Category: Everyday Adventures

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, google ‘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.

Rediscovering the River: Garrett Road to Windan Bridge Ride

Swan River Maylands

Distance: 17km full circuit.
Where: Bayswater to East Perth
Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy ride.
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, snacks, water (2L minimum), sturdy enclosed shoes.

When you stop and think about it, the Swan River is pretty special. Compared to many other rivers in the world, it’s clean, easy to access, and still has wildlife to see and wetlands to explore. However, it’s not usually top of the list for outdoor adventures. For me, the Swan River used to be just something I ride past on the way to work; pleasant wallpaper on the way to somewhere else. But in the last few weeks, I’ve decided it deserves a closer look.

The Swan River has over 72kms to explore, which is a bit much for one blog post, so I’ve started with the area within easy reach on my bike – the wetlands between Windan Bridge in East Perth and Garrett Road Bridge in Bayswater.

Unlike a bush adventure, a river bike ride or walk doesn’t really need step-by-step instructions – just follow the path around the river! So instead of giving you a detailed itinerary, I thought I’d point out a few spots to investigate and then leave the rest up to you.

One thing I will recommend is to explore the river by bike. You can cover much more ground on two wheels and the car free cyclepaths make it a safe and easy ride. (Do watch out for the lycra ‘heroes’ that come speeding through from time to time.)

Baigup Wetlands

Baigup wetlands and their unnecessary warning signs.

Baigup Wetlands.
I have to admit, the beauty of wetlands comes and goes. In the height of summer they turn into unappealing pools full of sludge and mosquitoes. But in the cooler months they come to life; the water is high, the plants are green and the water birds are swanning about. (Pun intended!)
Baigup Wetlands in Maylands is definitely a winter winner, and if it you visit in the morning or late afternoon, it’s even better. The sunlight reflects off the pools and you’re bound to spot a dozen or so birds wading or poking around in the reeds. Apparently this wetland is home to over 70 species of birdlife, making it one of the most biodiverse wetlands in the Perth city area. Yay!

Tranby House Larder

A peek into the underground larder at Tranby House.

Tranby House/ Peninsula Farm.  
So this isn’t exactly a natural point of interest but it’s still worth a look. Made from wattle and daub, Tranby House is one of oldest surviving homes from the Swan River Colony, which is what the first white settlers named Perth. If you’re visiting on a weekend you can take a look  inside the two-story home (for a gold coin donation) and see how early settlers lived, and judging by the size doorways, how short they were.

city view

Our little city, perfectly framed.

The surprise city view between Adachi and Hardey Park.
While most of the river makes for easy riding, this is point that will test your lungs. Situated on the west side of the river, near Great Eastern Highway, this stretch of the path winds past shady trees, public jetties and then takes you up a sizeable hill alongside some apartments.
When you first reach the top it will seem like an anti climax – all you can see is a highway and some ugly industrial buildings. But turn and look behind you and you’re treated to a nicely framed view of the city skyline, Maylands riverfront and beyond. Now turn back to the front and smile because after that steep climb, the rest of the past is all downhill. Phew!

 

Maylands

Family of swans coming to investigate what I’m doing on the river’s edge in Maylands.


The Jetties.
There isn’t an actual place called The Jetties. What I’m referring to is the assortment of small jetties you’ll find dotted along the edge of the river. Some are obvious, some are hidden amongst trees or at the small staircases. All are open and accessible to the public, so make an effort to stop, walk our and see how many jellyfish you can spot, look at the catches in fisherman’s buckets, or just stop and take in the view. The way I see it, if you’re exploring a river, you might as well get out onto the water.

So these are just a few of the nameable locations you’ll see along this expanse of the river. There’s plenty more, plus there’s the general sense of joy and wellbeing that comes from taking a bike ride on sunny morning or afternoon. Best of all, you’ll get wonderful feeling of knowing that you’re damn lucky to live in such a beautiful city.

So if you’re looking for some fresh air this weekend, maybe look a little closer to home and checkout your nearest riverfront. I’m keen to hear to what the other 60kms have in store!


Map
You can start your ride at Garret Road, Windan Bridge or anywhere in between!


If you need somewhere to park, there’s a free carpark right next to Garrett Road Bridge, at the Bayswater Riverside Gardens at the end of Milne Street, Bayswater.

Or you can park at Banks Reserve, located on Joel Terrace, East Perth. This puts you about a minutes ride away from Windan Bridge, and is also a lovely picnic spot!

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.

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The beautiful Serpentine Falls

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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.

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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!