Leschenault Peninsula Conservation Park is just minutes from Australind yet feels like you are miles from civilisation. The Park is located on a thin peninsula, bounded on one side by the Indian Ocean and the Leschenault Estuary on the other.
This 1071 ha, 11km long Conservation Park forms a part of the Kalgulup Regional Park and is abundant with wildlife. More than 60 species of birds have been recorded. Watch the dolphins play on the southern and western sides of the peninsula. Binoculars would be a good accessory to take with you!
Only walking and cycling are permitted across most of the Leschenault Peninsula Conservation Park. However, 4WD beach access is available from Buffalo Beach. Long or short circuit walks can be enjoyed.
The park is very popular for aquatic recreation such as snorkelling and diving, plus stunning long beaches with ample opportunity for fishing.
The Park is home to 201 species of native plant, big stands of tuart and peppermint trees, some of the most southerly white mangroves on the west coast, and is an important waterbird breeding area. The peninsula's bird life includes 62 species of waterbirds, and the Carnaby's black cockatoo, which is a threatened species. The native plant species include the only known record of Carex pumilla and Rorippa sp.
The Leschenault estuarine system is young, formed around 8,000 years ago. The peninsula only joined the continent between 5000 and 7000 years ago, and it is thought that Aboriginal presence only started after that. The Elaap are Wardandi Noongar people who lived around the Leschenault Inlet and Estuary. The Elaap people cared for and highly valued the district. They saw it as life‐sustaining, as nourishing and as imbued with spirit.
The area also has a significant European heritage. In February 1838, Thomas Little arrived at Fremantle on the Gaillardon, the first ship to be contracted by the Bengal Australian Association. Little, an Irishman formerly in the employ of the East India Company, was sent from Calcutta to establish an estate in WA for Charles Robert Prinsep, Advocate-General of Bengal, for the purpose of rearing horses for the British Army in India. Little built a house on the northern end of the peninsula and named it ‘Belvidere’ in honour of the Prinsep family mansion in Calcutta.
After the failed horse-breeding venture, there was a succession of owners who used the Peninsula for grazing stock in the winter when their inland properties were boggy. During that time it was used by well-known Fenian convict John Boyle O’Reilly.
JOHN BOYLE O’REILLY MONUMENT
A monument in the conservation park commemorates Irish Fenian John Boyle O’Reilly. O`Reilly was arrested in 1866 for being a Fenian, or Irish Republican. He was transported to Western Australia aboard the Hougoumont, the last ship which carried convicts to help in the development of the colony. Upon arrival in Fremantle in 1868, John was fortunate enough to be sent to the South West. As an Irish prisoner, he was not hard-pressed to find a friendly face, and before long established a relationship with the local Catholic priest and both Irish and English free settlers. In 1869, O`Reilly and a new friend travelled out to the northern end of the Leschenault Inlet and began a wait of more than two weeks in hiding until the American whaler Gazelle arrived and took him from the beach. History records that the English family living in Buffalo Homestead gave John shelter. On 23 November 1869, the Gazelle landed O`Reilly in Philadelphia, free to start another chapter in a remarkable life.
This area offers 3 walking trails and is prolific with birds, plants and wildlife. Coastal heath, tuart and peppermint woodland, saltmarsh and mangroves provide a rich mosaic of habitats for a range of birds and animals. It is an ideal location for birdwatching with waterbirds including the black-winged stilt and greenshank. You will also often see kangaroos and emus grazing there.
1. John Boyle O'Reilly Wetland Trail (1km) (Accessible)
Learn more about the plants and animals of this park as you meander through tuart, peppermint and paperbark trees. At the information shelter, discover how the Irish convict John Boyle O’Reilly made his daring escape from a road gang by hiding on the peninsula and boarding an American ship, the Gazelle, in 1869.
LENGTH 1 km return
SURFACE Concrete and Boardwalk
USERS Walkers, Prams, Wheelchairs
FACILITIES Information Shelter, Tables, Toilets
2. Belvidere Interpretive Walk
This walk documents the rich cultural history of Belvidere and is a perfect place for a picnic or barbecue. The trail
provides an excellent location for birdwatching with a vast array of waterbirds frequenting the shallows of the Leschenault Estuary.
START Belvidere Carpark, Buffalo Road, Leschenault
LENGTH 1.5 km return
SURFACE Loose Limestone
FACILITIES Information Shelter, Tables, Barbecues, Campground
3. Harris Track - Ridge Walk
The Harris Track Ridge Walk stretches 9 kilometres from Belvidere to ‘The Cut’ (a channel joining the Leschenault Estuary and the Indian Ocean). The path winds through tuart and peppermint woodland along the coastal dune ridge. Walkers can enjoy panoramic views across the Leschenault Estuary to the Darling Scarp and across the Indian Ocean. Along the path, you may see kangaroos, lizards and many birds including Carnaby’s black cockatoo, pelicans and the black shouldered kite. Bunbury’s bottlenose dolphins are regular visitors to waters at ‘The Cut’. At the start of the track, western ringtail and brushtail possums are often seen in the campground at night.
LENGTH 9 km one way.
SURFACE Loose Limestone
DIFFICULTY Easy – Moderate
USERS Walkers, Cyclists
FACILITIES Tables and Toilets Available at The Cut.
CAMPING AND DAY USE SITES
With scenic views across the Leschenault Estuary and only metres from the beach, Belvidere is located on the old Princep farm amongst the heritage olive trees. Also known as Waterloo Head.
2. The Cut Campsite and Day Use Site
Not the most accessible campsite as you have to walk-in or boat-in to reach The Cut. However, you will be rewarded with a beautiful spot that’s away from it all but only kilometres from the city.
4WD beach access is available from Buffalo Beach.
The use of unlicensed off-road motorbikes or vehicles within Leschenault Peninsula Conservation Park is strictly forbidden.
Ridge Trail, Leschenault WA, Australia