Virtually all of this trek lies within the eastern 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’.
It can be thought of as two separate sections: the eastern section from Chesapeake Road running south to Moores Hut and east to the Fish Creek area; and the western section encompassing the very scenic Mt Chudalup, Windy Harbour and Gardner River mouth. Mt Chudalup and Windy Harbour are easily accessible by 2WD but all other sections require 4WD and occasionally low to very low tyre pressures (particularly the Gardner mouth dunes).
Chesapeake Road will require fording adjacent to the Gardner River bridge (4WD) and covers sedgelands in the west and tall karri in the east. The Moores Hut to Fish Creek tracks require normal careful coastal driving through mainly peppermint woodland with some bullich east of the hut. The coastal places
at the Fish Creek end comprise rugged scenic cliffs and headlands.
The Gardner River mouth can be accessed from Chesapeake Road via the Lower Gardner Road or from the Windy Harbour Road via Tragedy Track (these accesses can be swampy and are not indicated on this trek).
Alternatively as per this treknote, the mouth can be easily reached via a solid beach east of Windy Harbour (but watch swell and tides or you could get caught against the dunes halfway out) or via a track parallel to the dune lines. This track is a bit soft and cut up but is easy and there is an earlier beach access/exit marked via a waypoint here. If traveling on the beach all the way to the Gardner mouth, the dunes up from the beach are very soft and require a max. 14 psi if taking the ‘direct’ option especially. If taking the easier righthand option towards the river, be prepared for a mud hole near the exit which might present a problem depending on the season.
All the coastal places
marked on the trek have good camping with DEC fire rings for the most part, and the historic Moores Hut itself is open and available on a ‘first comer’ basis. The Gardner mouth camping area is lovely outside peak holiday times.
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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 east. Black basalt cliffs predominate at Black Point
but rocky shores and cliffs elsewhere are usually of limestone. Mt Chudalup is a major and spectacular granite emergent arising from a flat sea of sedgeland. The major river and creek system of this trek is the Gardner River.
The Doggerup Creek system surrounding Mt Chudalup is a nationally important acid peat flat wetland.
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).
The main east west coastal tracks between Coodamurrup and Fish Creek 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.
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 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) of which one, Moore’s (Coodamurrup) hut, is featured in this trek.
More recently, D’Entrecasteaux National Park contains scatters of recreational squatters huts at scenic locations such as at Gardner River mouth. 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 areas, but is also increasingly used by Perth metropolitan visitors who can easily access the Park within a six hour drive.