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Fitzgerald River National Park/Australia

Introducing Fitzgerald River National Park

Midway between Albany and Esperance, this gem of a national park (entry per car/motorcycle $11/5) has been declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. Its 3300 sq km contains half of the orchid species in WA (more than 80, 70 of which occur nowhere else), 22 mammal species, 200 species of bird and 1700 species of plant (20% of WA's described species). It's also the blossoming ground of the royal hakea (Hakea victoria) and qualup bell (Pimelia physodes) flowers. Wildflowers are most abundant in spring, but flowers – especially the hardy proteas – bloom throughout the year.

Walkers will discover beautiful coastline, sand plains, rugged coastal hills (known as 'the Barrens') and deep, wide river valleys. In season, you'll almost certainly see whales and their calves from the shore at Point Ann, where there's a lookout and a heritage walk that follows a short stretch of the 1164km No 2 rabbit-proof fence (built between 1904 and 1960). Short walks are also accessible at East Mt Barren (three hours) and West Mt Barren (two hours). For information on wilderness walks, check with the DEC rangers:

Jerramungup

Bremer Bay

East Mount Barren

Although the park is one of the areas in southern WA least affected by the dieback fungus (a killer of native trees), precautions are in place to ensure it remains so; respect the 'no entry – dieback' signs, and clean your shoes before each walk.

The three main 2WD entry points to the park are from the South Coast Hwy (Quiss Rd and Pabelup Dr), Hopetoun (Hamersley Dr) and Bremer Bay (along Swamp and Murray Rds). This last is the prettiest route, winding through acres of flowering shrubs. All roads are gravel, and likely to be impassable after rain, so check locally before you set out.

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