaining areas of virgin wandoo and powderbark in the state and includes some particularly beautiful woodlands. “The character and form of widely spaced virgin wandoo creates a most unique bush atmosphere which is a delight to any bushwalker”.  The route is mainly over reasonably gentle terrain, with a few modest slopes. There are  views around the flanks of Mount Observation and Pony Hill and from a granite outcrop at the westernmost point on the route.

mtobservation-banner-dsci0010

  • Main features / Highlights

    This walk is within Wandoo National Park. It is very pleasant, easy walking through picturesque, open wandoo woodlands (but due to the distance is rated “Medium” in difficulty).   The route is mainly over reasonably gentle terrain, with a few modest slopes. There are  views around the flanks of Mount Observation and Pony Hill and from a granite outcrop at the westernmost point on the route. Only 1.8km of the  route overlaps with the Helena Hill – Pony Hill Walk,  along the western ridge and summit of Pony Hill (between waypoints ‘ 11′ and ’15’). For a shorter walk in similar open woodlands see the Helena Hill – Pony Hill Walk 11km option.   Christmas Tree Well Walk. Meney & Brown, 1985, have previously noted of this general area that it is one of  the largest remaining areas of virgin wandoo and powderbark in the state and includes some particularly beautiful woodlands. “The character and form of widely spaced virgin wandoo creates a most unique bush atmosphere which is a delight to any bushwalker”.

    Nearby Manyuering Spring is another location of interest in the area (see waypoint ‘SPRING’). Though not visited on this walk route it lies only 1.5km due west of the start point at the picnic area. The spring was one of the staging posts along the old coach route to York and there are also historic ruins of a convict campsite nearby. The old coach route is also accessible to four-wheel drive vehicles.

  • Route notes

    Head south and gently downhill form the start point (at waypoint ‘START’) on the picnic area road (with views to the SW through the wandoo trees). Reach an eastward bend in the road after only about 100m (at ‘1’).  Then continue about SSE, off-track, and initially more steeply downhill to cross a small gully at ‘2’ and climb gently across partly rocky ground and continue across fairly gentle terrain via ‘2-1’. Veer eastward at ‘3’ to initially descend to cross another small gully. Then at ‘3-1’ veer right (ESE) to cross another stream course and then met a minor vehicle track at ‘3-2’. Follow the track gently upslope, initially ESE and then veer eastward along the south side of a gully. At ‘3-3’ the track veers left (ENE) up the head of the gully to reach the summit area of Mount Observation (at ‘4’; summit elevation 369m).  Veer right to head southward. Reach a gently sloping outcrop (at ‘4-2’) on the south flank of Mt. Observation. Veer SSE and mostly steadily downhill, initially through open, virgin wandoo woodland and then across heathland and a  gentle valley floor (via ‘6’) to cross Pony Road (vehicle track) at ‘6-1’ after about 1 km. Veer south at ‘7’ along a hillside, then SE-ward at ‘8’, gaining  a view SW to the western flank of Pony Hill.  Descend via ‘8-1’ to cross a stream course and then a nearby vehicle track (at ‘8-2′). Continue SE and climb gently through a mixture of low to medium heath, some ‘dryandra’ shrubland, and woodland. At ‘9’ veer south again and follow the east side of a small gully up the north flank of Pony Hill. In places the heath or shrubland may become more dense, but animal tracks will provide easy ways through. Toward the top of the gully, at ‘9-1’ veer approx. SE to cross the eastern ridge of Pony Hill and soon descend to a granite outcrop (at ’10’) on the other side, with a view due south to Mount Talbot about 3km away. Veer approx. SW, to reach the wooded summit of Pony Hill (at ’11’).  Then head NW to soon reach a long SW-sloping granite outcrop partly surrounded by sheoaks. Follow the outcrop initially NW via ’11-1’, gaining a good view SW across the small (120ha) isolated Manna Flat Farm (Quinkitchmunging freehold pastoral property) toward the eastern flank of Helena Hill.  Then continue WNW, descending gently along the outcrop. At ’11-2’ veer NW across the outcrop and re-enter woodland at ‘12’ along the western ridge of Pony Hill. Then veer west and keep to the slope at the foot of the rocky laterite layer which caps the hill top (via ‘12-1’), avoiding the prickly Parrot Bush thickets on the ridge above the laterite breakaway. This section is close to the halfway point of the walk and a good spot for a lunch break. At ‘13’ veer approx. NW to continue along the northern side of the gently descending ridge via ‘14’. There is a fleeting view due north to Mount Observation. Climb gently back to the broad crestal area of the ridge at ‘14-1’. Soon descend roughly WNW to ‘15’ and pass an isolated small granite boulder or ‘tor’. Continue about WNW  to soon descend to the valley floor, cross a vehicle track at ’15-1’  and a stream course soon after (Sadly, when it is dry, this stream and the nearby Helena River course are used as an off-road track by trail-bike riders).  Continue WNW and cross a narrow rocky ridge at ’15-2’, through thickets of sheoak, before descending to cross the Helena River course (at ’15-3′).  Continue WNW through woodland to re-cross the Helena River at ’15-4’ after about 1km. Continue WNW to soon cross Pony Road and reach the nearby foot of a quite steeply sloping granite outcrop. Find a safe and easy route up the outcrop to reach an upper level (at ’16’), from where there is a good view back to Pony Hill, now 4km ESE. Follow the outcrop along slope, then descend gently NE-ward to ’16-1′.  Then veer approx. ENE and in less than 500m you will meet Pony Hill Road (at ’16-2′).  Follow this vehicle track ENE for 1km (to ’17’). Then turn left, off-track, and head northward for more than 1.5km, crossing the western slopes of Mount Observation via ’17-1’, ’17-2’ and  ’17-3’.  At ’18’ veer NW to soon cross a gully and then climb gently to reach a small rocky ledge at ’18-1′. Continue about NNW along the hillside to ‘19’ , then veer northward to rejoin the outbound part of the walk route at the gully crossing at ‘2’. From ‘2’ retrace about 400m of the route (via ‘1’) covered at the start of the walk to return to the start point.

  • Access / Directions

    73km SE of Perth. Along Great Eastern Hwy to The Lakes, then Great Southern Hwy to Mount Observation unsealed access road (Catchment Road) on right, approx. 23km after The Lakes and just past Berry Brow Rd on left.  Follow the access road to the Mount Observation picnic area  (signposted on Great Southern Hwy) for 1km from the Highway and park at the picnic area. (There are public toilets nearby.)

    Google Map

  • Nearest campsite/s

    N/A.

  • Escape route/s

    To Catchment Road (dirt road) in NE (then NW  along Catchment Rd to Start point at picnic area and to Great Southern Hwy, or SE to Helena Rd), or to Manna Flat Rd and/or Helena Rd (dirt road) in south. Pony Rd (dirt road) crosses walk area from Manna Flat Rd in SW to Catchment Rd in east.

  • Other Info.

    “Forests on Foot (40 walks in W.A.)”, Meney & Brown, 1985, pp.100-106 (Wescolour Press, Fremantle); Includes an easy 2-day 22km walk which follows a partly similar route to this walk, but also includes Mount Talbot to the south. It also provides good descriptions of the vegetation. The book can be viewed at State Library of WA (book Call Ref. # 919.412 MEN).

    “Walk Trail – Mount Observation”, Shire of York. A 16km mostly on-track walk along vehicle tracks in the Mount Observation area.

    “Wandoo National Park”, DPaW site. – Includes a downloadable, very brief Park Guide. by DEC (undated pdf).

    Other map availability

    South West WA 25K Scale Topo Maps”, Greg Harewood & Landgate, 2015. – Digital raster; ECW format on 16GB USB. See tile #471-2234-III-SW for relevant map coverage.

     

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top