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An ongoing exploration of the hiking and walking opportunities in and around Perth
Yanchep National Park is located 45 minutes north of Perth. In addition to nine hiking trails, the park has a lake, several resident koalas, free roaming kangaroos, a hotel with restaurant, and a visitor's center. It's lovely and serene and it attracts a wonderful assortment of local birds.
The Crystal Cave trail leads past the entrance to the cave and on to Cabaret Cave, which makes a good rest stop. Crystal Cave trail is one way, but offers an alternative return via the Dwerta Mia walk, which leads through a lush gorge before it rejoins the main trail. This walk is easy and level, but a bit exposed in some areas, which can make for uncomfortable walking in the summer months.
The two km Wetlands Walk trail which circles Loch McNess is another good option.
Kitty's Gorge Walk Trail can be accessed across the street from the cemetery in the pretty little town of Jarrahdale, about an hour's drive southwest of Perth. It can also be accessed further south at the carpark in Serpentine National Park.
The trail meanders along the Serpentine River and Gooralong Brook and can be broken into smaller sections; a half km loop, a 5km loop or a 14km return walk to Serpentine Falls. Some sections are challenging, with loose rock, uneven ground and steep inclines.
And who, pray tell, was Kitty? Apparently, she was a cow who wandered away from her home and was found months later down by the gorge. Sounds like a good trivia question for the next local pub quiz.
We found this trail a bit confusing, as it intersects with at least one other trail and isn't very well marked.
John Forest National Park is located 30 minutes east of Perth. There are three short walking trails (1-4 km) and two longer walking trails (10.2-15 km) within the park.
The 10.2 km Heritage Trail is accessed just beyond the Ranger's Station on the opposite side of Jane Brook. The trail leads to the left AND to the right, making this the middle rather than the beginning. Turning left the wide level trail leads along the former steam locomotive railway line through wandoo, jarrah and marri forest and passes alongside the National Park Falls. It's pretty through here, and very peaceful.
The trail eventually leads to the Swan View Tunnel, built in 1895, the only railway tunnel in Western Australia, which trampers can walk through or around.
Bits and pieces of the city can be seen from here and unfortunately it appears to be on the approach path into Perth Airport.
Retracing one's steps to the bridge at Jane Brook, the trail continues on in the opposite direction, and it's surprising how different this section is from the first. It's more wooded, less exposed and oddly enough, it has an entirely different feel. The Hovea Falls suddenly appear to the left, looking almost out of place.
The 15 km Eagle View Circuit is the longest and most challenging trail and leads through the less visited northern edge of the park. Like the Heritage Trail it begins on the opposite side of Jane's Brook. It was designed to be walked from the left, but going in from the right turned out to be a good decision for us. We had the track to ourselves until late in the hike when we encountered several groups walking in from the opposite direction.
This is an enjoyable and varied bushwalk that becomes progressively more difficult.
Allow at least four hours and be sure to register at the Ranger's Station before embarking on the Eagle View Trail.
Perched above the Perth CBD is Kings Park, a Class A Reserve, one of the most protected areas of public land in Western Australia.
One could spend days wandering through beautiful Kings Park. In addition to the war memorials, botanic gardens and fabulous city views, there's a extensive network of bushland tracks within the park.
The 2.5 km Law Walk leads to the bushland tracks. It runs along the perimeter of the park, overlooking the Swan River and the old Swan Brewery. The Law Walk intersects with the Zamia Trail, which leads to the Zamia cafe and the beautifully landscaped Synergy Parkland.
Then there's the Baird path, the Serventy path, and the Goanna path, all intersecting one another and traversing the park.
The directionally challenged could get lost amongst all these paths...I certainly did...I suggest picking up a bushland track map at the visitor's center before heading out.
Seven kilometers west of Perth lies the less visited Bold Park, another Class A Reserve. It has over 15 kilometers of walking and bridle trails and ten different lookouts. Like Kings Park, it's yet another oasis in the city.
One such walk is Reabold Hill, a scenic uphill stroll that leads to a raised boardwalk, just 85 meters above sea level, yet offers 360 degree views of the CBD, the Swan River, Rottnest Island and of course the Indian Ocean.
Then there's the Zamia Trail, which is the longest walk trail in the park at 5.1 km (loop). It intersects with the Hovea, Thornbill and View trails, enabling walkers to detour many times.
Bold Park is peaceful, serene and the birdlife is prolific.
Note: There are no public toilets in the park
Forty kilometers east of Perth lies Beelu National Park (formerly Mundaring National Park) and the Perth Hills National Park Center, where one can collect walking maps and learn about the various parks in the area.
Just north of the National Park Center's parking area is the start of the eight kilometer Paten's Brook Trail which intersects the Bibbulmun Track, a 965 km track which begins in Kalamunda and stretches to Albany in the southwest of the state.
The walk to Paten's Campground is well marked and shaded, leading through peaceful jarrah and marri forest. After the campground the trail markings begin to play hide and seek and the trail becomes progressively more difficult to follow*; it's very easy to get lost amongst the numerous unmarked intersecting T and Y trails.
*At the time of our visit, we were told lthe Paten's Brook Trail trail was going to be re-marked the following week.
Marking issues aside, this is an enjoyable moderate track that affords good views of Mundaring Weir and Lake CY O'Connor. Several large granite rocks overlook the weir and make good rest and picnic stops.
Before embarking on this walk, I suggest collecting a map at the National Park Center and asking about current trail conditions.
Five kilometers north of Perth in the suburb of Wembley lies Lake Monger Reserve, home to some 33 species of water birds, including Purple Swamp Hens, screeching Little Corellas (white cockatoos), parrots and the magestic Black Swan.
There are car parks on Vincent Street, and a 3.5 km paved path that circles the lake. One secton of the reserve is a conservation area, off limits to rollerblades and bikes.
Lake Monger Reserve is far from quiet, as the Mitchell Freeway is mere meters away, but it IS an urban park, and it's a great spot to walk, picnic and watch the birds.
Twenty kilometers north of Perth lies Neil Hawkins/Yellagonga Regional Park, which is easily accessed on foot from the Joondalup train station.
Several walking paths originate from here including a nature trail that begins alongside Lake Joondalup and leads through banksias, wattles and paper barks. It's a nice path, wide, shaded, and full of birds and wildflowers (in season).
The nature trail leads to the parkland area of Picnic Cove and on to a outlook at Quarry Ramble (across the road) which offers some nice views over the lake.
Lake Gwelup Reserve can be found north of Perth in the city of Stirling. It's another bird lovers paradise complete with gazebo, boardwalk, viewing platform and a seemingly endless network of walk trails.
The path that circles the lake is paved and can be walked in about 30 minutes. Other than the ever boisterous parrots, the walk is peaceful, the traffic on Karrinyup distant background noise. Sections of the path are perfect for rollerblading.
Longer trails intersect the lake loop and meander through the bush and deeper into the reserve. A person can walk for hours here.
The Sunset Coast trail is a paved walk/cycle trail that extends from Burns Beach all the way to Cottesloe Beach. It can be accessed at several points, including the Iluka Foreshore parking area, which is located 26 km north east of Perth in the city of Joondalup off Marmion Ave.
The wide paved path hugs the coastline, leading both north and south and offers endless Indian Ocean views. It's popular with cyclists, joggers, rollerbladers and walkers. There are some interesting limestone formations at Cruisers Beach.
Forty kilometers northeast of Perth lies Walyunga National Park, where the Avon River become the Swan.
Walyunga is home to five walk trails, including the Aboriginal Heritage (1.2 km), Syd's Rapids (5.2 km), Kangaroo (4 km), Kingfisher (8.5 km) and Echinda (10.6 km), all of which begin at Walyunga Pool.
This is a pretty park with the river, wandoo and marri trees and gobs of orange and yellow wildflowers in spring.
The Kangaroo trail merges with the Kingfisher trail (both rated Class 4 walks) and then merges with the Echidna trail, the most difficult walk in the park, all of which are very well marked.
The Echidna Trail leads to Woodsome Hill, the highest point in Walyunga National Park, and a good place for a picnic. It's serene and peaceful; the day we were there a mob of about 10 kangaroos went bouncing by, reminding us that we were in the Australian bush.
From Woodsome Hill the trail makes a knee crunching descent on loose gravel towards the Swan River. It eventually levels out at Syd's Rapids and a lovely grassy area alongside the river, before it joins the easy Aboriginal Heritage Trail which leads back to Walyunga Pool.
NOTE: As of June 28, 2013, all hiking trails remain CLOSED until further notice, following a fire in February 2013
Located 30 kilometers northeast of of Perth is The Kattamordo Heritage Trail, a 27 km track that can be walked from either end; Mundaring Weir Road or Bickley Reservoir, or accessed from several points in between.
The trail meanders along the top of the Darling Range through orchards, forests and farmland and skirts the New Victoria Dam, where there's a picnic area set against the looming concrete. Nearby are a few lookouts and the remnants of the old dam. It's peaceful back here, with plenty of birds and wildflowers (in season).
Fifty kilometers northeast of Perth near the town of Gidgegannup, are two walk trails overseen by the City of Swan.
The first is the FR Berry Walk Trail which leads through the largest nature reserve in the City of Swan and leads through Wandoo, Jarrah and Marri forest alongside the Wooroloo Brook. I don't normally take the promise of waterfalls in WA seriously, but if there's been rain, there is indeed a respectable waterfall flowing over the granite rocks here. This is a a nice easy loop of about 2.5 kilometers offering serenity amongst the chatter of birds.
Nearby, accessed at the Noble Falls picnic area across the road from the Noble Hills Tavern, is the Noble Falls Walk Trail. This path leads across granite rock, over the Wooroloo Brook and meanders through pasture before leading down an embankment and then up to a paved road.
This is an odd, convoluted trail, be sure to take a map. It's a moderate walk of about 3.5 kilometers. The trail disappointed, but the picnic area alongside the brook is very nice and there are more WA waterfalls...
Fifteen km from Midland along the edge of the Perth Hills are the Bells Rapids Walk Trails, which can be reached via the Great Northern Highway (turn right on Cathedral Ave from the highway and follow the road until it ends).
There are two walk trails back here, the easy and scenic 2.5 km River Walk and the more challenging and rugged 3+ km Goat Walk, which joins the River Walk on the return. Both are worth some exploration, but the RIver Walk is the prettier of the two. The Goat Walk trail can be made longer by incorporating some of the unmarked fire breaks that meander across the top of the hills, offering some nice views of the surrounding area and the distant CBD.
This is a great spot for spotting parrots and wildflowers (in season).
About an hour's drive southwest of Perth and nine kilometers past the turnoff to Jarrahdale is the car park and access point for Sullivan Rock and the adjoining Bibbulmun Track. It's not easy to find, no markings whatsoever, but there is indeed an unsealed road here which meanders back into the trees and ends at a makeshift parking area. There's an information board for the Bibbulmun track tucked back here, completely hidden from the road.
From the car park, you must cross the Albany Highway to access the track which then leads across the huge granite outcrop that is Sullivan Rock and joins the Bibbulmun Track, marked by yellow 'waugal' trail markers (Aboriginal mythical dreamtime serpent). Turning left will take you to the summit of Mt Vincent, which offers expansive views of the surrounding forests. Turning right will take you to Mt Cooke, the highest point on the Darling Scarp at 582 meters.
Three kilometers southeast of Armadale on Admiral Road, lies Bungendore Park (Aboriginal for Place of Gum Blossom), a 498 hectare bushland reserve on the western edge of the Darling Scarp. The park contains four walking trails, including the three kilometer loop, Robin Ramble.
The trail is accessed via the small car park just south of the school and a walk of about 400 meters, which will lead to an information board and a series of trail markers. Robin Ramble is marked by yellow dots winding through jarrah woodland via a disused gravel road. Here you'll find bull banksias, snottygobbles and sheoaks, and plenty of peace and quiet. The loop is easy and level and takes about an hour to complete.
From Bungendore Park it's a short drive to Armadale Settlers Common, via the Albany Highway, Waterwheel, Canns and & Carradine roads, where there's a small makeshift parking area. From here one can explore the myriad trails of this 383 hectare bushland reserve in the Darling Range Regional Park. The trails are seemingly endless. A detailed walking map is recommended and can be downloaded from the site above.
Armadale Settlers Common is an area of lovely scenic bushland and some pretty incredible birdlife with an abundance of red-tailed black cockatoos.
Fifty minutes east of Perth, tucked away in the eastern Perth Hills bordering the Avon Valley, lies Lake Leschenaultia (pronounced lesh-en-ol-te-ah - I think).
The lake is located in the bushland of Chidlow, accessed via the Great Eastern Highway and Old Northam Road...take the exit onto Thomas at the first roundabout, then turn right onto Rosedale, and there it is.
The shimmering lake is fringed by lush green lawn, white sand beach, towering trees, and a large number of picnic tables. In addition to the onsite cafe, camping sites, and canoe rental (seasonal), there's 168 hectares of woodsy bush to explore.
There are two formed trails here; 1) the easy three kilometer Lakeside Trail, which begins at the eastern end of the dam wall. The trail circles the lake and branches off to a few side trails that skirt agricultural land. The birdlife is just incredible, kookaburras, red-tailed black cockatoo and many others; and 2) the six kilometer, slightly more challenging MTB trail (mountain bike trail) which branches off to the right from the Lakeside Trail and undulates through jarrah forest, eventually looping back to the starting point.
This is a popular summer destination, but winter is ideal, as the park offers peace and solitude in the off season.