You know that feeling when you discover something amazing you’d always overlooked? It’s like discovering the bit of quartz you’d kicked around was a diamond. Well, I had one of those moments last weekend in Collie.
I visited Collie a few times back when I was a journalist with the Southwestern Times, and I was involved in a workshop out there for Nature Play WA, but I certainly didn’t know it. It was one of a string of country towns that I’d been through, but not given a lot of thought to. That has changed.
After a three-day weekend camping in Wellington National Park, I am now convinced that the jarrah forest hills around Collie are among WA’s unsung treasures. I even found myself wondering about property prices as we turned for home past the rolling pastures looking out over the Ferguson Valley.
We camped at Honeymoon Pool on the banks of the Collie River, surrounded by Jarrah forest, and we are already planning a return visit to try out Potters Gorge campground.
The key thing about Wellington National Park, to my mind, is that it is properly forested. Not just a patch here there, but truly, densely forested. Add to that the rolling hills, the river, the dam, and the growing network of trails and this is an outdoor recreation mecca waiting to happen.
And we may not be waiting long. Back in April the McGowan Government announced $10million in new funding to help turn Collie into WA’s premier ‘trail adventure town’. That will mean more than 180km of high-quality mountain bike and bushwalking trails looping through forested hills just 2 hours from Perth.
Somehow that announcement had passed me by. I’m not sure how I missed it, but I did. Then on Saturday we walked from Honeymoon Pool, where we were camped, the 6km to the Wellington Dam Kiosk for lunch, and the extremely helpful owners gave us a flier about it.
Of course overnight hikes and mountain bike trails aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you have small children, but the Park is also a brilliant place for day hikes or just mucking about on mountain bikes.
The area is already well known by locals and the campgrounds can be very busy at peak times, which is why I recommend heading out there now. Winter camping is seriously underrated and there are few places better to do it within a short drive of Perth than Wellington National Park.
You can see our review of Honeymoon Pool camp ground on the Nature Play WA app. And in the meantime here are my top six reasons why winter is the best time to go camping:
- There are less people about, so you can enjoy the peace and silence that camping is all about
- You can light fires and enjoy the simple joy of cooking over coals (and toasting marshmallows)
- Cooler temperatures bring the wildlife you want to see out (birds, marsupials etc) and keep the ones you don’t want to see (snakes) away
- Winter rains and grey skies make the bush glisten and grey skies make the greens pop. There is less glare and more colour
- You can walk further and be more active when it is cool without having to worrying as much about dehydration or over exposure to the sun (but still be careful with both!)
- There is something special about waking up from a warm sleeping bag into a brisk morning where your breath fogs and a hot breakfast is heaven