Western Australia: Walk in the park ... with wildlife

By Pamela Wade

Unexpected locals add a touch of drama to stunning Quarram Nature Reserve, writes Pamela Wade.

Elephant rocks on the Bibbulmun Track, Western Australia. Photo / Pamela Wade
Elephant rocks on the Bibbulmun Track, Western Australia. Photo / Pamela Wade

Never mind the 8000 plant species that make this area one of only 34 biodiversity hotspots on the planet: I want to know bio-specifically what snake left that track in the dirt.

Dave is - of course, he's Australian - laid-back. "Tiger, perhaps, or a dugite. Both highly venomous," he shrugs as he continues along the path.

We're on the 1000km Bibbulmun Track, running from Albany on the southern coast of Western Australia right up to the Perth hills. Its route-markers, I note suspiciously, are a yellow triangle painted with a snake; but Dave explains that it's a waugal, an Aboriginal rainbow serpent, rather than a warning to walkers.

The day began with a misty dawn, tuneful magpies echoing through the gum trees and 'roos grazing on the grass below my pole-house accommodation in the nearby town of Denmark. But now the sun is flooding the landscape with colour.

Here in the Quarram Nature Reserve, the sand is white, the sea a clear turquoise around smooth granite rocks dusted with orange lichen; back from the coast the dirt is red and the bush full of flowers.

Though spring is the season for wildflower glory, even now in late summer there's plenty of scent and bright colour: banksias and grevilleas, rosemary and peppermint, pimelias and orchids.

Dave has driven me deep into the reserve on what is clearly a 4WD track to Boat Harbour, where we leave the beautiful beach to two happy fishermen standing on the rocks and walk up the hill to a viewpoint over Rope Bay.

It's a stunner: wind-sculpted limestone cliffs high above a tiny cove where, on this perfect day, the waves are rolling gently into the beach.

"Feel the landscape," Dave instructs me, and we stand in silence for two minutes as I absorb the scenery, registering every detail for my new happy place.

Two Western Grey 'roos pop their heads up out of the bush as we return to the bay, but over at Green Pool there are elephants. I have to stop at a precise spot on the path around the headland to see them, but there they are, hulking and unmistakable. And made of stone.

Shaped by wind and water, the boulders shelter the most idyllic little beach I've ever seen. Dave knows the exact word for it: "Wow".

CHECKLIST

Getting there: Air New Zealand flies direct to Perth. Denmark is five hours' drive from Perth along the Albany Highway.

Where to stay: Karma Chalets are stylish pole-houses in a quiet country setting just outside Denmark.

Walking: Wilderness Getaways offers a full range of tours in the region, from half-day meanders to supported four-day hikes.

Further information: See westernaustralia.com.

Pamela Wade visited the Bibbulmun Track and Quarram Reserve with help from Tourism Western Australia.

- NZ Herald

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