Tag: Perth Hills

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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 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!