Waalegh to Beraking
5th June 2017
The Hike - Mornings at Waalegh are particularly special when get up early and watch the mist roll through the valley as the sun rises. Both times I've stayed here I've setup my tent on the northern side of the campsite as you get the best views of the sun rising from this position and it's well worth braving the cold. With plenty of granite platforms and benches to utilise, the warming feeling of enjoying a hot beverage and sitting in the stillness is a truly magical experience. With a fairly relaxed stint to Beraking in terms of difficulty there is no rush to pack up and leave early (unless you are triple hutting to Brookton or beyond). Once you have gathered all your items and shoved them neatly into your pack, head back up the hill to re-join the track and start the lovely walking through the Wandoo dominated landscape.
As you'll be spending most of the day on the ridge above the valley, occasionally dipping down to cross an ephemeral stream or two, you will get to enjoy some stunning views across the valley. The first good spot to enjoy the views occurs at a large granite platform that allows you to see up and down the last remnants of what could be Lake CY O'Connor if Mundaring Weir was overflowing. From here you are headed back into the forest for the start of a relaxing day among the tall trees. The trail switches between stable single track through the open Wandoo to some quite overgrown (but in a good way) undergrowth with the occasional rocky outcrop providing an obstacle. In spring watch out for masses of flame peas, old mans beard, orchids, thickets of Karri Hazel and a great variety of other wildflowers as they come into bloom at different times. On one visit through the area I was lucky enough to spot a couple of Carnaby Cockatoos, an endangered species that love the Wandoo in the area. As you continue on through the forest there are some small patches of open space where the grass trees thrive, usually located around the path of the before mentioned ephemeral streams.
Compared to previous days, there are no distinct highlights or great changes in variety due to being further away from civilisation and the elevation not changing a great deal. The best mindset I have found when walking this stretch is to switch off completely and just take everything as it comes. The scenery is still lovely but there will be nothing to blow your socks off (although in spring the whole place could be described that way). Unfortunately on my last visit in 2017 they had done prescribed burns through the area so it was all burnt. While not a fan of the amount and method of prescribed burning done in the Perth Hills, these ones seem to have been done properly with the canopy left untouched and a "cool burn" policy implemented. I did enjoy seeing another of what I call the phoenix flower (see second gallery for red and white flower) that I first saw at Mt Dale and have never been able to find out what it is actually called (please let me know if you do).
If you're walking N-S then the final third of the day is all downhill or fairly flat so you can enjoy the stroll into the campsite without breaking too much of a sweat. The Karri Hazel here in spring fills the air with a heavenly scent and can be quite thick at times, brushing your pack and leaving white fluff everywhere. The finishing stretch provides much of the same views that you experienced at the start of the day with the edges of the valley in sight. The Beraking Campsite (or #bearking as someone has written on the sign in the shelter) is not quite as nice as Waalegh or Helena but still in a great location. This is the last of the three campsites with Helena River Valley views so enjoy another great sunset from the wide open expanse in front of the shelter. That is one advantage that Beraking has, a lot of flat space to wander around and stretch your legs (or escape other hikers). Hopefully in time the surround bush recovers from the burn and returns to be full of greenery.
Final Thoughts - After staying the night at such a great location it almost feels melancholy leaving Waalegh and heading off to Beraking. The scenery along this section does its part to help cheer you up with a lot of fantastic, if not entirely memorable stretches (hence the short post).
The Wandoo forest is certainly a highlight and this will be the last of the really large stretches you'll encounter for a while. Again, the wildflowers are epic along this section, especially around the rocky outcrops and streams so if you're planning an over-nighter or long multi-day through here then try and book it in for spring.
Very much a continuation of the second half of Helena to Waalegh and that's never a bad thing, I do enjoy this section as a meditative stroll.
Get out there and experience it!!!
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