Silence envelopes us where once the bush echoed with the sounds of axe and saw, the falling of the giant trees, the shouts of workers, and the timber trains rumbling over the lines. The jarrah trees have reclaimed their land, wildflowers brighten the undergrowth, and now only birdsong or a kangaroo rustling the bushes breaks the silence.
We are in the St John Brook Conservation Park near Nannup in Western Australia’s south west, walking on the Old Timberline Trail, a moderately easy 20 kilometre walk and cycle trail between Nannup and Cambray Siding. Part of a network of reserves across the state, the Park helps to preserve the riverine ecosystem and biodiversity of sheoak, bull banksia, jarrah and marri trees, swamp peppermint and wonnich scrub which supports around 38 bird species, eleven mammals and many other creatures.
Nannup’s history has been greatly influenced by the railway line and the timber industry. First settled by Europeans in 1857, Nannup was one of the most isolated places in Western Australia until the opening of the railway line in 1909.
The Timberline Trail follows part of an extensive network of disused forestry railway lines that once transported timber hauled by wood fired steam driven locomotives from bush camps to Barrabup Timber Mill and then to Busselton Jetty for export during the early 20th Century.
The Trail can be broken into sections making it ideal for day or overnight walks. The Trail is marked by white triangular signs displaying an axe and interpretive signage along the way gives walkers a historical insight into the timber industry and the life of the timber cutters. The majority of the railway sleepers have been removed but a few can still be seen along the Trail.
To read this complete story, see "Go Camping Australia" magazine, Autumn 2009.