Tag: Bushwalking

The Cascades Walk

Last August, I visited the Gloucester National Park and was blown away by the beauty of Karri forest on the Gloucester Route Walk.  As wonderful as this trail was, I knew I had just scratched the surface of this magical place and vowed to return. Now in December, I’m back and ready to discover what else the forest holds – starting with a greener-than-green walk to The Cascades.

Need to know info

Distance: 6km one way. 12km return.
Where: Gloucester National Park, Pemberton
Time: 2.5 – 4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Cost: $12 national park entry fee
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes and possibly wet weather gear.


Why do this

The Cascades Walk is chance to immerse yourself in the heart of some of Pemberton’s lushest karri forest. The Cascades are a set of rapids that tumble over the rocks of Lefroy Brook. Towards the end of summer, the cascades slow to gentle stream. From winter to spring, they’re a raging torrent that churns foam and creates an impressive roar. We visited on a particularly drizzly day in mid December, and luckily for us, they were still putting on quite the show.

The Trail

Trail entry point at Burma Road and Eastbrook crossroad.

Officially, the trail starts at the Gloucester Tree and follows the Gloucester Route for the first couple of kilometres. Having already climbed that majestic beast and explored it surrounds on bike and foot, we decided to save a bit of walking and start at the crossroads of Burma Road and the Eastbrook Trail.

The official start of the trail takes you down a series of switchbacks, passing giant karris and giving you valley views along the way. You’ll then hit a bitumen road that you will follow until you reach the crossroads. From here, you turn right and head back into the forest. No matter where you choose to start, the trail is well signed posted with wooden signs and the friendly and familiar yellow Wagyl. (Yep, that’s right, The Cascades Walk is actually a stretch of the Bibbulmum Track.)

The cascades pemberton

Now this is lush.

When you’ve got into the swing of the trail and stopped marvelling at the towering trees, you’ll notice the incredible range of greenery. There are karris covered in day-glo green moss, deep green tree ferns, vines with bronze-edged leaves and plenty of others I can’t name.

moss on the cascades walk

Did I mention the greenery? Moss, moss and more moss.

Compared to the usual subdued greys and greens of Perth’s bush, the Karri forest looks like someone has used every shade of green in the crayon box – in the best possible way.

From the crossroads, the trail is flat and easy, and it continues this way for three or so kilometres.  After a little while, it might seem a little repetitive but that just means you have the opportunity to zone out and soak up the forest sounds, or catch up with your walking buddy. (Two of my favourite things about bushwalking! )

The Cascades Bridge Pemberton

The Cascades Bridge

Once you’re deep in the forest, you’ll reach another gravel road. Cross over this and now the trail starts showing some attitude, taking a few sharp ups and downs that will get the heart pumping.

Soon enough, you’ll hear the sound of running water and spot the Cascades Bridge, which is still used today by Pemberton’s tourist tram. From here, you’ll easily find the Cascades by following the boardwalk over the brook.

The Cascades Pemberton

The Cascades looking glorious even in mid December.

The Cascades boardwalk

The Cascades timber boardwalk leads you up and around Lefroy Brook.

A lot of care has been put into the facilities of the Cascades. There are picnic tables, information shelters and a wide timber boardwalk that gives you a good view of the falls.

The best thing is that even with all of this infrastructure, you can still get up close to the Cascades. In fact, if you’re careful, you can walk right out on to the rocks and find a spot to daydream alongside the water. On the very soggy and slippery day of our visit, we opted to follow the boardwalk further upstream to check out the more tranquil parts of Lefroy Brook.

Lefroy Brook looks peaceful but lampreys lurk beneath the surface.

 

Overall, The Cascades Walk is wonderful way to escape in the Karri forest and see one of the South West’s prettiest waterfalls. Plus, the dense forest means the trail is cool, damp and shady even on warmer days. Whether you go one way or take the return trail, add the Cascades Walk to your Southern Forests to-do list.


Map & Directions


The Cascades Walk 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 beginning of the trail follows the same route at the Gloucester Route, which is marked with the yellow Bibbulmun Track sign.

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.