Location: Northern Terminus, Kalamunda to Perth Hills Discovery Centre, Mundaring
Trail Marker: Yellow triangle with black Wagyl (snake)
Duration: 7 hours
Cost: $0, free entry
Date Hiked: 9th April 2018
Kml Trail File: Please click here.
So today was the day I finally got to officially start my Bibbulmun Track sectional end to end. I hardly slept a wink last night as I anticipated my first day on the track, super excited as I could finally experience the magic that is 'Bibbulmun Bliss'. I've been an outdoor enthusiast since I was a little girl, finding happiness in everything I witness whilst being completely immersed in nature. I have always loved exploring new surroundings so embarking on this Bibbulmun experience was something I had been looking forward to, for quite some time. Hiking in mainly unchartered territory and in many cases on my own. Whilst I like the company of others in the outdoors, I actually like my own time more. I like to take everything in which means a great deal of stopping, either to take a photo or just to take in the views. Being able to just perch myself on top of a rock and spend how ever long I want there is the ultimate freedom. No pressure to rush and just the quiet sounds of nature and me. Saying that, I will in some cases venture out with hubby or my daughter especially in the holidays and those experiences I will treasure just as equally as we continue to strengthen our bond with each other and with Mother Earth.
The Bibbulmun Track is one of the world’s greatest long distance walk trails, stretching 1000km from Kalamunda in the Perth Hills, to Albany on the south coast, winding through the heart of the scenic South West of Western Australia. The name comes from the Bibbulmun, or Noongar people, Indigenous Australians from the Perth area. I have chosen to hike this track in particular to honour the early indigenous inhabitants of the southwest who would walk long distances through the forests for ceremonial gatherings. The connection they have with the Earth is something I am looking forward to experiencing myself as I embark on this journey.
You can read more about the history on the Foundations website by clicking the link here. But for now, lets get on with my journey!
I was so eager that I was up at the Northern Terminus by 6am, forgetting that it's Autumn so it's still pitch black at that time of morning. Not ideal as I really wanted to get pictures of the start and I didn't particularly feel like trying to dodge spiders in the dark so I sat in the car for half hour, pulled out the little Guidebook 1 - Darling Range and briefed over the first two sections just to refresh my mind for any areas I needed to be cautious about. I parked in the Coles carpark directly opposite the terminus and by 6.30am was raring to go.
The Northern Terminus has recently had a face-lift, if you have been on the track prior to September 2017 you would have been greeted with the old, maybe even a little dull, start/end point. See pic above on the left, courtesy of the Bibbulmun Track Foundation. It was an area that I felt was easily overlooked by tourists and even locals in the area. It was exciting to see the City of Kalamunda launch the face-lift project which was supported by Tourism Western Australia through the Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure program. The new look, see above right pic, is vibrant and welcoming, a great transformation that stands out to all who walk or drive by, really drawing awareness to this world class trail.
The middle picture above is of the Waugal, the rainbow serpent of the Aboriginal Dreaming. These yellow triangle markers are spaced approximately every 500m and will help you make your way along the trail. They do become a little more frequent in tricky areas and where the track takes a turn. Usually after a turn you will find one perched about 50m ahead on a tree so it pays to look up and look around if you are unsure of the direction you should take.
The below picture shows the new sculptures that have been installed as part of the upgrade. The Bibbulmun Spirit Poles are a conceptual interpretation of the six language groups of the South West as created by Sharyn Egan. The leaf shaped panels refer to the Coolamon, an indigenous carrying vessel. The stunning artwork was carved out of the panels by Gordon Mitchell.
Before I stepped off the terminus and on to the track, I spent a few moments here in silence with my hand on the Waugul, and took the opportunity to acknowledge the Bibbulmun people, the traditional owners of the track on which I was about to walk. I acknowledged them as the traditional owners and paid respects to their Elders, past & present, and Elders from other communities who were with me asking them to protect me whilst I walked this journey, their journey. It was a beautiful moment.
and then my Bibbulmun journey begun........
Only metres down from the terminus I came across these hiking boots and a plaque attached to the tree, a beautiful memorial of a missed loved one.
I had read that this first section was a little underwhelming so I was prepared for the fact that after getting in to that 'I'm off into the wilderness mindset' you literally walk 100m and are met with the road. Hmmm yep seems a bit silly but it's only for 200m so one can be forgiven. It's here that you re-enter the forest and can officially get back to that mindset again haha! Now I am actually familiar with this next little section as the Bibbulmun winds it's way through Jorgensen Park which is actually an old golf course that was created by Kalamunda residents in 1982. Known as a challenging course, it remained opened for 46 years before the Shire of Kalamunda took ownership of it after the owner died and it became the recreational facility and dog-walking park that it is today. The Bibbulmun Track makes it way along one of the major fairways and passes by a few others. See if you can work it out on your way through.
It wasn't long before I found myself heading off the wide tracks and on to the more narrow tracks, turning left and walking towards the ridge overlooking Kalamunda National Park. As I was on the track early, the sun had been peeping out providing the perfect opportunity to get my first 'selfie pic' in and thankfully I actually brought my tripod clamp with me so could do it properly. This was one of those places I mentioned before where I could sit and waste a lot of time lol but this was a place I have visited many times before on our Jorgensen walks so this time I moved on quickly, eager to head down into the valley below.
Shortly after you come across a Dieback cleaning station, just before you descent down into Kalamunda National Park. Dieback is an introduced water mould that lives in soil and plant tissue. It kills susceptible vegetation by causing root rot and stopping the transfer of water and nutrients up the stem of the plant. Dieback can be found in suburban gardens, landscaped areas, golf courses, plant nurseries with poor hygiene practices, horticultural plantations and bushland. It has a deadly impact on many native species, including Eucalyptus and Banksia. Human activity in infested areas is the main method by which diseased soil is moved from place to place. The risk of spread is greatest during spring and autumn. The City of Kalamunda is actively engaged in managing the impact and spread of dieback. Although there are effective treatments to slow the spread of Dieback, there is no known method to eradicate the pathogen however they have implemented a number of dieback control initiatives in bushland areas where dieback is present including the Installation of boot cleaning stations as seen in the picture below right.
Each cleaning station has instructions but typically contain brushes, scrapers and/or foot baths for cleaning your boots/shoes but the best way you can help reduce the spread of dieback is by staying on the tracks. Leave no Trace😊
Once you have done your part for the environment and cleaned your boots you can make your way down into Kalamunda National Park. The little guidebook says to look out for the WA Christmas Tree in this area but it's a tree that only produces flowers during the Christmas season (Oct - Jan) so no beautiful bright orange flowers for me. This section also passes through large boulders and rocky outcrops.
This section down into the National Park has been upgraded for user safety as well as to protect the soil and vegetation of the steep slope. Prisoners from Karnet Prison Farm built these rock steps and completed erosion works. The rehabilitation works were completed by a crew from the Conservation Volunteers Australia organisation. The upgrade is definitely appreciated as I would imagine the erosion would have made it quite a tricky section to walk down if it had not been there.
From here you make your way down a badly eroded wide gravel track. Take your time here as it was very uneven, I often had to jump from one side to the other. Pay attention to this area and make sure you take the correct right hand turn. Do not cross over the water course, it was dry at this time but still quite obvious. You want to turn right before it and continue to walk along side it. I was already familiar with this section as well, having walked the Rocky Pool Trail many times before with friends and family as well as bringing groups through this area in our early days of leading group hikes. Winter is the best time to come through, the sounds of the babbling brook are so soothing with lots of little waterfall sections along the way. You can see one of them from the sandy banks in the left picture below that it is currently dry as a bone but it won't be long before it starts flowing again. The views from the top of Piesse Brook are beautiful so make sure to look up before following along the trail and take in the beauty before you. You will pass lots of beautiful granite outcrops and large boulders, one area (see bottom right pic) which is commonly used by rock climbers and for abseiling. Not a massive height but I would imagine great for beginners who are just getting in to the sport.
Take a left turn when you get to the bottom wide gravel road, Schipp Rd which is part of another trail in the area. The Bibbulmun passes over Piesse Brooke and immediately turns right, however before you do this I do recommend taking a slight detour and continuing straight ahead along Schipp Rd for about 150m to check out the popular Rocky Pool.
Rocky Pool was a popular natural swimming hole back in the 1930's prior to the Mundaring and Kalamunda public pools being built, and still to this day is used regularly by Perth locals. The only problem being that it is usually only full in Winter/Spring so not your typical summer waterhole but still makes for a beautiful hike at any time of year. Surrounded by large boulders and granite rock cascading down into the valley it is a peaceful location to sit and ponder your thoughts.
Picture bottom left is how I saw it today, picture bottom right is from an old visit when it had water in it and below panorama is also from a previous visit.
After a Rocky Pool visit it was time to get back on to the trail so I double backed to Piesse Brook, this time turning left just before and began my ascent up the stepped trail to the ridge above. A narrow trail with an abundance of boulders and granite rock. One particularly funny looking one that stood out to me purely because I remember reading The Life of Py's blog on this section, 'Cock Rock' as he named it haha. I wonder how many people have taken notice of it as they walked past. I should mention that this part of the trail is now a permanent diversion. I believe you used to cross Schipp Rd when you first came to it but my understanding is that due to erosion they had to divert around. Be careful around near the top of the ridge, there was one section, I think about 4km's in where you need to turn left to continue the ascend however there is also a track that kind of lead straight ahead, sort of to the right. I wreckon this is where quite a few people would get lost. It's only because I was absorbed in my surroundings that I was constantly looking around and saw the Waugul on the Balga tree to the left so be aware in this area. Continue up to the crest and then descend quite steeply down into the gully below.
The next section was through beautiful Wandoo all the way to the top of the gully. I saw an abundance of Kangaroos in this area but was never quick enough to catch a good shot of them by camera. You could tell they were not really used to too many visitors as they hopped away quite quickly even though I remained still. There was one more steep climb out of the gully and soon enough I had reached and passed under the powerlines and on to that deep pea gravel Perth Hills is renowned for. Parrot Bush was a plenty in this area and just starting to bloom again which is actually really early as the season is usually from July to November. I love Parrot Bush. I learnt about it from respected Aboriginal Elder Uncle Noel Nannup. The flowers of the Parrot Bush were sucked for their sweet nectar, they were also soaked in water to create a sweet drink which was intensely sweet. The sweetened water was also allowed to ferment to produce an alcoholic drink called Jep. The only downside to Parrot Bush is it's sharp pointy leaves which make it very difficult to extract the flower from. Discovering Parrot Bush also contributed to my love for honey, however only 'Parrot Bush' honey which I have only been able to find at 'The House of Honey' in the Swan Valley.
The next part of the trail was a mix of Banksia, Sheok and Jarrah forest which led you to Fern Rd. I felt this section was not well marked and had to refer to the guidebook and my Bibb Track app to direct me where to go from here. Basically you follow the road until the corner junction where you will find a large Bibb Track sign directing you back into the bush leaving Kalamunda National Park behind you following on until you reach the Calamunnda Camel Farm. Be extra aware through this section as you are now in Mountain Bike territory as you cross over many of the Kalamunda Circuit Tracks. Cross over the sealed road that is Paulls Valley Rd and if you have time stop for a visit to the Camel Farm. They have a cafe on site for those needing a coffee but there opening times are limited so be aware of that. Rock and Roll Mountain Biking also have their hub there for the Mountain Bike lovers of Perth.
This next section from the Camel Farm to Hewitts Hill Hut I have actually done before and knew I had some great shots from our previous visit so chose to just enjoy this section rather take photos. So all the images in the next gallery are from our last visit last year which was a great walk as we experienced an abundance of wildflowers and wildlife on the track, including a very protective female Kangaroo with young Joey in pouch. Hewitts Hill Hut is the first hut on the Bibbulmun Track. There are 49 campsites, actually probably 48 now that Helena Hut burnt down a few months ago, but each campsite has a hut along the Track which are spaced a day's walk apart. The exception is this first section with Hewitts Hill only 12km from the northern terminus. Each campsite is fitted out with rainwater tanks, 3 sided shelter, toilet and campsites for those who prefer the comfort of their tent instead of sleeping in the shelter.
I stopped at Hewitts Hill for a cup of tea, no-one else was around but there were a few hikers who had overnighted here as they had written in the campsite books. The green log books are for exactly that, logging your name and any important info. The red books are there as a bit of a journal entry. I enjoyed reading both briefly while I was there.
As I sat here reading and enjoying my cup of tea, I got a glimpse of the time and realised that it had actually taken me 4 hours to get here....whooops! The upside was that I decided on what my trail name would be....'Turtlechelle', because I move as slow as a bloody turtle lol so if your walking the trail and see my name in the books you'll know who I am:)
Figured I better get going so packed up my gear and continued on for my destination. I'd only walked about 1km before I came across some familiar territory as I crossed over a watercourse and started ascending. Yep, I had only been here the week before as I was scoping out The Dell to South Ledge Walk Trail that follows the Bibbulmun for a short while. Basically you continue up hill and are walking an old forestry road which parallels the Helena Valley River below. Be alert for little opportunities to step off the track on the left, areas with huge rock boulders and beautiful granite outcrops, another place I sat and spent a considerable amount of time pondering my thoughts, overlooking the valley below.
Once you get back on track continue along the rim, walking along an old vehicle track passing through Wandoo. Jarrah and Balga Trees before you catch your first glimpse of the Mundaring Weir way down in the valley below.
Continuing on for another km, passing underneath the powerlines again, I took a slight left turn on the walk trail and descended across a dry creek and then ascended slowly up to South Ledge along the shoulder. The trail takes you right up practically to the carpark, you'll notice the gravel road to your right. There are picnic and toilet facilities here across the carpark if you need otherwise stay on track and wind around the rocky Balga crop till you reach the stepped track descending down.
Another of my favourite sections here, in fact we use this trail often for our New Moon Stargazing Night Hikes. It's quite beautiful walking along the ridge down to Golden View Lookout.
Golden View Lookout provides expansive views of Helena River Valley, Mundaring Weir, Lake C.Y O'Connor, the Golden Pipeline and the No 1 Pumpstation. The little guidebook says there is Interpretive signage here however that signage has not been in place for quite some time now, with no indication on when it will be replaced. I assume that they have issues with vandalism perhaps.
The totem poles that greet you on arrival were created by art students from Kalamunda Senior High School. The poles feature carvings of many of the animals and plants found in the area.
Once again moving on, this next bit down to Mundaring I hadn't done before and had always been interested as to how it winded through the forest. Switching from narrow to wide tracks and back to narrow again, it was quite pleasant and interesting finding large trees in the middle of the trail provoking thought as to how this random tree has flourished and remained right there, in the middle of the trail.
Soon enough the trail descends down and out onto Mundaring Weir Rd. Please be careful here as the corner is not far and it's not uncommon to see vehicles and even motorbikes accelerating quite fast out of the corner. The trail crosses over to the other side and you walk along a narrow gravel strip along side the road till you reach the Weir.
Unfortunately for me the Weir wall was closed, it feels like it's been closed forever so I feel a little disappointed as I had heard it opened. I've walked across the wall many times before and I know i'll get to do it again but it would have been nice to walk across on my Bibbulmun journey. Can you see how low the water level is? That's actually pretty good for this time of year believe it or not.
So because the wall is closed you have to follow the diversion, past the toilet blocks and down the steps to the bridge that takes you to the No 1 Pump Station. The problem is though that the diversion in the guidebook and on the Bibbulmun website is not correct because they are also doing construction over the other side. It's a mess, was super frustrating and I have no doubt that this section would cause stress for many. Instead of turning right as you cross the bridge, you have to walk straight up through what looks like a construction area, but have faith that your going the right way. There are red rectangle signs, like the one bottom right that sort of let you know your going the right way but to be frank the whole section is a balls up and they need to sort it out quite quickly.
After finding my way on the northern side of the wall I was able to get a nicer view of Lake C.Y Oconnor. From there I turned left and made my way along and old rail formation, came across a very cool tree whose roots were exposed in the rock below. Nature truly is amazing. From here you can actually progress further up the next flight of stairs which would take you to the Rose Garden, C.Y. Oconnor Memorial and picnic area. They have a great playground up there too but I was keen to move on so didn't venture up this time. Oh, be sure to look around and look up to see the Golden View Lookout from down below. It's pretty cool to see how far you have come.
Following the rail formation I continued past some beautiful granite outcrops and once again became a little confused as the trail seemed to want to go left however the guidebook was saying otherwise. I really had to search this area and finally found a Waugul marker on a tree further ahead. Don't be confused by the steel posts with the triangle cut out, these are for the Kep Track, they are not Bibbulmun markers.
I have actually done this walk previously as well with the kids, it's called the Weir Loop Trail, I remembered the cool Black Cockatoo artwork on the pipeline and having to climb over it. The pipeline carries water all the way to Kalgoorlie and has some interesting history behind it. If you get a chance, head back to the No 1 Pump Station and do a tour through and learn all about it. It's pretty fascinating.
The Bibbulmun Track takes you past the Mundaring Weir Hotel, a popular stopping place for day trekkers and end to enders who often plan their hike so as to finish up their day here and make the most of a cold beer, hot food, and comfy bed. This hotel has some fascinating history you can read about here.
You also walk past the Mundaring Weir Gallery Arts and Crafts, a heritage building which has had many uses over its long life and now carries a variety of locally produced arts and crafts.
Departing the Mundaring precinct, I continued onwards to complete the final part of my day to the Perth Hills Discovery Centre. Following the pipeline for a short burst I then cross over the sealed road and join the walk trail on the opposite side that ascends up to a lookout I had no idea even existed. A beautiful lookout offering excellent views across the weir and from here you can also see the Golden View Lookout over at South Ledge.
Leaving the lookout, I ascended up some more stairs, crossed a few more gravel tracks and entered the Perth Hills Discovery Centre.
and the end is in sight!
Feeling pretty good as I made my way through the centre out to the carpark where my son was waiting for me to take me back to my car.
I really enjoyed my first offical day on the Bibbulmun Track. With perfect hiking weather (23 degrees) and only a few spits of rain it really was wonderful to finally complete this whole section. Hopefully this post inspires you to get along and check it out, we would love to hear your thoughts on the trail. Please feel free to tag us in your adventures.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we walk, the traditional lands of the Bibbulmun people & wish to acknowledge them as traditional owners paying respects to their Elders, past & present, and Elders from other communities who may be here today.