If you’re looking for a camping destination with plenty of outdoor activities, then Wellington National Park is the place for you. Being just over 2 hours from Perth, it is not a long drive from the city, but far enough away to really feel like a holiday. It’s close enough that you can visit for a day trip but be warned, you’ll be wanting to come back again and again.
We first visited Wellington National Park for a day out at Potter’s Gorge with family friends and had a wonderful time. Within a month we were back for a week of camping, and three weeks later another day trip to check out another of the hikes. Would you believe we stillhaven’t hiked all the trails in Wellington National Park? And so far we have just been hiking and enjoying lazy afternoons swimming in the many beautiful waterways in the park.
There are also mountain bike trails, kayaking trails, a pump circuit, wildlife watching, water sports, and so much more… That’s just Wellington National Park itself. Collie is the perfect base from which to explore the entire region, and has all the conveniences of a small town while being surrounded by nature.
With such a large choice of trails in the national park, from short walks to overnight hikes, gentle strolls to vigorous climbs, there is something for everyone here.
Below I have described three hiking routes that I think are the best ones for young families. Some would be great for young children starting to hike their own hike, some best for parents carrying babies and toddlers in packs or slings.
The best part: they all finish at either a café for a yummy post-hike snack, or at the river or similar for a refreshing swim.
But first, where to stay…
Read about more family-friendly trails in southwest WA
- Kitty’s Gorge Trail, Serpentine National Park
- Mouth Frankland National Park, Walpole Wilderness
- Marrinup Falls, Dwellingup
Camping at Wellington National Park
All camping must be booked online through the Department of Parks and Wildlife Park Stay webpage and cannot be booked on site. If you turn up without a booking, head to the information bay at the entrance of the national park where mobile service is best and book on your phone. It is a quick and simple process and guarantees you’ll have a site for the night at this popular camping destination.
Potter’s Gorge Campground
Potter’s Gorge is the largest campground in Wellington National Park, with 55 large bays suitable for caravans and camping, and several camp kitchens. Bush toilets are frequent throughout the campground meaning you are not sharing with many people.
Adjacent to the campground is the large day use area with its own ablutions and several covered barbecue areas. This is also the starting point to many of the trails in Wellington National Park.
The dam is the perfect splash pool for younger children with shallow, warm and still water. And for us adults, a swim provided welcome relief from the heat after an exhilarating hike through the forest.
You can read more about swimming at Potter’s Gorge and the other top spots for family swims here.
Camping at Honeymoon Pool
All the campsites at Honeymoon Pool are for tents only. Caravans and camper trailers are best suited to Potter’s Gorge.
The campsites here lie along the banks of the Collie River, giving easy access to the water and the many hiking and mountain bike trails.
Honeymoon Pool is one of my picks for the top 5 Family-Friendly Swimming Holes around collie and you only need to have a look at the pictures to see why!
Honeymoon Pool Campground
This area is the most popular at Honeymoon Pool and encompasses the well-appointed day use area. The Collie River is deep here and a decked platform provides a great area to rest in the sun, or show off your diving skills. Two staircases lead down into the cool water. The facilities here are a relative luxury for bush camping – there are flushing toilets!
Individual sites are marked with parking adjacent. Parking for the day use area is limited so avoid disappointment and arrive early!
Stones Brook at Honeymoon Pool
This small campground has just 17 individual sites but a really well appointed camp kitchen including barbecues, a sink, and gas rings. The sites are spread out and nestled in the forest creating cosy and intimate sites, and a feeling of serenity and seclusion.
Gelcoat at Honeymoon Pool
At Gelcoat, the small open area with undefined sites offers more flexibility and might be a nice option for groups wishing to camp together. With fewer facilities, and distant from the other campgrounds and the day use area, this location offers a genuine forest camping experience.
Read about other incredible destinations in WA
- Best beaches for families around Walpole and Denmark
- Best Stargazing destinations in WA
- Wooleen Station: An outback eco-tourism oasis
The 3 Kid-Friendly Trails in Wellington National Park
Download the DPAW trail map guide here
Sika Trail – shared hiking and mountain bike trail
Total = 9.8km loop – 4 hours walk, easy riding
We recommend = Potter’s Gorge to The Kiosk – 2km – 1hr each way, easy to moderate walk.
For families with young children walking (or even if you’re carrying your toddler and they’re getting a little heavy for long walks) we recommend the section from Potter’s Gorge to The Kiosk at the dam wall.
Starting at the Potter’s Gorge day use car park, this trail leads up and into the forest, immersing you in nature after only a few moments. The path is well defined, easy to follow and very stable under foot making it easy for parents and for little walkers still finding their feet.
Undulating through the marri, jarrah and blackbutt trees so synonymous with south west Western Australia, you are treated to a menagerie of wildlife encounters. Throughout our hike we were serenaded by magpies and kookaburras (fun fact: kookaburras are in fact not native to this part of WA), and if you listen carefully you might hear the tiny chirps of splendid fairy wrens.
The trail does pass over some gentle hills so be prepared to raise your heart rate. What would have been a moderate walk for your average adult was a little tiring for me at 16 weeks pregnant.
The best part about this little walk is that you can stop at The Kiosk café for an ice cream or sausage roll and a cold drink, and enjoy them overlooking the impressive Wellington Dam. There is ample room up here to let young children run around safely and the dam lookout is fully enclosed and toddler-friendly. If you want to stop and enjoy a picnic you can walk down a set of stairs from the dam lookout to the picnic tables and grass area in a disused quarry.
After retracing your steps along the trail back to Potter’s Gorge you can cool off with a swim in the dam.
I’m not sure about you but this short hike feels like it has it all; nature, ice cream, swimming! The best part is that this is all done from the campsite so no need to drive for miles to find the start point.
6km one way, 2 hours
The Jabitj Trail runs alongside the Collie River from Honeymoon Pool to Wellington Dam. You can walk it one way in either direction, or as a return hike. We chose to walk from Honeymoon Pool to the dam for one simple yet logical reason: we wanted to finish with a burger from The Kiosk café.
Starting at the Honeymoon Pool day use area, you first walk along the riverbank past the campsites, then over the road and off into the bush. The path is wide and gentle at this point (don’t be fooled, it gets more challenging further on), and follows a disused road. Quirky reminders of this old day-use or camping spot pop up along the trail, such as the old toilet and a random ‘one way’ sign in the foliage.
As you walk upstream you pass countless views across the Collie River. There are several spots where you could take a dip if you so wished.
The one-way scenic route Lennard Drive actually follows this section of the river on the opposite side and we could see several of the small platforms and stairs into the water.
The water changes character many times along the walk, from deep, slow and gentle river, to rapids, to shallow pools more suitable for toddlers. Had we planned for a little more time we might have stopped for a quick swim.
From about half way along the trail the terrain becomes hillier. Although the path was still in good condition when we visited, we could see some evidence of erosion from previous heavy rains. As always, good, sturdy walking shoes are a must.
Just at the end of the trail we encountered some fairly steep ascents and descents. If, like me, you are not feeling at your best fitness, it would be a better option to walk this trail in the opposite direction and get the tough bits out of the way at the beginning.
Turning every corner we would hear thundering water. In my mind I hoped it was the enormous outflow from the dam which would mean we were close to the finish line. However, this section of the river is dotted with rapids, forever getting my hopes up until all of a sudden there it was; the imposing dam wall visible through the trees.
After finishing this beautiful trail we stopped to enjoy our burgers, replenishing our energy. Maddie and I went to play at the dam lookout while the undeniably fitter and more spritely Jed ran back down the trail to where we had started to collect the car. Upon arriving back at Potter’s Gorge we all went for a swim (and then I had a nap).
Kurliny Tjenangiti Trail
Total: 9.5km loop – half day
We suggest: 5km return to the lookout from Honeymoon Pool
The Kurliny-Tjenagitj trail offers two options. You can either undertake the full 9.8km circuit, climbing the gentle gradient section up to the lookout followed by the steep climb back down to join the Jabitj trail, or opt for the shorter and more challenging option of trekking straight up the steep section.
To access the Kurliny-Tjenagitj, start at Honeymoon Pool and walk along the Jabitj Trail for about a kilometre until you see the pink marker indicating a trial trail uphill to the left. If you complete the full circuit you will rejoin the Jabitj further along giving you the option to either walk back to HP or continue up to The Dam.
We opted for the shorter but gruelling direct ascent.
There is quite a contrast between the gentle, open path at this end of the Jabitj and the narrow, windy and steep gradient Kurliny-Tjenagitj. This trail is not an easy walk in the woods. The climb is rapid with several switchbacks and many logs to climbs over and some steps along the way.
By the halfway point both Jed and I were sweating and heavy breathing. With Jed carrying 12kg of toddler and me 5 months pregnant, this was about as much of a challenge as we could accomplish at the time.
Luckily, the ascent is over relatively quickly. We were climbing for around 45mins all up. Towards the peak of the hill the trail flattens out again, allowing us to chat here and catch our breath before arriving at the lookout.
What is it you want most after a good workout? Well, you can imagine our delight when we came across a picnic table at the lookout allowing us all to sit and relax for a while, enjoying our snacks and cool water.
The view is incredible and well worth the strenuous hike! Just past the picnic table there is a small side trail to the left that leads to a second viewing area. This clearing of dark coloured rocks was another great resting place and ideal to get some panoramic shots. Be warned though that the outcrop is heavily fractured and shows signs of recent rock falls. Jed and I decided against climbing too far out on them in case they gave way.
Another pleasant surprise was the full mobile service and 4G at the lookout. This is great to know should you get into any trouble, or if you just want to share some pictures of your beautiful hike with friends.
Thankfully, the walk back down was a lot easier and much quicker. We were back on the Jabitj in no time and let Maddie out so she could enjoy her own hike.
Not far from HP we encountered a black skink sunning himself on a log. Another great wildlife experience for young explorers.
And, as with every trail in Wellington NP, we could enjoy a swim to cool our aching muscles and take advantage of the picnic area to make a delicious and filling lunch. We really love that Wellington NP manages to combine our three favourite things; hiking, swimming and good food.
Hikes with a bit of geology 😉
- Crystal Quest at Sugarloaf Rock, Margaret River Region
- Family fossil hunting in Kalbarri National Park
- Southern lights and living fossils at Lake Clifton
Fancy something even more adventurous?
Multi-day hike on the Wiilman Bilya Trail
19.7km one way – full day
How about a multi-day hiking adventure? We have not hiked this trail but we could not help but notice how great it would be as a first overnight hike with a child.
This trail starts at Wellington Dam and shares the path with the Sika Trail to Potter’s Gorge and for a further few kilometres. From there it spears off and follows the contours of the lake all the way to the Coalfields Highway.
Not far from the highway there is a small campsite, accessible only via this trail. Overnight hiking is something Jed and I enjoyed before we became parents, but we have not yet braved it with Maddie. When we discovered this trail however we decided this will probably be the route we choose. Here is why:
- There is sporadic mobile phone service throughout Wellington National Park so we would be not too far from coverage in an emergency.
- We always carry a Personal Locator Beacon for when we are out of service. Being so close to town it would be a very short time before emergency services reached us
- You can start or finish the hike at either terminus with several access points along its route. The trail passes by Potter’s Gorge, not far from Wellington Dam Road, and past the water pipeline which has a clearing along its entire length.
- There is a campsite close to the highway making two 19km days possible – or a 19km first day and very short second day to the highway for a pick up.
A friendly reminder about hiking safety
Remember, whether you are an experienced, fit adult, or hiking with your children, you always need to carry plenty of water, suncream, adequate clothing and footwear, snacks and a first aid kit including a snake bite kit. While it is not uncommon to see snakes in the spring, they almost always dash out of sight as soon as spotted. Bites are incredibly rare and envenoming bites rarer still. If you’d like to know more about some precautions to keep your family safe around snakes check out my snakes safety post, and subscribe to our newsletter to receive a snake safety printable you can take with you on your next adventure.
Which combination of hikes will you choose?
What I love most about all these hikes, apart from the incredible views and total immersion in nature, convenience of a café and the endless opportunities to take a swim, is that they all start, finish, or pass by a campsite. Whether you are camping at Potter’s Gorge or one of the Honeymoon Pool sites, there are so many combinations of hikes to keep you busy for a week!
If you’re feeling particularly strenuous you could combine all three hikes described above. You can start at Potter’s Gorge and hike the short section of the Sika Trail to Wellington Dam, then along the Jabitj Trail, taking the turn off for the Kurliiny Tjenangiti Trail lookout, then back down to finish up at Honeymoon Pool.
You could also hike the longer loops of either the Sika or Kurliiny Tjenangiti Trails for more of a challenge.
These are just the hiking trails! There are also mountain bike trails and kayaking trails within Wellington National Park. And when you have completed those, there is even more outside the park.
There is literally no end to the fun you can have around Collie. Check out the Why I #visitCollie website for more ideas of family adventures.
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