Category: Bushwalks

Paruna Sanctuary: Numbat Trail Walk

view from Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary

Paruna: A sanctuary amongst national parks.
Distance: 11.8km
Where: Paruna Sanctuary, Gidgegannup. 50 minutes from Perth
Time: 3-5 hours (the website says 6-9 hours but I doubt it would take that long. Unless you’re taking it very, very slowly.)
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. There is a few stair climbs up and down.
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, 2L water minimum and sturdy enclosed shoes.
Things to note: Open during May to November and a booking and $5 fee is required.


Why Do This:

There’s something different about Paruna Sanctuary. On one hand it’s a well-facilitated park with signage, picnic tables and boardwalks all designed to make your visit as pleasant as possible. On the other, it’s a small slice of wilderness, far from the sights and sounds of everyday life. Overall, it doesn’t feel like a regular national park and that is probably because it isn’t one.

Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary was created by The Australian Wildlife Conservancy to protect threatened native plants and animals. For this reason, there are only a limited number of visitors permitted per day, which means you need to call up, make a booking and pay a $5 fee before you visit the park. When you’ve made your booking, you’ll be given directions and the access code to the entry gate, which kind of makes you feel like on you’re a special mission. Or maybe that’s just my overactive imagination.

Once you’ve found your way into Paruna Sanctuary* you can choose from 3 different walking trails; The Possum Trail at 2.3km, The Quenda Trail at 6.5km and The Numbat Trail at 11.8km. In the mood for a longer walk, we went with the Numbat Trail, which proved to be an excellent choice.
(*Follow the instructions you were given when booking, not google maps.)

Paruna Sanctuary

The parched lake. The Numbat Trail’s first stop.

The trail began with a boardwalk alongside a small lake. With the water level still low and several dead trees in the centre, the lake had distinct ‘other-worldly’ appearance. This alien vibe continued as we ventured further along the trail into the park’s Wandoo and Powderbark forest. With their vibrant orange bark, these trees look very different from the the subtle browns and greens you normally see in the Western Australian bush.

Wandoo forest in Paruna

Those Wandoo trees look suspiciously like they’ve been using fake tan.

These unusual trees soon give way to a dense scrub as you find yourself zigzagging down a particularly steep hillside. If you choose the Numbat trail, this hillside will be the first of many, with a number of ups and downs soon to come. This is probably a good time to mention that the Numbat Trail is actually the same as the Quenda Trail, just with a bonus 5km loop that takes you down through a very green valley and up along a steep ridge that provides excellent views of the Avon River. This ridge is where we decided to stop for a snack and marvel at how clearly we could hear the sounds of the Avon rapids below.

green hills

The impossibly green hills of the Avon Valley.

While I think the Numbat Trail’s dramatic scenery makes the extra distance worth it, the Quenda Trail is a great alternative if you’re feeling tired or want a shorter walk. No matter which one you choose, all three of Paruna’s walking trails share a boardwalk that offers beautiful view over both the Avon and Brockman Rivers. Perched on a granite outcrop not far from the trail’s end, this boardwalk makes a perfect place to stop and soak up the last of the serenity before heading home.

A visit to Paruna Sanctuary does require a tiny bit of organisation, however the river and valley views, the vegetation and the wonderful ‘middle-of-nowhere’ feel are well worth the effort. Even the drive home down Toodyay Road has some speccy city views – what doesn’t this trail offer!


Map & Directions

  1. Make your booking by emailing visitparuna@australianwildlife.org or calling the bookings office on 08 9572 3169. You’ll be sent an email with all the details you need to find your way to the sanctuary.
  2. When driving up Toodyay Road, keep a lookout for Red Hill auditorium on your right. Soon after you’ll see O’Brien Road on your left. That’s the turn off you’re looking for!
  3. At the end of Clenton Road, turn onto Avon Road. You’ll soon reach a gate. Open it up and make your way to the car park.
  4. Use your ‘secret code’ to open the gate.
  5.  Luckily, all of the trails are clearly marked. Just look for the coloured triangles.
  6. Let the adventure begin!

 

Yanchep National Park Walks

Distance: 12.5 kms ( more or less, depending which route you take).
Where: Yanchep, 50 minutes from Perth
Time: 4.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, 2L water and sturdy enclosed shoes
Cost: $12 entry per car.

NOTE: The park gate is open from 8:30pm to 5pm. Don’t get locked in!


Why Do This:
A trip to Yanchep National Park is kind of like taking a trip to a natural theme park.
You can see koalas, have a bbq beside a wetland, picnic amongst kangaroos, take a cave tour, have drink at the Inn, or choose from 9 walk trails that range from 500m to 17kms. At the risk of sounding like a cheesy commercial, there truly is something here for every age, fitness and personality type.

Although tempted by the koalas, we came with a mission: to do the Ghost House Walk. This 12.5km trail winds through the park’s wetlands, coastal heath, rocky plains, tuart forests and past the ruins of an old homestead. Despite their ghostly name, these ruins are far from spooky. In fact, they’re quite open, well lit, and are just one of the points of interest along this walk.

Ghost House walk ruins

The not-so-spooky Ghost House ruins.

My favourite discovery was a shallow cave just past the Shappcott campsite, halfway along the trail. Accessible by a sneaky path through trees and vines, this small limestone cave was home to two large beehives.  Having never seen a beehive in the wild before, it was a surprise to see delicate scallop-shaped sheets of honeycomb hanging from the cave ceiling. While their buzzing was quite threatening, the bees didn’t seem worried by our closeness or by my excited yelling and picture taking.

bees inst

Spot the beehive!

The caves weren’t the only place that local bees had set up camp. As we continued on the walk, we spotted many tree hollows and branches that have been turned into makeshift hives. (Tip: don’t sit on any fallen logs – I learnt that these also can be beehives.) 

On the topic of trees, another highlight of the Ghost House Walk was travelling through a large stretch of shady Tuart forest. Perhaps I’m too easily impressed but these giant tuart trees really are something special, particularly for a hills girl who grew up around gangly Jarrahs.

Forest to rocky coastal plain all in one walk.

Forest to rocky coastal plain all in one walk.

After the forest, the Ghost House Walk takes you through a sandy coastal plain, past some old WWII radar bunkers and finishes in a car park. You can stop here and leg it to Yanchep Inn, or like us, you can add on the short Dwerta Mia or Boomerang Gorge Walks for some bonus caves and scenery.

My advice is to grab one of the free maps from the visitor centre before you begin. That way you can easily mix and match the trails to create your own adventure. That’s the beauty of Yanchep National Park – with such a variety of landscapes, trails and activities, you can do as much or as little as you like, maybe even sneak in quick visit to those koalas. Go on, you know you want to!

It wouldn't be a Nature Monday without kangaroos! We chilled with these friendly guys post walk.

It wouldn’t be a Nature Monday without kangaroos! These guys were happy to chill with us as we relaxed post walk.


Map & Directions

The park is easy to find, with a signposted turn off from Wanneroo Road.  Stop and pay at the gate and drive down to the car park. In the middle of the lawn area, you’ll spot the McNess visitor centre. One of the friendly park rangers will give you a map and clear directions to any walk you want to take.

Ghost House Walk signage

Look for the friendly ghost signs. Sorry about the pic – the arrows were too high for me to take an easy photo!

If you do choose the Ghost House Walk, walk down towards the left side of the wetlands, until you see a giant blue rain drop. (Seriously). This is the start of the Wetlands walk which leads to the Ghost House Walk. Follow the clear trail until you see the entry sign. From then on, look for the yellow arrow with the ghost and bats. Easy!

 

The Rocky Pool Walk

rocky pools walk

Rocky Pool – More valleys than you can shake a stick at.

Distance: 5 kms
Where: Kalamunda National Park , 40 minutes from Perth
Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate. There are VERY steep slopes. Luckily most of them are downhill.
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, water and sturdy enclosed shoes.


Why Do This
With a name like ‘Rocky Pool’, I probably don’t need to explain the main reason to go on this walk. Yes, as you’d expect, you will find waterfalls and rocks pools on this walk during winter, spring and early summer.

Rocky Pool Walk

The Rocky Pool in all of their winter an spring glory.

Rocky Pool in Summer

Rocky Pool after a hot summer.

However, during these drier months, the rocky pools aren’t the only drawcard this walk has to offer. What impressed me during this walk were valley views, or to be more precise, the amount and variety of them. Every time you climb or descend a slope, you’ll discover a new view that will have you reaching for your camera. While these hills are far from mountainous, they’re pretty impressive for a city that has a reputation for being flatter than a pancake.

Rocky Pools Walk

Relax, you only have to walk down this, not up.

Speaking of hills, this walk does have a few slopes that will test your ankle strength. The Rocky Pool Walk is a mix of narrow winding paths and wide fire trails.
Surprisingly, it’s the car-width fire trails that prove to be the most difficult. During the last half of the walk, you’ll come across downhill slopes that seem almost vertical, but don’t worry, if you take it slow, you should be fine. On that note, leave the thongs and ballet flats at home this time – sturdy shoes or boots are a must for this walk.

Besides these few slippery areas, the Rocky Pools walk is moderately easy trail that rewards you with views, pretty rock pools to explore and if our experience is anything to go by, the chance to see a kangaroo or two.

walk trails perth

Skippy and his mate. Neither were the least bit concerned by the two humans stomping on their home turf.

 

 


Map & Directions 

Park at the end of Spring Road, Kalamunda. (Check out my dream home on the left while you’re there.) On this trail you’ll see a bunch of signs; stick to the blue arrows and you should be fine.

The blue arrows are your friends.

The blue arrows are your friends.

1. To begin the walk, take a left up the hill that runs along side the houses.
2. Follow the obvious trail. When you get to the first awesome valley view, you’ll see a path that takes you to the left. Ignore that, keep going straight.
3. Keep following the blue signs and be careful on the slopes!
4. When you reach the bottom of the valley, you’ll notice that the signage gets a bit sketchy.  Head left through the small grove of trees to find a bridge.
5. Cross the bridge and head forwards towards the giant electricity pylons. Follow the track as it veers right.
6. You’ve reached Rocky Pools. Once you’ve finished exploring, ignore the yellow Bibbulmum Track snake signs and keep going forward on the wide trail.
7. You’ll spot some maroon posts. Look for the blue arrow on your right and enter the path that takes you back to your start point. (Half way up the hill, keep an eye out for the giant boulder on your left, it’s a great place to climb and test your fear of heights.)

The Victoria Reservoir Ramble

Victoria Reservoir, Bickley – A dam good mini adventure

Distance: Two-ish kms depending on how far you go.
Where: Carmel, 40 minutes from Perth
Time: 1 hour max
Difficulty: Easy
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, water, sturdy enclosed shoes.

Why Do This


Not all nature adventures need to be big. Sometimes, just getting get out of the city and into some fresh air is all you need.

No filter, just the very blue water of the new Victoria Dam

The Victoria Reservoir Ramble is exactly that – a smaller walk with a just enough trees and nice dam and city views to make it feel like you’ve been on an adventure. I’m calling it a ‘ramble’ because we didn’t do the actual Victoria Reservoir Walk. We arrived quite late in the day, so we created our own shorter, more leisurely ramble where we explored the new Victoria dam and the ruins of the old one.

While it was on the small side, our rambling version of the walk still provided a number of great photo ops and would make the perfect place for a picnic, or a nice stop on the way to lunch at the Core Cider House. (Try the lemon cider!)

That’s the beauty of a nature adventure – you can make it as long or a short as you like!

Victoria Reservoir Walk viewing platform

Viewing platform that overlooks the new Victoria Dam.

 

If you do want to a proper bush walk, there is a 6km trail loop that will take you past the old and new Victoria dams and then to an old bridge. From here, take the rocky path uphill all the way and back to the carpark. If you do go, take some pics and let me know what I missed out on!

Map & Directions.


 

 

  1. The walk begins in the car park, which shuts at 5pm, and then heads to your left into the bush. This path leads to a wooden platform (reminiscent of my primary school playground) that overlooks the new Victoria Reservoir.
  2.  Walk down to the dam and marvel at blueness of the water.
  3. Head downhill along the bitumen road towards the pumping station. Here you’ll find the remains of the old Victoria Dam.
  4. Next, follow the signs that say to Bickley Dam and stick to the path. You’ll reach an abandoned information building. This is where we turned back, but if you’re in the mood to walk keep on going!

Kitty’s Gorge Walk

bushwalking Perth

Distance: Approx 7kms one way or 14km return.
Where: Serpentine. About a 1-hour drive from Perth.
Time: 2 hours one way. 5 hours return.
Difficulty: Moderate. A few steep bits, here and there.
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, snacks, water (2L minimum), sturdy enclosed shoes.

Why Do This


Kitty’s Gorge Trail is a bushwalk that ticks all the boxes.
You want beautiful valley and treetop views? You got it.
An abandoned heritage building to peek through? Sure thing.
An amazing natural pool complete with running waterfall to swim in. Done.
The best part is that these are just the things you’re guaranteed to see regardless of weather, time of day or season. In fact, it’s highly likely you’ll get to see a whole a lot more; starting with native wildlife.

West Australian frog

One of the many little frogs we spotted in the mud.

While walking, we saw a whole range of native birds including black tailed cockatoos, robins and blue wrens, but the list doesn’t stop there. In the dry creek beds, we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the hundreds of little frogs hopping out from the cracks in the mud. Circling above, electric blue dragonflies and orange butterflies floated from flower to flower. In the scrub, we came across a pair of wild pigs.
Yes, wild pigs. And yes, it was awesome while being simultaneously terrifying.

Adult wild pigs are huge and can be dangerous. Thankfully, the ones we saw were small and just as scared of us, as we were of them. Encountering a wild pig is rare, so don’t let the thought of them deter you from checking out this excellent trail. If you do spot one, just move away quietly and slowly, instead of screaming and running, which is what I did.

Enough about animals, let’s move on to that amazing natural pool I mentioned – Serpentine Falls. Fed by a waterfall and wide enough to do laps in, this beautiful turquoise pool is located at the end of the one-way Kitty Gorge Trail, making it the perfect place to cool off after a long walk.

bushwalk perth

The beautiful Serpentine Falls

bushwalks perth

A gigantic grasstree we spotted on the trail. These grow 1cm a year, so this one is nearly 500 years old!

Let me explain what I mean by one-way trail. As the Kitty’s Gorge Walk Trail leads to a single point and then back again, you choose to do a one-way or return trip. If you’re a bushwalk beginner, I’d recommend you make Serpentine Falls your endpoint and only do the one-way Kitty’s Gorge walk. You get to see all the sites, plus you finish with a refreshing swim. The only catch is that you’ll need to bring two cars. You need to park one car at the Serpentine Falls carpark, and then drive the other car up to the start of the Kitty’s Gorge trail, about 15km away opposite Jarrahdale cemetery.

If you want to do the return walk or only have one car, just turn back when you reach Serpentine Falls and follow the trail back to the start. Whether you choose to do the one-way or the return walk, the Kitty’s Gorge Trail is one of Perth’s must-do nature experiences.

Map & Directions 


One way trail: Park one car at Serpentine Car Park.
Park the other at the carpark opposite the Jarrahdale cemetery. The trail begins here.
Note: the Serpentine Falls car park shuts at 5:00pm, so make sure you finish the walk before then.
Return trail: Park at the carpark opposite the Jarrahdale cemetery. The trail begins here.

The Kitty’s Gorge Walk trail is very well marked. All you need to do is follow these green boot print signs and you’ll find you way without any hassles.

bushwalking perth

Follow these markers to keep on the right track.

There is one point early on in the trail that is confusing. You begin by walking downhill through dense trees. Soon enough you’ll reach an open clearing with gravel, a run down toilet block and not very obvious signage. Don’t stress, just walk on a diagonal to the left of the clearing and you’ll soon see the green boot print sign you’re looking for.

 

 

The Mount Cooke Hike

Mount Cooke

A big walk up a big hill for a big view.

Distance: About 12 km
Where: Monadocks National Reserve. About a 1-hour drive from Perth.
Time: 5-6 hours.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. Lengthy with a few steep bits.
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, snacks, water (2L minimum), sturdy enclosed shoes.


Why Do This
Walking up Mount Cooke is an opportunity to do a real hike. You know, the Boy Scout kind where you wear hiking boots, follow a map, and eat trail mix. Just kidding, there’s never a reason to eat trail mix.

Seriously though, this hike does take a least half a day to complete and will put your hill-climbing ability to the test. Don’t let that deter you though, because when you reach the top you’ll be rewarded with a truly impressive 360-degree view of the Darling Ranges and beyond.

Almost at the top of Mount Cooke

Almost at the top.


Map & Directions

If you’re driving from Perth take Albany Highway to the Sullivan Rock picnic area (9km south of the Jarrahdale Rd turnoff). It’s actually quite tricky to find, as the nearby roads on google maps aren’t visible from the highway. So keep an eye out for the red Bibbulmum Track sign on the left and a bushy picnic area on the right side of the road.

  1. Ok, now cross the road (it’s on a bend so be careful) and follow the Bibbibulmun track sign. You’ll reach Sullivan’s Rock, a large rock home to many a lizard sunbaking.
  2. Walk up the rock and head to the left. You’ll see a thin path entering the bush.
  3. This is the track. From now on keep following the little yellow snake markers nailed to trees.

    Bibbilmun Track marker

    Follow this little guy.

  4. You’ll walk for about 1.5 hours through flat scrubby bush. (This is kind of boring but…. deal with it!)
  5. You’ll notice the surrounding bush will start changing to thicker and greener trees. This means you’re almost at the Mt Cooke campsite. Here you can take a break, eat a muesli bar and sign your name in the Bibbulmun track guest book inside that blue box.
  6. Now the uphill climb begins. Keep an eye out for the Monadocks – the giant pink and white circular boulders that the area is named after.
  7. You’ve reached the top! Ok, ok, so it’s not an obvious pointy mountaintop but there’s still awesome views. Take those photos and congratulate yourself for being a nature hero.
  8. Now walk back to the start, enjoying the fact that the downhill is so much easier.

The Whistlepipe Gully Walk

Whistlepipe Gully: A walk with wildflowers, waterfall and witches…kind of.

Type of activity: Walk
Where: Kalamunda in Mundy NP, About a 35-minute drive from the city.
Distance: 3.5 km
Time: 1-1.5 hours.
Difficulty: Easy. There are a few slippery slopes but I’ve seen fit grandmas tackle this trail with no problems.
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, water, enclosed comfortable shoes.


Whistlepipe Gully Walk

A golden view of one of the many granite rocky outcrops along the Whistlepipe Gully trail.

Why do this:
The Whistlepipe Gully trail is one of my all-time favourite Perth bushwalks. I’ve walked it at least 100 times (seriously, I used to live 5 minutes away as a kid!) and it still hasn’t lost any of its sparkle. There are many reasons why, but one the biggest is that this trail is home to the mysterious ruins of a witch’s house!

Ok…so it’s not really a witch’s house. That’s an urban legend I was told as a kid. The ruins are actually all that is left of a Japanese-style home built by well known architect Wallace Greenham. The home was demolished decades ago due to government planning, or something to that nature.

Whistlepipe Gully

Check out the waterfalls from what used to be a bathroom.

Nonetheless, the ruins are still interesting to see, especially since they’ve now been overtaken with plants, creeks and a small waterfall, which is kind of magical in how-awesome-is-mother-nature sort of way.

To get the most magical bang for your buck, I’d visit Whistlepipe Gully in winter, spring, or very early summer. This is when the creeks and waterfalls are at their best, the wildflowers are in bloom, and that wonderful eucalyptus smell fills the air.

 

flowers at Whistlepipe Gully

The valley fills with wildflowers during spring.

 

Map & Directions


This trail is pretty easy to follow – look for the pink triangle markers on the trees or just follow the creek.

  1. To start, park at the cul-de-sac at the end of Orange Valley Road in Kalamunda.
  2. Take the big, obvious path in front of you down the hill.
  3. You’ll reach a small bridge. From then on, just follow the tracks along either side of the creek to the ruins and back.
  4. Enjoy!