Location: Atkins Rd, Jarrahdale
Distance: 1.9km loop
Trail Marker: Blue Triangle with boot markers
Duration: 1 - 2 hours
Cost: $0, free entry
Date Hiked: 7th September 2018
Kml Map File: Please click here.
Stacey's Track is definitely one of the lesser known trails in the Perth Hills but one that many probably walk part of without knowing, as it forms part of the Kitty's Gorge Trail up at the Jarrahdale section within Serpentine National Park. There are a few parking bays at the start but you can also park directly opposite at the Jarrahdale Cemetary.
I get asked all the time what my favourite walk is and to be honest I can't pick one but this walk rates quite highly for me on a personal almost spiritual level. You'll have to read on to find out why.
Details on this walk were/are hard to come by. I stumbled across it when looking for the perfect location to run our Forest Therapy walks years ago. I wanted that deep forest feel and was really excited when I found this one as it offered exactly that and so much more. I had to purchase info on the trail from the Jarrahdale.com website. I actually bought the whole Jarrahdale Tracks pdf, for only $12.
Despite having done it many times, I didn't really have any fantastic photos that I felt were blog worthy so that meant I had to head out there to take some more.....any excuse for a hike right;) You now have the choice of buying the same pdf I did or getting the info including kml file from me:) I'll also be uploading to the Trails WA website shortly.
So as mentioned, parking is available at the start with 3 main bays and then more available directly opposite at the cemetery. I threw my pack on my back, grabbed my camera and began the walk. I do recommend doing the loop in an anti-clockwise direction, as suggested by the markings on the trail, 10 posts with points of interest or simply just directional markers advising where to go. I'll explain them as we walk through. Very quickly I could see lots of beautiful colour with wildflowers and lush green foliage lining the trail. It was a cold wet day however a hint of blue sky appeared as I walked off and I wasn't too worried anyway as the thick canopy of trees actually provide a good amount of shelter from the rain. I knew it meant that the Gooralong Brook would be flowing so something to look forward to.
The thick Jarrah Forest really is a beautiful place to immerse yourself in, literally only metres in and already I felt the stress of a busy week leave my body. With only the sounds of nature I decided to plonk myself on the ground, laid back, closed my eyes and just took it all in.
Simply magic. Forest Therapy at it's finest. The art of simply just being present in nature. My happy place.
ok ok, where were we...ah yes....walking Stacey's Track.
So back to my point before about walking anti-clockwise. Literally less than a hundred metres in is where you will find the number 1 marker. This marker highlighting the 'Magnificent Jarrah Tree', although you will not know that just by going there as there is no info provided. The info is in the Jarrahdale pdf. It would make sense if they did a small plaque or something, I mean it is a very obvious Jarrah Tree but I am sure the post would confuse people into thinking it's something more.
Post marker number 2 highlights the 'Huge Marri Tree' which is burnt but still living, and the post 3 marker is just highlighting that you need to turn left, then right to cross over the forest track.
The trail has been descending down from the start, nothing too steep however some slight erosion and can get a bit slippery so take care.
Once you have walked over the forest track, you will continue descending down towards Gooralong Brook. Marker number 4 is on your left just before and highlights some log seats. It's a nice little spot to stop and do a nature immersion exercise. We often did our meditations here so I stopped to do exactly that. Reminded me of how calming the area is, so glad I dragged myself away from my desk.
A clear mind is a creative mind.
After a beautiful nature meditation I continued on crossing over the bridge and onto the boardwalk that passes the marshy area. Please try and stay on the boardwalk, it's been put there to protect the vegetation underneath. Take a long camera lens and you can still get nice shots of the brook without having to trample all over the riverbed below.
Leaving the brook is where the trail starts to ascend back up slightly and from here you can see there has been quite a bit of growth over the winter as the trail gets quite narrow. This is the first sighting of a yellow 'Stacey's Track' marker, not the official trail marker though.
Now, have you heard of the stories of 'Big Black Cats' seen by locals throughout Western Australia. I had heard of them but thought the sightings had come from down south mainly and one more recently near York. Didn't really believe them....that was until Dave, Sophie and myself decided to venture out late one afternoon and had an encounter. Dave was out in front, Soph in the middle and I was walking behind taking it all in when Soph and I both turned at the same time, a result of a noise and saw a huge panther/jaguar like dog/cat leaping across the brook and along the path down below but towards us. We both freaked and I instantly grabbed Dave and we both stood behind him in fear. By the time we did that it was gone, just disappeared from the trail, no noise just silence. Dave had no idea what we had just seen but knew it was serious as we were both white as a ghost. Now whether you believe me or not that's entirely up to you, peoples general response to these stories are that it's just big cat but this was not just a big cat. It was pretty far away yet was so big it looked pretty close. I don't even think what we saw was actually living, more like a spiritual encounter. Creeped us out for the remainder of that walk so needless to say I have been on edge every-time I have walked this trail since, especially when on my own.
Now that I've spooked you out haha lets continue on with the walk.
Post marker number 5 sits as the trail starts to level out again, this marker highlighting the 'Ancient Grass Tree' on the right, and a beautiful Zamia on the left. They say the Grass Tree aka Balga, only grows 9mm each year so you can imagine how many hundreds of years old this ancient beauty would be. And did you know that the nuts from the Zamia plant were a food source by Indigenous Australians? They did need to be processed a certain way though as very toxic in their natural state as the European explorers found out.
Post marker number 6 is not far along the trail where it opens up to a large granite outcrop overlooking the brook below.
This is a very spiritual area so please treat it with respect. Noongar people have been walking through this area for over 40,000 years in search of of campsites, implements, food and water. In Makuru (June/July) of the Noongar six season calendar, they would leave the coastal plain and head for the forests, sheltering from the wind and the rain. The flowering sheoks, an indication that last years yonga (kangaroos) are abundant and ready to be eaten. Wetch (emu), ducks, nyingarn (Echidna) and karda (goanna) were also hunted.
The Gooralong Brook also provided a permanent water source with djildit (fish), marron, gilgies, water birds, freshwater turtles and frogs.
Bulbs of rushes and sedges were good sources of starch, and soft-leaf freshwater plants were eaten as leaf salads. By moving through areas and eating abundant, seasonal foods, Noongars knew food would be available in subsequent years.
I didn't know anything else about the Aboriginal History associated with the area but I always felt a strong connection, especially at this open granite site. I remember feeling as though it had been an area where the Aboriginal people would have sat and on one particular day decided to sit and just quietly observe the area listening to the wind, the birds and sounds of nature. If you take 5 min out of your hike to just stop and truly listen to nature, you might be surprised with what you hear. I began to hear the sound of clapping sticks, a traditional percussion instrument of all Aboriginal people, providing rhythmic accompaniment for song and dance, generally used in ceremony. Such a beautiful sound, but as I opened my eyes to look around something in front of me caught my eye...this small circle or rocks. They were not there when I sat down and instantly I felt as though I was watching ceremony. A powerful encounter that was the first of many.
The next time we walked that trail was on a guided hike with a group of 15 people, our first 'Forest Therapy' hike on the trail. It was such a lovely hike with a wonderful group who had truly embraced the nature immersion exercises. We enjoyed a meditation and morning tea at the open granite location and continued on with the hike. At the end of the experience one of the ladies approached me as she had something to share with me. She was a spiritual medium and said that whilst we were having our morning tea and meditation at the area, she had witnessed a family of noongar people sitting below, the children playing around, the parents looking over them happily. As we continued on with our walk we were joined by a few male tribal members who followed from behind, watching over us and she felt it was their way of saying we were guarded, that they gave me their blessing to continue sharing this land as I had been. Whoa....goosebump material....made me and a few others well up especially when I had shared with her my ceremonial encounter just weeks before.
Each and every group hike I led after that I received a message in one way or another, often quite simply by the sound of the clapping sticks, which Dave and Sophie even heard the last time.
Getting back to this day, I did spend some time enjoying the solitude and felt the presence of others around me. Would love to hear about your visit if you go and are spiritually minded like me:)
Post marker number 7 represents the second bridge you walk to cross Gooralong Brook but be sure to check out the remnants of the old flour mill weir upstream before you do. This particular photo blurred so unfortunately I don't have a pic but you'll know it when you see it.
Also once you have crossed the loop trail takes you left however you can briefly turn right and walk a few metres to a small swimming hold, obviously only full when the brook is but a nice little spot to sit and ponder your thoughts.
From the bridge you begins to ascend up the trail where you come to an intersection interlocking with the start of the Kitty's Gorge Trail, the Trail Head Sign close by. This little loop would be a great additional extra for those keen to give the 14km Kitty's Gorge Trail a go.
Post marker 8 highlights the direction you need to continue to complete the loop.
From here it's a gradual ascent up to the next post marker.
Post marker number 9, definitely a stand out of the walk, 'a fallen giant'. Walk around or under and admire the grandness of this beauty.
It's not far to the end of the walk from here, post marker 9 symbolizing the grove of Bull Banksia, the last of the forest you walk through before you reach the finish. A lovely walk as always with plenty to see, feel and hear.
Now is the best time to be visiting with Gooralong Brook flowing quite nicely. 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.