You may have gathered by now that I live close to Jarrahdale. I like to explore my local area and a friend let me know that there was actually a World War II prisoner of war camp out Balmoral Road, so naturally I was intrigued!
There are a few ways you can get to the camp.
You can connect to the Balmoral Trail from the Mundlimup Trail which will take you through relatively flat bushland for 10km to the POW camp, or you can drive down Balmoral road (about 11kms from Jarrahdale Road) and you’ll come up on the camp off on the right hand side just before 39 Mile Brook. Bear in mind if you are driving that the road is dirt – the mighty i30 managed just fine though!
The Balmoral Trail is both mountainbike and walking friendly though it does cross some private property which is accessible through the provided stiles. If you’re on your bike you can access the Mundi Biddi at this point to avoid going into private land.
Make no mistake, this is not a challenging trail for those who bush walk regularly, but does make for a nice casual Saturday afternoon.
As you arrive at the camp, you’ll see a large jarrah tree with a shield marker. These markers were used as reference system for foresters back in the early 1900’s – nowadays they serve as a good marker for the camp and a lovely shaded rest stop for travelers.
The POW working camp was built in 1944 housing 220 Italian prisoners of war from the Northern African campaign of World War II. The prisoners worked in the forest cutting firewood and lived and worked at the camp. It closed in 1946 at which point prisoners were repatriated to Italy.
There is a nice little walk trail through the camp and the different foundations are sign-posted so you can get an idea of how the camp would have functioned.
There was also a timber mill out there so there are ruins of the old railway to Jarrahdale, as well as the log loading ramp off to your right as you finish the POW camp loop trail.
Jarrahdale has a very rich history and the heritage society are doing some great work to bring tourists and locals out to sites like this. Make the effort, get out there with the kids and get to know your local area.
Ps. Don’t get excited about 39 Mile Brook and the potential to race teacups down the brook as we did. Despite heavy rainfall in the area the brook was dry when we were there last weekend.
P.p.s Hoping to get out to a ‘real’ trail in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned for a challenging trail coming to you soon!