Category: Everyday Adventures

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.

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.

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.

 

Exploring Bells Rapids

View of Bells Rapids

With plenty of winter rain, now is the time to visit Bells Rapids

Need to know info

Distance: 2km or 3.5km
Where: Brigadoon, 45 minutes from Perth
Time: 1-2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, water & sturdy enclosed shoes that you’re not afraid to get dirty.


Why do this


Nothing says winter more than the rumble of a flowing river – and there is nowhere in Perth better to see this than Bells Rapids.

Bells Rapids

The well and truly running rapids.

Located in the Swan Valley, Bells Rapids is a stretch of the Swan River that thunders over boulders, churning up masses of white foam. It’s a popular spot to watch the Avon Descent; and if our recent visit is anything to go by, a popular spot for walkers and their four legged friends.

Foam at Bells Rapids

The kind of foam a cappuccino lover can only dream of.

There are two official walking trails on offer at Bells Rapids:
1. The River walk is a 2.5km trail that follows the river. To begin the trail, follow the left path once you cross the bridge.
2. The Goat Walk is a 3km trail that leads you to the top of a hill for some sweeping views over the Swan Valley. To begin the trail, follow the right path once you cross the bridge.

Having explored the Goat Walk in the past, we decided upon the River Walk. While the official trail only takes you downstream, there is a small path upstream that you can follow before you cross the bridge. Always keen to explore more, we ventured along this extra path and it rewarded us with a peaceful river setting and some glimpses of Spoonbills and red-chested Scarlet Robins.

Swan River Brigadoon

The calm before the rapids.

After this little detour, we turned back to join the offical trail, along with the other walkers and their dogs. If you’re looking for a dog-friendly day out, Bells Rapids is a great choice – just as long as you’re not bothered by muddy fur and paws on the car ride home.We saw several very happy yet very dirty dogs having the time of their lives while playing along the river’s edge.

bells 2

The rocks and puddles of the River Walk Trail at Bells Rapids

It’s not just the dogs who are at risk on getting messy though. Due to the winter rain, the trail is quite muddy, so this is probably not the walk to wear your fancy new trainers. Instead, embrace your inner child and commit to climbing over the smooth rocks and through the puddles until you reach the end of the trail.  From here you can turn back, or easily continue uphill and connect to the Goat Walk trail and catch those coastal plain views.

While I know I have been talking up the wintery-ness of Bells Rapids, it does make for an interesting summer adventure too. Earlier this year, we visited when the rapids were nothing more than a trickle. The smooth river stones that are usually hidden by the water were exposed, providing a whole new to landscape to explore. I don’t have a photo so you’ll just have trust me when I say that the dry river bed, with its metres of water-worn black rock, looked like the setting for a spooky sci-fi film. Wonderful in a weird kind of way.

To wrap up, Bells Rapids is worth adding to your winter adventure list. It’s not really the place for a lengthy hike, but it’s a nice, leisurely day adventure. My sweet toothed tip is to check out the rapids and then stop at the House of Honey on Great Northern Highway. Here you can grab a delicious honey ice cream or slab of honey cake and and reclaim any of the calories you might have lost walking. Definitely worth it.


Map & Directions

The Bells Rapids carpark is located at the end of Cathedral Avenue, Brigadoon.
From here the rapids are pretty easy to find, just listen out for roar.

Abyssinia Rock Walk

Abyssinia Rock

A walk with a whole lotta rock.

Distance:
10.3km return.
Where: Ashendon, 40 minutes from Perth
Time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, water, sturdy enclosed shoes.


Why do this:

Most of my ideas for walks and rides come from blogs or websites – yes, Trails WA and The Life of Py – I’m talking about you. However, this week’s adventure to Abyssinia Rock was discovered in a hiking guidebook – how retro is that!

According to ‘Perth’s Best Bush, Coast and City Walks’; the trail to Abyssinia Rock is one of Perth’s most popular walks, yet there is little evidence of this online. That’s probably because this trail is actually a small section of the much better known Bibbulmun Track. The trail begins where the Bibbulmun crosses Brookton Highway, about 20km after the Canning Road turn off to Karragullen. It’s easy to spot, look out for the red Bibbulmum track sign located on the right just before a power line.

Abyssinia Rock

The Darling Ranges peeking through some recently burnt bush.

Once you’ve parked, look for the familiar yellow Wagyl snake triangles and off you go. The trail starts in what would be dense Jarrah forest. This area has been recently burnt so it isn’t the usual scene of brown and greens. Instead, it’s a vivid colour palette of burnt black tree trunks, ashy white soil and rust coloured leaves. While you might not find it traditionally beautiful, it does make for an interesting change of scenery.

The trail takes you uphill through the burnt forest and then narrows down to a single track that winds across a ridge. Along the way, you’ll pass a number of big, old felled jarrahs. Even in their fallen state, it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer size of these mighty trees. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself heading downhill and arriving at the star of the show, Abyssinia Rock.

Be warned, when you first arrive at Abyssinia Rock you will be disappointed. It looks like a largish granite outcrop, not overly different from any other you’d see in the Darling Ranges.
However, hold your judgement until you climb to the top.

Abyssinia Rock

Climbing to the top of the rock.

Once you’re there, you’ll see that the rock is actually a lot bigger than it looks, running all the way down the other side of the hill. Plus, there are thick carpets of vibrant green moss, rock pools to explore and excellent views of what I think are Mt Cuthbert and Mt Vincent. (Don’t quote me; my knowledge of geography is terrible.)

Abyssinina 5

A rock pool mirroring the sky. (Sorry to the moss we stood on.)

 

Abyssinia Rock fungi

A loofah-like fungus –  one of the little details of Abyssinia Rock.

The Bibbulmun Track Foundation has captured the area on video, but it’s actually a whole lot more impressive in real life. In my opinion, a camera can never truly depict the depth of sweeping views or the tiny details that make an area special. That’s why you’ve got to get out there an experience it yourself!

In particular, keep an eye out for the range of interesting fungi on the rock. Some look like orange noodles, while others are like tiny pieces of coral. If rocks are more your thing, look for the almost geometric shaped slabs of granite. It will have you questioning if it was the work of natural weathering or someone handy with a circular saw.

While you’re exploring Abyssinia Rock, try not to trample the moss, as these plants are fragile and take years to grow. Even more importantly, avoid the shiny black areas of the rock. These parts are EXTREMELY slippery – I don’t want a walk from my blog to be the reason you break your leg.

Once you’ve had enough rock exploration, turn back and retrace your steps to the start. The Abyssinia Rock walk is a medium grade walk that you can easily slip into a morning or afternoon. It’s also a chance to explore some distinctly West Australian scenery, which is something every Perth dweller should do.

Abyssinia Rock

Abyssinia Rock conquered!


Map & Directions

Coming from Perth, the trail begins 20km past the Canning Road turn off on Brookton Highway. Look out for the red Bibbulmum track sign located on the right just before a power line – this is where you can park to begin the trail.

Facing south in carpark you’ll see 2 trails. One on the left that runs next to power lines and one on the right that leads into the bush. Take the one on the right and follow the yellow Bibbulmun track markers from here on.

Lane Poole Reserve: More than the King Jarrah Trail

The upside of being unprepared.

Not all nature adventures go to plan. Sometimes the reason why is out of your control, like a change in weather, or a less than friendly animal encounter. Other times, it’s down to your poor planning and is completely your own fault. This week, it was the latter reason that led to us changing our plans and our walking route.

The plan was to tackle the King Jarrah Trail; an 18km trail that winds through the jarrah forests of Dwellingup. We got up early (for us), packed our water and supplies, then set off to Lane Poole Reserve where the trail begins. Dwellingup is a 1 hour and 40 minute drive from the city, so by the time we had arrived we had consumed a lot of coffee, a lot of sugar and were more than ready to get walking. However, one thing we hadn’t counted on was a “Trail closed for fire damage” poster plastered on the entrance of the King Jarrah Trail. Yep, we didn’t think to check to see if the trail was open. Rookie mistake. 

If you’re planning on going to national park, always check the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s alert page. It will tell you if there are any closures or emergency alerts, like flood or bushfires. A two-minute check of this site will not only save you a wasted trip, it could potentially save your life. Anyway, back to the story. 

At this point our Nature Monday plan was ruined. But luckily for us, it was ruined in the best possible place. Lane Poole Reserve is not only beautiful, it also has tonnes of nature goodness on offer. There’s sections of the Munda Biddi Trail and The Bibbulmun Track to explore, kayaking, bike paths and plenty of other, albeit smaller, walk trails to choose from –  this is probably why it’s one of Perth’s most popular camping spots.

Lane Poole Reserve

The kayak friendly Murray River.

(Unofficial) Murray River Walk
Once we parked and got hold of map (here you go), we could see what other non-King-Jarrah-Trail options we could choose from. We were intending to find an actual trail but we got sidetracked and headed to the sound of gushing water. After exploring what turned out to be the Nanga Falls, we found ourselves on short but well-worn track along the edge of the Murray River. With several rope swings and tracks leading to campsites along the way, the trail was the obvious handiwork of many years of campers. The trail took us over huge fallen logs, through blackberry thickets and down slippery mudslides – which was surprisingly a lot of fun. Who doesn’t want to feel like Indiana Jones every now and then?

echidna

Those spikes in the centre are an echidna!

What was even more exciting was…
wait for it… WE MET AN ECHIDNA ON THE TRAIL!
Just in case you don’t know, I’ve always wanted to see an echidna in the wild, and finally my wish came true.
Because I lack any self control, I screamed in excitement, which sent the poor little guy waddling off under a bush. Sorry echidna! And sorry to you, as I didn’t get any photos except this blurry shot of his spines.

After our echidna experience, we continued on until we reached a set of rapids, which filled the water with masses of white foam. This is where the trail ended, so not wanting to trample through the undergrowth; we turned back, ready for the next adventure.

Lane Poole Reserve

The tall jarrahs line the Nanga Brook Trail.

mushy 3

The fun little guys!

Nanga Brook Trail 
Our next stop was the Nanga Brook Trail. Another small walk, this 4km trail follows the Nanga Brook through to the old Nanga Mill site. This trail is less of bushwalk, more of a pathway as it crosses through clearings and picnic sites. However, it’s still interesting, especially if you’re keen to read and learn about the history of the old mill site. Not to mention, the abundance of mushrooms, fungi and moss along this track weas incredible. A must for any fungus fan!

 

Island Pool Trail
A 10 minute drive from Nanga Brook, the deceptively named Island Pool Trail was the last stop on our Lane Poole Reserve tour. Expecting more riverside adventure, we were surprised to find this 2km trail is actually a steep loop that takes you up through jarrah forest. What this trail lacked in islands, it made up with views over the hills and beyond. Plus, it added a great little burst of cardio to our relaxed day. (To clear up the mystery, the trail is located opposite the Island Pool campsite, so the name is not completely misleading.)

island pool view

Definitely no islands on this trail!

Not wanting to drive home in the dark, we decided to call it a day after the Island Pool Trail. While we may not have conquered the King Jarrah Trail, we still had an excellent time at Lane Poole Reserve. We ended up exploring some smaller trails we probably would have overlooked and I finally achieved my echidna encounter dream. Maybe there is an upside to being unprepared!

To wrap up this post, I can’t recommend Lane Poole Reserve enough. While it is a bit of trek for a day trip; the landscape, the river, and the serenity make drive worthwhile. If you can’t squeeze a visit into one day, why not get some friends together and stay the night?
I’m definitely adding a Dwellingup camping trip to my to-do list, oh, and the King Jarrah Trail of course!

Lane Poole Reserve

Another shot of the Mirror-like Murray.

Map & Directions


Lane Poole Reserve covers over 55,000ha, so there are many campsites and parking areas that make good starting points. Lane Poole Reserve is a national park so it does have the standard $12 per car entry fee.

If you’re keen to explore the Nanga Brook area or the King Jarrah Trail, the best place to park and begin is at the Nanga Mill campsite, off Nanga Road.

7 Lessons From A Mountain Bike Newbie.

Mountain biking in the Perth hills

If you’re a regular on the Perth hiking trails, you’ve probably noticed that mountain biking has exploded in Perth. Go anywhere near the hills on the weekend, and you’ll spot dozens of utes carrying bikes. Take your search online and you’ll find lists of clubs, chat forums, races and blogs dedicated to men’s, women’s and kids’ mountain biking.

When something is as popular as this, you can’t help but be curious. And when you live with someone who loves and talks endlessly about the sport, it makes it even harder to avoid. So last week I decided that it was time I got on a bike and discovered what all the fuss was about.

Needing somewhere that was beginner friendly and offered bike hire, we headed up to the trails around the Calamunda Camel Farm. While there are camels available, I was looking for something a little less alive to ride, so I hired a bike from Rock & Roll Mountain Bike Hire next door. Forty dollars later, I had a hardtail mountain bike, helmet and gloves – the essentials you need for half a day on the trails.

This is the part of the story where I could tell you what I did, how the trails looked, or how a rock almost threw me head first into a tree, but that wouldn’t be very useful for my fellow newbie mountain bikers. Instead, I’m going to share a few tips that will make your first ride easier and even more enjoyable.

Usually I wouldn’t recommend listening to the advice of a complete novice but these tips have come from my more experienced riding buddy, and after some thorough testing, I can assure you they do help. For even more useful tips, type in ‘beginner mountain bike tips”  and prepare for the avalanche of info! 

Lesson One: Get a feel for your bike.
Before you hit the trails, spend some time getting used to riding your mountain bike. Change your gears up and down, test your brakes, ride over some rocks (slowly!) and bounce up and down on the suspension. If you know how your bike behaves, the less surprises you’ll have when you get on the trails.

Mountain biking green trails sign

Listen to the lizard and start on the green trails!

Lesson Two: Start on the green trails.
Mountain bike trails come in three grades: green is for beginners, blue is for intermediate experience, black is for expert.
If this is your first time, stick to the green. Yeah, yeah, I know you ride to work and feel really confident on a bike, but still start on the green. Green trails are relatively flat, but still have a few obstacles and twists to navigate. When you’re feeling ready give the blue trails a go, but for your bones’ sake, start on the green trails.

Lesson Three: Get your bum off the seat.

A bike comes with a seat so you should always sit on it, right? Wrong.
When you’re going downhill on mountain bike it’s actually better to lean forward with your shoulders towards the handlebars with your bum two or fingers width off your seat. At the same time try to keep pressure off your hands. Like this. It’s called the attack position and it helps you to handle the bumps and twists of the trail better.

Lesson Four: Look ahead on the trail.
When you’re new to riding you’ll probably find yourself looking down at your front wheel instead of what is up ahead. It can be a hard habit to break but if you don’t look forward, you won’t be ready for the obstacles coming and that’s how you fall off. Remember, the direction that you’re looking is most likely the direction that you’re steering.

Lesson Five: Keep your pedals level.
When you’re going downhill, try and keep both pedals at a level height. See what I mean here. If you have one pedal pushed right down you’ll clip rocks, tree roots and other things that might throw you off balance. It will take some practice but this position will help to make the ride safer and easier.

Lesson Six: Hold the handlebars not the brakes.
When it’s your first ride and you’re a little nervous, you’ll most likely want to grip the brakes as tights as possible. It might feel right but if you ride like this, you not only have less steering control, you’ll also have a tendency to brake too hard when you hit a bump and that’s how you can end up over your handlebars.  Instead, trust your reflexes and lightly hold your handlebars with only your index finger on the brakes when needed.

Lesson Seven: Stop and go a slow as you need.
Your first ride is for fun not to master the sport. It’s fine to get off and walk around obstacles. If someone is coming up behind you, there’s no need to speed ahead, just move to the side and let them pass. Green trails are for beginners so feel free to be as beginner-ish as you like. If anyone does give you attitude, you have my 100% support to give them the finger.

While I know it’s totally cliché but the eighth lesson is to just get out there and give it a go. Not only is mountain biking an adrenalin rush it’s a great way to see a different side of the Perth bush. I loved my first ride, and I’m definitely keen to hop back on the bike and do it all again.

Hopefully I’ve inspired you mountain biking beginners to give it a try. If I can do it, I’m sure you can too. If you do, share your lessons and trail tips!

Mountain biking in the Perth Hills

On my way to the trails.


Map & Directions

The Calamunda Camel farm is the most convenient place to park to access the trails and bike hire. It’s to find on 361 Paulls Valley Road, just off Mundaring Weir Road.