Category: Perth

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.

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.

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.

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 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!

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!