Tag: Walk trails

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.