Avon Valley National Park
From summer to winter, from north to south, and from high outcrops to deep river and stream valleys, the forests of Avon Valley National Park are constantly changing. The Avon River flows in winter and spring when the river churns over spectacular rapids. During summer and autumn the river diminishes to a series of pools in a bed of granite boulders and tea-tree thickets. The park features forests and granite outcrops, panoramic views over the Avon Valley and the chance to see a wide variety of birds and wildlife.
Visiting the park
The roads within the park are all unsealed. The nearest telephone, petrol and food outlets are at Gidgegannup or Toodyay, 30 kilometres from the park. There are some picnic facilities and basic camping sites. The small amount of development means much of the park has wilderness qualities. The best time to visit is during the cooler months.
The camping grounds have wood barbecues, picnic tables and pit toilets. Water is available in the Bald Hill and Homestead camping areas. A fee is charged for camping in the park. Go to the ranger's residence to pay fees. The steep and rough roads are not suitable for caravans and trailers.
If you intend to walk off the marked tracks or camp away from the camping grounds, please let the ranger know beforehand. It is suggested that you bring plenty of water and avoid strenuous walking on hot days. Make sure you have a topographic map and compass if you plan to go on the longer tracks. Bring binoculars and a camera for the views and wildlife.
The Avon River can be run by experienced canoeists in winter and is made famous by the Avon Descent each August. In summer the river slows to a trickle, becoming a series of shallow pools unsuitable for swimming.
Where Woodlands Meet Forests
Avon Valley National Park is at the northern limit of the jarrah forests. Here, the jarrah and marri mingle with wandoo woodland. This mix of trees, or 'transitional forest', creates diverse habitats for plants and animals. More than 90 species of bird have been seen in the park, including grey fantails, rufous treecreepers, western yellow robins and several types of honeyeaters. Rainbow bee-eaters and sacred kingfishers arrive to breed in the spring and can often be heard calling.
Wandoo and powderbark trees tend to grow on heavier soils underlain with clay. The smooth trunks of wandoo change colour from white to creamy grey in autumn, while the bark of powderbark turns orange and is covered with a fine powder. Jarrah grows on the higher slopes and ridges with shallow, well drained soils. Marri grows further downslope, where the soil is deeper and more moist. Flooded gum and swamp paperbark grow along the river.
A variety of plants make up the understorey. Blue leschenaultias, dryandras and donkey orchids are just a few that flower in spring. Among the understorey, chuditch may still occasionally be found. These small native mammals were common in the area until foxes and cats reduced their numbers to the present low levels. CALM has programs to reduce fox numbers and to reintroduce small mammals to natural habitats such as Avon Valley National Park.
Granite outcrops add to the diversity of the park. A variety of low shrubs and small lichens and mosses cling to the rocks. Lizards such as bobtail skinks and rock dragons sun themselves on the rocks to warm their blood. Sure-footed euros, adapted to life in rocky areas, and western grey kangaroos, come out to graze in the evening and on rainy days.
One of the first Europeans to venture into this area was Joseph Bolitho Johns, the bushranger known as Moondyne Joe, whose exploits began after his first escape from Toodyay lock-up in 1861. Despite several spells in gaol, his ability to escape detention made him Western Australia's most famous bushranger. In the 1860s Moondyne Joe repeatedly returned to this area while on the run as it was then one of the wildest and most inaccessible places in the Darling Range. His cave and corral were located in the north of what is now the park, but have all but been destroyed by successive bushfires.
Joe never hurt anyone and went out of his way to avoid violence. However, with a group of runaways, he broke into an old couple's hut and stole firearms and other goods. Moondyne Joe and Company, as the gang was dubbed, eluded police and carried out robberies for a planned escape to South Australia. They even robbed the town store in Newcastle on the same night that the Governor was staying there.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Where is it?
80 km north-east of Perth via the Toodyay Road. Turn left into Morangup Road, and left onto Quarry Road.
1 hour from Perth.
What to do:
Bushwalking, canoeing, picnicking. Bush camping is permitted. Canoeing is extremely popular. Commercial white water rafting tours are also available.
A riverside walk begins at the picnic area at the end of 41 Mile Road.
There are shaded picnic areas barbecues and toilets at Bald Hill, at Drummond's Waterfall, at the Ranger's residence and by the river on 41 Mile Road.
Autumn and Spring
Nearest CALM office:
CALM's Swan Region Office at Kelmscott.
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of The Western Australia Department of Conservation and Land Management