Fossils and flowers… Name a better combo!
Best known for its technicolour display of wildflowers, Coalseam Conservation Park is a spectacular reserve that gives a unique glimpse into not just the geology, but also the archeology of the area. The site of the first mined coal deposit in the state, its rugged landscape has ensured it has remained a pocket of preserved wilderness amongst farmland.
What is Coalseam Conservation Park?
The park is a jewel in WA’s Coral Coast, and a favourite for any budding (sorry) landscape photographers during wildflower season. Following winter rains, the area bursts into a kaleidoscope of colour, carpeted with yellow, pink, purple and white wildflowers – as well as a few pesky yet photogenic weeds. As well as the stunning floral display (that includes banksias, hakeas and grevilleas), you’ll also be able to see 250 million years of geology laid bare in the remarkable exposed bands of coal running across the cliffs, alongside stripes of siltstones, claystones and sandstones.
Similarly remarkable, nestled in the beds of the Irwin River are ancient marine fossils. Fossils! As the riverbank has eroded, the tiny fossils are revealed, although you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled to spot them.
Where is Coalseam Conservation Park?
Part of WA’s stunningly picturesque Coral Coast, Coalseam is around 4.5 hours’ drive from Perth, approximately 100kms east of Geraldton, with its nearest town being Mingenew. The park encompasses 754 hectares, yet contains a varied landscape with diverse flora and fauna.
What to do in Coalseam Conservation Park?
You can take in the majestic vistas of Coalseam via multiple walking trails. The Irwin Lookout is a quick, 560m loop that takes you directly from the car park to the lookouts on the cliff’s edge. You’ll be able to take in some spectacular views across the valley, as well as views over the Irwin River. Alternatively, the Plateau Loop is a 3.2km trail through eucalyptus woodland, where you’ll be able to get sweeping views of the valley filled with wildflowers.
You can also get some great views from a platform just across the river from the main Miners Campground, from where you’ll be able to see one of the remaining historic mine shafts. As well as wildflowers, the park’s fauna is also worthy of note – you can hope to see wildlife that includes kangaroos, emus and echidnas, as well as wedge-tailed eagles, peregrine falcons and cockatoos.
What not to do in Coalseam Conservation Park:
Don’t travel unprepared. There is no running water available at the park so bring plenty, and always tell someone of your travel plans.
As with any visit our natural spaces, adhere to the Leave No Trace Principles meaning don’t leave any rubbish out there, don’t pick wildflowers and try your best to look after the trail. You look with your eyes and not with your hands – so keep your mitts off the fossils, exposed coal and wildflowers, and they’ll still be there for future generations to enjoy. You’ll also have to leave any pets at home.
Don’t overstay your welcome! The main campsite within Coalseam is at Miners Campground, with overflow 3km away at Breakaway. During peak season (August to October) stays are limited to three nights, so that everyone gets a chance to visit. The sites are unpowered, and as we mentioned, there’s no running water, so make sure you come prepared.
Header image: Tourism WA