This track may take you through areas at risk of dieback. Please STICK TO THE TRACKS!.
Dwellingup is a small town south of Perth. The town has a long history originally as the terminus of the Pinjarra/Marinup railway, as a logging town. In more modern times, Dwellingup has become known as a centre for bauxite mining. In 1961, 132 homes in Dwellingup were destroyed by devastating fires that tore through the area. 800 odd people were left homeless in the Dwellingup area, however there were no fatalities.
Dwellingup is now a popular destination for holiday-makers and four wheel drivers. There are coutless interesting and diverse tracks being available for all skill levels. The Dwellingup Fenclines 4wd trip is one of these.
Before the trip
We were once again lucky enough to be allowed to join in with a Western Australian 4wd club on their trip down to Dwellingup. We headed down on Friday evening straight after work and arrived only about an hour and a half later. We pulled into the Dwellingup Caravan Park which is a fantastic, back-to-nature caravan park on the edge of town, hidden in state forrest. The park and camp/caravan sites are nestled in amongst tall jarrah forest, giving you the feeling of camping right out on the bush.
There were already a number of club members set up when we arrived and they were very keen to come over and have a chat while we set our camper/caravan up. It was the first time we’d set it up so it took a while, and ended up being quite a late night for our little son.
Meeting at the pub
The next morning, were to meet the rest of the convoy at the Dwellingup Hotel at 8:30am. As it turned out, there were quite a number of vehicles, so we were split into two groups. At about 9:30am, after a briefing, we headed off with the second group to follow about 30 minutes later.
On the drive
We headed out of Dwellingup, west along the Pinjarra/Williams road until we reached Scarp Road. Scarp Road is a small turn-off heading slightly up-hill off the main road. If you continue straight down Scarp Road, you eventually find yourself at Scarp Pool, which we visited a little later on our trip.
Instead of continuing along Scarp Road, we stopped a little down the track and reduced our tyre pressure to around 20 PSI. A little further down Scarp Road, we turned off onto a track that you’d probably miss unless you were looking for it. It was slightly overgrown and was only just wide enough for us to drive down. And this was just the beginning.
As we continued along the track, we came across a number of very rough spots. We would not have thought our car capable of successfully navigating these challenges until we watched the Triton in front of us doing it. In particular, a couple of very steep sections where we lost traction a couple of times, and a few very rutted sections that required us to very carefully pick our lines. In particular, one section where the track turned sharply left. The left hand side of the track was level, but the rut on the right was approximately 60 cms deep and steeply sloping back towards the right. We watched carefully as the Triton in front of us navigated the turn. We noticed their right wheels slipping back into the rut.
As we drove through, I took the approach of keeping a little further to the right. This put me higher on the sloping rut and I managed to get through without slipping back down.
There were a number of averagely steep descents requiring low range 1st gear. Many of them were loose dust, leaves and gravel that all conspired against our traction.
Other sections were so narrow between bushes that all the cars came out with minor scratching. Nothing serious, only surface paint scratches that we decided to call ‘speed stripes’.
A little further on, just before our morning tea stop, we came across a pine tree fallen over the track. It had obviously been there for some time as a track around the tree was starting to form.
However, the attitude of the particular 4wd club is that if a tree is blocking the path, if it is possible to clear it then it should be cleared. This prevents the track from spreading into the surrounding environment and causing destruction to nearby plant life.
One of the leaders of the convoy had a chain which he hooked around the tree and attached to his vehicle. With almost no effort, his car pulled half the tree off the track. With the rest of the convoy assisting, we were able to move the rest of the tree off the track manually.
A little further down the track, we arrived at Scarp Pool where we had lunch. Scarp Pool is a fantastic lunch location on the Murray River. The river at this point forms a couple of natural pools which are accessible by foot and are nice swimming spots. There are also toilets and picnic tables available.
After lunch, we continued along following the trip leader. Although it wasn’t of concern to us, the trip leader was clearly not 100% confident of where he was supposed to be heading. During the briefing, we’d been informed that it was the first trip that the leader was taking. Later he explained to us that the method they’d used to survey the track was slightly different from what had been used previously. They’d had a number of people driving different tracks. They then discussed the tracks and decided which would be the final route.
However in joining the routes they somehow became corrupted and didn’t match up. There was a large section in the middle that didn’t appear in the track at all. This did lead to the convoy heading down some very interesting tracks that were perhaps a little rougher than expected. And at one point, we had to drive around a fallen tree through some very tight and steep terrain. The turns were so tight that we were required to do ‘3 point turns’ to get through.
After a little while, however, we got back on track and eventually located where we were supposed to be.
On our previous trip on the Southern Shores, we’d been told of ‘The Hill’. It had been described as a very intimidating and challenging hill. And when we arrived, it sure was.
The hill is quite intimidating. It is long and steep and weaves through the tall timber of the region. Standing at the bottom of the hill, we discussed the approach and how to tackle it.
The other group were at the top of the hill and were driving down it first, then turning around and driving back up. It’s what our group were supposed to do except, due to our previous geographic mis-adventure, we ended up at the bottom of the hill first.
So we waited and watched the other group drive down and then back up again. It was good to watch as it increased our confidence significantly.
Once they’d finished, we all got back into our cars and took turns driving up. When our turn came along we waited at the bottom for the call. Eventually, it came ‘We’re up now. Next ones are OK to follow’. We replied, ‘Ok, we’re on our way’ and headed up.
The 2010 Mitsubishi PB Challenger comes standard with a rear diff lock which we engaged. We didn’t think we needed to, however, we thought that using any means to help us get up was probably a good idea. So off we went. The track was steep to start with and quite heavily rutted. Part way up it kicked to the right around a large tree. At this point, there were a number of large rocks, some solidly set into the ground, while others were loose, causing us to lose traction quite a bit in this section. But I kept the revs up and drove though. Other cars had some trouble getting through this section, needing to back down a little and pick another line. One of the convoys staked a tyre and had to perform roadside repairs at the top of the hill.
After we’d all made it up, there was as a very steep descent down the other side. After this descent it was a reasonably short trip back to the main road and back to town.
NOTE: I have since done this hill again after wet weather. It can be very slippery and dangerous. TAKE CARE!
After the trip
Back at the caravan park we all cleaned up. In the showers were a number of very large huntsman spiders. They’re very typical of the area.
Although some of the club members had headed home, the rest of us headed off to the Dwellingup Hotel for dinner. I can reccommend the t-bone steak with mushroom sauce. It was a great end to a very exciting day. As we left the hotel, it just started a light rain which lasted all night.
Early the next morning we got up, packed our camper trailer up and headed home.
Google map of the trip: 4wd Trip – Dwellingup Fencelines
Terrain: Clay and dirt tracks through the bush. Dusty in the try, muddy and slippery in the wet.