Bilya Walk Track - Toodyay
The Bilya (River) Walk Track follows the Gulgulga Bilya (Avon River) from Duidgee Park in Toodyay township to Nardie Cemetery on the Toodyay-Northam Road. The track is 5.6 km each way - over 11 km return but you can do a shorter walk by accessing the track from several mid way points.
From Duidgee Park the track passes under Newcastle Bridge and you can see the flood indicators on one of the pylons. The track, clearly marked with orange trail markers, passes behind the buildings on Toodyay's main street. You could choose to walk closer to the river but the grass was quite long when we walked this trail so we stayed on the dirt road. The road ends after about 10 minutes and the trail narrows and follows closer to the river. There was a pelican swimming alongside us upriver for a considerable distance. There were also plenty of ducks and coots on the water. Often we were unaware of the ducks until our presence startled them and they flew away.
For a slightly shorter walk you could start from Newcastle Park as the track passes underneath the footbridge here. The track narrows, becoming a single file track as it follows the undulations of the river bank. Depending on water levels there are places you can access the river bank to play on rocks and we passed the local's rope swing. We could hear plenty of birds twittering in the trees along with some distant kookaburras.
The track passes under Connor's Bridge on the Goomaling-Toodyay Road, another easy access point, and continues upriver through she oak and paperbarks. The track is closer to the river here and as it winds through the trees it feels a bit magical, especially when you walk right on the river's edge! The kids will love the adventurous feel of this section of track through Lloyd Reserve, especially when they come across an old tree which you almost have to hug to get around, and the surprise staircase on the other side! There is alternative access to a higher track here if the lower section is too wet.
The track continues to follow the undulating bank of the river to Red Banks Pool. This pool provides a refuge for water birds, particularly during the long hot summers. Spend some time at the John Masters Bird Hide to see how many different birds you can spot. While we were there some power boats came down river, dispersing all the birds quite rapidly! The birds soon came back though as peace was restored and watching the power boats added an element of excitement to our walk.
The Bilya Track hugs the riverbank passing through stands of Flooded Gums as you pass some smaller river pools. At Harper Brook Crossing there is a small footbridge to keep your feet dry on a winter crossing.
We enjoyed watching several more power boats coming down the river as we came to Extracts Weir, another popular viewing point for the Avon Descent. As this year's water levels are reasonably low we watched the crew "walk" and manoeuvre the boats over the rocks of the weir. The weir was built in the 1950's to create a water supply for Industrial Extracts Ltd's tannin factory, hence the name Extracts Weir.
Soon after Extracts Weir the track widens and eventually becomes a sealed path following the river bank to Millard's Pool. This pool is over 2km long and is the site of Toodyay's original and only swimming pool. There is a picnic table here. This is also a great place to launch a canoe or a kayak but signs do warn that power boats also use this space.
From Millard's Pool the track continues along the river and you can see early settler's huts at the base of Nockdomine Hill on the far bank. The track then leads you into Nardie Cemetery, which dates from 1856. Next to the cemetery is the original Industrial Extracts Ltd factory which extracted tannin from wandoo timber sourced from what is now Julimar Conservation Reserve.
If you are able to park a car either end of this trail you can park at Nardie Cemetery or in the parking bays on Chapman Street, opposite Millard's Pool.
This track is not recommended for prams, bikes or scooter - strictly feet only - but the kids will feel like they are having a real adventure following the banks of the river. The best section is between Millard's Pool and Connor's Bridge, probably around 3km each way, so you could do this as a return section by accessing the track along the way. The walk is best during winter and spring when the river is flowing well.
Duidgee Park has a traditional playground, a spider web, swings and a small fenced toddler play area including a miniature train to play on. There is also the Toodyay Miniature Railway which operates from "Newcastle" Station on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. This park has toilets, covered picnic tables and barbecues nestled under tall shady trees. There is access to the river so the kids can have a play in the water or on the rocks, depending on water levels.
Toodyay has so much to offer that you can easily fill your day after your walk or make a return visit to explore the shops, heritage, geocaching, fairytale farm and other points of interest. Visit my A day in the Country - Toodyay blog or the Toodyay Visitors Centre for more information.
The drive to Toodyay is very pretty especially in wildflower season and late winter/early Spring when the canola fields are in flower. If you come up Toodyay Road make sure you stop off at Noble Falls or if time allows detour to FR Berry Reserve. If you come up via Chittering Road and Julimar Roads you will enjoy some stunning rural scenery and beautiful wandoo trees.