Virtually all of this trek lies within the western D’Entrecasteaux National Park national park which stretches along the coast from Black Point in the west to near Walpole in the east with Windy Harbour providing a convenient coastal ‘centre’.
The trek can be divided into two separate sections: the centre and eastern section comprising the Yeagarup and Callcup dunes with magnificent karri roads accesses including the Carey Brook camping and Beedelup Falls areas; and the western section encompassing the very scenic Lake Jasper, Jasper Beach and Black Point.
The access track to the Jasper/Black Point area requires normal careful coastal driving through mainly peppermint woodland with some bullich, but tyres should be deflated to about 20psi. The Yeagarup and Callcup dunes definitely require tyre deflation and at Callcup, if proceeding up the dunes, pressures as low as 10-12psi will be required.
It may be possible to beach drive the entire stretch between Donnelly River and the Summertime Track near Windy Harbour, but more often than not the Warren River crossing will be impassable, as might be the Meerup River. Swell and tides play a part here.
Depending on where you enter the beach, you might be forced to exit up the Callcup dunes. Note that this section is the most challenging of the trek and really demands some previous dune driving experience.
Most the destinations marked on the trek have good camping with DEC fire rings for the most part (no camping at Beedelup Falls). The Carey Brook camping area is lovely, set as it is in tall karri with adjacent access to the perennial brook.
An excellent reference for this area is the draft management plan for Shannon and D’Entrecasteaux National Parks which is available atwww.dec.wa.gov.au
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The climate is characterised by cool temperate with most rainfall in winter but frequent morning drizzle even in summer. Summer temperatures are usually moderate but occasional short hot spells occur.
D’Entrecasteaux National Park contains huge areas of pristine or largely untouched beaches, coast structures including magnificent dune systems and long beaches, as well as major wet and sedgelands providing for a large diversity of fauna and flora.
It lies wholly within the Warren bioregion which is characterised by dissected (rivers and streams) undulating country supporting karri on the loams, paperbark and sedge swamps in the extensive depressions and predominantly peppermint woodland and scrub progressively near the coast.
The coastal belt extends the entire length of the Park with widths between half a kilometre near Windy Harbour
to up to nine kms towards the west and east. Black basalt cliffs occur at Black Point
but the coast access for the rest of this trek is pure beach. The major river and creek systems are the those of the Warren and Meerup rivers.
The expansive Yeagarup and Callcupo dunes approximate 4000 hectares in extent. Lake Jasper is the largest lake in the southwest and holds a large body of fresh water overlaying clean white sands – it is known as a ‘white lake’ due to the lack of tannins encountered in other waterbodies of the Park.
The flora of the Park is extremely diverse which holds up to 1000 species, with major families including orchids, sedges, pea groups and melaleucas (paperbarks). Away from the coast the area is dominated by impressive tall karri forest.
The main coastal tracks between are dominated by peppermints and the usual south coastal plant communities with occasional stands of bullich. Mammals and birds are well represented in D’Entrecasteaux National Park withat least 21 species of the former and 123 of birds. Reptiles, in contrast are relatively poorly represented.
D’Entrecasteaux National Park was formed progressively over the period 1970-90 via the amalgamation of private purchases, existing conservation reserves
, forestry reserves
, pastoral leases and local government reserves
; resulting from recognition by the Conservation through Reserves
Committee (1974) that the State lacked a large single south coastal area preserved from human development.
Archeological evidence indicates continuing Aboriginal usage of the D’Entrecasteaux National Park area for at least 10,000 years with current custodians mainly from the Murram branch of the Noongar Nation. Lake Jasper holds major significance to custodians and many archaeological artifacts have been discovered at the site.
Non indigenous history commences with early Dutch voyages from at least 1627. Captain Vancouver in the Chatham undertook the first hydrographic survey of the south coast in 1791. A year later French Admiral Bruny D’Entrecasteaux National Park led a large scientific expedition which included the ships Researche and Esperance
, and which named Point D’Entrecasteaux.
Little interest followed these voyages with activity mostly restricted to sealing and whaling. However, following settlement in 1831 terrestrial and further coastal exploration accelerated with farming being established to the north of the Park in the 1850s. Pastoral leases were prominent in the (now) Park in the 1880s with grazing continuing to the 1980s. These pastoralists built a number of coastal huts for summertime grazing (cattlemen huts), most of which are long gone.
More recently, D’Entrecasteaux National Park contains scatters of recreational squatters huts at scenic locations. These have been rationalized and are in the process of termination of permits following which rehabilitation of sites will take place.
The Park is highly valued by local communities such as those of Northcliffe
, Pemberton and Nannup
and surrounding towns and areas, but is also increasingly used by Perth
metropolitan visitors who can easily access the Park within a six hour drive.