Discover a reserve of charm | Ralph Lauren

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Dad’s on a big ski, starting a race for the three kids following him on little skis.

Three girls lounge across inflatables.

Boys holler as they launch themselves on a rope swing and drop into the river.

Dogs wander down to the water’s edge and stumble in over rocks, and just stand, cooling their paws. And it is, indeed, a place to pause.

It might be just 70km south of Armadale, down South Western Highway and then Del Park Road from North Dandalup, but we are well away from the city and suburbs.

The Murray River languidly wriggles through the jarrah forest on a hot summer’s day, as Lane Poole Reserve pulses to the click of cicadas. The reserve, 7km from the Dwellingup townsite, covers more than 50,000ha of jarrah forest and is popular for camping, canoeing, rafting, swimming, bushwalking (Bibbulmun Track) and mountain biking (Munda Biddi Trail and more).

There are nine different campgrounds, and dogs are allowed, provided they are on a leash.

Charles Lane Poole in 1927.
Camera IconCharles Lane Poole in 1927. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Lane Poole Reserve is named for Charles Lane Poole, WA’s first conservator of forests.

He was a conservation pioneer, at a time when the jarrah forest, in particular, was being felled for railway sleepers and other uses. Although a forester, Lane Poole believed that a scientific approach could allow forest use and conservation. He introduced systematic, science-based forestry practices.

Born in England in 1885, and the son of famous Egyptologist Stanley, he studied at the French National School of Forestry, and was then sent by the British government to study and work in South Africa.

While on leave in Ireland, he married Ruth Pollexfen, a cousin of the poet W.B. Yeats, and an artist and interior designer. She stayed in Ireland while Charles travelled to work in Sierra Leone.

He was appointed WA’s Conservator of Forests, and Ruth joined him to live in Cottesloe — their first home together, with daughter Charlotte (who would go on to work closely with her father, open a nursery and become one of the few women landscape gardeners, and enlisted in the WRAAF in World War II and became a flight officer).

Charles was responsible for the WA Forests Act (1918), the new Forests Department, and the early planning for sustainable use of timber. He set up the Ludlow Forestry School, which was open from 1921 to 1927, and the first forestry school in the State.

Charles went on to survey the timber coverage in Papua and New Guinea. It took him three years to survey from lowlands to highlands, and collect specimens and data.

After this, in 1925, he moved to Melbourne, and was appointed forestry adviser for the Commonwealth. He was influential in Canberra, where they moved to in 1927, and where he set up Australia’s national forestry school.

Ruth designed the interiors of public buildings in Canberra in the late 1920s, following the mode of the arts and crafts movement. They included The Lodge and Government House.

Charles retired from the Australian Forestry School in 1944 and from the Commonwealth government in 1945, and moved to Sydney, where he died in 1970.

Skate park on the edge of the oval in Dwellingup.
Camera IconSkate park on the edge of the oval in Dwellingup. Credit: Stephen Scourfield/The West Australian

STAY IN IT

Lane Poole Reserve campgrounds include Charlie’s Flat, Tony’s Bend, Yarragil, Chuditch and the Baden Powell recreation area. Baden Powell is the biggest of these, with 102 campsites, three camp kitchens and eight toilets. Others are smaller, and some more bush style. They all have to be pre-booked on parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park-stay

But bookings don’t have to be made for Nanga Mill Camp, which is the biggest in the reserve, with space for 55 large tents, campervans, camper trailers or caravans. Bring water.

There are cottages, chalets and other accommodation options in the area. Contact the Dwellingup Trails and Visitor Centre for help. dwellingup. destination murray.com.au and 9538 1108

GET INTO IT

The new Dwellingup Trails and Visitor Centre is open 9am to 4pm daily. dwellingup.destinationmurray.com.au and 9538 1108

Dwellingup Adventures can advise on activities and hires canoes, rafts and mountain bikes. They offer support at the start and the end of self-guided tours. They provide thick foam pads that allow most cars to carry a canoe, or can deliver to the riverbank. dwellingupadventures.com.au and 9538 1127

Trees Adventure, has zip-lines and “aerial challenges between two and 25m high” in the trees. There are nine lone courses (with more than 80 challenges) and 23 zip-lines (“flying foxes”). A 2½ hour session is $48. Instructors will take eight to 12 year olds up, so that parents don’t have to. treesadventure.com.au

Main street in Dwellingup.
Camera IconMain street in Dwellingup. Credit: Stephen Scourfield/The West Australian

TOWNSITE

There are supplies of every sort at the well-stocked Dwellingup General Store. There are meals at the Blue Wren Cafe, Linning G&B and the Dwellingup Hotel.

There’s shade and a playground and skate park by the oval. Take a stroll through the Mick French Community Garden, opposite.

Picnic in Marinup Park, near the visitor centre.



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