Thomsons Lake Walk overview

Not a ‘true’ bushwalk and not in the Darling Range, but an easy stroll around Thomsons Lake (also known as Jilbup Lake) on the Swan Coastal Plain, including short diversions into the surrounding woodlands. Perhaps also a chance to check your GPS navigation skills if you are new to GPS. Thomsons Lake Nature Reserve is part of the Beeliar Wetlands and an internationally important conservation reserve for migratory birds. Early summer mornings are a good time for the walk as the Lake attracts more than 10,000 waterbirds in early to mid-summer before it almost dries out each year.

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  • Main features / Highlights

    This walk is not a ‘serious’ bushwalk but more an easy stroll around Thomsons Lake (also known as Jilbup Lake), with short diversions into the surrounding woodlands, and perhaps a chance to test your GPS navigation skills if you are new to GPS.

    The Lake is just one  of several in the two chains of  lakes and swamps along the Swan Coastal Plain which together form the Beeliar Wetlands.  More than 75% of these wetlands have now been filled or drained for urban development. The small Thomsons Lake Nature Reserve covers an area of only 551ha but is one of the few remaining good wetland environments. It is a Class ‘A’ reserve and is listed as an internationally important conservation reserve for migratory birds. Early summer mornings are a good time for the walk (especially for keen birdspotters) as the Lake attracts more than 10,000 waterbirds in early to mid-summer before it almost dries out each year.

    Although the Lake is surrounded by a narrow belt of rushes and grasses, there are also areas of various different vegetation types, including jarrah-banksia woodlands on the surrounding higher ground and a zone of Flooded Gums and Swamp Paperbarks on the lower ground. About 3km of the walk passes through the higher, shaded woodland areas and the remainder is close to the lake and exposed.

    Aside from the birdlife, there is also a range of other wildlife including the Western Grey kangaroo (which  became over-abundant in the past but more recently has been controlled through DPaW’s reserve management program), plus echidnas, and several reptile species including tiger snakes which you are unlikely to see, but take care!

  • Route notes

    The route is entirely on existing tracks. GPS is certainly not required to navigate around the lake, but you will probably still find it useful in the northern woodland area because i) markers for the ‘official’ trails through the Reserve have not been well maintained; and ii) the route does not follow any particular single existing ‘trail’.

    Start north toward the Lake from the Russell Road park entrance (‘START’) and at waypoint ‘2’ turn right to follow a foot-track  via ‘3’ through pleasant banksia-dominated woodland. You can make short off-track diversions to the left of the track to obtain views of the Lake through the trees.  At ‘3-1’ the track turns left and downhill, passing through Swamp Paperbarks to reach (at ‘4’) a wider  track close to the Lake. Turn right and follow the track around the eastern side of the Lake past Flooded Gums, Melaleucas and rushes for just over 2km to reach a T-junction at ‘9’ in the north. (During winter and spring the track often becomes quite waterlogged in places between waypts ‘6’ and ‘8’, so be ready to get your footwear soaked at that time of year!).  Turn left at ‘9’ and walk about 200m along the side track toward the Lake, past the rushes, to get a closer view of the waterbirds (more than 50 species visit the Lake). You are also likely to see raptors (Swamp Harrier and Little Eagle) circling overhead. Then retrace your steps and continue north past ‘9’.  Turn sharp left at ’11’ to follow a track gently uphill through mixed banksia forest and past some large old Swamp Paperbarks. On reaching a track intersection at ’13’ turn right (NW) and follow the foot-track steadily uphill through jarrah-banksia woodland (and occasional large Tuart trees). A few metres before the track meets the Reserve boundary fence, turn left at ’14’ and follow an old track which runs parallel to the fence (due south) for almost 500m.  Veer SE (toward your left) at ’15’, cross another vehicle track at ’15-1′ and follow a foot-track downhill via ’15-2′, ’15-3′ to get back to the track around the lake at ’16’. Follow the lakeside track to ’20’, then turn right (south) to get back to the Start point.

  • Access / Directions

    Kwinana Fwy south to Russell Road exit (next exit after Armadale Road exit), then west on Russell Road for 3km to reach an off-road unsealed parking area on the right at the entrance gate to the Thomsons Lake Nature Reserve. The reserve is protected on all sides by a 2m high vermin fence.

    Google Map

  • Campsite/s

    N/A.

  • Escape route/s

    __

  • Other info.

    “Beeliar Regional Park Final Management Plan”, CALM, 2006. – Provides a regional perspective on the significance of the Reserve.

    Frank O’Connor’s Birding Western Australia – For a bird spotter’s summary.

    “Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands: Forrestdale and Thomsons Lakes”, DEC, 2009 update.

    “Thomsons Lake Nature Reserve  Management Plan”, CALM,  2005.Provides some good background on the Reserve management issues.

    “Thomsons Lake”, Wikipedia – Includes a useful brief summary of the flora and fauna and geomorphology.

    “Travellers guide to the Parks & Reserves of Western Australia”,  Simon Nevill, 4th Edn. 2011, p. 31 (Simon Nevill Publications) –  Includes a brief summary of the Reserve.

    Other map availability

    South West WA 25K Scale Topo Maps, Greg Harewood & Landgate, 2015. (Digital raster; ECW format on 16GB USB) – See Tile #167-2033-I-SW for relevant coverage.

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