Location: Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary, Gidgegannup
Distance: 11.7km loop
Trail Marker: Yellow Triangle with Numbat
Duration: 6 - 9 hours
Cost: $5, bookings must be made in advance. Please call 08 9572 3169
Date Hiked: 15th September 2018
Kml Map File: Please click here.
The Numbat Trail is a challenging 12 kilometre loop offering some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding Avon Valley. Located within the Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary walkers are welcomed with an abundance of native fauna & flora along the well maintained paths with a variety of awe inspiring views and landscapes that distract those from the tough climbs. The estimated time to do this hike varies. Trails WA say half day, Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary recommend allowing 6 - 9 hours so that's what I have written.
I've done this hike a few times over the last couple of years so thought it's probably time to do a blog on it. The first time Dave, myself and Sophie took 7 hours but we did have some amazing encounters with wildlife. I've included a few of those pics below. It's amazing how the landscape has changed over the year. The second time I led a large group of hikers and we did it in 6 hours, once again had lots of time for nature immersion and admiring the wildlife. This walk we did with a smaller group in 6 1/2 hours which is our standard really for any half day hike allowing us plenty of time for some nature immersion activities. It can definitely be done quicker, I've seen people signing out after 4 hours but I guess it comes down to your purpose for hiking the trail. Is it just to say you have accomplished that one or do you really want to enjoy the experience. Ask yourself that and that will determine the time you need to allow yourself.
Each visit has been slightly different in regards to what I have seen. The first time as mentioned above we had lots of wildlife encounters, with Kangaroos mainly but found ourselves a beautiful Echidna right at the top lookout which kept us distracted for at least 30mins. What is so funny about this day was that we were first on trail, had some big groups pass us, by gosh they were noisy, and then saw on their departing notes that they were disappointed as they did not see a single Kangaroo or anything. Just goes to show you that how you walk through nature quite often dictates the experience you will have.
Getting back to this walk now, we arrived nice and early hoping to catch some low fog in the valley but the sun was already up shining it's warmth down upon us which was a nice feel to start to the day as well so a quick loo stop which by the way is essential as there are no toilets on the track, before we began our half day hike. Today we would be following the yellow triangle Numbat markers for the 11.7km circuit. The sanctuary also has another 2 trails you could do. The Quenda Trail is a 6.5km loop but technically if you do the Numbat Trail you also do the Quenda Loop as basically it's the first loop of the figure 8 Numbat Loop so don't go back specifically do this one as your walking the same section. The Possum Trail however is a 2.3km Loop that turns off near the start of the others and heads down into the valley for just over 1km before it rejoins the other trails again and heads back in a loop to the carpark.
Making our way along the trail we begin our walk along a beautiful boardwalk that runs along a granite outcrop to protect the fragile habitat below. The trail then continues on pass a small dam which is always interesting to photograph especially on a cold morning when the fog sits just above the water making it a little mystical. But as mentioned, the sun was out for us so instead we had the beautiful shadows, waterbirds and first signs of wildflowers to enjoy.
Crossing over a small bridge, the trail wound its way through the thick vegetation with plenty of signs of little mammals, possibly Quendas dig marks along the edge of the trail. On approach of the first trail junction we turned right and began the climb up the Wandoo Slope, a taste of the many inclines to come. A beautiful granite outcrop can be visible about half way up on the left so we took the opportunity to sit down for our first nature immersion exercise, engaging our senses in the beautiful surroundings. The views from this point providing us with a glimpse of the beauty we would be privy to for the rest of the day.
It wasn't long before the Orchids appeared with some beautiful Cowslips and Spider Orchids being seen. Walking through the ever changing vegetation of Wandoo, Powderbark, Jarrah and Marri Trees was a highlight for me. The contrast of colours they all throw out, very warming and calming. The sanctuary provides quite a few picnic tables throughout so there some great opportunities to really spend the whole day exploring every part, there certainly is no need to rush through the experience.
Continuing on we made our way downhill via switchback trails with more wildflowers in sight as well as a cheeky little red robin who quite happily posed for the camera. Really wished at that point I had my long range lens on me but happy I could capture a few good pics.
From here we could see the first sights of the Avon River and main East Railway in the valley below.
We continued on catching glimpses of stunning wildflowers along the way.
Track continues downhill via some steps and along the top of Paruna Gorge to a large viewing platform where we were greeted with our first waterfall. This was quite lovely as my first two visits it had not been flowing so a nice change.
Continuing on we crossed over a wide 4wd track and made our way once again up a small incline where we came across another beautiful wooden boardwalk leading out to large exposed granite slab with our first lot of really awe inspiring views of the valley, railway and river below. A great place to stop and just take it all in, or pose for some really typical 'hiker looking out into the distance' pics.
The trail then skirts along the ridge once again with some of the most beautiful views. Lots of greenery this time of year too which was lovely to see. The amount of granite outcrops in the sanctuary was lovely with rich contrasts providing some great photo ops.
The granite outcrops also provide nice little places to sit and reflect on our time in nature.
It's very easy to lose time when your completely submerged in the art of doing nothing, set among st the backdrop of mother earth herself but we finally managed to drag ourselves away and continue on with the walk.
At approximately the 4km mark you will see another Trail Junction point. At this point you have two choices, continue up to the right and complete the next loop of the Numbat Trail or you can turn left across the bridge and head back to the carpark along the Quenda Trail. We continued to the right ready to complete phase 2 of the Numbat challenge. Found ourselves a beautiful cluster of Donkey Orchids, a little aged, visible by the faded colours but still beautiful.
To get to the next loop we walked the ridge between the two alongside a large granite wall, prickly hakea and one sided bottlebrush. The vegetation at this point completely changes compared to what we walked through on the western side. The sanctuary pamphlet talks about fences and the need to shut gates but they are quite outdated as you can technically walk around all gates. This section is nice and hilly. Found a fairly new Numbat Trail sign as we crossed another wide 4wd track signally us to take the single track downhill to the valley below and once again we found a switchback trail that took the nastiness out of the steep incline we would have faced.
It wasn't long before we reached the main creek below and crossed the small footbridge where you come to the next trail-head sign. It signals right to do the loop from here but it can really be done either way. We turned left and made use of the picnic table to stop for morning tea.
Make sure you allow time to explore here as this is where we found waterfall number two.
It's always hard to get going after morning tea, copius amounts of Bushtucker Tea, Chocolate Slices and Bliss Balls might have something to do with that haha
As I have said before I have done this trail a few times, the first time I did this section anti clockwise but the switchbacks going up from the top lookout a little tough so the second time I did it clockwise and whilst the inclines going up is also quite steep I felt it was shorter so easier to just get it done so once again we did it clockwise. I also preferred the views this way too especially as you come out to the monument at the Bilu (Noongar for river) lookout above. Extensive stone work had been done in this area by the previous owner.
Two things I wanted to mention from the pics above. You will notice a 4th blue trail maker. This is from the old Tamar Track that use to be a walking option was closed quite some time ago. I think this is the only remaining sign on the track.
The monument you see at this lookout houses a plaque that was unveiled by Hon. Wilson Tuckey MP, the Minister for Forestry and Conservation as well as Dr Tim Flannery. It marked the creation of the Paruna Wildlife Corridor linking Walyunga and Avon Valley National Parks on the 4th November 1998.
Picnic tables are provided in this area which also makes a nice place to stop and enjoy a bite to eat or to just take in the amazing views.
From here it's up and along the ridgeline again before heading down the switchbacks to a wide 4wd track. To complete the loop you would turn right and head back downhill however I recommend taking the spur trail (which at this point is now straight ahead) and walk the 280m up and out to a spectacular rocky lookout, probably my favourite viewing platform of the walk.
Once again I highly recommend spending some time exploring this area as this is where we found the Echidna last time. If your in a small group and it's nice and quiet you might just get lucky, Quendas and Kangaroos have also been seen frolicking this part of the sanctuary.
Following the spur trail back down we then turned left and completed the loop back to the first picnic table along the creek where waterfall number 3 can be found. We then retraced our steps back along the same ridge to the 2nd trail-head junction.
I remembered at this point that this is where the inclines/declines and steps begin to take their toll as we are then faced with an incline of steep switchbacks. This is usually where the knees start to hurt lol Thankfully there is a few little natural seats along the way so just take your time. Over the two group hikes I have led I have had some of the fittest and youngest join me and trust me when I say that it can catch anyone off guard. Once you get to another trail head junction, there is another spur trail to the left. A 100m walk is where you will find the John Forrest Cairns and some spectacular views.
The cairns are still in excellent condition given that they were built in 1879 during the original survey trip through the valley.
We followed the spur trail back down to the junction continuing straight along the ridge taking in the scenery through thick Parrot bush and down stone steps watching the vegetation change below our feet from red pebbly soil to white sands. Given it was a little warm, my thoughts did quickly turn to the possibility of snakes, thankfully none were seen.
Passing by a sandy stream, the Possum Trail links in from the left and from here on out to the carpark all three trails follow the same path back.
We follow a wide 4wd track up through thick Wandoo before turning left and heading out to the massive granite outcrop called 'Pink Rock' named after a pink feather flower that flowers in late spring. I couldn't see any in bloom at this time.
We followed a beautifully maintained wooden boardwalk out to the final viewing area where the Avon and Blackwood Rivers can be seen.
The granite in places is cracked to form sheets which is a natural process of weathering caused by the heating and cooling of the rock.
Follow the trail back along the boardwalk to the junction sign and turn left to walk along the fence for a short distance to another beautiful spring wildflower display as you make your way back to the carpark.
I personally felt this final part was a bit of a let down walking right next to the fence but had a rather enjoyable experience any way.
Now is the best time to be visiting with the waterfalls flowing quite nicely and wildflowers in abundance. Hopefully this post inspires you to visit and if so, 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 Whadjuk 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.