Off the beaten track - West Cape Howe National Park

West Cape Howe National Park is a national park between Albany and Denmark.

Image Credit: Jordan Cantelo

Image Credit: Jordan Cantelo

Torbay Head, the most southerly point of the mainland of Western Australia, is situated within the park.The park is abutted against the coast of the Southern Ocean and takes up approximately 23 km of the coastline between Lowlands Beach and Forsythe Bluff.

The park began as being vested in the Shire of Albany in 1977 for the purposes of recreation. By 1985 the area was gazetted as C Class Reserve after agreement between the shire and vested in the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Authority. Following the addition of an extra 41 ha (100 acres) that was a timber reserve along the northern boundary the park was given an A Class status in 1987. The park is now a single reserve (26177) and is made up of an area of 3,517 ha (8,690 acres). The rare and ancient Main's assassin spider, currently listed as threatened, was found to inhabit the park during a survey conducted in 2008.

The park is home to a range of habitats including karri forest, coastal heath and wetlands each of which support a diverse array of vegetation and plant species. The area around Lake William supports a dense sedge scrub and rare species such as Amperea volubilus and an unnamed species of Melaleuca. The Albany Pitcher Plant, Cephalotus follicularis, is also found in the park.

Due to the sandy nature of many of the tracks, much of the park is accessible only to four-wheel drive vehicles, although all vehicles may reach the popular Shelley Beach where a campground is located. Shelley Beach also has a look-out, toilet and barbecue launching facilities for hang-gliders. The nearby Golden Gate Beach is also a popular location for surfers.

Western Australia's long-distance walking trail, the Bibbulmun Track passes through the park. The park has many facilities for bushwalkers, with a 15 kilometres return trip spur-trail from the track to Torbay Head and a boardwalk section of the track In the West of the park, there is an overnight shelter for walkers that sleeps 12-15 persons, named 'West Cape Howe Campsite'.

Places to enjoy on your road trip - Beaufort River

The Beaufort River starts near Melbourne Vale at an elevation of 262m and ends at an elevation of 228m merging with thenear Duranillin.  It is about 80 kilometres in length.

Beaufort River.jpg

The only tributary of the river is the 7.5 kilometres (5 mi) Beaufort River East that joins the main river just east of where it crosses Albany Highway.

The river was named in 1835 by John Septimus RoeSurveyor General of Western Australia, after a friend Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort who was Hydrographer of the Navy from 1829-1855. He is best remembered as the originator of the table for estimating wind force at sea, the Beaufort Scale. Roe knew Beaufort well, and in his journal he states ‘I called it “Francis Brook” and had the pleasure to name the river to which it was a tributary the “Beaufort”, after my esteemed friend Capt Francis Beaufort, Hydrographer to the Admiralty’.

The river's catchment falls within the Blackwood catchment's Beaufort zone as part of the Beaufort system. The system is composed of broad valley floors with a grey sandy duplex and was previously a wandoo sheoak woodland but has now mostly been cleared for agriculture

Off the beaten track - Stirling Range

The Stirling Range or Koikyennuruff is a range of mountains and hills approx 98 km from Albany. It is over 60 km wide from west to east, stretching from the highway between Mount Barker and Cranbrook eastward past Gnowangerup. The Stirling Range is protected by the Stirling Range National Park, which was gazetted in 1913, and has an area of 1,159 km2.

Image credit: Photograph by Gnangarra... via Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Photograph by Gnangarra... via Wikimedia Commons

The range is one of the richest areas for flora in the world. The low-nutrient soils support five major vegetation communities:  shrubland and mallee-heathland at higher altitudes; and  woodland,  wetland and salt lake communities on lower slopes and plains. Ninety families, 384 genera, and over 1500 plant species occur there, 87 of which are found nowhere else. This represents more than a third of the known flora of the southwest, and includes more species of wildflowers than in the entire British Isles.

The range has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports populations of endangered short-billed black cockatoos and western whipbirds, and is visited by endangered long-billed black-cockatoos. Significant biome-restricted or range-restricted bird species found in the range include red-capped and regent parrotswestern rosellasrufous treecreepersred-winged and blue-breasted fairywrenspurple-gaped honeyeaterswestern spinebillswestern thornbillswestern yellow and white-breasted robins, and red-eared firetails.

The range is an important site for endemic mygalomorph spiders, and for land snails. Some 20 species of native mammals, including the reintroduced numbat, have been recorded.

The plains in the Stirling Range region were the hunting grounds for small groups of Indigenous Australians  before European settlement. At least two tribes frequented the area: the Qaaniyanpeople in the west, and the Koreng people in the east. The Stirling Range played an important role in their culture, appearing in a number of Dreamtime stories.

The first recorded sighting of the Stirling Ranges by a European explorer was by Matthew Flinders on 5 January 1802. While sailing along the south coast of Australia, just east of King George Sound, he noted at a distance of eight leagues (44 km) inland a chain of rugged mountains, the easternmost of which he named Mount Rugged (now called Bluff Knoll).

Notable features include ToolbrunupBluff Knoll (the tallest peak for a thousand kilometres or more in any direction and most popular tourist attraction), and a silhouette called The Sleeping Princess which is visible from the Porongurup Range. Popular recreational activities include bushwalking, abseiling and gliding.

Off the beaten track - Maradup

Muradup is a small town in the Great Southern region of Western Australia located between Kojonup and Boyup Brook. The town is situated along the Balgarup River.

Settlers had appeared in the area in the 1850s but it was not until 1899 that land was set aside for a townsite. The Shire of Kojonup requested for lots to be surveyed in 1905, this was carried out in 1906 and the town was gazetted in 1907 as Muradupp. More land was opened for selection in the area in 1909.

Image Source: Hidden Treasures

Image Source: Hidden Treasures

A railway siding existed in the town on the Kojonup to Bridgetown line.

In 1913 the local progress association asked for a school to be erected on a block that had been set aside in the town.

The lands department changed the name of the town from Muradupp to Muradup after deciding the double P at the end of the name was superfluous.

Land was granted in the area to returned soldiers in 1918. The first soldier to receive land was O. Fitzpatrick who received 1,160 acres of land that had been confiscated from an enemy alien subject who had been interned.

The town was named after the nearby Mooradupp pool which was first recorded in 1846 when the area was surveyed. The name is Aboriginal in origin but the meaning is not known.

The circa 1957 double brick and tile church has been converted to a two-bedroom home with a large open-plan living area featuring original polished jarrah floors and stained glass windows.

A War Memorial believed to be the oldest one in Western Australia, commemorates those from the Muradup Football and Cricket Clubs who served in World War One, World War Two, the Malayan Emergency and the Borneo Confrontation.  The monument was originally erected to commemorate those from the district who enlisted in World War One and is maintained by the locals.

Places to enjoy on your road trip - Balgarup River

Balgarup River is a river in Western Australia that has its headwaters south-east of Kojonup just below Byenup Hill.

By Hughesdarren, via Wikimedia Commons

By Hughesdarren, via Wikimedia Commons

The river flows is a north-westerly direction crossing Albany Highway south of Kojonup then through the town of Muradup and continues in the north-west direction until it joins the Blackwood River of which it is a tributary.

The only tributary to the Balgarup river is Mandalup Brook.

The name originated from Aborigine language and is thought to mean place of the Blackboy trees.The first person to chart the river was surveyor Alfred Hillman in 1840.

In and around Albany - Porongurup National Park

Porongurup National Park is a national park 40 km from Albany.

Granite Skywalk pathway at Castle Rock Image Credit: Aussie Oc via Wikimedia Commons

Granite Skywalk pathway at Castle Rock
Image Credit: Aussie Oc via Wikimedia Commons

It protects the Porongurup Range, an extremely ancient and largely levelled mountain range.  The range is no more than fifteen kmfrom east to west and consists of granite peaks levelled into domes. The highest point in the Porongurup Range is Devils Slide at 670 metres (2,200 ft) whilst there are several other peaks above 600 metres, which is about 400 metres above the surrounding plain.

The Porongurup Range was first sighted by Europeans passing near Albany in 1802 but farming in the surrounding districts did not start until around 1859 when vegetables were first grown on the southern slopes of the range. The giant karri and jarrah trees of the range were first harvested for timber in the 1880s and timber leases did not begin to be withdrawn until 1925 and the National Park was not gazetted officially until 1971 with an area of 1,157 ha. This has now been increased to 2,511 ha.

Though not nearly as rich biologically as the more northerly Stirling Range, there exist ten endemic species of plant in the Porongurup Range, the best known being the mountain villarsia.

The park includes a number of significant tourist features and walk trails.

Source: Wikipedia

Off the beaten track - Gibraltar Rock

Gibraltar Rock is a granite outcrop, and is in the Porongurup National Park, which has thirteen total named peaks including Twin Peaks, The Devils Slide, Nancy Peak, Castle Rock, and Elephant Rock. From the rock, which is 2,100 feet (640 metres) high, Albany and the Great Southern Ocean can be seen. Since the 1970s, the Rock, along with some other local peaks, has become a popular venue for rock climbers.

Western view of Gibraltar Rock, Porongurup National Park, as seen from Bates Peak walk trail Image Credit: AndrewD MBarker via Wikimedia Commons

Western view of Gibraltar Rock, Porongurup National Park, as seen from Bates Peak walk trail

Image Credit: AndrewD MBarker via Wikimedia Commons

Gibraltar Rock is part of a range that sits at 660 metres (2,170 ft) highThe rock is made of rough granite. Its appearance has been compared to the Rock of Gibraltar

In the early 1990s, the Rock was yielding small amounts of gold to the "dollying" process. It shares characteristics with other terrain in the area which was successfully mined in the late 1800s. The lack of water in the area made more successful mining of the rock difficult in the early part of the twentieth century. As of 1962, the average annual rainfall in the area was roughly 32 inches (810 mm) per year.

Gibraltar Rock has been described as "an enormous hunk of rough granite that provides the longest and most serious slab climbing in WA." The first organised climb by the Climbers Association of Western Australia was done in 1974. One of the faces of the rock is called Dockyard Wall. It was originally graded 17 crux climb. Two climbing bolts were added to this route in 1992. Other routes up the mountain include Second Anniversary Waltz, Crime of Passion, Dinosaur, Apes Den, Illusions of Grandeur,Possum, ApeswayMain Street, Sucked in Ben, Moorish Steps, Europa Point, Rooster Carnage, Joint Venture, and Zeppelin.

Source: Wikipedia

Places to enjoy on your road trip - Churchman Brook

Another beautiful spot to enjoy after your trip back to Perth before heading back to the reality of life. Turn right into Waterwheel Road just before Armadale and follow the sign

Churchman Brook Dam is an earthfill embankment dam approximately 30 kilometres (20 mi) south east of PerthWestern Australia in the City of Armadale. The reservoir is a water source for Perth. Churchman Brook Dam has always held a special charm for visitors due to its many scenic picnic spots and facilities that make it a great family day out.  Enjoy the striking views and explore the natural bush.

Image Credit: By SeanMack (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: By SeanMack (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

It has a capacity of 2,240,000 kilolitres (79,000,000 cu ft) for a catchment area of 16 square kilometres (6.2 sq mi).[1]

Construction of the dam commenced in 1923 and was completed in 1929; the resident engineer was Sir Russell John Dumas.[

Places to enjoy on your road trip - Mount Cooke

Mount Cooke, near Jarrahdale, Western Australia, is the highest point on the Darling Scarp at 582 metres. It was named after William Ernest Cooke, Western Australia's first Government Astronomer.

Image Credit: Bibbulum Track

Image Credit: Bibbulum Track

Mount Cooke is well known for its walk track which is part of the Bibbulmun Track. The Bibbulmun walk track leads from a parking and picnic area, and meanders through the Jarrah forest, coloured with a host of wildflowers in all seasons, to the summit of Mount Cooke.

This walk within the Monadnocks National Park includes about 3 kms along the main ridge and summit of Mount Cooke which at 582m above sea level (and about 200m above the surrounding plateau) is the highest granite monadnock in the Darling Range

Mt Cooke has the been the victim of a number of bushfires over the years and the 2003 bushfire had an massive impact. You will see some of that as you wander through including the remnants of the old campsites that was lost in the fire.

Access is approx 45 km from Armadale along Albany Highway for 2km past the start of the Cooke Pine Plantation, then turn left onto a narrow dirt road at waypoint ‘RD-1

Places to enjoy on your road trip - North Bannister

North Bannister is a small town located in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, 94 kilometres  south-southeast of  Perth along Albany Highway between Armadale and Williams.

Image Credit: Mapio

Image Credit: Mapio

The town's name honours Captain Thomas Bannister who discovered the nearby Bannister River, a tributary of the Hotham River, in 1830 while leading the first overland expedition from Perth to King George Sound (now Albany). The name was applied to the river in 1832 by Surveyor-General John Septimus Roe.

Bannister River rises to the east of North Bannister and flows in a southerly direction discharging into the Hotham River near Boddington.

The river was named after Captain Thomas Bannister who was the first European to discover the river in 1830 by Surveyor General John Septimus Roe in 1832.

Places to enjoy on your road trip - Arthur River

The town is named after the Arthur River, which flows through it, a headwater of the Blackwood River. The river was named by Governor James Stirling in October 1835 after Arthur Trimmer who was a member of the exploring expedition led by the Governor. Trimmer arrived in Western Australia in April 1831 and selected land at York. In 1836 he married Mary Ann, one of King George Sound Government Resident Sir Richard Spencer’s daughters.

Image Credit

Image Credit

Following the introduction of convicts in Western Australia labour to the Swan River Colony in the early 1850s, the road from Perth to Albany was completed and a number of small settlements sprang up along it to support pastoralists who had been granted grazing leases in the area from as early as 1854. Arthur River gradually developed into a thriving centre with a police barracks and gaol (1866), the Mount Pleasant Inn (1869), St Paul's Church (1885) still surviving to this day as remnants of the original settlement, and a post office, blacksmith, doctor and trading post also being built around that time. By the end of the century it was the major centre in the area.

The towns post office originally operated out of the inn. Mary Ann Spratt was appointed as the post mistress in 1866. The post office itself was not gazetted until 1892 which was the same year that the telegraph line was connected. The first telephone subscriber service commenced in 1913.

When the Great Southern Railway opened in 1889, much of the existing trade moved to new railway towns further east and many of the centres along the old "Coach Road" closed.

Today Arthur River mainly serves as a fuel stop for travellers, with some of the historic buildings open to tourists. Located in the town are the Arthur River Gull Roadhouse, which is now closed, and the Arthur River general store, which supplies basic grocery items, liquor, postal services, and meals, although it is not open 24hrs.

The Arthur Wool Shed Group, with shearing shed, shearers' quarters, sheep dip and concrete cricket pitch, is one of the most prominent buildings in the town. It was first established in 1910 and opened as a one-stop-shop for community shearers in the 1950s. It was extensively restored in the three years to 2002, at which point the complex was heritage listed by the Heritage Council of WA.

Another legacy of Arthur River’s pioneering farmers is Hillman Dam. Dug by hand and concreted to bring water from Hillman Rock, today it draws nature lovers to this spot to discover the reserve’s abundant flora and fauna

Places to enjoy on your road trip - Sturdee Road

Sturdee Road rest area is 11km SE of Kojonup or 92km of Mt Barker , just off the highway among a few trees. Drive up Sturdee Road and experience some beautiful scenic farmland with views 

Sturdee Road.jpg

The service and sacrifice of Western Australia's Victoria Cross ( the highest award in the Australian honours system)  and George Cross recipients will be remembered in perpetuity with each recipient being commemorated at highway rest stops south of Perth.

The plaque at the Sturdee Road rest stop commemorates Corporal Ben Roberts - Smith who was a recipient of the Victoria Cross for his actions during the conflict in Afghanistan. The plaque is part of the Commemoration Way Project which honours Western Australian recipients of the Victoria Cross and George Cross.

Roberts-Smith was awarded the VC for his actions during a helicopter assault into Tizak on 11 June 2010 as part of an offensive in the Shah Wali Kot region while serving with the Special Air Service Regiment in Afghanistan. The medal, together with his Medal for Gallantry awarded during a tour of Afghanistan in 2006, made Roberts-Smith the most highly decorated member of the Australian Defence Force

Macropod - Western brush wallaby

The western brush wallaby (Macropus irma), also known as the black-gloved wallaby, is a species of wallaby found in the southwest coastal region of Western Australia. The wallaby's main threat is predation by the introduced red fox (Vulpes vulpes). The IUCN lists the western brush wallaby as Least Concern, as it remains fairly widespread and the population is believed to be stable or increasing, as a result of fox control programs.

Image Credit: Perth Zoo

Image Credit: Perth Zoo

The western brush wallaby has a grey colour with distinctive white colouring around the face, arms and legs (although it does have black gloves as its alternative common name implies). It is an unusually diurnal macropod that eats mainly grass.

Although quite small, the western brush wallaby's coloring resembles the larger kangaroos of the region. The western brush wallaby's head and body length usually falls around 1.2 m. Their tail length, which ranges from 54–97 cm, is proportionally long to their smaller body size. The adult western brush wallaby weighs anywhere from 7.0-9.0 kg. Their coloring consists of a pale to mid gray coat with a distinct white facial stripe. Other distinct features include black and white ears, black hands and feet, and crest of black hairs on the tail.[6] The size of the male and female are quite similar.

The western brush wallaby is a herbivore, although there is disagreement on whether it is a browser, eating mainly leaves, or a grazer, eating mainly grass, as there has not been extensive research done. It is a diurnal animal, which is somewhat unusual for macropods, and is active during dawn and dusk.

Like all others in the family Macropodidae, the western brush wallabies are characterized by powerful hind limbs and long hind feet. It runs by weaving or sidestepping, utilizing its powerful hind-limbs, while keeping its head low and its tail extended straight, making it very speedy.

Although decades of research have been done in regards to the reproductive behavior of the western brush wallaby, their habits are relatively unknown. The young are usually born during April and May. Females, like all marsupials, have a well-developed forwardly opening pouch containing four teats.The female gives birth to one young a time, with two rarely occurring. Gestation lasts from three to five weeks. After birth, the young enter the lactation period for seven months, until October or November. After vacating the pouch the young wallaby goes through a weaning period during which it will stick its head in the pouch temporarily attach itself to a teat.

Albany History - Wave

The Wave was a brig that was wrecked in 1848 at Cheynes Beach near Cape Riche, Western Australia.


Built in 1838 in Victoria, Bermuda the vessel was constructed from wood and copper sheathed. It had a square stern, single deck, no galleries and a billet head. The vessel was acquired by R. Brown in 1847 and was registered in London. It was then acquired in 1848 by William Younghusband and Company of Adelaide and registered there.

The vessel was in command of James C. Coke and was transporting cargo from Adelaide to Shanghai via Albany and Singapore.[1] The brig left Adelaide 5 June 1848 loaded mostly with flour and was en route to Albany to load a shipment of sandalwood.

The vessel was anchored at Cheyne Bay near Cape Riche when it was blown ashore by a heavy gale. The Champion and Arpenteur were dispatched from King George Sound[4] to assist. The Champion managed to pull the Wave offshore but Wave was leaking badly and foundered then sunk.

Champion then salvaged some of the cargo and then transported the crew, minus the Captain, back to Albany. Captain Coke sailed to Adelaide aboard the HMS Acheron, commanded by Captain John Lort Stokes.

The owners of the Arpenteur acquired the wreck of the Wave and that cargo not already salvaged for £330. The Arpenteur sailed for Fremantle with 27 tons of flour, 1,000 bushels of wheat, the rigging and sails that the crew had salvaged from the Wave