4WD: Make haste while sun shines
4WD: Make haste while sun shines

With sunny skies above Perth, there may still be time to fit in a quick weekend away in the camper.

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At just 100km south of Perth, I reckon it's hard to beat Lane Poole Reserve for a fast getaway.

Head down South West Highway to Pinjarra, turn left up the hill and through the little country town of Dwellingup and choose from seven bush camping areas.

Five have defined camping bays which can be conveniently booked in advance using the Department of Environment and Conservation website dec.wa.gov.au.

All are accessible off well-graded gravel tracks suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles.

First past the entry is Baden Powell, named after the founder of the Boy Scouts in 1914 by a scoutmaster leading his troupe camping. The location was popularised when they discovered a waterspout in a granite bar across the river. It gushes water with great force to the gasps of unwary onlookers.

Chudditch is the only area with a camp kitchen. The wide open spaces under the pine trees at Nanga are perfect for large groups - these are "first come, best located" so ask the boss if you can have Friday afternoon off.

Camping: Set up under the tall trees at Nanga. Picture: Supplied by Ray Cully
Most camping areas are clustered near the banks of the Murray River. From summer, the waters are peaceful for canoeing and fishing with some deep, cool holes for swimming. Nanga Brook provides a rainbow trout ladder down into the Murray or try for redfin perch, cobbler or marron.

Pick up a fishing licence online at fish.wa.gov.au or at the Dwellingup Post Office on Saturday morning. Closed seasons, bag limits and minimum legal sizes apply to protect stocks and ensure fish will be nibbling next year.

After good winter rains sections turn into white-water rapids and small waterfalls, providing exhilarating runs for the more intrepid kayaker.

While most areas are self-guided, check tours at dwellingupadventures.com.au for safer white-water rafting with experienced guides.

Mountain-bike thrillseekers are also in for a treat. Lane Poole provides a perfect base to head up or down the Munda Biddi Trail. The track sweeps through some beautiful country, providing a visual treat and great workout.

There's plenty of bushwalking trails looping away from each of the camping areas; keep your camera at hand for big fat lizards, lazy kookaburras or a sudden blaze of wildflowers in spring.

With fire season over, snuggle up close to the campfire in the crisp clear evenings - but you'll need to take your own firewood.

If all the natural attractions aren't enough, head into Dwellingup for a coffee or visit the Forest Heritage Centre, home of the Australian Woodworking School and an interpretive trail through the jarrah forest.

On Sundays through winter and spring, the Hotham Valley Railway provides a stunningly scenic steam train ride up WA's steepest escarpment to entertain both little and big kids alike.

See you there next sunny weekend.

The West Australian

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