The Leschenault Peninsular separates the Indian Ocean from the estuary formed by the Collie River with its tributary rivers and creeks flowing into the ocean near the port of Bunbury. It is 11km long and varies in width from 600 metres to 1.6km. Most of the peninsular is closed to motor vehicle traffic to minimise the impact of traffic in the rehabilitation of the area after many years of neglect and misuse. European settlement in the 19 century saw the peninsular first used for horse breeding for the Indian Army. Later buildings included a summer holiday residence for the local gentry and these with additional buildings housed a commune in the 1960’s into the 70’s a. Between times the peninsula was left to the natural elements.
In 1963 –1990 the peninsula was used as a disposal site for the acid effluent waste from the production of titanium dioxide. The effluent ponds are gone and more than $2 million was spent to rehabilitate the effected area. There are many introduced plants that have become well established causing the loss of native plants of this area. Some of these, such as the Victorian T-tree are likely to form a monoculture if they are not eradicated. Since the area was declared a Conservation Park facilities have been installed to encourage more responsible use by members of the public. Some of the activities here include picnicking, bushwalking, camping, cycling, bird watching and fishing
The Mitsubishi 4WD Owners Club became involved in the Conservation Park in 2000. Since then at least twice a year under the guidance of a CALM Officer volunteers have undertaken a variety of tasks to help rehabilitating the area. The area is just an hour forty-five from the Perth so is a manageable day trip and a leisurely weekend away with a little work instead of a camp fee.
On Friday October 14 Tony and I left Perth and from our house to the campsite it was just 2 hours driving. John and Rosalie were already set up with a million-dollar view of Australind across the water and had lit a small campfire for company. Very soon Martin and Karen, John and Sue joined us and last to arrive was Richard and Helen. After dinner around the campfire with cheerful company slept well in the shelter of the tuart grove.
Saturday 15th October
No rush this morning as the Ranger, Peter Morris was not expected until midday. The smell of grilling bacon wafted around the camp. The estuary was like glass. At 0900 hours Diana arrived with Duncan and Frith followed in by Sam and Pasc, Lester and Cameron and Chris and Jan. Vantage camping positions were selected and the fire maintained for a BBQ lunch before our afternoon work activity.
Peter arrived and outlined the jobs he hoped we would do. There was an interesting discussion about the management of ticks as there are many kangaroos in this area and we have had experience of tick bites on previous visits. The best of the wild flowers has finished although ther were a few fairy orchids seen in the bush land.
The work needing to be done is Rust contaminated bridal creeper is to be collected and transferred to healthy plants on the beach track he will show us about 3km away. The walking trail from the sand dune across the road is to be cleared, as it has become very overgrown at this end. There are 3 trays of trees to be planted and other tasks will be done tomorrow. Working groups were quickly formed and the work completed by 1530 hours. This was happy hour or our own time to walk on the beach or just chill out in any preferred manner.
In the evening we had 3 campfires because the group was now 24 people. Lots of laughter and singing with Maxine on the piano accordion. The scone loaf I made in the camp oven was eaten within a moment of being sliced and golden syrup drizzled in each piece.
The moon was surrounded by haze and the night became cloudy but we were optimistic there would be no rain before Monday.