By: Tatum Stafford
The charming town of Dwellingup is a nature-lover's dream.
Filled with towering forests, vibrant hiking and mountain-biking trails and incredible camping spots, this local gem within the tranquil South West region is the perfect place to reconnect with nature. Let’s head to Dwellingup.
At a glance
|Distance from Perth||109 kilometres, an hour and a half's drive|
|Why go?||To be surrounded by majestic jarrah and marri trees, canoe the tranquil Murray River, hit local mountain-biking trails, indulge in fresh local produce and climb aboard a nearly 50-year-old tourist railway train.|
|When to go||
Jun - Aug: Winter rains cause the Murray River to rise dramatically, and make for great white-water rafting and canoeing conditions.
|How long to stay||Two to three days.|
|Need to know||Within the town centre you’ll find a few cafes, an IGA, a roadhouse and a post office. If you need any extra supplies, the town of Pinjarra is a 20-minute drive away and has a few additional amenities. The Dwellingup Trails and Visitor Information Centre is the perfect spot to get your bearings and learn more about trails in the area – including sections of the famous Munda Biddi and Bibbulmun Tracks that pass through Dwellingup.|
|Fast facts||Town population: 400
Indigenous people: Noongar – it is believed that Dwellingup is located on the site of an Aboriginal camping place called ‘dwellingupp’; a Noongar word meaning “place of nearby water”.
|Insider tip||If you have a valid fishing license, there are endless places to cast a line into the Murray River from Lane Poole Reserve. Keen anglers will have the chance to catch rainbow trout, redfin perch, cobbler and marron.|
Top things to see and do
Camp, swim and kayak at local reserves
Dwellingup has a massive range of campgrounds, sites and caravan parks to choose from. One of the most popular locations is Lane Poole Reserve, just a stone’s throw from the Murray River. With over 150 camp sites to choose from, including Baden Powell, Stringers, Tonys Bend and Nanga Mill, there are plenty of picnic tables, fire pits (in-season), toilets and barbeques spread throughout the reserve.
10 Perth campsites by the water »
If you’re hoping for a more off-grid camping experience, book a site at the Jarrahfall Bush Camp. Just outside of Dwellingup, this charming campground is set amongst marri and jarrah forests and is close to the North and South Dandalup Dams. There are also a variety of trails across the expansive property, just note you’ll need to bring your own drinking water with you.
Stock up on fresh fruit at Vergone's
Vergone’s Fruit Stall is a Dwellingup institution. Open from Thursday to Sunday from 8am to 5pm, the stall stocks a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables alongside delicious homemade treats, soups and jams, and Pinjarra Bakery pies. If you're visiting, keep an eye out for treats using seasonal fruits from the area – the orange cake made from fresh Harvey produce is a clear highlight.
Hit local walking and mountain bike trails
The 8-kilometre Marrinup Loop Mountain Bike Trail in the neighbouring town of Holyoake is an easy-to-follow ride starting at the old Marrinup townsite. It passes some of Australia’s oldest rocks, native jarrah forest, and plenty of redgum trees. The track itself varies from flat sections to hill climbs, and as there’s a shorter, four-kilometre shortcut option, it’s a great track for kids who are trying mountain biking for the first time.
The dog-friendly King Jarrah Walk Trail is a popular walking option. The 18-kilometre loop takes you through lush jarrah forest, where you’ll pass the 300-year-old tree known as the King Jarrah. The trail begins at the old Nanga Mill townsite within the Lane Poole Reserve, follows the Murray River, and uses an old logging railway formation with bridge sites crossing Dawn Creek. It takes around five hours to complete, and your dog will need to be on a leash at all times.
Drive the Captain Fawcett 4WD Trail
This easy to medium grade, 105-kilometre 4WD track starts within Lane Poole Reserve and showcases some of the region’s best jarrah forests, farm houses, creek crossings and spectacular views. Much of the track passes old railway tracks that once transported forest trees to various mills across the State. Download the trail map before you set off, and stick to the marked tracks.
Climb aboard the Hotham Valley Tourist Railway
Established in 1974, the iconic Hotham Valley Railway offers steam and diesel-hauled tours travelling through forest and farmlands to the towns of Etmilyn and Pinjarra. At the end of your train journey, there’s a pleasant walk trail that displays the stunning wildflowers and plant life within the jarrah forest. The train operates on weekends from November to April and departs from Dwellingup Station within the town centre.
Visit the Forest Discovery Centre
Located within a unique leaf-shaped building, this vibrant discovery centre showcases quality wood craft, an environment interpretive centre, and runs community workshops ranging from beeswax wrap-making and felt mosaics to watercolour painting and basket weaving. Along with these workshops, there are a range of guided tours run by the centre’s volunteers, including wildflower tours, saw mill tours and billy tea and damper tours. There’s also the option to join a local Binjarreb elder for a cultural immersion tour, where you’ll discover uses of plants and animals on a forest walk, learn about sustainable forest management, and participating in fire lighting demonstrations.
You’ll need a car to travel in and around most key attractions in Dwellingup. If you’re hoping to wade along the Murray River, you can hire canoes or kayaks from Dwellingup Adventures. They also hire out camping equipment and mountain bikes.
What to pack
Dwellingup experiences hot, dry summer days, so light clothing, sturdy shoes, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent are a must. On the other hand, winters in Dwellingup can be particularly icy, so be sure to pack plenty of layers, enclosed shoes and warm outerwear if visiting in cooler months. If you’re camping, make sure you’ve got all of the basics covered so you don’t need to borrow or hire gear once you arrive.
Camping gear essentials »
The highway from Perth to Dwellingup is in excellent condition, but some forest tracks in and around Dwellingup and surrounding forests can be unpaved – particularly within the gravelly Lane Poole Reserve. Here are more of our long distance driving tips.
Need to fuel up before heading to Dwellingup?
RAC members get 4 cents a litre off fuel at participating Puma Energy, Better Choice, Gull and Peak service stations.
Last updated September 2020