Category: Nature Rants

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.

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.

5 Ways to Ruin a Nature Adventure

A few things you really shouldn’t do when exploring the outdoors.

Nature adventures are fun, easy and cheap. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ruin them for yourself and your friends by doing something silly. Instead of being the one to turn a fun day into a disaster, make a promise to never ever do the following 5 things.

Not bring enough water.
Dehydration sucks. It’s a sure-fire way to make yourself cranky, uncomfortable and headachy, not to mention it’s bad for your health. When it comes to outdoor physical activity, it’s always better to have too much water than not enough so always bring more than you’d expect.

Not be sun-smart.
If you live in Australia, the land of no ozone, you should know that you can’t go outdoors without any sun protection. Not unless you want end up looking like a lobster-face. When you’re out enjoying nature; always wear a hat, a covering shirt and sunscreen, even in winter. In fact, follow my lead and take it as an opportunity to wear your ever-growing collection of novelty and souvenir caps.

Poke sticks into holes in the ground.
Or kick anthills. Or lift up rocks. Or throw things at nests. Or do anything a 9-year-old boy would do. If you purposely disturb an animal or insect’s home, you shouldn’t be surprised when they try to bite, sting or kill you and your friends.

Not check the weather.
www.bom.gov.au is one of my favourite websites and it should be yours too. Checking the weather before you embark on an adventure can save you from getting stuck in a rainstorm, dying of heatstroke or worse, having to ride you bike against the wind. Oh and if you’re in doubt, always bring that jumper, umbrella, sunscreen or spare change of clothes – it’s always better to have than have not.

Expect constant phone reception.
The natural environment has been around a lot longer than smart phones, so it’s fair to assume it won’t always offer 5 bars of phone reception. Instead of complaining that you can’t send your nature snapchat, try to enjoy the screen free time. Soak up the fresh air. Feel the sun on your skin. Or just take lots of photos and post them when you and your phone are back in range – hey, you’ll have more time to think of a witty caption and clever hashtag.

While these are my top 5 nature no-go’s, I’m always keen to add to my list. If you’ve got any of your own, please share. In the meantime, stay safe, stay smart and stay nice.