PLACES TO GO
An ideal way to explore inland Perth is by paying a visit to Hotham Valley. Encompassing towns including Dwellingup, Marrinup, Wandering, Boddington, Narrogin and Pingelly, the region has something for every traveller, from forest trails and artisan produce, to heritage railway rides and buildings steeped in history. A range of accommodation is available throughout the area, including B&Bs, lodges, farm-stays, self-contained cabins, restored cottages and plenty of camping areas. To make your way from Pinjarra through to Pingelly, pick up the Hotham Way Drive Trail brochure. Much of the valley specialises in agricultural practices such as farming and forestry, with a number of local producers and artisans in the area, as well as two major mines – the Boddington gold mine and Worsley bauxite mine. Dotted around the valley are biodynamic and organic wineries, a cidery where you can also pick your own fruit, an olive farm, and many great picnic spots. There are plenty of options for active travellers throughout the region, with great bushwalking trails, swimming, fishing, canoeing, rafting and birdwatching to be had. Nature fans will love Dwellingup, with both the Munda Biddi Trail and Bibbulmun Track passing through the town. The Forest Heritage Centre is a good source for those looking to discover WA’s background in forestry, with interactive displays, a gallery and treetop walk. Next to the town’s visitor centre is the Hotham Valley Tourist Railway, where you can tour through state forest and enjoy a five-course dinner aboard their restaurant train, complete with vintage dining car. Take the Mourambine Heritage Trail to learn about pioneering life in the Wheatbelt, while history buffs will also be interested to visit Camp 16 – the Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp, and one of the few POW sites in the state. Star-gazers, meanwhile, can pay a visit to Pingelly Heights Observatory. The majority of the valley is blessed with wonderful displays of wildflowers from August to December, with blooms peaking around September and October. The area of Wandering is a quality wine-producing town, with a number of early pioneer buildings in the main street to explore. Set on the banks of the Hotham River, almost half of Boddington shire is home to state forest. Visitors to the town can take a walk trail along the river, or try their luck fishing for redfin perch and cobbler in spring and autumn. Pay a visit to Dryandra Woodland, a top destination in the south-west for flora and fauna, with trails to explore and a unique 25km audio drive trail. The Barna Mia Animal Sanctuary, a breeding haven for endangered marsupials, is also on-site. Similarly, Foxes Lair Nature Reserve at Narrogin is a 60ha bushland area that is home to hundreds of wildflower varieties and more than 40 species of birds. Take in the Historical Village and Big Ram at Wagin, and visit the iconic Wave Rock at Hyden.
THINGS TO DO
On the water
The Murray River is popular for both swimming and canoeing, but be wary because conditions of some sections vary depending on the season. If you’re planning to canoe, always wear protective gear, tell someone where you’re going, and only use the canoe launch sites that are available. During winter months, the river can flow very fast due to high rainfall, and it is strongly recommended you do not canoe over Bobs Crossing or past the Baden Powell recreation site unless you
are experienced with whitewater or are travelling with a trained guide. Pick up a Canoeing the Murray brochure from the Dwellingup visitor centre or DPAW’s Dwellingup office. Boddington is a great spot for fishing, but remember to get your recreational fishing licence before heading out. Fishermen and women can try their luck at Ranford Pool and Lions Weir. Fishing is particularly great in spring and autumn, in the deep pools of the Murray River, where you can catch redfin perch and cobbler (use earthworms or minnows). It’s also worth putting nets out during marron season – see www.fish.wa.gov.au for details. A popular paddling route is the Yarragil to Nanga Bridge river trail, best suited to experienced paddlers from June to November, when there is adequate run off. Alternately, lower water levels in summer provide a great chance for novices and families to get out into deep pools with shallow sections.
Walking and cycling
The Hotham Valley is a delight for fitness fanatics, with an abundance of walking and cycling trails. Dwellingup, in particular, plays host to sections of the Munda Biddi Trail and Bibbulmun Track, in addition to several other routes. The Marrinup Cycle Trail is an easy, family-friendly 8km loop on the outskirts of town, taking one to two hours to complete the mainly flat course. The Turner Hill Cycle Trail is a moderate 11km route that is very popular, but also contains a 4.5km shortcut and 1.1 km loop for kids. Dwellingup is the first ‘track town’ along the Bibbulmun, taking 12 days to get to, from the route’s starting point in the Perth Hills. The Dwellingup portion takes walkers through the Murray Valley, following the river and with views of farmland and undulating hills. Several trails also lead from the Forest Heritage Centre which itself is a 10-minute walk from the town centre. Dryandra Woodland hosts seven walking trails of differing grades and distances. Walking enthusiasts can also hit the King Jarrah Walk Trail where you’ll spot the impressive 250-year-old tree the trail is named after. The Chuditch Walk Trail is shorter at just 2km one-way, and takes 90 minutes to complete.The Xanthorrhoea Walk Trail is a moderate route of 9km that can take four to five hours. The one-hour-long Island Pool Walk Trail loop is short but has many steps and short steep hills. Other routes include the Les Couzens Bridle Trail, Murray Valley Circuit and Nanga Heritage Circuit. The town of Boddington also has the 3km Tullis Bridge Walk Trail around the Hotham River and surrounding bushland, and Dryandra’s 5km Ochre Trail allows you to explore the Aboriginal heritage of the area.