Why the Australian bush is good for your soul. A Sneaky Peak into My Little Corner of the World.

Australian Bush

One of the things I love about being a blogger is that I get to go to some really interesting places and then write about them. Not only that, it’s often to do things which are a little on the wildside in out of the way places, where I can get close to wildlife, enjoy the Australian bush and experience things that ultimately are just good for the soul.

Australian Bush

To tell you the truth I’m normally a tropical girl. I love bright garish colours and lush vegetation.

But the sights and sounds of the Australian bush, and the feeling of being miles from anywhere in ancient woodland are pretty special too. Nothing to do but sit with a cup of tea on the verandah of a wooden cottage and listen to the birdsong, or read a book, or drink a glass of wine.

And in the early mornings to walk and chat –  no internet connection for miles – well that’s what it’s like just 2 hours south east of Perth in the Dryandra.

Frankie4 Margie Sandals-Australian Bush

My MARGiE leather sandals (gifted) made the perfect travelling companions. Lightweight with comfortable straps (adjustable) and super comfy soles, they were perfect for the journey, walking around camp and hanging around our cottage. FRANKiE4 footwear is available in WA stores (Perth, Rockingham, Denmark)  as well as countrywide Australia, and Online.

Heading to the woods

Anyway, last weekend we packed up bedding, food and wine supplies and headed two hours south of Perth to the Dryandra Woodland, which consists of 17 bushland islands in a sea of wheatlands and grazing pastures near the town of Narrogin. It’s actually the biggest tract of remnant vegetation in the western Wheatbelt and is habitat for several of Western Australia’s rare and endangered animals.

Australian Bush

We stayed at Lions Dryandra Village which was established in the late 1920s as a Forests Deparment settlement for the harvesting of mallet bark for the tanning industry.The tanning industry collapsed in the 1960s and now the emphasis at the village is one of conservation, education and tourism.

Australian Bush

There are two campsites and a variety of accommodation suited to individuals, schools and special interest groups. Our cottage could sleep four and was called Mallee Hen. It was an old restored woodcutter’s cottage with a bathroom, kitchen area, dining area, and verandah overlooking the woodland.

Australian Bush

Sundowner time

As the sun began to set we arrived at the bushcamp which is nestled in 22,000 hectares of woodland, among marri and powderbark trees where we hoped to have the opportunity to observe some of WAs threatened wildlife species.

First though it was time for a sundowner with our friends as we watched kangaroos bouncing about with joeys in their pouches. Out came the G & T’s and some nice chilli and lime olives before we cooked up a storm on the outside barbecue.

Australian Bush

And so to explore the Australian Bush

The Dryandra Woodland supports a large number of animal species in comparison to the rest of the surrounding area known as the Wheatbelt, but almost half of those originally found here have disappeared. However, if you’re keen, there are more than 25 mammals, 100 birds and 50 reptiles to look out for.

Australian Bush

Walking along trails through the ghostly Wandoo trees which stand like tortured sentinels with  twisted trunks was fascinating as the woodland here is so different to the south west forests I know further south.

Australian Bush

Driving around myriad tracks and gravel roads criss-crossing through the woodland in search of the elusive Numbat, WA’s state mammal emblem, a small striped marsupial which feeds exclusively on termites, made me feel like a pioneer.

Australian Bush

Australian Bush

This Numbat photo I snapped was actually blown up on an interpretative board at Dryandra, and the original photo was taken by Luc Hoogenstein.

Embarking on a nightwalk to spot endangered species by the light of infra-red spotlights was special, very special, and listening to the eerie screech of the bush stone curlew made my toes curl.

Australian Bush

It was all a long way from my home office, my computer and my filtered coffee.

Walks and Trails

We went on trails through the woodland where we spotted important Aboriginal cultural sites and found out from interpretive boards about the ecology of the area and the region’s Aboriginal heritage – there’s archaeological evidence which indicates that Aborigines (the Nyoongars) have occupied the south west for at least the past 40,000 years.

We found out that European settlement in the Williams-Narrogin area first began in the 1860s when pastoral leases were made available to early settlers who began harvesting mallet for the high quality tannin found in the bark and by the 1900s a tannin industry had established.

Australian Bush

And our eyes tuned in to the minute detail – such as spotting tiny ant lion traps on sandy walking trails – which are quite gory in their minutae really: Smooth  inverted cones into which ants slip, never to appear again as they are captured by the large pincers of the resident and soulless ant lion.

The occasional flash of woodland flowers were a lot less gruesome, but we’d arrived too late for the beautiful flush of spring wildflowers.

Australian Bush

Australian Bush

Barna Mia Interpretation station

We arrived at Barna Mia just after sunset, 7.15pm to be precise, and were ushered into a building with walls made of straw, and designed to look like a burrow.

Australian Bush

Outside there are two 4 hectare predator proof animal sanctuaries that house six species of endangered marsupials, native to the Dryandra, in a conservation area.

Firstly we watched a multimedia presentation in a small theatrette which gave an insight into the history and wildlife of the Dryandra  then we were ushered out into the enclosure.

From the moment we stepped out into the starlit night we knew it was going to be a special experience. Walking with the aid of hand-held infra-red spotlights which don’t disturb the animals we came to the first feeding station where our guide scattered tiny pellets and chopped up fruit.

Soon we heard scuffles and a few grunts, then there was a profusion of hopping. Woylies zig-zagged into view, surprising some visitors, as they loomed out of the dark like huge hopping rats. Gregarious Boodies then shuffled out of the gloom towards the food, and super cute Bilbies sniffed the air then bounced, flitted and scampered into and out of view. We were also lucky to spot tiny Quenda, Mala and Marl.

Australian Bush

We walked on and scanned the surrounding bush; the poison pea, the tea tree and  bottlebrush heath for signs of more signs of these cute marsupials. There were four viewing stations where we sat and watched the antics of the marsupials in their natural habitat and it was amazing to get to know the individual personalities of the different species. Oh that’s a bilby below – check out his rabbit like ears.

Australian Bush

I’ll never forget the spooky grey bark of the wandoo trees looming out at us along the gravel track as we drove back to Dryandra village at night, or the blinding dust trails kicked up by the lead car, billowing up like clouds from the dry sun-baked gravel during the day.

Australian Bush

I’ll always remember sitting on the verandah of Mallee Hen in the early morning, sipping English Breakfast tea with Dave while listening to the birdsong, and looking across to a meadow full of kangaroos, just as a flock of black cockatoos flew overhead onto the branches of a nearby marri tree.

Australian Bush

Why the Dryandra Australian bush is good for your soul

You’ll find beautiful quiet bush walks, and drives where you’re unlikely to see another car.
Peace, quiet and serenity. No white noise, no road noise, no pollution.
Time for introspection.
Time to connect with your partner.
Beautiful woodlands with native wildlife.

Australian Bush

And just being able to mess around and act like a big kid again dammit!

Australian Bush

The bush definitely calms my soul. How about you? Perhaps you’ve got a favourite ‘soul’ retreat you’d like to share with us?

Want to know more? Jill Harrison has also written about the Dryandra at Life Images by Jill


  1. Australia has so much to offer. In April/May while walking the Camino is Spain, we met a lot of Aussies who travel to Spain with the sole purpose of walking the Camino. We also met a couple on the Camino who lived in Perth. We visited Australia in 2004 and it was all kinds of wonderful. Our son spent a semester at the University of Melbourne so of course we had to go and visit him!

  2. I, too, fell in love with those strappy sandals! Your post about the Australian bush made me feel like I was walking in your shoes!:-)

  3. OK, you had me with the cute sandals and your post only got more interesting from there. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia and hope to make the trip sooner rather than later. For now I enjoy your stories and a virtual guided tour of the unique Wandoo trees, the kangaroos, numbats and a bilby. Dryandra, Australia sounds fascinating!

  4. What a wonderful spot for a bush escape. It certainly does reinvigorate heart and soul to get out into the bushland and immerse yourself into a bit of nature. You were very sensibly dressed for your hike from head to toe, which is something I probably should take heed of. I enjoy a day trip into some of the Hinterland areas near the Gold Coast and doing some rainforest walks. Nothing like fresh country air to make you feel better.

  5. Jo, As someone who lives in Connecticut (USA) I can’t imagine seeing a kangaroo hopping past my window! Deer, yes. Kangaroos? Definitely not. Love your pictures. They give me a glimpse into life across the planet, one of the great joys of blogging. Thank you.

  6. I love walking, these look like great places to explore, thanks Jo

  7. I agree Jo that Dryandra is a great place for a weekend getaway, and only 2 hours or so from Perth it is also easy to get to, and in a conventional vehicle, although the roads in the park are gravel. We have visited several times, but I hope next year to have a longer stay so we can explore some of the trails we haven’t walked before. The wildflwoers are fantastic in spring. and Barna Mia make it possible to see some of our more secretive wildlife. I was interested to hear about the huts as we have only camped in the past.
    Thanks for the link to my blog Jo – here is my last Dryandra blogpost if your readers are interested from a camping point of view. http://www.lifeimagesbyjill.blogspot.com.au/2015/11/camping-in-dryandra-woodland-western.html

    • Thanks Jill, and yes it’s definitely a place that begs to be returned to. I was struck by how very different it is to anywhere else I’ve been in SWA. Spring will be on our list for sure.

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