Sept 11 and 12 2021
Although we have stayed here at least a couple of times before, I haven’t ever written about being here and just how good it is. So, here goes.
This is essentially a metropolitan NP, located in the northern, beachside suburb of Yanchep. Not so long ago people in Perth had holiday shacks up here and there was a theme park for families to go to on a long day trip from town. Now, like many places across Australia, Yanchep has been absorbed into the city it nestles against and before too long all the evidence of a holiday village will be gone. Except for Yanchep NP, protected by the laws that safeguard these valuable sites.
As I said, we have stayed here a few of times before, as part of trips to and from Lancelin. We have stayed on the grass and the hard stands. Since our first couple of stays the amenities have evolved to the point where they are now equipped with flushing toilets, hot showers and a fully functioning camp kitchen, all for a measly $15 per night per adult. There is a communal fire pit and visiting kangaroos, who arrive each evening to snack on the fresh grass of the old Henry White oval.
We set off on this trip on Saturday morning, arriving in Yanchep about 10 am, just in time for a morning coffee overlooking the lagoon. The aim of the trip though was to hunt out a few more orchids while they are still flowering so we headed up to the NP and off on the Yaberoo Budgera Heritage trail towards Yanchep Beach Rd. Along this section of the trail there was lots of evidence of birdlife, with bird noise all around us and we did catch site of a stunning little splendid fairy wren, glowing blue in the bush. We also came face to face with a mumma kangaroo with her not-so-little joey in the pouch. She was wary of us but not in any great hurry to move away. Wildflower wise, there was not much, perhaps because there were a lot of weeds.
Across Yanchep Beach Rd the landscape and the prevalence of wildflowers was completely opposite. All the tall trees were gone and we were standing on a limestone path traversing scrubland. We walked no more than 500 metres but managed to spot Donkey, Spider, Cow Slip, Fairy and Red Beak Orchids, as well as a purple enamel orchid. This final find made my day and I could quite happily have gone home. You see purple is my favourite colour and I love shiny things. The combination thrilling. We also saw many great specimens of Kangaroo Paws and Cats Paw. There were also leschenaultia, peas and violets. I had high hopes for this walk but they were exceeded!
Eventually we wandered back to the camper and over to the Chocolate Drops kiosk for lunch. They do a good toasty and milkshake, which we finished off with some of their “award winning, handmade chocolates”. Time for another walk. But first, we headed over to the campsite and chose a spot to spend the night. It’s lovely to have kangaroos in your “backyard”. This time we were on the handstand, a short stroll to the amenities and camp kitchen (which we didn’t use). Many of the walks skirt the edge of the campsite, including the Woodlands Walk Trail. This is a loop walk that was recommended to us by the ladies in the information centre, with promises of many of the orchids we saw this morning “and a few surprises”. We headed off in the mid afternoon and from the outset were delighted with Donkeys, Spiders, Cow Slips and Fairies. We also found some tiny Rabbit Orchids which I love! The light was much better for photographing the plants, hence my great picture of the backlit pea. I don’t know half the names (either genus or species) but the people on the The Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc.) Facebook page are helping me to learn.
Back at the camper it was starting to get cold so we headed indoors for a warming beverage and to watch the end of the footy. As a this was planned as a put-in-our-clothes-and-go trip, we deliberately didn’t bring much in the way of food, instead heading over to the Yanchep Inn for dinner. They were very busy with functions but found us a table so we could enjoy a lovely evening of Bananagrams and food. I had a yummy Moroccan Potato Soup and some Three Cheeses Arancini, while he had a Steak Sandwich. Our playing of Bananagrams was entertaining to the staff but helped the time pass quickly. The Inn is a lovely walk from the campsite, ideal for a trip like this where we don’t take the camper off the ute.
Rookie error in the put-in-our-clothes-and-go trip plan meant I didn’t put some milk in the fridge for my morning coffee. So we left the park earlier than planned to get some milk in Two Rocks before having a roadside breaky midway to Gingin. Unfortunately the weeds, particularly geraniums, are prolific along this part of the road so we didn’t see much in the way of wildflowers. Our intention was to stop somewhere in Yeal Nature reserve so we dug out geocaching to help us find something interesting. The map suggested there might be a reserve but we couldn’t find access to it so we headed for a cache instead, called Tea Tree Dip. I think dip was an understatement, just based on Mr Perspective’s exclamation at how steep the road became. Despite my suggestion to turn around if he was concerned, he put Maz in a lower gear and down we went. I think he has seen less steep ski slopes! Of course, we made it down the road, picked up the cache and had a look at the lovely banksia, all while Mr Perspective regained his composure.
Back on track we picked up another cache at Bell Hill Reserve in Bindoon and then drove on to Djiti Djiti Trail. The reviews suggest that there are some wildflowers to be found here and the information board at the bottom of the trail confirms this. However there didn’t seem to be many people crouched down looking or pointing things out. So I asked a descending walker. Their response? “Didn’t see any, but I wouldn’t know one if I fell over it”. Truer words have never been spoken, as 2 steps later there was a lovely Donkey orchid at the edge of the path. Admittedly there weren’t many others along the path but just off the path, different story. We saw more donkeys, cow slips, spiders, all known to us, and China Blue and Little laughing Leek, both new to us. We also found some Fringed Lilies, Trigger plants and milkmaids! What a great walk, that is actually among some stunning Grass Trees.
Our next stop was meant to be at Dawn Atwell Reserve but we took a side turn to have a look around Julimar State Forest. At the place we stopped there was very little to see (wild flowers) but I did find a different Trigger plant.
Rather than turn around, we headed onward to complete a loop. Almost at the end there were a couple of Carnaby Cockatoos eating Marri nuts on the ground. We stopped to watch them and ended up witnessing a courting ritual and some mating! It went a bit like this: Lady Carnaby flies onto a branch, alerted by us arriving, taking her nut with her. The male Carnaby flew over to her and started screeching at her. I thought he was a baby bird, trying to attract her attention and possibly fearful of us. She ignored him and kept on chewing away at the nut. His screeching, short blasts at high pitch and decibels continued, but he also seemed to get a bit fidgety, extending his wings. Then all of a sudden he flew onto her from behind, squashed her flat and did the deed, the whole time flapping his wings to stay afloat. This is the point at which we realised what was happening and I changed to the video setting on the camera. The deed lasted about a minute and then he stopped, resumed his spot on the branch and was far more settled. They seemed to ignore each other and us, before eventually flying away together into the sunset, leaving us stunned and thrilled. What a great end to a wonderful short weekend getaway in beautiful Western Australia. Again, we are reminded just how lucky we are to have these opportunities. Here’s to many more.