Adventures in Roleystone
Churchman Bushland Reserve

Stocker Rd

9.1km (Loop)

303m

2-3 hours

No

Free

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Wajuk people

Directions - End of Stocker Rd, which comes off Brookton Hwy about 500m past Avocados Accommodation and is a 45 minute drive from Perth. Parking on the side of Stocker Rd and trail head is the gate stating "Wungong Regional Park".

The Hike - When driving along Brookton Hwy, through the hilly landscape on my way out Mount Dale a few weeks ago, I thought to myself, are there any good hiking trails in the hills near Roleystone? A quick bit of Googling spat out a very thin results page and my question was answered, No. This was surprising given the nature of the surroundings (hilly with patches of forest & the Canning River running through it) but I guessed for whatever reason that the area didn’t have any decent walking trails. Araluen is very close by but as far as I'm aware it doesn't have a long trail unless you walk all of the small paths that lead through the gardens. The only site that I found was by a man named Bill and pointed towards a section south of Brookton Hwy that he describes in mixed detail.

He also provides a hand drawn map (some bits are bit sketchy) but it was handy to use as a rough reference. With three trails (Kangaroo, Emu & Echidna) listed but not easily located on the map, it seemed a good enough reason to head out there and do some exploring of the area. Joining me today were friends from the dog park, Tom & Mel, and around sunrise we departed Fremantle and headed off towards our destination. With some stormy weather forecast for midday/afternoon I hoped to get in the entire series of trails before the rain arrived. Armed with the modern day adventurer’s best friend, a GPS tracker, we passed through the gates into Wungong Regional Park and set off in a south east direction on what is marked as the Echidna Trail (not to be confused with this Echidna Trail). The start is a flat stretch past a fantastic old farm shed (more on that later) that meanders along the Canning River. With plenty of rain in the past two weeks and the onset of the wildflower season, there was plenty of water rushing in the river below and a splash of colour on the trail. This easy stretch continues for 1km before the real climbing begins. From the very start you are aware of the steep hills adjacent to the trail and I knew from my research that we would have to reach the top eventually. The climb is no gentle hill and over the next kilometre the gradient averages 14%.

 

As you start the ascent there is a carpet of white flowers on the hill side that although they aren’t native still look pretty nice. These flowers follow you all the way up the trail as it narrows into a tight squeeze in some sections. Given the lack of official information on these trails I wasn’t expecting trail markers but was surprised  to find orange triangles nailed to important turning points. As an added bonus there is orange tape tied to some trees so you don’t lose your way. Even with trail markers and tape I still managed to lead the group astray although I prefer to call it taking a more direct route. I think the path was meant to turn right and then continue uphill but I could make out an old trail that led through some very tight spaces between some Karri Hazel. When the old trail met up with the new trail I had fulfilled my lifelong ambition to have salt and pepper hair like George Clooney as I was covered in white pollen. Tom & Mel surfaced from the depths of the shrubbery and we had a bit of a chuckle as we admired the proper trail. The climb was almost over and soon we came across what I had been most excited to see on this hike, a 30m solid granite rock-face. Legend has it that this was a hiding spot of Moondyne Joe and he used a cave near the base when he was on the run from the police. Tom was quite keen to find the cave and search for treasure but after exploring the area we were unable to locate anything close to a cave.

We did scale a little section that had a ledge looking over the forest before using the trail to the north to climb up to the top of the wall. The top of the cliff offers up some great views into the valley and down the cliff face. Take caution up here as one slip could mean a very painful/fatal 30m fall. With quite a bit of time exploring both the cliff top and base of the wall, we set off south and began yet another climb. This time the trail is pretty easy to follow and there are plenty of wooden steps to ease the journey. At the top of the 80m climb is a 4x4 track and a very short walk to the car park used by the rock climbers. The car park section is the beginning of a wide open expanse with green plains as far as the eye can see. This is also where you will find an orange information board with the names of all the trails (Botanical Walk Trail 2.7km, Kangaroo Walk Trail 7km & Emu Loop Walk Trail 6km) and the direction to take (they all head west). Happy that we were on the right track and keen to explore the open areas we kept moving. Bill’s map showed an abandoned airfield nearby but before we had a look at that we ventured out to the open field where we spotted a large mob of kangaroos grazing. Being very careful not to spook them, we edged closer so I could try and get them all in a decent shot and they didn’t really seem that fazed by our presence. With a few shots in the bag we headed back to the trail across another meadow that provided some sweeping views over the coastal plain.

 

Another mob of kangaroos were in the distance and we saw a number of joeys in the group as they bounded off into the distance. Next stop was the abandoned airfield on the other side of the gravel trail. The giant clearing in the forest would have been used for light aircraft back in the day but is now home to some of the biggest Zamia Palms I have seen (1-2m high). There are a few white information markers scattered across the place but the info written on most of them has faded beyond comprehension. After snapping a few photos we continued on our way towards the next feature point, the communications tower. Being very careful not to spook them, we edged closer so I could try and get them all in a decent shot and they didn’t really seem that fazed by our presence. With a few shots in the bag we headed back to the trail across another meadow that provided some sweeping views over the coastal plain. Another mob of kangaroos were in the distance and we saw a number of joeys in the group as they bounded off into the distance. Next stop was the abandoned airfield on the other side of the gravel trail.