Paruna: A sanctuary amongst national parks.
Where: Paruna Sanctuary, Gidgegannup. 50 minutes from Perth
Time: 3-5 hours (the website says 6-9 hours but I doubt it would take that long. Unless you’re taking it very, very slowly.)
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. There is a few stair climbs up and down.
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, 2L water minimum and sturdy enclosed shoes.
Things to note: Open during May to November and a booking and $5 fee is required.
Why Do This:
There’s something different about Paruna Sanctuary. On one hand it’s a well-facilitated park with signage, picnic tables and boardwalks all designed to make your visit as pleasant as possible. On the other, it’s a small slice of wilderness, far from the sights and sounds of everyday life. Overall, it doesn’t feel like a regular national park and that is probably because it isn’t one.
Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary was created by The Australian Wildlife Conservancy to protect threatened native plants and animals. For this reason, there are only a limited number of visitors permitted per day, which means you need to call up, make a booking and pay a $5 fee before you visit the park. When you’ve made your booking, you’ll be given directions and the access code to the entry gate, which kind of makes you feel like on you’re a special mission. Or maybe that’s just my overactive imagination.
Once you’ve found your way into Paruna Sanctuary* you can choose from 3 different walking trails; The Possum Trail at 2.3km, The Quenda Trail at 6.5km and The Numbat Trail at 11.8km. In the mood for a longer walk, we went with the Numbat Trail, which proved to be an excellent choice.
(*Follow the instructions you were given when booking, not google maps.)
The trail began with a boardwalk alongside a small lake. With the water level still low and several dead trees in the centre, the lake had distinct ‘other-worldly’ appearance. This alien vibe continued as we ventured further along the trail into the park’s Wandoo and Powderbark forest. With their vibrant orange bark, these trees look very different from the the subtle browns and greens you normally see in the Western Australian bush.
These unusual trees soon give way to a dense scrub as you find yourself zigzagging down a particularly steep hillside. If you choose the Numbat trail, this hillside will be the first of many, with a number of ups and downs soon to come. This is probably a good time to mention that the Numbat Trail is actually the same as the Quenda Trail, just with a bonus 5km loop that takes you down through a very green valley and up along a steep ridge that provides excellent views of the Avon River. This ridge is where we decided to stop for a snack and marvel at how clearly we could hear the sounds of the Avon rapids below.
While I think the Numbat Trail’s dramatic scenery makes the extra distance worth it, the Quenda Trail is a great alternative if you’re feeling tired or want a shorter walk. No matter which one you choose, all three of Paruna’s walking trails share a boardwalk that offers beautiful view over both the Avon and Brockman Rivers. Perched on a granite outcrop not far from the trail’s end, this boardwalk makes a perfect place to stop and soak up the last of the serenity before heading home.
A visit to Paruna Sanctuary does require a tiny bit of organisation, however the river and valley views, the vegetation and the wonderful ‘middle-of-nowhere’ feel are well worth the effort. Even the drive home down Toodyay Road has some speccy city views – what doesn’t this trail offer!
Map & Directions
- Make your booking by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the bookings office on 08 9572 3169. You’ll be sent an email with all the details you need to find your way to the sanctuary.
- When driving up Toodyay Road, keep a lookout for Red Hill auditorium on your right. Soon after you’ll see O’Brien Road on your left. That’s the turn off you’re looking for!
- At the end of Clenton Road, turn onto Avon Road. You’ll soon reach a gate. Open it up and make your way to the car park.
- Use your ‘secret code’ to open the gate.
- Luckily, all of the trails are clearly marked. Just look for the coloured triangles.
- Let the adventure begin!