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The Gloucester Route Walk

Gloucester Tree Walk

Get in touch with your inner zen on the Gloucester Route Walk

Need to know info

Distance: 10km
Where: Gloucester National Park, Pemberton
Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Cost: $12 national park entry fee
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes and whole lot of chill.


Why do this

There is something magical about Western Australia’s Karri forests. This might sound kind of cheesy but when I’m amongst these towering trees, a sense of calm washes over me.
For me, this peaceful feeling was the highlight of the Gloucester Route Walk, well for most of it anyway.

The Gloucester Tree viewing platform

I won’t spoil the surprise of the treetop view. Instead, here’s a view of the climb down from the top platform.

The Gloucester Tree
I say most of the walk because we began our adventure by scaling the Gloucester Tree, one of Pemberton’s famous climbing trees. Once used a fire lookout, this giant tree has been fitted with metal pegs which you can use to climb up 61m to reach a viewing platform. There’s no safety net between you and the ground, so I admit that ‘sense of calm’ disappeared as soon as I started climbing. Luckily I was accompanied by my braver friends who egged me on, and I’m glad they did because the views from the top make the heart-racing climb completely worthwhile. My tip is to stop mid-climb and look down to the forest below. From this point you can truly appreciate the sheer height of the Karri trees, but this is probably not a good idea if you’re afraid of heights!

Giant Karri on Gloucester Route Walk

A moss covered Karri that doubles as a handy rain shelter.

The Trail
Once we had conquered the Gloucester Tree climb, we headed straight to the trail. It only takes a few metres of walking before you’re immersed in the lush and tranquil greenery of the forest. The trail begins by crossing paths with the Bibbulmun Track, meandering up and down gentle slopes, taking you past giant moss-covered Karris and across a bitumen road towards a wooden bridge over Lefroy Brook.

This bridge was just one of the several wonderful creek crossings you’ll find along the Gloucester Route. Hidden in gullies deep in the forest, these bridges make a perfect spot to chill out and soak up the forest sounds. Seriously, if you do explore this route, take a minute to close your eyes and just listen – with tweeting birds and babbling creek noises it sounds like you’ve stumbled into a recording of a relaxation tape.  (On that note, we visited this trail during winter. During summer, the creeks will most likely be a lot drier and quieter.)

Bridge on Gloucester Route Walk

The first bridge you’ll encounter on the Gloucester Route.

When you’re about the halfway through the trail, you’ll notice that the Karri forest thins and becomes dense Jarrah forest. Don’t worry, you haven’t taken a wrong turn! After a few hundred metres, you’ll return to the Karri forest for the final stretch of the walk. You’ll know you’re nearing the end when you cross my favourite bridge, which is little more than a plank of tall karri laid across several logs. Nineties kids can relive their Fern Gully fantasies as the tree ferns here give this part of the trail a distinct rainforest atmosphere.

Bridge on the Gloucester Route Walk

A plank of Karri acting as a make-shift bridge. I wonder how the other Karri trees in the forest feel about this.

A few metres on from this point, you’ll spot a sign that says “Berry Farm” that will lead you to the Lavender and Berry Farm cafe where you can get a post-hike coffee and scone. Though tempted by the thought of caffeine, we pushed on to complete the walk. (Just a note, when you’re almost nearing the end, you’ll see a sign for the Gloucester Route Loop that is pointing in the left back into the route you’ve just walked – ignore this and continue forward on the obvious trail back to the start point in the carpark.)

gloucester route walk

The trailhead of the Gloucester Route.

Upon finishing the hike, my walking buddies and I agreed that the Gloucester Route Walk was a beautiful and calming way to start our day. While it doesn’t have the river views of some of the other walks in the area, it’s a wonderful way to experience the Karri Forest. Being one of the less action-packed walks in Pemberton, you’re also less likely to encounter other walkers – we set off at 10:30am on a Saturday and we had the trail completely to ourselves. Plus, you can easily add some waterfall to your walk with a trip to the nearby Cascades, which are looking their best thanks to the recent winter rains.

Gloucester Route Walk

Lauren and Janet soaking up some Karri forest magic.


Map & Directions
Gloucester Route trail marker

Follow the Black Karri trail markers.

1. The Gloucester Route is located in the Gloucester National Park which is located on Burma Road, just 5 minutes drive from the Pemberton town centre.

Once you’ve paid your $12 park fee, you can enter and drive through to the carpark.

The Gloucester tree is hard to miss, just look for the giant tree surrounded by decking and signage.
To the right of the tree, you’ll spot some wooden signage for the 3 walk trails in the area. The Gloucester Route trail is well signposted, just follow the black Karri tree markers and you’re sure to find your way.

Palm Terrace Walk: A different side of the Lesmurdie Falls

Lesmurdie Falls Palm terrace

Don’t go chasing waterfalls, when you have them and more on the Palm Terrace Walk.

Need to know info

Distance: 6.5km + extra to see the falls
Where: Forrestfield/Lesmurdie, 35 minutes from Perth
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water & sturdy enclosed shoes


Why do this

If you’ve never been to the Lesmurdie Falls, you should. It’s arguably Perth’s best waterfall, and thanks to this year’s wet winter, it’s looking more magnificent than ever.

The only downside to this natural wonder is that its official walk is little more than a quick 2km climb from top to bottom. Sure, it’s a beautiful 2 kilometres with incredible views, but if you’re a keen walker, it’s not enough to get that wonderful ‘I’ve-been-on-a-hike’ feeling you get from a longer walk. Plus, if you head out on the weekend, your two kilometres are shared with the families, tourists and locals vying for the best Instagram shot ( We’ve all been that person.)

Luckily there is a solution – The Palm Terrace Walk.

The trail begins in the Falls carpark located the end of Palm Terrace.  It feels wrong, but the trail starts by walking away from the bush, between the four large rocks on the far side of carpark.

Take the left fork and walk until you reach a t-junction, turn left to follow the edge of private property. From here on you’ll need to keep an eye out for beige triangle trail markers. The little triangles are not in the most obvious positions and are often hidden by shrubs or trees. It can be frustrating but think of it as a chance to use your nature adventurer direction skills.

Palm Terrace Walk

Catch a glimpse of a tiny Perth city and beyond.

As a general rule, the first half of the trail leads you up a hill towards the escarpment.  This stretch of the trail is a constant incline, so be prepared to work up a sweat. Luckily there are excellent views of the falls and coastal plain to take your mind off the climb. Once you reach the top, you’ll skirt along some more private properties and then reach a road. At this point, the little beige triangles almost disappear completely. (Nice one Kalamunda Shire!)

Palm Terrace Walk flood

Be warned, parts of the trail are a bit damp…to say the least!

Don’t worry; just follow this road until you reach a carpark. Once you’re here, head down the stairs, past the picnic area and turn right along the brook towards what are known as the cascades. (Alternatively, at this point you can sneak in a quick look of the falls by turning left and then retracing your steps to join the trail again – Choose your own adventure!)

When the water level is high, these cascades make a pretty spot to stop for rest, but if you’re in a rush, cross the bridge, head straight up the hill and turn right to climb the last incline of the walk – at this point you’ll understand why I used this walk as practice for the Inca Trail.

Remains of a mystery building.

Remains of a mystery building.

After this last climb, you’ll reach a communications tower and the ruins of an old building. I’m not sure what the purpose of this little building was, but today it’s functioning as a garden bed for grass trees and orchids. From this point of the walk, it’s all downhill, with glorious coastal plain views and hillsides covered in colourful hovea, hibertia, myrtle and coneflowers.

 

Once you’ve made your way back to Palm Terrace Road, you can take that enticing trail along the creek to the base of the falls. Even if you’re tired from the walk, you’ll want to explore the waterfall, maybe even going as far as climbing up to touch it as it cascades down the granite rock face.

Wildflowers Palm Terrace Walk

Coneflowers adding splashes of pink to the hillside.

Along with the views, the flexibility is one of my favourite things about the Palm Terrace Walk – you can tailor it to your mood. You can take the full trail. You can cut it short at the halfway mark and head to the waterfall. Or you can even lengthen it with the interconnecting Lewis Road Walk. Even with the dodgy of signage, it’s pretty hard to get too lost, just listen for the thundering sound of the falls and you’ll find yourself heading in the right direction.

So, if you like your waterfalls to come with a few extra kilometres of hill climbs, make sure you check out the Palm Terrace Walk.

Palm Terrace Walk

This hill of grasstrees is sure to be joined by wildflowers in the next few weeks.


Map & Directions

The trail begins in the lower carpark of Lesmurdie Falls National Park, located on Palm Terrace in Forrestfield.

One of the more easy to spot trail markers.

One of the more easy to spot trail markers.

Look for the 4 large gravel boulders which mark the entry of the trail. Take the left fork; and then turn left at the T junction. From here on, look for the beige-ish trail markers.