Nockine Brook Walk overview

A pleasant and not too arduous wander in a seldom visited area off Yarra Road, lying between the Mount Yetar Walk area to the north and the Upper Darkin Walk area to the south. The main attraction is the beauty of the wandoo woodlands and wildflowers which more than compensate for lack of dramatic terrain. The walk also briefly follows a couple of stream courses, including a short section of Nockine Brook which may be flowing in late winter/spring.

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  • Main features / Highlights

    This is a pleasant and not too arduous wander in a seldom visited area off Yarra Road, about 7km south of the Mount Yetar Walk area and about 8km north of the Upper Darkin Walk area. The scenery includes the typical open wandoo woodlands of this eastern area of the Darling Range. The northern few kms of the walk around Nockine Brook lie within Helena National Park.

    The low laterite-topped and forested  hills in the area are the erosional remnants of a previously extensive laterite plateau. They provide views SSW to Mount Dale, about 15km away. The walk includes a few modest slopes onto and around the hill-tops, and also traverses a few small granite outcrops. But the main attraction is the beauty of the woodlands combined with the prolific wildflowers in late winter to spring which more than compensates for lack of dramatic terrain. The walk also briefly follows a couple of stream valleys, including a short section of Nockine Brook which may be flowing in late winter/spring. -The Brook feeds into the Helena River about 9km WNW of the walk area and just upstream from Lake C.Y O’Connor (previously ‘Helena Reservoir’).

    This area is/was also of some significance for native fauna conservation: More than 20 numbats were released by the then CALM into woodlands in the Nockine and Qualen areas in late 1997 under a 10-year Numbat Recovery Plan (as part of the  Western Shield project). The released animals were to be radio-tracked but success to date in these release areas is unknown.

    A prescribed burn or wildfire prior to 2016 temporarily destroyed much of the picturesque nature of the area,  removing much of the ground cover, greatly reducing the forest canopy and even destroying some fine old wandoo trees. But the charm of the area will return; the understorey will soon re-establish and the woodland trees will sprout new growth.

    The walk is mainly off-track, but there should be very few scratchy bits. The route mostly avoids areas of quite dense dryandra scrub (parrot bush) which is common on some of the laterite-capped hill tops.

    Longer/Shorter walk options: The Route notes include options for longer and slightly shorter walks, including an option for more, easy streamside walking.

  • Route notes

    From the start point (at waypoint ‘START’), head NW along Surveyors Rd for 200m to ‘1’, then turn left to head SSE off-track through jarrah forest which initially has a parrot bush understorey. (Or see Option 1 below for a worthwhile longer walk option which visits an outcrop on the east side of Yarra Road.) You should be able to find an easy, non-scratchy way through the parrot bush which may also have been ‘thinned’ by a prescribed burn. Veer more southward at ‘1’ to head mostly along slope through more open jarrah forest and heath, with less understorey. Veer SW at ‘1-2’ to cross a stream course at ‘2’ and soon after meet an old vehicle track at ‘3’. Cross the track and climb southward, steadily uphill through wandoo woodland along a broad ridge. After ‘3-1’ the route follows along the edge of a rocky laterite escarpment which slopes westward. After crossing the hill-top, veer right (west) at ‘4’ to follow the top of a southern escarpment for about 100m to ‘5’.  Then head SSW downslope (initially down a small ridge) via ‘5-1’ to reach a stream course (usually dry) at ‘6’. Turn right to follow the stream bank or valley floor westward to ‘7’, then NW-ward, passing through clumps of tall balgas along the way. At ‘8’, leave the valley floor and head northward, initially upslope and partly following an old vehicle track. Leave that track at ‘8-1’ to continue along slope. Cross another old track at ‘9’ (this is the same track that was previously crossed at ‘3’). Continue along slope to the crestal area of a broad ridge at ‘9-1’. Head northward down the hillside and cross a stream course at ’10’. Then climb NE-ward through jarrah forest.  At ’11’, on a rocky heath-covered ridge, veer due north and continue upslope with a gully to the right, to reach wandoo woodland again.  At ’12’ veer NE to climb to the NW edge of the laterite-capped hill-top at ‘13’. Follow the upper edge of a NW-sloping laterite escarpment via ’13’, continuing NNE gently downslope to ’14’.  Then veer left (approx. WNW) to follow a ridge downslope and cross a gully to reach Surveyors Road at ’15’. This is about the halfway point on the walk. Cross the road and head approx. due west, and mainly gently downslope.  Veer WNW at ’15-1′ and NW at ‘15-2’. Reach the upper edge of a low granite outcrop at ’16’. This is about the halfway point on the walk. Follow the outcrop downslope to reach a rocky outcrop and stream course at ’17’. Head downstream to ‘18’, then cross the stream and head NNE-ward up a moderate slope to ’18-1’, picking a route through tall heath and shrubs, possibly thinned by a prescribed burn. (Or see Option 2 below if you have seen enough laterite-capped hill tops and would prefer more streamside walking.) Continue upslope and cross a small gully to reach an area of outcrop at ‘19’ with good views westward across the forest. Climb eastward upslope to ‘20’ through very open wandoo woodland up the steepish flanks of a small laterite-capped knob (or ‘butte’; elevation 298m).  This is a pleasant spot for a rest stop. Then head ENE across a saddle area via  ‘21’ to reach the pebbly slopes of a laterite escarpment at ’22’ on the margin of a small hill-top ‘plateau’.  (Or see Option 3 below for a more direct route from ‘21’ to ’24-1’). From near ‘22’ there are views through the forest to Mount Dale about 15km to the SSW. Head northward along the breakaway slope via ’22’ passing through very picturesque woodland.  At ’23’ turn left to head a short distance downslope and pass through a patch of tall heath and scattered granite ‘boulders’. Enter jarrah forest at ’24’ close to a ridge, with views again to Mount Dale in the distance.  Continue approx. westward along the southern edge of the ridge top via ’24-1’ to ’25’, then descend across the westward-sloping hillside via ’26’ and ’26-1’ through grass trees and tall shrubs. At ’27 reach Nockine Brook. In a winter of at least average rainfall this small stream should be flowing gently along this section. Follow the Brook upstream via ’28’ and ’29’, then head NE-ward up the gentle hillside to ’30’. Veer sharp right, along slope via ’30-1’ to reach a granite outcrop at ‘31’. Then head upslope into the forest via ‘32’ before descending to another outcrop at ’33’, with views southward across the valley. Again climb gently uphill onto the laterite ‘plateau’ surface via ’33-1′. Then at ‘34’ descend southward down patchy granite outcrops and boulders on a spur ridge to ’35’.  Descend eastward from the ridge, initially quite steeply, and soon cross Nockine Brook at ’35-1’. Follow the Brook eastward to ‘36’, then veer right (SE) to cross Hutt Road at ’36-1′. Continue SE-ward uphill onto a broad ridge at ’37’.  Head SSE up the ridge and pass through a patch of dryandra on the crest of the ridge near ’38’. Then veer SE and cross a gentle gully (at ‘38-1’) through low heath to soon reach a small granite outcrop at ‘39’ with views to the NE. Turn right (SSW) to cross a broad, flat hill top, and pass through mainly open jarrah forest and patches of dryandra. Veer southward at ’39-1’ and reach the junction of Deefor Road with Surveyors Road at ’40’. Follow Surveyors Road SE-ward for 500m back to the Start point.

    Option 1, for longer walk (~16.5km):  From the start point, instead of heading off-track westward to ‘1’, walk ~450m SE-ward along Yarra Rd  to ‘1-alt1’ where Yarra Road curves southward. Then leave the road to follow an old vehicle track SE through jarrah and parrot bush. Leave the track at ‘1-alt2’ to head southward through open jarrah forest to ‘1-alt3’. Then veer SW uphill, soon passing through patches of tall heath. Veer right (west) at ‘2-alt1’ onto a broad ridge and reach a low granite outcrop (at ’2-alt2′).  Cross the outcrop to ‘2-alt3’ then veer NW to soon descend quite steeply to cross Yarra Road to an old vehicle track on the west side at ‘2-alt5’. Follow the track westward gently downhill for ~700m to cross a stream course and rejoin the described route at ‘3’. This option is 1.8km longer than the more direct, described route to ‘3’.

    Option 2, for increased streamside walking (‘18’ to ‘27’ alternative):  If after reaching ‘18’ you want to visit one less hill-top and instead enjoy easy walking along pleasant streamsides simply follow ’19-alt1’, ‘20-alt1’, ’20-alt2’, …’22-alt1’, etc to rejoin the described route at ‘27’. Small cascades tumble across rock ledges in a few places (such as near ’20-alt2’) when the streams are flowing. This alternative section bypasses the climb up to a small laterite-capped knob (or ‘butte’) and shortens the total walk distance by ~0.6km.

    Option 3, for more direct alternative from ‘21’ to ‘23’: From ‘21’ head NNE mostly along slope through wandoo woodland and a quite dense zamia palms ground cover, then clamber up a partly rocky slope to ’22-alt1’. Then veer left (NW) to descend to a sloping outcrop at ’22-alt2’ near the head of a gully which drains westward. Cross the gully via ’22-alt3’ to climb up the north flank to rejoin the described route at ’24-1’. This option reduces the total walk distance by about 0.3km and reduces the uphill walking slightly.

  • Access / Directions

    Approx 70km east of Perth, along Great Eastern  Highway then Great Southern Highway to Yarra Road turnoff (on right 13km east of The Lakes), then further 18km down Yarra Road (last 15km is unsurfaced road) to corner of Surveyors Road. Park at side of Surveyors Road near corner with Yarra Road.

    Google Map

  • Nearest campsite/s

    N/A.

  • Escape route/s

    Eastward to Yarra Road.  Surveyors Road (approx. W-E) is a good quality dirt road which connects Yarra Road to Nockine Road, about 7km west of the walk area.

  • Other info.

    “Helena National Park”, DPAW site. – Includes a downloadable, very brief Park Guide.

    Other map availability

    South West WA 25K Scale Topo Maps”, Greg Harewood & Landgate, 2015.  – Digital raster; ECW format on 16GB USB. See tiles #309-2133-I-NE and #310-2133-I-NW for relevant map coverage.

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