Western Australia is an amazingly diverse state, with over 12,500 kilometres of coastline and 2.6 million square kilometres of land, there is always something to be explored and discovered. Most people when they hear Western Australia, they think of iron ore, mining, deserts and a dry, dusty place. Over the last few years I’ve been exploring the South West corner of the state, primarily around Busselton, Margaret River, Nannup and out to Albany. The South West is unlike the rest of the state in that it is mostly green all year round and is home to some of the best wines and fresh produce in Australia.
I’ve spent the last few weeks capturing some of the “secrets” of the South West, places that aren’t overly famous or well known, some of them are barely even known by locals. I’ve added locations for some of them and a bit of a guide on how to get them, others I won’t be sharing exact locations for various reasons. Some of the locations have been shared with me by locals and they’ve asked I don’t tell people where they are exactly and others I’ve discovered for myself after years of exploring. Here are the photos:
Not a secret as such, but definitely not as well visited as it’s more famous neighbours Elephant Rocks and Green’s Pool. I love waterfall beach, I usually have it to myself and the waterfall flows most of the year round!
This one is more of a secret, it was one of the first waterfalls I discovered in the Nannup region, it has 3 tiers in total and the bottom tier would be a good 7 or 8 meters tall, this flows most of the year, but towards the end of summer it is barely a trickle, if it is flowing at all. Only two other photographers that I know of have photographed this spot… and that’s because I showed them where it was :)
While out exploring recently I found another quite large 2 tier falls, this is a few kilometres from the one above on a different stream, same overall area though. I found this one by hiking down a stream for about 2 kilometres through the forest and mud. The top tier was quite wide and very accessible by foot where as the bottom tier narrowed and unless you were prepared to be scratched to pieces by wild blackberries. The blackberry species in the south west is an invasive weed and unfortunately is prolific through out many of the creeks and streams, one of the many hazards of exploring the creeks that I do.
Only after exploring this section did I find a much easier and much shorter hike in (or a fairly serious 4×4 drive) that takes you directly to the top of the top tier. Following the flow further down stream takes you to several smaller but quite interesting waterfalls as well.
The stream then becomes quite narrow again and not much more scenic happens further down stream from this point. Through out the area there are quite a few small and quite easily missed, but scenic waterfalls, some of them only flow for a few days immediately after a decent downpour of rain.
I uncovered these small falls in summer while out for a hike with my family, there was not really any water flowing through them at that time, just a very small trickle. I could tell by the shape and placement of the rocks that it would be quite a nice looking waterfall when it flows. I checked back several times over winter and they were starting to flow, but after the last major storm we had come through they really started flowing well. Not the biggest waterfall around, but quite nice to look at and a nice shape for photos.
This one is another small creek in the same general region that I found during the summer and suspected it might come up alright in the wet:
Now for some less secret spots that I’d recommend visiting in the South West region:
Beedalup falls is a short drive / walk from the Karri Valley Resort near Pemberton. It is well worth a visit, the bridge to get down to the falls is quite fun too, it is a small suspension bridge that bounces and sways as you walk over it. There are a few small cascades on the same stream that are quite nice too. The stream flows down to the lake at Karri Valley Resort. The lake can get some reflections if there is no wind and during winter you’ll often get some fog on the surface, makes for some great photos.
The Cascades just outside of Pemberton are well worth checking out as well.
Another relatively secret spot is Ironstone Gully Falls. The water fall is on the northern side of Goodwood Road between Capel and Donnybrook. If you are coming from Capel it is on the left immediately after you cross a bridge. This is a great spot when it is flowing, it is also quite a nice camp ground for most of the year, although more for the self-sufficient camper.
Quinninup Falls is probably the best known waterfall in the South West. At approximately 4kms return it is a little bit of a hike to get to but it is well worth it. It only flows for a few months every year and really is only worth seeing after some decent rain. If we’ve had a fairly dry winter, I wouldn’t bother doing the hike. This year (2016) we’ve had quite a wet winter, I’ve not visited it this year yet, but it should be flowing quite well.
To get to Quinninup Falls you need to drive to the end of Moses Rock Road off Caves Road, park in the northern car park and then follow the Cape to Cape track north. You’ll descend a rather large sand dune at one point and come across some very red dirt. The red dirt area is quite significant to the Wardandi people so please avoid walking directly on the dirt, it is easy enough to follow the sandy tracks around the edge of it to the right. As you head away from the coast you’ll soon hear the falls. You won’t see the falls until you are nearly on top of them. If you are particularly nimble and don’t mind a climb there is a track that you can explore to the left of the falls that takes you to several other cascades upstream.
Please treat the entire area with respect, there are many areas of significance to the Wardandi people, another area that is sacred to them was closed off from the public due to graffiti and other idiocy, it would be a shame to lose access to this beautiful spot too. Also if you choose to head further upstream don’t wander too far as you may inadvertently wander into private property. As with all places like this, if you treat it with respect it can be enjoyed by many others for many years.
So as you can see there is a huge amount of things to explore and “discover” in the South West, I highly recommend spending some serious time in the region making your own discoveries beyond the numerous wineries. Alternatively if you are looking to get off the beaten track but would prefer someone to guide you, do a tour with Sean Blocksidge of Margaret River Discovery Tours. Sean specialises in doing “tours for people who don’t do tours” and taking you to places you probably won’t find on your own. He also has access to a few places that most people don’t, so you’re in for a treat if you do a tour with him.
I’ll be making another post with some other “secrets” of the South West as well as some of the major icons in the next few weeks.