Dryandra Woodland and nearby Boyagin Nature Reserve are around two hours south-east of Perth and wonderful locations for a long weekend nature break. Dryandra features the largest remnant vegetation in the western Wheatbelt, with over 850 plant species, many lovely woodland birds and threatened species such as the numbat.
The star of the woodlands is Western Australia’s animal emblem, the numbat. These wonderful animals are one of the few diurnal marsupials – with numbat “golden hour” around lunchtime and “platinum hour” at dusk.
We were lucky to head out numbat spotting with the very experienced Boyagin Brigade (Sean and Paul), after supporting their crowd funding campaign for webcams. We were “Ready to Numble” and enjoyed a long day of slowly driving around the Boyagin tracks. After lots of echidnas and reptiles being seen, we were finally rewarded with sightings of three numbats. The last two were new animals (each numbat has a unique stripe pattern) and so we were involved in naming them – Twilight Demon and Twilight Premier!
Dryandra is a fantastic place to see echidnas, particularly on the Darwina Drive trail. At one location, it was like an echidna highway were we saw about 10 or more ambling down the dirt track (possibly the result of an echidna mating train).
Basically keep your eyes peeled on every road in the woodlands, are you are sure to see someone with their nose rootling around in the leaf litter looking for yummy termites!
There are lots of great birds to be seen in the woodlands, ranging from raucous Carnaby’s cockatoos to hopping blue-breasted fairy wrens. It is a good place to spot robins, parrots, honeyeaters and rufous tree creepers. At night, the eerie calls of bush stone curlew can be heard around the cabins.
Birds can be observed on the bush-walks, around the accommodation areas and since you need to drive slowly to look for echidnas and numbats, from the car!
Although many people might not be too happy to see them, there are some very interesting reptiles in the woodland ecosystem. The most impressive we have seen are large monitors and a sleepy carpet python – you have been warned!
The woodlands are also home to plenty of western grey kangaroos and brushtail possums, as well as harder to spot mammals such as woylie and tammar wallaby. In the last couple of years, there has also been a large increase in the number of Mardo (yellow-footed antechinus) being seen, but we haven’t been lucky enough to find one.
Barna Mia is a native animal sanctuary in Dryandra which houses a range of threatened species. Since most marsupials are nocturnal, guided tours run in the evening when the animals are at their most active.
The tour starts with a talk about the different critters, such as how to identify them based on their tails and faces/ears, and the work that is being done by Parks and Wildlife to protect them. Then, after darkness had fallen, you can put the theory into practise, entering the enclosure with red filtered torches to view the animals. The first time we went, they hopped up immediately, jumping around our feet in eagerness for food!
We were lucky to spend time watching Bilby, Mala (Rufous Hare Wallaby), Boodie (Burrowing Bettong), Quenda (Southern Brown Bandicoot), Woylie (Brush tailed Bettong) and a few brush-tailed possums that had snuck into the enclosure. Some of the animals were quite timid such as the bilbies who were frightened by the mad antics of the boodies.
Our recommendation would be to visit on a Friday night, as there are generally less people than on Saturday, plus the animals are hungrier! If possible, still nights are better for animals spotting than windy nights (and warmer too).
There are several walk trails and a drive trail in Dryandra, through the wandoo, kwongan, mallee, sheoak thickets and old brown mallet plantations. The best trails are:
- Darwinia Drive Trail – This 23km loop through the woodlands is excellent for spotting echidnas, particularly in the late evening. There is interpretative information at 5 pull-over bays and a short ramble to the top of a granite outcrop.
- Ochre Trail – 5km easy walk trail winds through the trees to a high point, providing views across the adjacent agricultural areas. There are signs explaining Noongar culture and the ochre pit.
- Woylie Walk – 5.5km easy walk trail through various woodland habitats, good for wildflowers.
- Boyagin Rock – you can climb the Boyagin Rock granite outcrop for views of the surrounding agricultural region. There are also rock pools (if wet), and birds such as robins.
Of course in the wildflower season, there are many other bonuses on the trails with lots of orchids, acacia, hibertia and of course dryandra!
The Lions Dryandra Woodland Village is a great place to stay for a couple of nights. The hosts are friendly and very knowledgable about the natural wonders of the park.
The accomodation is in old cottages (the village used to house the mallet plantation wood cutters) with log fires, lots of beds, full kitchens, bathrooms, BBQs and views onto the oval where masses of western grey kangaroos congregate in the early morning and evening. They are inexpensive and well set up for families.
At night, the surrounding trees are full of possums, and apparently there are some resident red-tailed phascogale (which we didn’t spot). If there aren’t any animals, you can always gaze at the brilliant stars.