Starting at Donnybrook
, this trek is a ramble through secondary forest roads which are all driveable via 2WD. Once the leaving the South Western Hwy the road quickly moves into Jarrah Marri forest interspersed with pine plantations.
The first destination is the campsite at old Cambray Siding which lies along one of the old timberline logging rail routes. The sleeper remnants of one of these lines adjacent to one of the sites is clearly visible. At this point, there is a DEC described walktrail to old Barrabup Mill site and on to Nannup
(40km return, but shorter return stages can be selected).
Back to the highway with a number of pleasant attractions such as cheeseries at which pleasant breaks can be made. The trek then passes through picturesque Nannup
and down to the Vasse Hwy to reach Gold Gully Rd. From this point the forest quickly transforms to increasingly dense and tall karri on backroads to reach Donnelly Mill townsite. Minor shop
facilities are available here but the mill itself has long closed although substantial mill buildings remain as do the old workers’ huts.
The route continues through the karri to re-cross Vasse Hwy and reach Black Point
Road. Once off the bitumen, the road reverts to 4WD status near the D’Entrecasteaux Park boundary, and near Black Point
itself tyres should be deflated to 20psi or similar.Black Point
has two main viewing sites, both of which are spectacular. There are many DEC campsites located here under the peppermints, with fire rings supplied. Pit toilets are strategically located near the camping areas. You will need to bring your firewood from outside the Park.
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The climate of WA’s south west is cool temperate with abundant rainfall in winter but frequent morning drizzle even in summer. Summer temperatures are usually moderate but occasional short hot spells occur.
The trek lies 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 part of the route contains huge areas of pristine or largely untouched beaches, coast structures including magnificent dune systems and long beaches, as well as the major Black Point
basalt structures, providing for a large diversity of fauna and flora. The sedgelands along Black Point
Rd often produce beautiful shows of red swamp beaufortia (b. sparsa) for lengthy periods between Jan-April and again between Sept-Nov.
The coastal tracks are dominated by peppermints and the usual south coastal plant communities with occasional stands of old growth marri. A particularly good stand lies opposite the T junction with the old Black Point
One of the major drawcards to D'Entrecasteaux National Park is the magnificent Black Point
. This massive outcrop of basalt was formed from an extensive volcanic lava flow originating from the Darling Fault around 135 million years ago. To the west of Black Point
lies a smaller - albeit spectacular outcrop of basalt featuring classic ‘organ pipe’ columns.
To reach the black basalt columns that give Black Point
its name, a short 1km stroll is required along the beachfront (on the northwest side of Cape Beaufort). You'll see the headland from the carpark at the beach. The sea is often pounding hard against the basalt and you may have to pick a quiet, low tide to get close enough to hear their distinctive organ-like music as the waves and wind echo through the gaps in the basalt pillars. South of the beach a rough vehicle track runs out to the southern part of the point to several fishing spots with spectacular scenery along more basalt cliffs that are constantly pounded by the Southern Ocean.
This trek also takes in Jasper Beach (further east), which is a nice secluded spot
- and similar to Black Point
, features camping spots on the way in. To get to Jasper Beach, you take a narrow and winding track called Wapet Track. This challenging track becomes very steep with rutted sand hills as you head towards the beach, and it's probably not a good idea to take your trailer down there.
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 to the east of Black Point
at Windy Harbour.
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 area in the 1850s. Pastoral leases were developed 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.
The area of the route comprising forests has been continually logged since the late1800s, for both high grade jarrah and karri lumber initially but more recently also including marri as source logs for woodchipping.
Exploitation and clearing of the forests has been over three broad stages, all very controversial. Firstly in the early 1920s much prime karri was ringbarked in favour of dairy farms and was strongly opposed by foresters. This stage eventually failed because of insuperable economic problems at smallholder level and the onset of the Great Depression.
During the period between the 1930s – 1950s, Government secured much of the remaining karri on Crown land as designated State Forest. In turn this was opposed by both farming and local government interests but the opposition comprehensively failed with the great bulk of remaining karri absorbed into the State.
Subsequently, from the 1970’s to the present, environmental interests have increasingly opposed logging in the forest with major victories resulting in bans on old growth logging, establishment of significant new forest conservation reserves
, and better forestry management practices. In turn these conservation efforts have been fiercely opposed by forest unions in particular.
The current situation is for periodic skirmishes between vested interests to continue to occasionally break out. Evidence of old timber industry interests is frequent, as at Cambray and Nannup on this trek.