From the start point (at waypoint ‘START’), pass the barrier gate and follow the rough vehicle track SE-ward uphill initially through an area of forest that is being rehabilitated. (Or see Option 1 below and Access/Directions for alternative start points.)The vehicle track steepens before reaching a fork in the track after about 400m, at ‘1’. Take the older, right hand track. Follow it S-ward for only a short distance (~130m) to where it veers left up the hillside (at ‘1-1’). Leave the track to continue SSW along slope through jarrah forest. Veer more westward at ‘2’ and head very gently downslope (via ‘2-1’), then find an easy way through a small patch of parrot bush to reach (at ‘3’) the top of a small outcrop above a steeper westward slope, gaining a good view over farmland to the Coastal Plain. Then veer SW and again pick an easy way down the steepening hillside through patches of parrot bush and across or around small outcrops. Veer due south at ‘4’ to walk along slope through mixed forest (including wandoo) and reach a small outcrop at ‘4-1’, with a view south to farmland across the North Dandalup River valley. Head approx. SSW down the steep hillside to reach the North Dandalup water pipeline. Cross easily under the pipeline (at ‘5’) to reach the adjacent bitumen service road. Turn left to follow the pipeline road eastward for about 400m across a gentle spur ridge. At about ‘6’ (or up to 50m before) find a suitable opening in the vegetation on the southern, downslope side of the road and ensure the initial slope is gentle enough to allow a safe – but quite steep and partly scratchy – descent via ‘6-1’ to the North Dandalup River. (Or see Option 2 below if you would prefer a gentler descent to the River.) Cross the River at ‘6-2’ above a small pool. (You can probably find a way across without getting your boots wet). Then head SE-ward initially upslope of the south bank via ‘7’ and ‘7-1’, bypassing denser bushland near the river and soon paralleling a farm fence separating the river nature reserve from farmland which lies steeply upslope to the south. At ‘8’, veer more southward, and pick an easy way through patchy denser shrubland to ‘8-1’. Alternatively, you can opt to descend to the River and boulder hop and wade upstream along the river course, and if the fringing vegetation gets unpleasantly dense, or the rocks too slippery, retreat back up the south bank and rejoin the described route. (At ‘8-1’, if you are feeling energetic, see Option 3 for a short return climb to a nearby granite bluff.) Cross the River at ‘8-2’ and pick a way along the north bank through dense shrubland/tall heath to ‘8-3’. You are now just below the first small cascades (and also just above the confluence with Cooleeup Creek which joins North Dandalup River from the south). Cross the rocky river course to ‘9’ below the cascades, then scramble around the outcrop and pick a way along the south bank via ‘9-1’ passing 4 separate pools along the way. (Alternatively, you can opt to follow the River course and wade and scramble upstream, floating your day pack if necessary in a bag or on a pack cover to keep it dry across the deeper pools. This is a nice cooling, fun activity on a warm day!). Continue upstream (via ’10’ and ‘10-1’) taking great care on the treacherously slippery boulders along the river course. At ‘10-2’ reach a larger pool at the foot of the main cascades. Pick a way around the south edge of the pool, or wade, to ‘11’ near the foot of the rock ledge.Then climb via ‘11-1’ to the top of the granite ledge through the low shrubland and heath fringing its southern edge, to reach the river course above the cascades at ‘11-2’. Return to the river course above the cascades. Continue upstream (via ’12’, ‘12-1’, …‘12-5’), across the more gentle upper cascades and reach a rock ledge at ‘13’ on the south bank, above another pool. This is the end of the River section and the place to put the boots back on if you have been wading. The pool below the ledge is almost 30m long, and is another good place for a swim and to cool off on a warm day. Head SE gently upslope, picking a way through shrubland on rocky ground via ‘14’, and reach a narrow granite slab at ’15’. Climb southward up the slab, then up a broad, rocky ridge via ‘15-1’. The ridge narrows upslope and you will need to pick a way through patches of scratchy shrubland (mainly Calothamnus sp.). There will be views NNE up the valley to the Main Dam and water intake tower. Veer SSW at ‘16’ to meet an old forestry vehicle track at ’17’. Turn right to follow the track southward around the hillside. (Or see Option 4 for a much-shortened (~7km) walk if you are feeling low on energy after the River section.) At ’18’ veer to the right, off-track, to leave the track and head SW-ward downslope to ‘19’ to reach the Dandalup Campsite in a picturesque setting among wandoo trees; A nice place for a good rest stop and/or lunch. Join the Munda Biddi Trail at ‘20’ via the short (40m) side trail from the campsite. Turn right to follow the Trail downhill for less than 200m to ’21’ then head WSW off-track, gently downhill through mainly open forest. (Or see Option 5 below, if you would prefer an 8km shortened walk after visiting the campsite.) Cross Cooleeup Creek at ’22’, and another sidestream soon after at ‘22A’, then climb steadily, passing into a patch of wandoo trees. At ’23’ (where you may get a view NE to the Main Dam) veer SW and continue uphill to ’24’, soon passing a cluster of large granite boulders. Then veer right (WNW) upslope to cross the forested hilltop via ‘24-1’ and reach the north edge of an outcrop at ’25’, fringed by low shrubland. Veer southward to descend the outcrop to meet an old vehicle track at ‘25-1’, passing near a few remnants of a building which once straddled the nearby granite ledge. Head southward on the vehicle track which soon meets another track (at ’26’). Turn right onto this other track and follow it westward past farmland on the right, with views northward to the Coastal Plain. (Or see Option 6 for a short-cut to save about an hour of walking if you are running short on time or energy at this stage.) At ’27’, the old vehicle track connects to Hoares Road (unsealed) at a bend near farm gates. Turn left to follow road 600m SSW to Whittakers Road (at ’28’). Turn left to follow Whittakers Road (dirt road) for only about 50m to ’29’, then veer southward ‘off-track’ to follow an old overgrown telegraph line track. (Alternatively, at ’29’, you could take a very unexciting ‘escape’ short-cut by continuing SE along Whittakers Road to rejoin the described route at ’39’ on the Munda Biddi Trail.) At ’30’ the old track meets a currently used track, near farm buildings. Turn left to follow the track SE. It soon becomes disused, but can be easily followed via ‘30-1’ and ‘30-2’. At ’31’ where the track veers southward down the hillside, continue off-track ESE along slope through the forest for about 250m to cross a narrow outcrop at ‘32-1. The outcrop forms a 70m long rock ledge near the north bank of ‘Whittakers Creek’ (informal name). Cross Whittakers Creek at ’33’, then head SE-ward upslope across mainly bare rocky ground to ‘34’. Veer left (eastward) along slope and reach the foot of an outcrop at ‘35’. Head southward up the outcrop and reach an old vehicle track at ‘36’. Follow the track eastward for about 700m to reach Scarp Road at ’37’. Turn left to follow Scarp Road 300m northward, flanked on both sides by a small farm property which straddles part of Whittakers Creek valley. (The now disused Whittakers Mill campsite is located about 500m east.) At ’38’, at the northern edge of the farmland, veer off Scarp Road to follow an old vehicle track (a former, now-abandoned section of the Munda Biddi Trail) NW to meet Whittakers Road at ’39’. Turn right and follow the Road for less than 50m to the Munda Biddi Trail entry at ’40’ on the left. Follow the Munda Biddi Trail northward (via ’40’, ‘40-1’, ‘41’ and ‘42’). At ‘43’ a trail – which bypasses the Dandalup Campsite – diverges to the right from the main trail. Turn right to follow this ‘bypass’ trail around the hillside to ‘44’ where it rejoins the Trail from the campsite. Turn right to follow the trail uphill NE across a gentle hill top through jarrah-banksia forest. The trail then descends gently and meets Scarp Road at ‘45’. Follow Scarp Road NW. After 250m, at ‘45-1’, the road crosses a bridge across the Main Dam spillway cutting. Stop to inspect the cutting from the south side of the road (the amount of excavation of the solid granite is impressive!), and then cross the Main Dam wall via ‘46’, with a good view from the west side down to the old Pipehead Dam picnic area below, and down the North Dandalup River valley. At ‘47’ take an optional very short detour into the carpark on the east side of the road to inspect a commemoration plaque at ‘47-1’ which includes a map identifying the various dam site facilities. Rejoin Scarp Road at the end of the carpark at ‘48’, crossing the gentle ridge that separates the Main Dam from the smaller Saddle Dams to the north. At ’49’ cross the vehicle crash barrier strip on the west side of the road and follow a vehicle track for about 50m NW-ward to ’50’, taking care not to veer right (NNW) onto an intersecting track which leads down the dam wall. Then veer westward off-track, initially gently downhill via ‘50-1’, and then mostly along slope to ‘50-2’. Then descend to a small gully at ‘51’, and follow the gully NW downslope to soon meet an old forestry track at ’51-1′. Follow the old track NW for only about 50m and at ‘52’, then veer left (WNW) off-track and downslope to cross a narrow gully at ‘53’. Veer westward around the very gentle, north-sloping hillside. Briefly follow a very short section of an old vehicle track from ‘53-1’ but leave the track at ‘53-2’ to continue along slope to meet the access road at ‘54’ close to the start point.
Option 1, Alternative picnic area Start point & modified route: If preferred, park at ‘PICNIC’ at the old Pipehead Dam picnic area below the main dam. From the picnic area near the lake follow the path (via ‘P1’ & ‘P2’) around the east (main dam) end of the lake to the north side. Head westward from ‘P2’ to ‘P3’ along a rough track above the north side of the lake. (A potential short-cut across the lake via the old Pipehead Dam wall and spillway is blocked by a secured gate at the end of the public walk way across the wall.) At ‘P3’ turn right (NW) onto a vehicle track and follow it for 700m quite steeply uphill – ignoring a track that forks off to the right at ‘P4’- and then across the crest of a ridge at ‘P5’ to join the described route at ‘1’. On returning across the Main Dam wall near the end of the walk, instead of proceeding beyond waypt ’47’, simply follow the nearby side road back down to the start point at the picnic area. This route does not reduce the total walk distance significantly.
Option 2, for gentler descent to North Dandalup River: If the initial descent point near ‘6’ appears uncomfortably steep to you, continue to alternative point ‘6-alt1’ about 250m further eastward along the pipeline road up a steep hill, then head due south from ‘6alt1’ down a gentler slope through thickening understorey for 200m to ‘6-alt2’. Then pick a way down the ridge through partly dense scratchy shrubland to rejoin the route at ‘8-3’, bypassing the downstream waypoints.
Option 3, for a short return climb to a nearby granite bluff (from ‘8-1’): From ‘8-1’ head SW up the steepening hillside to ‘8-opt’ to reach the foot of a weathered granite bluff about 100m SW of the River course. This is 50m above the River and provides a very nice view up the river valley, toward some of the small waterfalls and cascades on the route ahead. After the climb, descend to rejoin the route at ‘8-2’).
Option 4, for a much-shortened (~7km) walk (after ‘17’): At ‘17’ turn left onto the old vehicle track and head east to cross the upper slope of a granite outcrop to ’18-alt1′. From there just continue due east for 150m to meet the Munda Biddi Trail at ’18-alt2’ and turn left to follow the remainder of the described route via ‘45’ etc.
Option 5, shortened (~8 km) walk (after ‘20’): For a shorter walk, upon leaving the Dandalup Campsite simply turn left (uphill) onto the Munda Biddi Trail at ‘20’ to rejoin the decsribed the route at ’44’, bypassing the entire southern loop of the total walk route.
Option 6, short-cut after ‘26’: Turn left onto the vehicle track at ‘26’ and follow it SE for about 700m along the NE flank of Whittaker Hill to ’27-alt’, then veer left (ESE) of-track downslope to cross Cooleup Creek and rejoin the described route at ‘41’ on the Munda Biddi Trail. This short-cut reduces the total walk distance by ~3.5km.