With school holidays approaching we had a couple of grandchildren looking for an adventure. After a bit of research we settled on Willow Springs campground. With trailer loaded, bikes hanging off the back and Levi and Tessa on board we left the beautiful autumn sunshine that Perth was experiencing and headed towards Bridgetown where it was cold and raining.
Leaving Bridgetown continue on Brockman Hwy, turn into Stallard Rd then turn into Gold Gully Rd. Willow Springs holds the history of a stock route and timber mill. Today it is a great free camping area for those wanting some R and R in the midst of the bush. There is ample room to set up camp for a few days. With a well maintained gravel road it is possible to drive the camper/caravan in. Keeping with history a bridle trail passes through the area, with a carrel for the horses. The Bibbulmin Track, a 1004km hiking track and the Munda Biddi, a cycle track both spanning from Perth to Albany pass through Willow Springs. The campground is close to the towns of Bridegtown, Manjimup and Nannup along with Donnelly River Village. Camp facilities consist of a small three sided shelter, water tank, picnic tables and seating, fire pits and pit toilets. The central area is well cleared for camping with a boundary of pine and gum trees.
With the rain abating and the sun pushing through the clouds Levi and Papa set up the tents whilst Tessa and I pulled the kitchen together. As Ian and I relaxed with a cuppa the kids scurried off to collect fallen branches and pine cones as they were eager to get the campfire burning. With the evening settling in the temperature dropped significantly which encouraged us to draw closer to the smouldering embers and tell stories before rolling into the tent for the night.
The chirpy bird life during the early hours of morning ensured no one would be sleeping in. With breakfast done and backpacks loaded we headed off along the Bibbulmin Track. The bush was fresh after the recent rain. With the smell of eucalyptus lingering in the air and the sunlight filtering through the canopy of branches it was a wonderful day to be in the bush. Papa and Levi set the pace and were out of sight in no time. Whilst Tessa and I dawdled along frequently pausing to admire the wildflowers in bloom.
Fallen trees across the path made for a real adventure as we scrambled our way through and over. We passed a few hikers who were walking the entire track from end to end. They were eager to reach Donnelly River Village to enjoy a coffee and comfy bed for the night.
Coming out of the bush we crossed the very busy Brockman Hwy before continuing on our way along the bush track. Reaching the track signage we veered off onto the track leading to the Karri Gully picnic area. A few people were heading off along the circuit track to view some huge Karri trees. Watered, fed and rested we headed off for the return trek to Willow Springs. There was much chatter between Levi and Tessa about getting the camp fire going, have to admit sounded more like a bonfire!!!
After dinner we huddled around the fire and played a game of ‘how well do you know me’. Certainly created a few laughs. After toasted marshmallows and a hot chocolate we crawled into our sleeping bags and without much effort drifted off to sleep.
Up at the crack of dawn we organized ourselves and set off on the Munda Biddi Trail peddling our way to Donnelly River Village. I had told the kids of the great lolly section at the cafe, they were eager to find out just how great this lolly shop was. The day started off overcast and we weren’t overly confident it would be a rain free day.
Again Levi and Papa set off at a great pace along the well maintained gravel road. Tessa and I caught up to find them displaying their skidding skills, Papa hadn’t lost his skill which the kids where most impressed with. Veering off onto a narrow bush trail the peddling become more serious and strenuous as we ascended sharply following the contours. The thick vegetation stretched across the track giving a few whacks in the face as we pushed through. With the track leveling out the riding became easier. We stopped for a snack before tackling the next incline but as always there is a downhill thrill after an uphill pull. Papa, Levi and Tessa took off, the squeals of delight echoing through the bush alerted me that it certainly was a downhill thrill, thankfully they all managed to stay on their bikes. Coming across a creek and picnic table we pulled up for lunch. Levi and Tessa both enthusiastic to consume lunch as that meant on arrival to DRV it would be lolly time.
Back on the bikes again and with one last climb we eventually rolled into DRV. As usual the greeting committee of kangaroos and emus were there looking to be fed. Despite being native animals they have become domesticated within the area. Being school holidays there were a lot of people staying within the village. This is a popular area for holiday makers, Bibbulmun walkers and Munda Biddi cyclists. With lollies enjoyed and some tucked away for back at camp we were peddling our way back to Willow Springs. A few others where out enjoying the tracks either walking or cycling. Papa threw out the challenge to Levi as to who would arrive back at camp first, the race was on. As for Tessa and I, well we set a far more leisurely pace often stopping to look at wild flowers or sit on a rock and chat while we nibbled on a lolly or two.
With under a km to camp the heavens opened up and Tessa and I were drenched in an instant. Lucky for us it was a good downhill roll into camp. Levi and Ian had long been back and had the fire burning and kettle boiling. Levi was very excited to boast he was the winner with Papa slowing up thinking Levi was struggling but it was a ploy. As Levi drew beside Papa he let it rip and arrived at camp ahead of Papa. Sitting around chatting and laughing as we indulged in afternoon tea the heavy rain had settled in. We all agree with still plenty of daylight left that we would pack up and head back to Perth.
What a wonderful couple of days with Levi and Tessa in nature’s playground.
Until next yarn, happy hiking
Bernadette and Ian.