Upper Darkin – SE Walk overview

This walk is mainly within Wandoo National Park and passes through picturesque, open wandoo woodlands immediately south of the upper Darkin River. There are some pleasant views from the outcrops. The terrain is varied with some easy walking over reasonably gentle terrain, but also a few steeper slopes across laterite breakaways and small gullies. The nearby Upper Darkin – NW Walk and Flynn Hills Walk offer shorter walks in the general area.

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  • Main features / Highlights

    This walk is mostly through picturesque, open wandoo woodlands immediately south of the upper Darkin River and 12-16km east of Mount Dale. It lies mainly within Wandoo National Park.  The terrain is varied with some easy walking over reasonably gentle terrain, but also a few steeper slopes across laterite breakaways and stream gullies. There are some pleasant views from the outcrops across the Darkin valley and toward Mount Dale. Expect a few short sections of scratchy heath around granite outcrops.

    Shorter walk options: See the Upper Darkin – NW Walk for a shorter walk (14.5 km) in this general area. That walk route includes a short overlap of 2.5km with this walk (between waypoints ’19’ & ’28’ in the NW). The nearby Flynn Hills Walk,  immediately to the NE, also offers some similar easy walking, but is shorter at 13.5km versus 15.5km for this route.

  • Route notes

    From the start point (at waypoint ‘START’) head initially about 300m SSW along the forestry track to ‘1’, then veer to the left,  southward off the track, to climb a gentle slope and along the western slope od a hillside through open forest to ‘2’. (Or see Option 1 below  for a more direct route along the hill top.) Veer right to follow the hillside eastward to ‘2-1’. Descend slightly through fringing heathland to an outcrop at ‘2-2’. Continue eastward along the outcrop to re-enter heathland and forest at ‘2-3’. Veer slightly left to head ENE gently upslope to ‘3’ through wandoo woodland near the crest of the broad ridge. Descend ESE via ‘4’ and ‘4-1’ to cross Yarra Road at ‘5’. Continue descending ESE and reach a broad, very lightly wooded valley. Follow the valley from ‘6’ to ‘8’, then veer left (NE) to cross the valley floor and head gently uphill. Cross an old forestry track (Lightning Road) at ‘9’. Pass through a short section of Parrot Bush scrub understorey covering a broad hill top at ‘9-1’ (elevation 327m). Cross a gentle saddle to ‘10’ and head northward, passing along the eastern side of a ridge to ‘11’. Then descend  across partly open, rocky ground to ’12’.  Ascend again, partly through a thicket of casuarina (sheoak) to reach a granite outcrop at ’13’.  Climb to the ridge to the SW via ‘14’, back into wandoo woodlands. Veer NW, recrossing Lightning Road at ’14-1′ . Veer left at ’15’ on the broad crest of a ridge to descend very gently westward. Veer right at ’15-1′ and head roughly NW along a narrow spur ridge, then descend to cross a northward-draining stream course at ’15-2′. Veer left (WNW) and ascend the west flank of the valley to ’16’. This is at the northern edge of a laterite-capped ridge, with good northward views through the wandoo trees and across the Darkin River valley. Descend northward to reach the upper edge of a large granite outcrop at ’16-1′. This  north-sloping outcrop provides open views across the valley and is a good place for a lunch break. Also take a little time to explore the large granite boulders to the left near ’16-2’, then descend the outcrop via ’16-3’ and continue downslope to another smaller outcrop area at ’17’. Turn left  to head westward along slope. Cross a broad gully at ’18’, then climb quite steeply up a laterite-capped breakaway to a narrow boulder-strewn plateau at ’19’, with large wandoo trees. Veer SW-ward and descend from the ‘plateau’ via ’19-1’. Then walk WNW  along-slope below the latreite breakaway via ’19-2’. At ’19-3’ head NW down a small ridge to re-cross Yarra Road at ’19-4′. Cross a small gully to reach another narrow ridge at ‘20’, then continue along the northern escarpment of the laterite plateau, climbing across the steepish slope  via ’20-1’ and ’20-2’ through heath and wandoo woodland. Reach ‘22’ located on a ridge on the east side of a 50m deep gully. Veer left to descend initially SSW across the slope to ‘23’. Then veer right (west) to descend directly downslope through some heath and scrub and across rocky ground to cross the stream course in the gully at ‘24’. Climb to a ridge at ’25’ then descend initially southward to ‘26’, crossing a small water course, then SW-ward to cross a narrow, deeper gully at ’27’. Climb to a small outcrop via ’28’ and ’28-1’ then turn southward via ’28-2’. Continue southward, mainly aloing slope via ’28-3’. At ‘29’ veer left (SE) to cross a small gully to a very small rock outcrop at ’30’ with views eastward across the small side valley. After reaching ‘ 31′, veer left to head ENE downslope to cross the stream gully at about ’31-1′. Then continue ENE, climbing partly through heath. Veer left (northward) at ’32-1’ to cross a small gully and then veer right (east) at ‘33’ to continue upslope and reach a small SW-sloping outcrop with good views of Mount Dale 14km to the west. Walk ESE along slope to reach another small outcrop at ’34-1′. Veer right at ‘35’ to cross the head of a small gully to ‘36’ where the hillside is covered in an understorey Parrot Bush, but you should find an easy route through that will not be too dense and scratchy. Veer left (ESE)  and descend initially mainly through the fairly open scrub and then through marri-jarrah forest to reach Yarra Road at  ’37’. Follow Yarra Road southward for about 300m to get back to the start point.

    Option1, from ‘1’:  For a slightly shorter, more direct route between waypoints ‘1’ and ‘3’, from ‘1’ simply head SSE up the broad ridge to ‘2-alt’. Then veer left (eastward) to cross the hill top (elevation ‘371m) and rejoin the decribed route at ‘3’.

  • Access / Directions

    65km SE of Perth, along Brookton Hwy to Yarra Road on left, then further 16km up Yarra Road (usually mainly good condition dirt road though sometimes corrugated in places). Park at white boom gate blocking forestry track on left hand side.

    Google Map

  • Nearest campsite/s

    N/A.

  • Escape route/s

    Reach Yarra Road and then south to Brookton Highway (or alternatively north (about 30km) to Great Southern Highway.

  • Other Info.

    “Wandoo 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 tile #309-2133-I-NE for relevant map coverage.

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