WELLINGTON DAM, WA
Potters Gorge campground is attractively nestled in jarrah woodland on the shores of Wellington Dam, within the Wellington National Park in Western Australia’s south west. This is a very popular campsite for locals, families, travellers, school and scouting groups as it is only 51 kilometres (45 minutes) from Bunbury and 28 kilometres (25 minutes) from Collie, making it an excellent place for a short getaway.
Run by the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, the recently upgraded campsite consists of 54 gravel sites suitable for caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes. There is a group camping area, day use area, sheltered basic camp kitchen with tables and free gas BBQs, unpotable water (please boil before use), flushing eco toilets and dump point. All sites have a table and fire ring, but please bring your own firewood and check seasonal fire ban restrictions. There is also a BMX track if your youngsters bring their bikes. A wheel-chair accessible cement path takes you for a short distance along the water edge from the campground.
Potters Gorge is a wonderful place to enjoy camping in a bushland setting, but if you desire a quiet camp then I recommend you do not come on weekends, public holidays or school holidays, as the campground is very popular during these times.
There is plenty to do here during your stay. If you enjoy bushwalking there are several well marked walk trails, varying from two kilometre return from the campground to the dam wall, to the twelve kilometre return walk from the dam wall to Honeymoon Pool. Other trails can be completed as loop trails, taking you through a variety of bushland, jarrah, marri, banksia, blackbutt and peppermint forests, granite outcrops, and along the river. Take note of the times and degree of difficulty before you set out as some walks are relatively easy, but others are challenging with steep ascents or descents, as the landscape is hilly with steep gullies falling sharply to the Collie River.
The five kilometre return Kurliiny Tjenangitj walk trail takes you up a steep climb to a lookout over the jarrah forest and the Collie River. It is well worth the climb, but I suggest walking poles to assist on the steep sections.
Please be aware you may sometimes share trails with mountain bikes on the Munda Biddi cycle trail.
We stayed at Potters Gorge for two nights, and being so close to home, had our camp organised by lunch time, and were able to complete the lookout trail in the afternoon. The next day we combined two of the walks, making an eleven kilometre loop. We walked in an anti-clockwise direction, starting at Potters Gorge along the Sika trail, and then branching onto the Jabitj trail for the return walk along the river. We stopped for lunch along the river, where interpretive signage told us about traditional uses of plants by the Noongar Wilmah people.
Other activities you can enjoy whilst camping at Potters Gorge are swimming, canoeing, boating and water skiing in designated areas, marroning in season, and fishing (licence required).
The Kiosk near the dam wall, only a one kilometre (20-30 minutes) walk from Potters Gorge, is open 9am-4pm Thursday to Sunday with light lunches, hot and cold drinks and icecreams. You can also collect a map of the walk trails here.
Potters Gorge is ideally located for a day trip to the Ferguson Valley’s wineries, restaurants and galleries. You can also explore the walk trails of Wellington Discovery Forest. Other activities include a 4WD track for daylight hours, mountain bike trails, bird watching and wildflower photography.
You can also learn about the history of the Wellington Dam which provides water for irrigation. The building of the dam in 1932 was part of a public works program providing jobs for thousands of people during the 1930s Depression. They lived in a tiny settlement of tents pitched in the bush during construction.
If you are tenting, I recommend Honeymoon Pool camp area. This area has boardwalk access to the river for swimming or canoeing. Accommodation is also available at the Wellington Mills Cottages.
Location: 51 km (45 minutes) to Bunbury, 28 km (25 minutes) to Collie, 195 km (2 hours) from Perth.
Facilities: Gravel sites, picnic tables, fire rings, basic camp kitchen, gas BBQs, non-potable water, flushing eco toilets, dump point. No power. Bring all supplies.
Campfires permitted seasonally – please bring your own firewood and extinguish when you leave. Generators only between 8am-9pm and not between 1-5pm. Rubbish can be left in the skip bins provided.
Wheelchair access to toilets: Yes
Rates: Per night: Adult: $10, Concession $6.60, Child 6-15 years $2.20. Fees are collected by caretaker each evening.
Pets: Not allowed as this is a National Park
www.collierivervalley.com.au – then search for Wellington and scroll down to Wellington National Park
www.parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au – then search for Wellington National Park