Top Trail: Wadandi Track, Margaret River
Formally known as “Rails to Trails” this path is open to walkers and cyclists, the Wadandi Track showcases the heritage of the former Busselton to Flinders Bay Railway. The track takes you through some of the most beautiful natural bush, farmland and vineyards in the Margaret River region, three hours south of Perth.
About the Trail
The track currently begins or ends (depending where you start) at Cowaramup and finishes at Witchcliffe. Passing though peppermint, jarrah and young karri forest the trail provides a firsthand view of the abundant bird life.
The track offers the opportunity to experience the Margaret River region through its natural environment, Aboriginal heritage and the rich history of the industries and communities served by the railway from 1884 to 1957.
Along the 5 kilometres north of Margaret River there are numerous bridges crossing a major river and creeks and streams of varying sizes. The trail is easy to navigate with picnic areas along the way. The spectacular birdlife includes yellow robins, parrots and blue wrens and the wildflowers are stunning in Spring (September to December).
As it was a railway, the gradient is relatively flat, and the terrain is generally gentle. However, it can get moderate in some places and a mountain bike is recommended.
The railway line was built in the 1880s by prominent timber businessman M. C. Davies, who laid a number of lines to take timber from his mills to jetties at Hamelin Bay and Flinders Bay for export.
By 1916 the timber industry had declined and the railway from Augusta to Margaret River was bought by the WA Government.
It was extended to Busselton by 1925 to service the remaining timber industry, the original group settlements, farming and domestic passengers.
As the road network improved, more of the cartage was done by trucks and the Busselton to Flinders Bay branch railway eventually closed in 1957, after which most of the rail line and sleepers were salvaged for other uses. A handful of sleepers and rail line can still be spotted today and some major elements of the railway infrastructure remain in place. These include the original railway formation; cuttings; embankments; and many of the bridges and culverts.
Since the closure of the railway, several roads and some public facilities have been constructed on the trail reserve.
Some parts of the reserve were leased to adjoining landowners. While all of these leases have lapsed or were terminated, some of the activities that were permitted under the conditions of these leases are still taking place within the reserve – including grazing, plantations, dams and quarrying of local resources.
TRAIL SECTIONS AND DISTANCES
There are four discrete sections that can be traversed:
Cowaramup-Carters Road 11.0km
Carters Road-Margaret River 3.4km
Margaret River-Gnarawary Road 4.1km
Gnarawary Road-Witchcliffe 4.6km
Parking is available at the following locations:
• Cowaramup – next to the Fire Station
• Carters Road – formal car park
• Margaret River – off Clarke Road next to former Goods Shed
• Gnarawary Road – formal car park
Public toilets are located at the following locations:
• Cowaramup - next to the Fire Station, in Pioneer Park and Cowaramup Hall
• Margaret River – Rotary park, Old Settlement, Memorial Park, Fearn Avenue
• Witchcliffe – Bussell Hwy
Need to Know
Margaret River and its premium wine region is the place for indulging many passions. It's the only wine region in Australia where you can hop from award-winning wineries and restaurants to stunning beaches, tall-timber forests, world-class surf breaks and ancient caves. From Perth, it's an easy 3-hour-and-20-minute drive via coast or country. Budget travellers can catch the coach that departs daily. Or, you can opt to arrive in style, taking a direct charter flight to nearby Busselton. Blessed with mild weather and abundant sunshine, Margaret River has evolved from a chilled-out surfie town into a popular base for enjoying the region's fine flavours and spectacular scenery, where rolling vineyards sit against a backdrop of ocean and forest. Producing over 15 per cent of Australia's premium wine, the tastings are top notch. And besides over 100 wineries, you'll be spoilt for choice with many fine restaurants, boutique breweries, art galleries and fresh produce, from divine cheeses to chocolate. Time your visit to coincide with the annual wine and food festivals and you'll get to savour many of these flavours in one hit. Those with a taste for adventure will find plenty to indulge in too. Known internationally as one of the best big-wave surfing locations on Earth for consistently spectacular breaks, there are over 40 top spots along Margaret River's coast, with conditions ranging from powerful reef breaks to fun beach surf. Venture inland and you'll be dwarfed by some of the world's tallest hardwood trees, and awe-struck by the longest straw stalactite on show when you plunge into Jewel Cave - one of many ancient limestone caves open to the public. More thrills can be found with rock climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, canoeing and whale watching tours. You might even be tempted to throw in a line and chase some snapper at one of the designated fishing spots. Your bed for the night can be as opulent or basic as your budget allows. The region boasts a fine array of luxury retreats and private beach houses, through to hotels, motels, backpackers, caravan parks and camping grounds.
Margaret River Visitor Centre
100 Bussell Highway, Margaret River Western Australia 6285, Australia
Phone: (08) 9780 5911 | www.margaretriver.com
The Margaret River Visitor Centre is headquarters for the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association, winner of the 2008 Australian Tourism Award for Visitor Information and Services. Located in one of the world’s most exciting tourism destinations the visitor centre provides extensive information and a booking service. It’s also home to the award-winning Wine Tourism Showroom where you can start a journey of discovery of Margaret River wines. The showroom is recognised as being amongst the best of its kind with extensive displays and information on the region’s wine industry and regular wine tastings. On your visit don’t forget to book a tour to the breathtakingly beautiful Lake, Jewel and Mammoth Caves and the striking Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, mainland Australia’s tallest lighthouse and the dramatic meeting point of the Southern and Indian Oceans. The Margaret River Visitor Centre is open every day 9am to 5pm, except Christmas Day when they are closed.