Western Australia's Diverse National Parks
Western Australia is ideally suited to bush-walking, except perhaps in the middle of a heatwave. The state has some exceptional national parks and walking is the ideal way to explore the unique natural wonders of the bush.
For those who live in or near the capital, Perth, John Forrest National Park has long been a popular day trip. The Park is the oldest national park in Western Australia and is named after the explorer and politician, Sir John Forrest. From the main picnic area, the old railway track can be followed to Hovea Falls which lies less than a kilometre to the north-east. Or you can walk north-west to the National Park falls.
Mitchell River National Park lies in a remote part of the Kimberley in the north of Western Australia but has some awe-inspiring walks. It is accessible only by four wheel drive. The area has majestic waterfalls and aboriginal rock art sites. There is an easy one-hour walk from the car park to Surveyors Pool. Small falls at the pool and a swimming area give the walker a welcome break. The more adventurous can take an 8.2km return walk to Mertens Falls. From the camping area this may take from four to six hours but it is worth the effort. The best times to visit are April to mid October.
At Walyunga National Park, you can explore the rich aboriginal mythology of the area by walking the Aboriginal Heritage Trail. This 12km trail travels along the banks of the Swan River and is marked by signage explaining the aboriginal myths and legends. The river winds its way through a steep valley nestled behind the hills of the Darling Scarp to the east of Perth.
The Beelu National Park (formerly Mundaring National Park) incorporates a 400 metre bushwalk from South Ledge to Golden View. There is a viewing platform along the way which overlooks Mundaring Weir and offers sweeping views over the Helena River Valley. The Perth Hills Centre is within the Park and has loads of information on recreational opportunities within the area. The Hills Centre has maps available for walkers, hikers and bike-riders. The picturesque hill town of Mundaring is approximately 34km from Perth.
In the Great Southern region of Western Australia and about 197km from Perth lies the town of Narrogin. Just north-west of Narrogin is Dryandra Woodland, a conservation area that is home to a number of endangered species including the numbat and woylie. Within the sanctuary are over 800 plant species, 24 native mammal species and 98 bird species. Dryandra is home to Barna Mia, a fenced reserve which acts as a haven to the woylie. The Woylie Walk is an easy 5.5km loop which passes through attractive open woodland.
A different 'walk' is the Tree Top Walk in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. The 'walk' is positioned 40 metres above the ground and takes you through the canopy of the tingle forest. Once back on solid ground, a boardwalk continues over the forest floor passing by ancient trees. This part of the walk is only a kilometre and is suitable for all ages. One of the ancient tingles has had the centre of its enormous trunk burnt out and the resulting 'hole' is a popular setting for the inevitable holiday snapshots.
While down in the southernmost part of the state, another easy but interesting walk is the 1.2km loop trail in Northcliffe National Park. Once called the Southern Forests Sculpture Walk, it has now been given the name of 'Understory' and features a collection of artworks in a natural bush setting.
North of Walpole-Nornalup National Park is the Mount Frankland South National Park. A 500 metre return walk takes you through old-growth karri forest. The old giants are now a backdrop to art exhibits designed to engender passion about the local wilderness area. A 'wilderness wall of perceptions' features over 30 forest-related quotations. Tingle and jarrah trees abound too as well as the snottygobble tree and a host of native flora. Mount Frankland is a granite monadnock and stands 411 metres above sea level, affording those who climb to its summit a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. An operational fire-spotting tower has been erected on top of Mount Frankland.
Forty kilometres north of Albany on the south coast is the Porongurup National Park. The Porongurup Range is renowned for its beauty and stretches for 12 kilometres. There is a huge range of orchids which bloom here during the wildflower season as well as 50 species of the Proteaceae family. This family includes grevilleas, dryandras, hakeas and banksias. From the picnic area, a 3km return loop will take you to Castle Rock and back. On the way, you'll pass Balancing Rock which sits atop a granite outcrop.
The Golden Valley Tree Park in Balingup has an impressive collection of both native and exotic trees. The Tall Gums Short Walk takes you past Australian rainforest trees, east coast eucalypts, and a blackwood and sheoak grove. There is a stunning array of deciduous trees too which are a picture in autumn. The collection of trees was begun over a century ago and is now the largest arboretum in Western Australia. The Golden Valley Homestead (circa 1890) has been fully restored and is located at the entrance to the Park.
The Bibbulman Track runs through the Park and is itself a 'walk' of mammoth proportions stretching from Kalamunda just to the west of Perth down to Albany on the south coast. This 1000 kilometre track passes through eight rural communities.
Kalbarri National Park has the wonderful 'Nature's Window' which forms a 'frame' of red rock. Spectacular red rock gorges have been cut from the landscape by the Murchison River. Great views of the sandstone cliffs are also gained from the Hawkes Head and Ross Graham lookouts.
Western Australia has some wonderful bush walks and these are only some of the many. They may not even be the 'best' walks because what suits one person may not suit another but these walks are all interesting and will acquaint you with some of Western Australia's unique flora and fauna.
So, just about anywhere you go in Western Australia, you'll be able to find an interesting walk.