Churchman Bushland Reserve
Churchman Bushland Reserve
Churchman Bushland Reserve
Churchman Bushland Reserve
Churchman Bushland Reserve

Adventures in Roleystone

Churchman Bushland Reserve

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.