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I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.
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Monday, 20 March 2017

The Old Timberline Trail, St John Brook, Nannup

Autumn is creeping in to our corner of Western Australia. Whilst the days are still warm, they are without the brutal burning heat of summer, and the mornings and evenings have a crisp coolness to them. I welcome this coolness and cloudy days as it signals to me the start of bush-walking season. 

A couple of weekends ago we revisited the Old Timberline Trail in the St John Brook Conservation Park near Nannup in Western Australia's south west. As we walked we were enveloped by eucalyptus perfume.

 Walking along the Old Timberline Trail it is hard to imagine its past. The echoes of axes and saws, the thud of falling trees, the shouts of work men, and the rumbling of the timber trains over the lines have all gone. Now only birdsong or the rustling of a kangaroo in the bushes breaks the silence. Wildflowers brighten the undergrowth beneath the jarrah trees, and the flash of blue and red of a tiny wren lands and then is gone in an instant. 

First settled by Europeans in 1857, Nannup’s history revolves around the timber industry and the opening of the railway line in 1909.  

The Timberline Trail is a moderately easy 20 kilometre walk and cycle trail between Nannup and Cambray Siding, following part of an extensive network of disused forestry railway lines which once transported timber hauled by wood fired steam driven locomotives from bush camps to Barrabup Timber Mill and then to Busselton Jetty for export during the early 20th Century.  

The Trail, which can be broken into sections making it ideal for day or overnight walks, is marked by white triangular signs displaying an axe.  Interpretive signage along the way gives walkers a historical insight into the timber industry and the life of the timber cutters.  The majority of the railway sleepers have been removed but a few can still be seen along the Trail.  

The first 10 kilometre section starts at the old railway bridge in Nannup, crossing the Blackwood River near the caravan park and winding its way to the Workman’s Pool campsite. From here it is 1.2 kilometres to Barrabup Pool where there are camp sites higher up away from the water.  Then 4 kilometres to Sleeper Hewer’s camp where there is a timber overnight hut. From there it is 4.8 kilometres to Cambray Siding. 

The St John Brook Conservation Park helps to preserve the riverine ecosystem and biodiversity of sheoak, bull banksia, jarrah and marri trees, swamp peppermint and wonnich scrub which supports around 38 bird species, eleven mammals and many other creatures.  You will notice the changes in vegetation as you walk along the trail. Although spring is the best time for wildflowers, there is always something flowering in the Australian bush. In June look for Banded Greenhood Orchids growing in an old stumps by the track.

Below you can see pineapple bush, dryandra, coral fungi, banded greenhood orchid, eucalyptus, and banksia

Between Workman’s Pool and Barrabup Pool, the Trail follows the ridge line above the Brook and then down through stands of wattle trees.


Barrabup Mill was built in this area in 1908, employing 150 men and producing 75 square metres of timber per day.  The mill and township ceased to exist when the mill was moved to Nannup in 1925.


A picnic area and platform overlooks tranquil Barrabup Pool. This pool was once for the exclusive use of the Mill Manager’s family, while the workers used Workman’s Pool.  It is now a popular swimming, recreation and picnic area. There is a path suitable for wheelchairs and prams, and also toilet facilities. 

Barrabup Pool

From Barrabup Pool a bridge crosses St John’s Brook and climbs up through jarrah and banksia trees to join the old railway track on the ridge line above the Brook.  It is a shady easy walk.  Not far along the track deviates towards the Brook before looping back to the Potato Patch where vegetables were once grown and transported to the Barrabup Mill Store by horse and cart. 

The Potato Patch
 After walking through an area of dryandra and a section dominated by tall pineapple bushes, the track deviates to the right off the main trail and goes steeply down to the Brook leading you to a disused timber railway bridge spanning the gully.  The bridge was constructed by manual labour over 80 years ago. The huge beams were hewn from trees at the site and the bridge built following rough plans that were revised as the bridge progressed.  Please be aware of caution signs and do not venture out onto the bridge.

disused timber railway bridge
From here the trail passes through an old rail cutting and brings you to Sleeper Hewer's camp situated above two wide pools of the Brook. The fully enclosed overnight hut can accommodate 4-6 people on wooden bunks, and there are also tent sites. There is a water tank at the hut, but I would recommend carrying water with you.


As the railways expanded, so did the demand for railway sleepers. Prior to World War 1 there were around 800 sleeper cutters working in the bush along the railway line between Nannup and Busselton.  A sleeper cutter would be away from home a week at a time, living on basic food supplies and sleeping in canvas tents or simple wooden shelters in the bush. 


The camp is a tranquil place where bird watchers will enjoy the variety of bird life. If you stay overnight you may spot Brushtail Possums and hear the Tawny Frogmouth and Banjo frogs. 


Sleeper Hewer's Hut
From the hut it is as easy walk to Cambray Siding. Whilst little remains at Cambray Siding, you can see where the “navvy gangs” who travelled the railway lines repairing the tracks once lived.

You can also see evidence of how the timber fellers worked, felling 30 metres high and two metres wide trees by axe and saw whilst standing on a plank inserted above the base of the tree. This required strength, skill and fearlessness, making the timber fellers the glamour men of the industry.

Tree stump showing cuts where planks were inserted
From here it is only a couple of minutes to the parking area and the intersection with the old Nannup to Wonnerup railway line and the Sidings Rail Trail. Part of the Munda Biddi bike trail from Perth to Albany, this dual use cycle and walking trail runs from Jarrahwood to Nannup.
It is approximately 15 kilometres from here back to Nannup along the Sidings Trail, or you could arrange transport to pick you up at Cambray for your return to Nannup. 

disused railway near old Cambray siding
St John’s Brook is thought to have been a travel route for the Aboriginal Noongar people. It is believed that Nannup means ‘a place to stop and rest’. You can certainly still do that today in Nannup. Nestled on the banks of the Blackwood River surrounded by forests and rolling farmland, Nannup is a quiet place to take time out.

The Nannup Visitor Centre can give you details of other walks in the area, several of which start near the Visitor Centre, including the Heritage Town Walk and Kondil Wildflower Walk. You can also canoeing and fish in the Blackwood River or just relax with a book and a glass of local wine. Well known for its gardens, the annual Nannup Flower and Garden Festival featuring tulips and daffodils, bring visitors to Nannup every year. 

Nannup on a quiet Sunday afternoon
Whilst in Nannup, be on the look out for the famed Nannup Tiger – the Thylacine – the largest known carnivorous marsupial, it is now officially extinct, although stories still abound of its existence in the forests around Nannup.  Perhaps you may see one along the Timberline Trail. 

INFORMATION BOX          
                                                         
Where is it: Nannup is located approximately 60 kilometres south-east of Busselton on the Vasse Highway.


The “Old Timberline Trail” is a 20 kilometre walk and cycle trail which commences from the old railway bridge at the end of Brockman Street near the Nannup Visitor Centre, travels through St John’s Conservation Park and ends at Cambray Siding.


Camping: Camping is allowed at Workman’s Pool and Barrabup Pool: fees apply.


The hut Sleeper Hewer’s Camp can accommodated 4-6 people – nil fees.  Plus tent sites.

Nights can be very cold so bring warm clothing and bedding.


Accommodation in Nannup: Nannup Caravan Park is situated adjacent to the Visitor Information Centre in Brockman Street.  There are also various cottages and farm stays in the Nannup area. 

For more information click on the links below - 



Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this walk down the old Timberline Trail. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

 

Mosaic Monday 
Life Thru the Lens 

Our World Tuesday
Through My Lens 
Image-in-ing
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Travel Photo Thursday
 
The Lovin' Life Team over at Lifestyle Fifty
The Weekly Postcard 
Sky Watch Friday

23 comments:

  1. There sure are some very interesting plants there!

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  2. Your pictures are so interesting... great places to hike. :)

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  3. It looks so peaceful and picturesque. I wish we were experiencing autumn here in Queensland. It is still very hot and humid. :)

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  4. looks like a great place to hike and spend time in the outdoors.

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    1. it certainly is. You can also just do part of the trail to do it in shorter stages.

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  5. Wonderful and creative nature shot ~ love the perspective in the trail shots ~

    Wishing you a Peaceful week ~ ^_^

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  6. Oh how wonderful it would be to walk on those paths, differential sceneries. My roomate before had her PhD in Perth, i would have visited her for these things, but it did not materialize. The beauty of having not so harsh temperatures is for bushwalking as you term it there, which we term here as hiking. We cannot do that here for longer hours as it is very very hot and humid.

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    1. I would never bushwalk in summer. Way way too hot for me. Autumn and spring is best. Spring for wildflowers especially.

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  7. Gorgeous photo's - it looks like a beautiful walk, and autumn is a wonderful time of year for bush walking! :-) #TeamLovinLife

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  8. Love Nannup and this trail is awesome. Dave has done lots of cycling around here, but it's high time we did some more walking. Your pics as usual make it look divine.

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    1. it's a great place for walking Jo. We did this particular walk in sections on separate days. Easily achievable. But it would be great to camp overnight in the hut too.

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  9. Aussie bush tracks are so unique. Nothing better. The sounds, the smells and those trees that stand so tall and skinny. I love Australia.
    #teamlovinlife

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    1. I certainly love the eucalyptus perfume this time of year in the bush.

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  10. This looks like such a peaceful place!

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  11. What a beautiful encounter with nature! I like the flowers (or plants) you discovered and crystal clear parts of the river. #TPThursday

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  12. I love the big trees in this area. Well I remember Pemberton, but can't remember if we've been to Nannup. Anyway we both love trees, especially those in far north queensland and the south-west of W.A. Nannup looks lovely in your Sunday Afternoon photo.

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  13. What a great place. I love hiking, this would be a terrific place to hike. I always enjoy visiting your place here Jill.

    Lisa @ LTTL

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  14. I so enjoyed hiking the Timberline Trail with you today Jill, I don't feel at all tired! Nannup looks like a lovely place to stay in whilst exploring the area. Your mosaic of plants unknown to me was fascinating to see the names - banksia, dryandra and coral fungi are so foreign sounding to my ears.
    Happy Mosaic Monday.

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  15. What a great place to hike and camp. We love the rail trails here in the US too...make such great trails to walk...nice and easy grades! Hugs, Diane

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  16. A very interesting history. Lots to see along the way so I'm thinking those 20 kms would be quite enjoyable and would pass quickly.

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  17. Jill, Thanks for that walk through the woods. I love your photos and all the information you shared. Have a great week. Sylvia D.

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I hope you have enjoyed your visit to my blog. Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I read and very much appreciate every comment and love hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return.