Whether it’s due to Instagram, a growing trend towards hiking and health, or just a desire to get away from screens and out into the sunshine, we’re wild swimming mad in WA. After recently unveiling an exhausting list of 70 great spots all over Western Australia to explore, we figured we better drill down on a few to really get amongst it.
Oakley Dam has been around for age but it’s a spot that’s a little harder to get too, thus increasing your chances of getting a bit of peace and quiet. Its remoteness also means facilities are a little lacklustre compared to others, but that’s part of its charm (and all the more reason to make sure you treat the area with respect and leave no trace).
What Is It:
Built way back in the 1930s as a new freshwater source for Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) steam engines passing through Pinjarra, it proved pretty quickly useless in that respect. These days the dam is more-so used for recreational purposes as part of a great Munda Biddi trail, with some picnic tables and stunning views from the dam wall and lookout, along with the potential for swimming (just watch out for leeches).
Where Is It:
The dam is about an hour and 30 minutes south of Perth (~105km) and 25 minutes from the town of Pinjarra (15km). To get there just follow the South West Hwy before hanging left onto Alcoa Rd and following it all the way to Marrinup. You can’t access the dam in your car, you’ll have to jump out and walk after parking at the end of Scarp Road.
What To Do:
Enjoy some peace and quiet, some nice bushwalking trails and some spectacular (albeit Alcoa mine-filled) views. The dam’s construction makes it almost like an accidental infinity pool, although with a steep drop off on the opposite side you obviously need to be careful.
When it comes to swimming in the dam – you’re allowed but be very wary of leeches, a common occurrence and not much fun to pull off once they’ve latched onto you!
There’s a great 33km section of the Munda Biddi mountain bike trail that runs from Oakley Dam to Nanga, and will take around three hours to complete. This, along with the walking trails around the dam are not for inexperienced folks.
What Not To Do:
Leave your rubbish lying around! Given the amenities on site at Oakley Brook Dam are reasonably limited, it’s important to always leave no trace and take everything you bring with you, especially rubbish.
Go too close to the edge! The dam wall and cliffs surrounding these areas are easily accessible, so it’s advised you take the utmost care when walking along them and taking photos. No ‘gram is worth severe injury – or worse.
Along with Pinjarra, Dwellingup is just around the corner – a place filled with excellent mountain biking and bushwalking trails, swimming holes, campgrounds and more. We recommend hitting Dwellingup first before catching Oakley Brook Dam some spectacular sunset views.
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Cover photo by @smithys_photos