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FITZGERALD RIVER NATIONAL PARK
GPS 33 56 33 S 119 57 36 E
Park area : 329,589 ha.
The park lies on the south coast between Hopetoun and Bremer Bay and covers some 329,589 ha. A campsite on the western side is located
at St Mary Inlet near Point Ann facilities are limited. Campsites on the eastern side (suitable for 2wd and caravans) are at Four Mile and Hamersley Inlet.
The Hamersley Inlet site has a gradient of 25% on the way so be sure your vehicle can handle it. if in doubt stay at Four Mile.
The area is cut by deep gorges and fringed by beaches. It is one of the largest National Parks in Australia.
Mathew Flinders sailed past the coast in 1802 and named the mountains East, West and Mid Mount Barren. Had he landed and climbed through the hills he would have found that his names were very misleading.
The mountains are thought to have formed 1000 million years ago when the Australian land mass collided with the Antarctic.
Early land-based exploration by Europeans started with a visit by William Baxter in 1826 and then by James Drummond in 1847. They were followed by James Newell, James Manning and Edward John Eyre.
Grazing leases were established from the 1850s and some hopeful prospectors searched the area for valuable minerals.
The difficult terrain meant that much of the area remained undisturbed and in 1950 the West Australian Naturalists' Club proposed that a reserve be established. The first reserve was a 'C' class nature reserve covering 246,804 ha and was declared in 1954.
A report on the park sums up the area this way:
'The park sits astride the incised valleys of four major river systems, which flow south-east to the coast. Dominating the southern section is a low range of rugged quartzite hills known collectively as The Barrens, while the core of the park is an extensive undulating plain....The flora of the park is exceptionally rich and diverse. Although the Park is only 0.2 per cent of Western Australia's land surface, over 20 per cent of Western Australia's plant species occur there. Many of the plant species are endemic to the region, reflecting the tight and varied plant/soil mosaics. Vegetation varies, from woodland on the richer soils through to mallee and mallee heath.'
'There are more recorded species of birds, mammals and frogs than in any other reserve in south-west Australia. This is partly a reflection of the park size, but also because of the blending of wet country and dry country species which occur in the park.'
Official figures for the species found in the park are: 184 bird species, 22 mammal species, 41 reptile species and 12 frog species. Plant species exceed 1750 with at least 75 species being found nowhere else.
There have been severe fires in the park in the past with one notable event occurring in 1989. Almost 50% of the park was burned out in a space of 10 hours. Fears about plant re-generation proved to be unfounded as even previously rare species germinated in such profusion that they were taken off the endangered list.
After the fires 84 orchid species were found growing in the park. Orchids seem to flower most actively after large fires and so in the spring following a summer fire they are easier to locate.
Due to the parks rugged nature it is a haven for 4wd enthusiasts. RAC W.A. has maps of the park available which detail the tracks and roads through the park.
From the top of West Mt. Barren on a clear day you can see the Stirling Range 100 km to the west.
There is no drinking water available in the park.
East Mount Barren. 3 hours, difficult rating.
Please note that in order to reduce the spread of Dieback disease, the area above 150 metres on the mountains is now restricted and walking in this area is prohibited.
Point Ann (accessible by 2 wheel drive) 66km via Devil's Creek Road or 64 km via Quiss Road and Pabelup Drive.
Expect unsealed roads in the National Park to be rough.
An alternate place to stay is at Quaalup Homestead on the western side of the park.
Best time to visit:
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