Location: Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary, Gidgegannup
Distance: 6.5km loop
Trail Marker: Green Triangle with Quenda
Duration: 2 - 6 hours
Cost: $5, bookings must be made in advance. Please call 08 9572 3169
Toilet Facilities: Yes, at start/finish
Dog Friendly: No
Date Hiked: 15th September 2018
For those not keen on tackling the challenging 12km Numbat Trail, the Quenda Trail is the next best thing with a 6.5km trail taking in the best of Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary. If you have already done the Numbat Trail, then you have actually done this trail so don't go making a special trip out thinking it's a different trail. It's basically the first loop of the Numbat Trail, good if your pressed for time. Like the start of all 3 trails within the sanctuary the trail starts making your way 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, over a small bridge and then winds its way through the thick vegetation climbing 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 along with a lookout just prior. The views provide glimpses of the beauty you will be privy to for the rest of the day.
Spring time is the perfect time to visit with flowing creeks, lush green views, chirping birds, historic monuments and spectacular spring wildflowers. Orchids are a plenty with some beautiful Cowslips and Spider Orchids being seen. Walking through the ever changing vegetation of Wandoo, Powderbark, Jarrah and Marri Trees is 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. Continue on downhill via switchback trails with more wildflowers in sight and you might just spot yourself a cheeky little red robin who quite happily posed for the camera on this occasion. The first sights of the Avon River and main East Railway can be seen in the valley below.
The track continues downhill along the top of Paruna Gorge to a large viewing platform where you will find the first waterfall. This was quite lovely for us as it was flowing this time, my first two visits I was not so lucky. Continuing over a wide 4wd track making your way once again up a small incline where you will find another beautiful wooden boardwalk leading out to a large exposed granite slab, providing the first lot of really awe inspiring views of the valley, railway and river below. 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.
At approximately the 4km mark you will see another Trail Junction point. The Numbat Trail continues up to the right but for the sake of the Quenda Loop turn left here across the bridge and head back to the carpark along the Quenda Trail. I remembered at this point that this is where the inclines/declines and steps begin to take their toll as walkers 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. 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. Follow 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 your feet from red pebbly soil to white sands.
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. 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. Follow 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. Take 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.