All posts by Bree

Glen Brook Dam Trail

Glen Brook Dam Trail

Stretch your legs on this delightful, little waterside trail in John Forrest National Park.

Need to know info

Distance: 1.8km loop
Where: John Forrest National Park, Park Road, Hovea
Time: Under an hour
Difficulty: Very easy
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes
Best time to go: Winter and spring

Where to find it

The Glen Brook Dam Trail

When it comes to nature adventures, some days I want to rack up some serious mileage, walking for hours up hills and over rocks. Other days, I just want to take it easy and meander through the bush; stopping to look at flowers, take in the views and generally pootle about. And it was on one of these lazier days when we discovered the Glen Brook Dam Trail.

Glen Brook Dam Trail

Say hello to Glen Brook Dam.

I’d passed the Glen Brook Dam Trail many times on my way to tackle the Eagle View Trail or ride along the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail, but I’d never stopped and taken a close look. Located just before the main car park in John Forrest National Park, it’s easy to skip it if you’re heading to the park’s heavy-hitters, like the National Park Falls or Swan View Railway Tunnel. But being in a cruisey mood, we decided to stop and check it out. And I’m glad we did.

Glen Brook Dam Trail

The blackened trunks of a controlled burn

The trail is clearly marked with blue signage and starts just beneath a large granite outcrop, next to the dam wall. Recent controlled burns meant we began by walking through blackened trees. Normally this area is quite green and home to the odd pine tree but on our visit it was the typical rust red you see after a bushfire. While it may not have been as lush as usual, it did mean that we could clearly see the hundreds of grasstrees that cover the valley – good to know that there is no chance of these unique plants becoming extinct anytime soon.

Wattle on Glen Brook Dam Trail

Wattle in bloom on the trail.

The path then took us past the main carpark and over a bridge that crosses a small babbling brook. From here it was uphill back into the green bush. If you don’t already know, I’m a huge wildflower fan, so it was a treat to see masses of yellow wattle, pink petrophiles and white heath in bloom.

Soon enough we were at the dam’s edge. While the tranquil turquoise waters did look enticing, signage told us that the lack of movement meant it wasn’t safe for swimming. Not being fans of water-borne bacteria, we were happy to stay dry and just enjoy the peaceful view.

Glen Brook Dam Trail

Glen Brook Dam looking pretty. Just don’t get the water up your nose.

Upon reaching a second footbridge, we decided to explore a fork in the trail that lead up hill. If you’re visiting soon in spring, I recommend you do the same as the wildflowers along this path were gorgeous. Plus there’s a nice granite outcrop you can sit on and just soak up the sounds of the bush – or repeatedly tell your walking buddy just how lovely all the flowers are.

Glen Brook Dam Trail

Wildflowers, wildflowers, wildflowers. Did I mention the wildflowers?

Glen Brook Dam Trail

Dam! You look good!

Back on the official trail we headed up some log steps to catch an view of the valley and dam, and then from here our adventure came to an end. One thing I particularly enjoyed about this trail was the narrowness of the path. Sounds odd to say but there’s something wonderful about having leaves and flowers close up alongside you, definitely nicer than wide fire-trails.

Glen Brook Dam Trail

Love a narrow walk trail!

All in all, the Glen Brook Dam Trail is a pleasant little walk, especially in winter and spring. Probably not one for long distance fans or hardcore hikers but it’s a great choice for bushwalking newbies or those days when you just want a gentle wander through the bush.

Alternatively, if you are picnicking at John Forrest, this would be a great way to stretch your legs and walk off all those sandwiches.

So if you’re looking for something short and sweet in the Perth hills this weekend, give the Glen Brook Dam Trail a try.

Wildflower Spotting in Mundy Regional Park

A quick guide to help you spot beautiful blooms in Mundy Regional Park.

I don’t like winter. I hate being cold, grey skies make me gloomy and rain turns my hair into something that resembles a tumbleweed. But as a nature lover, I know that winter also has its good side. The creeks and waterfalls start to run, the bush turns a brilliant shade of green, and best of all, the wildflowers come into bloom!

In Western Australia, we’re lucky enough to have an abundance of beautiful wildflowers. While our most rare blooms live in the south west, we city-dwellers shouldn’t feel left out. During winter and spring, there are plenty of beautiful wildflowers you can enjoy in and around Perth. Kings Park and Bold Park are two reliable flower-spotting options within the metro area, but I’m going to start with a favourite of mine – Mundy Regional Park.

Mundy Regional Park

Mundy Regional Park is a narrow strip of bushland that runs along the top of the Darling Scarp in Kalamunda and Lesmurdie, about 40 minutes drive from Perth. Despite its small size, it’s got fantastic city views, is home to Perth’s most popular waterfall, Lesmurdie Falls, and its has bucketloads of wildflowers during spring.

The Wildflowers of Mundy Regional Park

When I go wildflower spotting, I like to know what I’m looking at. It may sound geeky, but I get a kick out of knowing the flowers’ names, whether latin or local.  So with the help of my trusty wildflowers books, I thought I’d put together a bit of guide to help me keep track and help you on your floral adventures.

I’m far from a botanist so this is not a comprehensive guide; it’s just a collection of the most common wildflowers I’ve spotted while exploring Mundy Regional Park. There’s plenty more to discover, in fact new species come into bloom each week!  If you find more, let me know – or better yet, share a photo!

 

Wildflower routes

Mundy Regional Park’s landscape is quite varied: granite outcrops, stretches of gravel, pockets of jarrah and marri forest and damp gullies with pretty little creeks and waterfalls. Each of these areas is home to different flowers, so what species you spot will depend on where you go. Here are few walk trails you can use for your wildflower adventures.

Lesmurdie Falls trail – 2km
This trail takes you to base of Perth’s most popular waterfall and back again – so that means lots of steps! A lookout offers excellent views of valley and the Swan coastal plain. This trail probably has the least amount of flowers due to the granite outcrops and steep valley, but the beautiful waterfall more than makes up for it.
Flowers to spot: Acacia, Hovea, Grevillias, Donkey Orchids, Heath, Coneflower

Palm Terrace Walk –  6.5km
A large loop that offers excellent views and a good hill-climb workout. The trail does skip the Lesmurdie Falls but it’s not hard to incorporate it into your walk – the trail begins a short walk from the base of the waterfall, so follow your nose or the sound of the water.
Flowers to spot: Acacia, Hovea, Grevillias, Donkey Orchids, Heath, Myrtle,  Darwinina , Coneflower

 Lewis Road Walk – 5kms
A trail with great views and a few steep climbs. The gravelly, sandy sections of this trail are some of the best places to spot flowers in the the whole park.
Flowers to spot: Donkey orchids, Fairy Orchids, Stackhousia, Verticordia, Spindly Grevilia and Semaphore Sedge and heaps of the brilliant blue Leschanaultia.

Whistlepipe Gully Trail – 3.5km return.
A popular trail that leads you along a babbling creek to a lovely waterfall that cascades over the ruins of an old house. Rocky, granite outcrops offer excellent orchid spotting opportunities.  Flowers to spot: Hovea, Hibbertia, Grevillias, Donkey Orchids, Heath, Myrtle, Native Wisteria,

Mega Mundy TrailMy favourite, this trail mixes bits from all of the above to create one mega trail that maximises your wildflower spotting chances. ( This is route I’ve created on Strava / GPX map)
Flowers to spot: Hovea, Hibbertia, Grevillias, Donkey Orchids, Heath, Myrtle, Verticordia, Sticky Starflowe, Fringed Lily, Pepper Flower, Darwinia, Bitter Pea , Coneflower

Exploring tip: Almost all of the trails in Mundy Regional Park connect via short fire roads, so if you’ve got the time to explore, you can create your own route without disturbing this wonderful slice of wilderness.

Bald Head Walk Trail & Torndirrup National Park

Have you ever been to a location so beautiful that it makes you feel glad to be alive? It may sound a little odd, but that’s exactly how I felt while exploring the Bald Head Walk Trail.

Need to know info

Distance: 12km there and back ( we however did about 5km)
Trail Start: Isthmus Hill car park,  Murray Street, Albany, Torndirrup National Park
Time: 2 – 3 hours one way
Difficulty: Difficult
Stuff you’ll need: Sunscreen, water, hat, sturdy walking boots

The Bald Head Walk Trail

Our Bald Head Walk Trail experience did not go to plan. When we set off from Denmark, the sun was shining, albeit a little weakly but the skies were definitely blue. As we made the 40 minute drive to Albany, grey clouds began rolling in, and by the time we entered Torndirrup National Park, these ominous clouds had covered the sky.

Bald Head Walk Trail boardwalk

The wooden boardwalk up Isthmus Hill.

When we reached the trailhead, light rain was falling and thick white mist obscured our view of the coastline. Should we turn back and check out some other, drier tourist spots in the area? Probably. But first we decided to make the short 1km climb up Isthmus Hill to see if our walk would be worthwhile.

After walking up a slippery and steep wooden boardwalk through peppermint trees and coastal heath, we emerged on the top of Isthmus Hill. In the distance, we could just make out the striped rocks of nearby Stony Hill and the coastline of Frenchman’s Bay. But by then, that oh-too-familiar walking itch had set in so we agreed to go ‘‘just a little bit further.”

Isthmus Hill

Me trying to be positive about our cloudy view from Isthmus Hill.

As we rounded the next corner, I think we all shared an involuntary outburst of exclamations and swear words. The view was incredible. The thick white mist had parted to reveal a brilliant green isthmus that stretched out between two blue but very turbulent bodies of water below. You can’t turn your back on scenery this beautiful so we continued on the trail.

Bald Head Walk Trail

The sort of view that’s sure to make any nature fan feel giddy!

With every step we took, more and more of the coastline came in to view. To our left was Frenchman’s Bay. To our right was the Southern Ocean, which was putting on quite the show with huge waves crashing against the rocks below. As the peninsula narrowed, we spotted a sign and narrow path leading down to these fierce waves.

Bald Head Walk trail

Walking down to meet the monster waves

Normally, I’m a little hesitant around angry water, but my braver walking buddies saw no problem, so we made the descent to the rocks below where we met some of the largest waves I have ever seen in my life. These turquoise blue monsters were thrashing the rocks, making the sort of roar that reminds that you don’t stand a chance against them. As nerve-racking as that can be, that humbling feeling is one of my favourite things about nature and about this trail.

 

Bald head walk trail waves

While this photo doesn’t capture the scale of the waves, it does capture their excellent colour.

After we had filled our wave watching quota, we climbed back up and continued along the main trail until we reached a peak which I think is called Limestone Head. Here, our old friends heavy rain and mist returned, once again blocking our view of the surrounds. I also admit, that we had made the regrettable decision of not bringing much water, as we hadn’t planned to go much further than Isthmus Hill. So rather than push on unprepared and through bad weather, we turned back before reaching the trail’s namesake Bald Head.

Common Bunny Orchid

Common Bunny Orchid

While it was disappointing to cut the walk short, we did manage to catch a few glimpses of late-blooming wildflowers on the way back, like the Common Bunny Orchid, as well as plenty of droplet covered spiderwebs. Seeing as the trail features large granite and limestone outcrops, I’d be willing to bet that it also plays host to plenty of pretty wildflowers during spring. In fact, I’ve vowed to return to the trail during the warmer months to see if I’m right!

Torndirrup National Park

To make up for our shortened walk, we stopped in at a number of Torndirrup’s other wonderful coastal sights, including The Gap, Natural Bridge and The Blowholes. All of these are impressive in their own right, particularly the Gap, who’s new walkway gives you a bird’s-eye view into a deep, wave filled chasm. Torndirrup National Park is definitely worth a visit, even if Bald Head’s 12km trail is out of your comfort range.

The Gap Albany

Feel the rage of the The Gap!

Torndirrup National Park

Colourful lichen adorns the boulders surrounding the Blowholes.

 

The verdict

While our Bald Head Walk was a little damper, greyer and shorter than the experience of others, (see the posts of Life of Py & The Long Way’s Better for sunnier pics) it was still a spectacular walk with scenery that I think is best described as life-affirming. Let me know if you feel the same way!

Torndirrup National Park

That curved dome is Bald Head, as viewed from The Blowholes.

 

Denmark to Lights Beach Bike Trail

Mixing the Munda Biddi Trail and Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail to make our own scenic tour.

Need to know info

Distance: Approximately 25km one way
Trail Start: Denmark River Bridge or Lights Beach.
If you start at Denmark River Bridge, you’ll begin the ride on the Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail. If you start at Lights Beach, you’ll begin on the Munda Biddi Trail.
Time: 2 – 3 hours one way
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Stuff you’ll need: Mountain bike, helmet, sunscreen, water

Note: Sorry about the lack of trail map…someone forgot to turn on Strava. Luckily, you can find the map of the Lights Beach Munda Biddi section here and the Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Trail is visible on Google Maps.

Over the Easter break, we headed south to Denmark with the aim of squeezing in some nature time between our heavy schedule of easter egg eating. We’ve already ridden a few of Denmark’s popular cycle paths like Ocean Beach Cycleway and the Wilson Inlet Heritage Trail, but seeing as I am now the owner of a legit set of wheels, we were keen to explore some less paved terrain. Although eager, I am far from being an experienced mountain biker, so I was looking for trail in the Denmark area that was epic in scenery but still achievable in distance.

Our solution came from a bike riding duo we met at Greens Pool who mentioned a stretch of Munda Biddi Trail that crossed with the Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail. They assured us it would be a pleasant ride, taking us from the beach, through farmland and forest all the way back to Denmark town centre…and they were right. (Thanks guys!)

The Trail

Being a combination of two different trails, this 25km route uses rail trail, bitumen road, gravel paths and winding single track. It can be completed in number of ways:

1. Start at Denmark River Bridge and enjoy a cruisey, mostly downhill ride to Lights Beach.
2. Start at Lights Beach and challenge yourself to a few uphills before finishing with lunch at Denmark town centre.
3. Make it a return 50km ride, or a loop by following the Munda Biddi Trail along Ocean Beach Road.

Seeing as we were already near Lights Beach, we took the second option. However, if you can organise a lift back, I’d recommend starting at Denmark, letting the scenery at Lights Beach be your pay off. Which ever way you choose, here are some of the highlights and challenges you’ll meet along the way:

Lights Beach Denmark

Lights Beach – an epic start or finish to the trail

Lights Beach

Lights beach munda biddi

Weaving through the maze of dense underground.

One of Denmark’s most rugged coastal spots, Lights Beach offers fantastic views of the coast and Southern Ocean. While it’s far too rough for swimming, Lights Beach has impressive lookouts and plenty of rock pools to explore. The bike trail starts on the north side of the carpark (look out for the Munda Biddi Trail sign) and leads along the coast before quickly turning inland. Here you plunge into lush peppermint forest for a rollercoaster ride up and down hills, past a small waterfall and most likely a roo or two.

Road to/from Greens Pool

Munda Biddi Lights beach

Look at that coast line in the distance. See hard riding pays off!

This section will put your wrists to the test. This 6km stretch of red dirt road between Lights Beach and Greens Pool is extremely corrugated – so much so that it feels like you’re riding along a tin roof. Our handy tips for tackling this section include riding along the very edge of road, where the ground is slightly smoother, and relaxing your grip on the handlebars to reduce your chances of whiplash…just kidding.

Greens Pool

Greens Pool is one of Denmark’s most famous spots – and for good reason. Large, smooth rocks provide shelter from the harsh swells of the Southern Ocean, making it look and feel like a swimming pool. On calm sunny days, the pool’s turquoise water sparkles and is somehow enhanced by the promise of a Mr Whippy van up in the carpark. You’ll have to take my word for it, as I forgot to take any pics.

Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail

nornalup heritage rail trail Denmark Cycle Trail

Riding through young Karris

The full length of the Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail is 55km, but on this ride we covered just 12km. This short section still manages to pack in the scenery, passing through slices of karri forest and rolling green paddocks. You might even be greeted by some very chilled cows along the way!

denmark to nornalup heritage trail Denmark Cycle Trail

A patient boyfriend waits while I take photos.

The Denmark to Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail is very easy to follow with blue train markers at regular intervals and bright red timber signs at every road crossing. Closer to Denmark town centre, you’ll also spot the familiar yellow Wagyl markers as sections of the trail overlap with the Bibbulmun Track. Take note: If you’re coming from Denmark, turn left when you reach South Coast Hwy and keep an eye out for the yellow Munda Biddi signs – they can be hard to spot as they lead into a very narrow strip of single track along the edge of farmland.

nornalup heritage rail trail

Overall, this route is a nice way get a glimpse of some of Denmark’s prettiest locations. Thrill-seeking mountain bikers might find it a little on the easy side, but if you’re happy to cruise along, it’s a wonderful way to soak up some excellent Great Southern scenery.

The Jabitj Trail

Jabitj trail

‘Jabitj’ is the Noongar word for running water – and you’ll see plenty of it along this excellent riverside trail.

Need to know info

Distance: 12km return or 6km one way
Where: Wellington National Park, 25 minutes drive from Collie town centre
Time: 2 hours one way
Difficulty: Moderate
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes, and bathers if it’s warm.

Where to find it

The Trail

Water, views and dense, green forest – they are some of the main things I look for in a bushwalk, and the Jabitj Trail is blessed with all three. Located in the Wellington National Park, The Jabitj Trail follows Collie River, taking you straight through the middle of an ancient river gorge.

Jabitj trail

The Collie River Valley in all its glory!

The trail begins behind the Wellington Dam Kiosk – look for the green boot print marker – and plunges straight down a steep incline until you reach a water pumping station. You could ignore the station and stick to the trail, but I recommend you take a quick detour to the left and check out the Wellington Dam Wall.

Wellington Dam on the Jabitj Trail

Gushing over the Wellington Dam.

Wellington Dam Wall.
While I’m normally all about the nature side of walks, I’ll admit that the Wellington Dam is impressive.The curve and size of the wall plays tricks on your eyes and the torrent that pours out from the dam wall is an excellent reminder of the unthinkable amount of water that is being held at bay. At this point of the walk, Jarrad raised the question of what would happen if the wall suddenly gave way…rather than dwell on that thought, let’s get back to the trail!

After the Dam, the trail takes you up a rocky outcrop and then curves around to give you an excellent view of the Collie River. Shaded by a canopy of trees and studded with mossy rocks, this part of the trail reminds me a little bit of Lane Poole Reserve in Dwellingup.

Jabitj trail 2

The first glimpse of Collie River on the trail.

Following this shady stretch, the trail moves into a drier, rockier and more exposed section a bush. Don’t worry, you only need to make one small hill climb before you’re once again greeted by the river’s edge and a fantastic view of the valley. From here on, it’s a constant stream of rapids, gentle pools and brilliant green water. Seriously, make space on your phone or camera, because you won’t be able to stop yourself snapping photos of this wonderful landscape.

Big Rock
Along the way keep an eye out for a gigantic, granite rock outcrop – creatively named ‘Big Rock’. Essentially a hillside of granite, it’s located on the other side of the Collie River and can be accessed via Lennard Road. The day after we tackled this trail, we drove to Big Rock and climbed almost to the top. It’s a very steep climb but it offers some incredible valley panorama, and a view down that will have your stomach turning somersaults.

Big Rock Jabitj Trail

It really is a big rock!

Honeymoon Pool
The final stop on the trail is Honeymoon Pool. This is a very popular camping spot, and deservedly so, because it’s beautiful. The pool itself is quiet stretch of river that is edged by peppermint trees and marris. There’s plenty of picnic tables and a handy boardwalk where you can sit and dip your feet in the glass-clear green water. If it wasn’t so cold on the day we visited, we’d have stripped off and gone for a swim!

Jabitj Trail

We named this spot Se-WREN-ity Pool because of the many blue wrens flittering on the water’s edge.

 

jabitj trail signage

The Jabitj Trail crosses paths with the Munda Biddi as well as the Kurliiny Tjenangitj Trail.

Tree on Jabitj trail

Burl on a gorgeous old Marri.

Being the endpoint of the trail, you can finish up at Honeymoon Pool and get a lift home, or you can follow the trail back to the start. Alternatively, you can follow our lead and use the Kurliiny Tjenangitj Trail and Sika Trail to get back to the Wellington Dam Kiosk. While it does add 2 or 3 extra kilometres and a very steep hill climb to your walk, taking this route home gives you some different, higher views of the valley. And thanks to DPaW’s excellent signage, it’s very easy to find your way back.
To wrap up, I cannot recommend the Jabitj Trail enough. It’s a wonderful walk with so many scenic spots to enjoy along the way.

Rapids, views, idyllic green pools – any nature fan is sure to be impressed. Definitely worth the trip!

 

 

Railway Reserves Heritage Trail Cheat Sheet

Railway Reserves Heritage Trail National Park Falls

A full day of riding or several mini-trips rolled into one – create your own Railway Reserves Heritage Trail adventure.

I have to confess, I thought the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail was going to be dull and boring. I heard the words ‘railway’ and ‘heritage’ and my mind conjured up images of the Midland line crossed with a railway museum. However one Sunday afternoon, Jarrad convinced me to give it a go by promising a quick ride – 10 kilometres there and back. And lucky he did.

On that short Sunday ride from Bellevue to Darlington, I discovered the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail is not dull; it’s an interesting and well-facilitated way to discover the Perth hills. On the ride, we passed sweeping views of the city and rode through tunnels made by tall railway embankments. We discovered the multi-coloured rock face of Mountain Quarry at Boya, and I even found myself wanting to stop and read the history signage along the way. I was enjoying the ride so much that I decided we needed to continue to Glen Forrest, the next station along the trail. From here on, I was hooked.

The following weekends, we completed the rest of the trail section by section, adding more wonderful scenery, like waterfalls, artwork, granite outcrops and spooky railway tunnels to the list.

Railway Reserves Heritage Trail Artwork

Some of the artwork on the trail.

The Railway Reserves Heritage Trail

The complete Railway Reserves Heritage Trail is 59km and follows the route of the old Eastern Railway, forming a loop between Bellevue in the south and Mount Helena in north. An extension runs east to Chidlow and Wooroloo. The most popular choice is to skip the eastern extension and stick to the day-trip length 41km loop. The alternative is to break it up into smaller, bit-sized sections – like we did.

The trail is mostly flat gravel, which makes for easy walking and riding. However, there are a few loose sections, so  if you’re going to ride, a mountain bike or a bike with wider wheels would be your best choice. With that said, I rode the first section on a rattly old indie 500 and still managed to get by…just.

The best bits

Like any trail, Railway Reserves has its highs and lows. There are sections that will have you reaching for your camera, and others that are less inspiring – mostly the stretches of dry gravel and parrot bush. (I’ve always hated parrot bush). Normally, I’d say that’s part of the nature adventure experience, but my newly time-poor self has decided that its fine to fast forward to the best bits. So, if you’re short of time or new to riding, here is a ‘cheat sheet’ to help you skip ahead to the sections of trail that will give you the most bang for your bike ride.

Boya to Glen Forrest

Distance: Approx 5km one way
Difficulty: 
Easy to moderate
Start:
Corner of Scott Street & Coulston Rd, Boya
Finish: Corner of Railway Parade & Hardey Road, Glen Forrest

Railway Reserves Heritage Trail Boya

The many colours of Mountain Quarry in Boya

This stretch is a gentle uphill with plenty of natural loveliness along the way. As you ascend from Coulston Rd, there is a sweeping view of the Swan coastal plain. Just a little further, you’ll notice a sandy road with a stone toilet block – this is the entrance to Mountain Quarry. A popular abseiling spot; the colours and sheer height of the rock face makes this quarry well worth a look.

Railway Reserves Heritage trail

If you’re feeling adventurous, take one of the many side trails that take you over the rocks and embankments.

Another highlight of this section is the steep, tree-lined embankments as you enter Darlington. During the midst of summer, the tall Marris and Jarrahs keep this part of the trail cool and shady. In winter and spring, a brook runs along the trail giving life to little waterfalls and plenty of wildflowers. The ride into Glen Forrest is particularly pretty with wattles, petrophiles, native wisteria galore.

Family Tip: The section between Darlington and Glen Forrest is perfect for riding with younger riders. It’s a manageable 2.5km one way and there is easily accessible parking, toilets and cafes at both ends of the trail. Plus, the downhill ride to Darlington is a lot of fun!

Mundaring to Mount Helena

Distance: 6.7km one way
Difficulty: 
Easy
Start:
 Mundaring Sculpture Park, Jacoby Street
Finish: Corner of Sawyers Road & Keane Street

Railway Reserves Heritage trail

In spring, wattle lines the trail as you enter Mundaring Sculpture Park.

With a pub a both ends, this is a great stretch to complete before lunchtime.  An easy, mostly down-hill section, the trail runs through a variety of vegetation areas – gravelly dryandra and skeoak forests, as well as green and shady marri forests. During spring, the trail bursts into colour with bright yellow wattle, orange coral vine and red kangaroo paws – Believe me, you’ll need to stop and take photos.

Another bonus of this section is that it begins in the Mundaring Sculpture Park, which has a interesting art pieces, railway memorabilia and an awesome playground. Seriously, even this 29-year-old was tempted to get off her bike and have a play on some of the equipment!

Swan View to Hovea Falls

Distance: Approx 4.5km one way
Difficulty: 
Easy
Start:
 Carpark Pechey Road, Swan View
Finish: Hovea Falls, John Forrest National Park

Railway Reserves Heritage Trail John Forrest Bridge

Under the (John Forrest) bridge.

This is by far the most popular and scenic stretch of the trail. The first point of interest is the Swan View Tunnel – WA’s oldest railway tunnel. This 400m cobbled tunnel is delightfully dark, damp and spooky, so it’s best to hop off and push your bike so you don’t ride into anything unseen..or otherworldly.

Next, you’ll pass National Park Falls, an impressive waterfall that tumbles over bright red and ochre coloured rocks.  As you head towards the John Forrest National Park picnic area, you’ll cross one of the railway’s original timber and steel bridges. It’s worth stopping and walking down beneath the bridge to get a sense of its height and scale. Your last point of call is Hovea Falls – yep, another waterfall. Unlike National Park Falls, this waterfall is low and wide, running over a large granite outcrop. Thanks to Perth’s record summer rains, both falls were roaring when I visited, however they do normally dry up during the hotter months. From here on, you can turn around and enjoy the wind in your hair as you zoom downhill – or stay a while and explore some of the other wonders in John Forrest National Park.

For more useful info and interesting history about the Railway Reserves Heritage trail, visit here.

If you do check out the trail, let me know your favourite sections – I am always keen to hear a different perspective!

Map

While there are many places to begin the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail, I’ve pinpointed two of the most popular – Swan View Station and Mundaring Scuplture Park.

4 stops to make in D’Entrecasteaux National Park

Salmon Beach at D'Entrecasteuax national park

D’Entrecasteaux National Park is one of the wildest and most rugged places you’ll find down south. Think jagged cliffs, lonely beaches and sand dunes that move on their own. A large part of the park is only accessible by four-wheel drive, but luckily for us proud Yaris owners, it’s also got a sealed road that takes you right up to the edge of some spectacular scenery. Heading down Windy Harbour Road from the town of Northcliffe, here are four places that are worth stopping the car for.

1. Mount Chudalup

Mount Chudalup doesn’t look like much from the road but don’t let that fool you. Surrounded by tall forest, the short 1km walk to the top of this giant granite outcrop rewards you with incredible 360 degree views of the national park. Even the trail itself is interesting, with vegetation that changes dramatically from lush karri trees, to dry banskia and grasstrees, to colourful moss and lichens as you climb the rock. Once you reach the summit of Mount Chudalup, you’ll have an excellent view of sand dunes, coastal cliffs and kilometres of heathlands.

Mount Chudalup D'Entrecasteaux National Park

The boardwalk to the top

For a different perspective, check out Way To Much Coffee’s blog post on Mount Chudalup and its surrounds.

Mount Chudalup D'Entrecasteaux National Park

Mossy rock and magnificent view.

Mount Chudalup D'Entrecasteaux National Park

The Summit of Mt Chudalup and a Jarrad for scale.

2. Salmon Beach

The next stop is secluded Salmon Beach. Edged by huge, ominous-looking cliffs, this white sand beach looks like it could be the set of a fantasy film; or at least inspire some poetry. We visited late Tuesday morning mid December, and we could only spot one other set of footsteps on the sand, so if you visit out of school holiday season, you’ll most likely have the beach to yourself. While this isn’t a spot for swimming, it does make a great place for a walk, dramatic selfie or just a moment of complete peace and quiet.

The view of Salmon Beach in D'Entrecasteaux National Park

If the view is this good from the carpark, imagine it up close!

Salmon Beach D'Entrecasteaux National Park

We had Salmon Beach all to ourselves.

3. Tookalup

The view from Tookalup is a good reminder than you’re just one tiny person in a giant world. Tookalup lookout gives you sweeping views across the cliffs of Salmon Beach to Point D’Entrecasteaux, and outward to an endless expanse of deep blue ocean. Signage at the lookout mentions that Tookalup is an excellent vantage point for spotting humpack and right whales during May to November. If you’re lucky enough to spot a whale from this magical spot, please let me know so I can be very, very jealous.

Tookalup D'Entrecasteaux National Park

The view to the right from the Tookalup lookout.

4. Point D’Entrecasteaux

Point D’Entrecasteux is the last stop on the drive and it goes above and beyond with scenery. This point is the start or finish of a number of short walks, including the Coastal Survivors Walk that takes you down to Cathedral Rock and Windy Harbour (this trail looked awesome, I probably should have done it) and the Pupalong Loop Walk that offers fantastic cliff views while being 100% wheelchair accessible. Another highlight of this spot is The Window – a hole in one of the cliffs that gives you a slightly frightening yet very photogenic view of the steep drop to the ocean below.

Window D'Entrecasteaux National Park

The perfectly framed Window view.

 Cliffs in D'Entrecasteaux National Park

Too close to the cliff edges of Point D’Entrecasteaux

 

While these were my four highlights of D’Entrecasteaux National Park, there are plenty more to explore nearby and along the way, like the tiny holiday settlement of Windy Harbour, Sunset Lookout, Gardner Lookout and Cathedral Rock. Plus lots of off-road adventures for those lucky enough to own a 4WD.

One final note:

There are no shops in D’Entrecasteux National Park so bring plenty of water and snacks for the trip. You can stock up on supplies at Northcliffe – I have it on good authority that Northcliffe bakery does a good old-fashioned chicken and salad roll!

Map & Directions

We accessed D’Entrecasteaux Drive via Windy Harbour Road from Northcliffe.
The town of Northcliffe is approximately a 35 minute drive from Pemberton.

The Cascades Walk

Last August, I visited the Gloucester National Park and was blown away by the beauty of Karri forest on the Gloucester Route Walk.  As wonderful as this trail was, I knew I had just scratched the surface of this magical place and vowed to return. Now in December, I’m back and ready to discover what else the forest holds – starting with a greener-than-green walk to The Cascades.

Need to know info

Distance: 6km one way. 12km return.
Where: Gloucester National Park, Pemberton
Time: 2.5 – 4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Cost: $12 national park entry fee
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes and possibly wet weather gear.


Why do this

The Cascades Walk is chance to immerse yourself in the heart of some of Pemberton’s lushest karri forest. The Cascades are a set of rapids that tumble over the rocks of Lefroy Brook. Towards the end of summer, the cascades slow to gentle stream. From winter to spring, they’re a raging torrent that churns foam and creates an impressive roar. We visited on a particularly drizzly day in mid December, and luckily for us, they were still putting on quite the show.

The Trail

Trail entry point at Burma Road and Eastbrook crossroad.

Officially, the trail starts at the Gloucester Tree and follows the Gloucester Route for the first couple of kilometres. Having already climbed that majestic beast and explored it surrounds on bike and foot, we decided to save a bit of walking and start at the crossroads of Burma Road and the Eastbrook Trail.

The official start of the trail takes you down a series of switchbacks, passing giant karris and giving you valley views along the way. You’ll then hit a bitumen road that you will follow until you reach the crossroads. From here, you turn right and head back into the forest. No matter where you choose to start, the trail is well signed posted with wooden signs and the friendly and familiar yellow Wagyl. (Yep, that’s right, The Cascades Walk is actually a stretch of the Bibbulmum Track.)

The cascades pemberton

Now this is lush.

When you’ve got into the swing of the trail and stopped marvelling at the towering trees, you’ll notice the incredible range of greenery. There are karris covered in day-glo green moss, deep green tree ferns, vines with bronze-edged leaves and plenty of others I can’t name.

moss on the cascades walk

Did I mention the greenery? Moss, moss and more moss.

Compared to the usual subdued greys and greens of Perth’s bush, the Karri forest looks like someone has used every shade of green in the crayon box – in the best possible way.

From the crossroads, the trail is flat and easy, and it continues this way for three or so kilometres.  After a little while, it might seem a little repetitive but that just means you have the opportunity to zone out and soak up the forest sounds, or catch up with your walking buddy. (Two of my favourite things about bushwalking! )

The Cascades Bridge Pemberton

The Cascades Bridge

Once you’re deep in the forest, you’ll reach another gravel road. Cross over this and now the trail starts showing some attitude, taking a few sharp ups and downs that will get the heart pumping.

Soon enough, you’ll hear the sound of running water and spot the Cascades Bridge, which is still used today by Pemberton’s tourist tram. From here, you’ll easily find the Cascades by following the boardwalk over the brook.

The Cascades Pemberton

The Cascades looking glorious even in mid December.

The Cascades boardwalk

The Cascades timber boardwalk leads you up and around Lefroy Brook.

A lot of care has been put into the facilities of the Cascades. There are picnic tables, information shelters and a wide timber boardwalk that gives you a good view of the falls.

The best thing is that even with all of this infrastructure, you can still get up close to the Cascades. In fact, if you’re careful, you can walk right out on to the rocks and find a spot to daydream alongside the water. On the very soggy and slippery day of our visit, we opted to follow the boardwalk further upstream to check out the more tranquil parts of Lefroy Brook.

Lefroy Brook looks peaceful but lampreys lurk beneath the surface.

 

Overall, The Cascades Walk is wonderful way to escape in the Karri forest and see one of the South West’s prettiest waterfalls. Plus, the dense forest means the trail is cool, damp and shady even on warmer days. Whether you go one way or take the return trail, add the Cascades Walk to your Southern Forests to-do list.


Map & Directions


The Cascades Walk is located in the Gloucester National Park which is located on Burma Road, just 5 minutes drive from the Pemberton town centre.

Once you’ve paid your $12 park fee, you can enter and drive through to the carpark. The beginning of the trail follows the same route at the Gloucester Route, which is marked with the yellow Bibbulmun Track sign.

The Gloucester Route Walk

Gloucester Tree Walk

Get in touch with your inner zen on the Gloucester Route Walk

Need to know info

Distance: 10km
Where: Gloucester National Park, Pemberton
Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Cost: $12 national park entry fee
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes and whole lot of chill.


Why do this

There is something magical about Western Australia’s Karri forests. This might sound kind of cheesy but when I’m amongst these towering trees, a sense of calm washes over me.
For me, this peaceful feeling was the highlight of the Gloucester Route Walk, well for most of it anyway.

The Gloucester Tree viewing platform

I won’t spoil the surprise of the treetop view. Instead, here’s a view of the climb down from the top platform.

The Gloucester Tree
I say most of the walk because we began our adventure by scaling the Gloucester Tree, one of Pemberton’s famous climbing trees. Once used a fire lookout, this giant tree has been fitted with metal pegs which you can use to climb up 61m to reach a viewing platform. There’s no safety net between you and the ground, so I admit that ‘sense of calm’ disappeared as soon as I started climbing. Luckily I was accompanied by my braver friends who egged me on, and I’m glad they did because the views from the top make the heart-racing climb completely worthwhile. My tip is to stop mid-climb and look down to the forest below. From this point you can truly appreciate the sheer height of the Karri trees, but this is probably not a good idea if you’re afraid of heights!

Giant Karri on Gloucester Route Walk

A moss covered Karri that doubles as a handy rain shelter.

The Trail
Once we had conquered the Gloucester Tree climb, we headed straight to the trail. It only takes a few metres of walking before you’re immersed in the lush and tranquil greenery of the forest. The trail begins by crossing paths with the Bibbulmun Track, meandering up and down gentle slopes, taking you past giant moss-covered Karris and across a bitumen road towards a wooden bridge over Lefroy Brook.

This bridge was just one of the several wonderful creek crossings you’ll find along the Gloucester Route. Hidden in gullies deep in the forest, these bridges make a perfect spot to chill out and soak up the forest sounds. Seriously, if you do explore this route, take a minute to close your eyes and just listen – with tweeting birds and babbling creek noises it sounds like you’ve stumbled into a recording of a relaxation tape.  (On that note, we visited this trail during winter. During summer, the creeks will most likely be a lot drier and quieter.)

Bridge on Gloucester Route Walk

The first bridge you’ll encounter on the Gloucester Route.

When you’re about the halfway through the trail, you’ll notice that the Karri forest thins and becomes dense Jarrah forest. Don’t worry, you haven’t taken a wrong turn! After a few hundred metres, you’ll return to the Karri forest for the final stretch of the walk. You’ll know you’re nearing the end when you cross my favourite bridge, which is little more than a plank of tall karri laid across several logs. Nineties kids can relive their Fern Gully fantasies as the tree ferns here give this part of the trail a distinct rainforest atmosphere.

Bridge on the Gloucester Route Walk

A plank of Karri acting as a make-shift bridge. I wonder how the other Karri trees in the forest feel about this.

A few metres on from this point, you’ll spot a sign that says “Berry Farm” that will lead you to the Lavender and Berry Farm cafe where you can get a post-hike coffee and scone. Though tempted by the thought of caffeine, we pushed on to complete the walk. (Just a note, when you’re almost nearing the end, you’ll see a sign for the Gloucester Route Loop that is pointing in the left back into the route you’ve just walked – ignore this and continue forward on the obvious trail back to the start point in the carpark.)

gloucester route walk

The trailhead of the Gloucester Route.

Upon finishing the hike, my walking buddies and I agreed that the Gloucester Route Walk was a beautiful and calming way to start our day. While it doesn’t have the river views of some of the other walks in the area, it’s a wonderful way to experience the Karri Forest. Being one of the less action-packed walks in Pemberton, you’re also less likely to encounter other walkers – we set off at 10:30am on a Saturday and we had the trail completely to ourselves. Plus, you can easily add some waterfall to your walk with a trip to the nearby Cascades, which are looking their best thanks to the recent winter rains.

Gloucester Route Walk

Lauren and Janet soaking up some Karri forest magic.


Map & Directions
Gloucester Route trail marker

Follow the Black Karri trail markers.

1. The Gloucester Route is located in the Gloucester National Park which is located on Burma Road, just 5 minutes drive from the Pemberton town centre.

Once you’ve paid your $12 park fee, you can enter and drive through to the carpark.

The Gloucester tree is hard to miss, just look for the giant tree surrounded by decking and signage.
To the right of the tree, you’ll spot some wooden signage for the 3 walk trails in the area. The Gloucester Route trail is well signposted, just follow the black Karri tree markers and you’re sure to find your way.

Palm Terrace Walk: A different side of the Lesmurdie Falls

Lesmurdie Falls Palm terrace

Don’t go chasing waterfalls, when you have them and more on the Palm Terrace Walk.

Need to know info

Distance: 6.5km + extra to see the falls
Where: Forrestfield/Lesmurdie, 35 minutes from Perth
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water & sturdy enclosed shoes


Why do this

If you’ve never been to the Lesmurdie Falls, you should. It’s arguably Perth’s best waterfall, and thanks to this year’s wet winter, it’s looking more magnificent than ever.

The only downside to this natural wonder is that its official walk is little more than a quick 2km climb from top to bottom. Sure, it’s a beautiful 2 kilometres with incredible views, but if you’re a keen walker, it’s not enough to get that wonderful ‘I’ve-been-on-a-hike’ feeling you get from a longer walk. Plus, if you head out on the weekend, your two kilometres are shared with the families, tourists and locals vying for the best Instagram shot ( We’ve all been that person.)

Luckily there is a solution – The Palm Terrace Walk.

The trail begins in the Falls carpark located the end of Palm Terrace.  It feels wrong, but the trail starts by walking away from the bush, between the four large rocks on the far side of carpark.

Take the left fork and walk until you reach a t-junction, turn left to follow the edge of private property. From here on you’ll need to keep an eye out for beige triangle trail markers. The little triangles are not in the most obvious positions and are often hidden by shrubs or trees. It can be frustrating but think of it as a chance to use your nature adventurer direction skills.

Palm Terrace Walk

Catch a glimpse of a tiny Perth city and beyond.

As a general rule, the first half of the trail leads you up a hill towards the escarpment.  This stretch of the trail is a constant incline, so be prepared to work up a sweat. Luckily there are excellent views of the falls and coastal plain to take your mind off the climb. Once you reach the top, you’ll skirt along some more private properties and then reach a road. At this point, the little beige triangles almost disappear completely. (Nice one Kalamunda Shire!)

Palm Terrace Walk flood

Be warned, parts of the trail are a bit damp…to say the least!

Don’t worry; just follow this road until you reach a carpark. Once you’re here, head down the stairs, past the picnic area and turn right along the brook towards what are known as the cascades. (Alternatively, at this point you can sneak in a quick look of the falls by turning left and then retracing your steps to join the trail again – Choose your own adventure!)

When the water level is high, these cascades make a pretty spot to stop for rest, but if you’re in a rush, cross the bridge, head straight up the hill and turn right to climb the last incline of the walk – at this point you’ll understand why I used this walk as practice for the Inca Trail.

Remains of a mystery building.

Remains of a mystery building.

After this last climb, you’ll reach a communications tower and the ruins of an old building. I’m not sure what the purpose of this little building was, but today it’s functioning as a garden bed for grass trees and orchids. From this point of the walk, it’s all downhill, with glorious coastal plain views and hillsides covered in colourful hovea, hibertia, myrtle and coneflowers.

 

Once you’ve made your way back to Palm Terrace Road, you can take that enticing trail along the creek to the base of the falls. Even if you’re tired from the walk, you’ll want to explore the waterfall, maybe even going as far as climbing up to touch it as it cascades down the granite rock face.

Wildflowers Palm Terrace Walk

Coneflowers adding splashes of pink to the hillside.

Along with the views, the flexibility is one of my favourite things about the Palm Terrace Walk – you can tailor it to your mood. You can take the full trail. You can cut it short at the halfway mark and head to the waterfall. Or you can even lengthen it with the interconnecting Lewis Road Walk. Even with the dodgy of signage, it’s pretty hard to get too lost, just listen for the thundering sound of the falls and you’ll find yourself heading in the right direction.

So, if you like your waterfalls to come with a few extra kilometres of hill climbs, make sure you check out the Palm Terrace Walk.

Palm Terrace Walk

This hill of grasstrees is sure to be joined by wildflowers in the next few weeks.


Map & Directions

The trail begins in the lower carpark of Lesmurdie Falls National Park, located on Palm Terrace in Forrestfield.

One of the more easy to spot trail markers.

One of the more easy to spot trail markers.

Look for the 4 large gravel boulders which mark the entry of the trail. Take the left fork; and then turn left at the T junction. From here on, look for the beige-ish trail markers.