Location: Wireless Hill Reserve - McCallam Cres, Booragoon
Distance: 1km – 1.5km
Trail Marker: At start only
Duration: 1 – 2 hours
Cost: 0, free entry
Date Hiked: 2nd October 2017
Despite living in Perth for pretty much forever, I had yet to explore the popular Wireless Hill. After a recent wildflower hike we had run up in the hills, I was keen to discover more. Working in the Tourism Industry has the benefits of getting to know most places in Perth and I knew that Wireless Hill was pretty high up on the list of best places to see wildflowers. As it was the school holidays, I had my 10 year old daughter at home and knew she was keen to head out on another adventure. It was such a beautiful warm, sunny Spring day, that it was no surprise that our adventure would be outdoors so we loaded up the car with a picnic lunch, backpacks and cameras and made our way to Wireless Hill. It is a very easy place to find. The entry point is a main roundabout that connects McCallam Cres and Almondbury Rd. Upon entry into the park we knew we were in for a treat with the sighting of wildflowers which appeared to be in abundance, and that was just driving in to the carpark. We were welcomed with gorgeous red and green Kangaroo Paws filling the garden beds on either side. A plant species native to Western Australia, also our floral emblem.
With much excitement we quickly found a place to park and started walking around the main grounds of the reserve, full of history and interesting buildings to explore.
A quick history lesson on Wireless Hill Reserve.
Wireless Hill Reserve was the site of the first communications radio in Western Australia, enabling wireless communications to be carried out between Western Australia and other parts of Australia and the world. Previously used to send smoke signals from and as a lookout by the Noongar Beeliar Aboriginal people, Wireless Hill became the site of Applecross Wireless Station in 1912, one of the first links in Australia with radio technology and was used for telecommunications during World War One and Two. In 1967 the Station was vacated and it is now Heritage listed on the Western Australian Register. There is so much to learn about the communications history of the park with lots of old buildings and remnants to explore, and I certainly recommend allowing an extra hour just to roam the Station grounds itself. The Reserve offers amazing views of the Swan River as well as Perth City and also has an awesome Nature playground which was only built in January this year so if you have kids, you may as well make a day of it, trust me they won’t want to leave.
I have shared a few pics for you above but moving on to the purpose of my blog, the trails within the Reserve. There’s not a lot of information online about the trails within the park. All I could find was a map outlining easy one but no actual information on the distance, grade or how long they would take but I had figured they wouldn’t be huge distances judging by the map and felt they would be relatively easy. Thankfully I was right. Both trails are pathed so easily accessible for prams, wheelchairs and even bikes. Both are also easily accessible from the carparks.
Wildflower Walk – 1.3km loop
The Wireless Hill Wildflower Walk is in a significant area of bushland, full of shrublands and Banksia and Eucalypt woodlands and provides habitat to large variety of reptiles and birds. Bobtails and Western Bearded Dragons were two of the species we came across but Turtle Frogs, Gould Monitors and Dugites are known to be in the area.
Actually, there is one other creature I do wish to mention although we are uncertain as to the type of creature, his funnel is what has led us to identify him, for now anyway until the rangers can properly determine what lives in there. Check out the image below. How cool is that web? We assume it is the home of an Australian Funnel Web Spider. There was something in there but we were not going to stick around long enough to find out exactly what it is but have reported it to the park rangers as I would hate for a curious kid to poke a stick down there if it is what we think it is. Still a very cool web though.
Anyway, back to the trail itself. So, very easy trail to walk and completely abundant with Wildflowers. Spring is definitely the best time to visit but I would recommend going at the beginning of Spring (start of September) as we actually saw quite a few Orchids on their last legs. A week or two ago they would have been beautiful but we did manage to find a nice variety. Considering the trail is only a 1.3km loop, we ended spending 1 ½ hours walking in, there was just so much to see. It was actually like a childrens treasure hunt but with adults. People would pass you asking if we had seen any Orchids, so we’d point them out and they would get so excited, and they would later see one and point them out to us. It really amazed me how many people said they saw none. It really highlighted for me the different levels we are all on when it comes to connecting with the land. My daughter and I completely immersed ourselves in the experience and were rewarded with so much beauty.
Lots of beautiful Orchids to see, my first Spider variety too, hence why we were so excited and spent such a great deal of time here. At the completion of this loop you have the opportunity to walk another section of the park. Yagans Genunny which starts in the same location as the Wildflower walk except you turn right at the entry point.
Yagans Genunny – 1.1km loop
As mentioned previously, Wireless Hill provided the perfect view of the surrounding area, the Swan River and Perth City, and was named Yagans lookout by the traditional owners of the area, the Whadjuk Tribe. The Whadjuk Tribe formed part of the larger Nyoongar group which linked 14 different language groups that inhabited the South west of WA. Within the Whadjuk Tribe linked 7 different language groups, the Beeliar family group were the custodians of Wireless Hill and surrounding areas, Yagan came from the Beeliar people.
The walk acknowledges the long and continuing association that the Whadjuk Nyoongar people have with the place and its surrounding areas, despite it being dramatically altered by European settlement and conflict. Along the walk we came across information posts which shared stories of the hills different uses, areas of significance and how the hill connects the Nyoongar people from kuru(the past), yeye (the present) and boorda (the future). There was a trail sign for this trail, a circle with an orange monitor lizard and arrow so once again very easy trail to follow. (I don’t remember seeing a trail sign for the Wildflower Walk but may have been too excited by all the wildflowers.) The first information posts shared stories on how the hill was known to be a camping place (mia), and lookout genunny) of Yagan who at that time was a young leader of the Beeliar people. He went on to be and will always be remembered as a well known and highly respected Nyoongar leader of the nineteenth century. Sadly, Yagan was killed in 1833. I have included a picture of his statue which still resides on Heirisson Island today. You can read more about Yagans story here.
As we continued on with our walk we greeted with large variety’s of colour that come from Parrot Bush, Wattle, Cats Paws and Milk Maids.
We then came across the second information post. This one shared stories of the hill being such a significant place for looking over country. Just as it was used during the operational years it also served as a great vantage point for the Nyoongar people who could see and track other places around. From this point you can see down to Dootanboro – big pelican river (Melville Water), Dyoondalup – place of white sand (Point Walter), and Margamangup – place of the birds nest in the big tree (Lucky Bay). They have a great map which shows these locations to give you a great insight into those areas.
The next information post shares stories on the food in the area. Wireless Hill is home to hundreds of different plant and animal species, the perfect supermarket for the Nyoongar people. They would collect gums and seeds from The Balga (grass tree) that they used to make foods, glue and antibacterial products. The long green stems (rushes) were also used for artwork or bedding. They would collect the nuts from The Zamia plant, which were highly toxic, however if treated the right way are actually edible and were one of the highest sources of protein. (Please do not try to eat these yourselves). Other sources of food came in the form of animals with many still roaming the area today. Watij (Emu), Yonga (kangaroo) and koormal (possum) were also great sources of protein and their skins and feathers were used for ornamental purposes for both ceremonial reasons and for identifying key people within families and networks.
Shortly after this information post you come across a Dieback cleaning station, which I will mention has awesome views of the Perth City as well. 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 Melville 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.
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😊
The next post shared stories on the six seasons. Nyoongar people have traditionally hunted and gathered food according to six seasons, which were determined by weather patterns. They knew the change in season and which season it was by signs in nature. The seasons told them what animal and plant resources were plentiful at that time. A hazy summer sky speaks of the salmon running or the blossom on the paperbarks brings the mullet fish. What I have always loved, respected and been fascinated by with their culture is their respect for country, for Mother Earth. They always take care to ensure the survival of animal and plant species, in fact it is an important part of Nyoongar custom and lore to only take that what you need from nature in order to maintain biodiveristy. Eating foods only when they are abundant and in season so as not to deplete natural resources, being sustainable, something we should all put into practice, living in harmony with country.
Kambarang is the Nyoongar season we are currently in, the period between October and November when the rain is decreasing. Birak (birok) is the hot and dry summer period between December and January. Burnuru is the autumn period between February and March, hot with easterly winds. Djeran (wanyarang) is the cooler weather between April and May. Makkuru (maggoro) is the winter period between June and July, usually cold and wet with westerly gales. And Djilba (jilba) is the warmer spring period between August and September. Maybe it is just because of all the learnings I have done with Nyoongar Culture but I personally feel the six seasons more than I do the standard four, either way it really fascinates me how they work and connect with the land.
So that brings us to the end of our walking along the Wireless Hill trails. There is also a Station Walk that takes you out to the site of the old German Jetty down by the river. Once again there is no information provided on this walk that I have found. I didn’t have enough time to complete a third and to be honest didn’t appeal to me anyway. I had felt I had learnt enough history for one day.
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.