Kalamunda to Mundaring Weir
Directions - The Northern Terminus is very easy to locate, drive to the roundabout where Mead St and Railway Rd meet and find an entry to the Coles car park. The trail head is across Railway Rd, you can't miss it.
The Hike - This was the first hike I published when I started The Life of Py many moons ago as I had spent plenty of hours training on this particular section of the Bibbulmun Track during my younger years. At the time of the first post I didn't have my camera with me for a reason I can't remember so the page for this hike never really did it justice. To amend this I organised a re-shoot and this time I would extend it all the way out to the Mundaring Weir Hotel. You can view the archived version here if you want to but the updated hike is a magical tale of quicksand, camels, thieving 28s, spooky tents, bromance, missing persons, acro-yoga, hill people and a wet, dark finish. This is going to be a long read so pause here if you haven't already brewed up a tea or coffee and go do that, we will wait.
The northern point of the world famous Bibbulmun Track is a place many end to enders feel either a great sense of accomplishment or trepidation, depending on whether they are starting or finishing the 1,000km adventure. For me this first section to Mundaring Weir is one I know like the back of my hand (which was well tested at the end of the hike) and every visit is like seeing an old friend. Sharing this hike with me today were good friends Aron, Tom and Mel along with new friend from the group hikes, Kiera. Aron was with me on the Kattamordo so had experience on a day long hike, Tom and Mel have done half-marathons and trekked in Patagonia so were right as rain (Tom even came off a 12 hour night shift straight into this hike) but for Kiera this was going to be a personal best. The meeting time was 8:30am due to Tom having to get home after night shift and get ready but this proved useful as I was still nursing a wine hangover from a particularly enjoyable work function the night before. Waiting at the Northern Terminus picnic table was Kiera and when we arrived she was talking to a Bibbulmun expert. He gave us tips on the hike to come and explained he had covered more that 25,000km on the trail in his lifetime. He was trail running to Hewett's Hill Campsite so we would see him on his return journey. The start of the trail is one I have always been perplexed by and surely must cause some confusion with those doing it for the first time. You go through the little landmark and off into the forest, only to come across a suburban road and houses 100m later with no obvious direction to take.
It isn't until a further 200m down Spring St that you are pointed back into the forest and can begin your journey. Seeing as how this wasn't foreign to me we all scrubbed our boots at the first dieback station just off Spring St and continued on towards where the trail meets up with Jorgensen Park. Tom, Mel and myself were here last Sunday as part of dog week so it felt a tiny bit like déjà vu. Stopping at the top of the hill to overlook the valley containing Piesse Brook, everyone snapped some photos and lamented the lack of a photo competition on this hike (sorry guys, group hikes only). The downhill run to the picture perfect section next to Piesse Brook was a breeze as we admired the wildflowers coming into bloom but we weren't without incident. There are very small sections of squishy mud that disguise themselves like hard rock and Mel discovered just how deep they were when she stuck her foot into one and was consumed by the muddy chasm. Later retellings of the story involved Tom heroically rescuing his wife from a ravenous quicksand deposit whilst shirtless and being attacked by a puma. While it wasn't quite as bad as that, Mel did have uncomfortable mud up past her ankles and it required a good wash when we arrived at Piesse Brook. One of the best stretches of this hike is just past the steep section of loose rocks as the trail makes a turn east and turns into a single file track running parallel to the flowing waters of Piesse Brook.
This sometimes tricky descent is a delight with the sound of running water, granite rock formations on both sides of the trail and if you are lucky like we were, a large number of Black Cockatoos. Words can't describe how nice this place is when the brook is flowing and the pictures don't really do it justice either. It is quite a long little descent filled with technical rocky steps so take care as it is quite easy to roll an ankle. The section ends with a turn onto a wide 4x4 track but this doesn't last long and when you reach the bridge over Piesse Brook you are pointed back into the forest and up a steep hill. This was my first proper visit to this area this year so I hadn't seen the full extent of the summer bushfires that have hit a wide expanse of these hills. The smell of smoke lingered as we climbed up to a landmark that always gets a giggle out of everyone that passes by it. It is known by many names but at the top of the hill is a granite formation that I like to call "Cock Rock". Let me know in the comments if you have a special name for it. It was here that we stopped for a snack and Tom decided to change shirts, much to the delight of everyone, especially Aron. This would be the start of burgeoning bromance that provided some quality humour throughout the day and had both Mel and Kiera a little bit worried at times. The eye candy and good times were shortened as we continued on due to the devastation of the recent bushfires.
Traversing the top of the hill I always had fond memories of a thick undergrowth but the fires had scorched everything and the place felt so open and exposed. The very steep descent leading down into a little valley used to be concealed with overhanging bushes that made it feel shorter than it actually was but now you can see all the way down and I wasn't quite sure how to feel. There aren't many sections north of Albany Highway that you can do a day hike and not come across large tracts of bushfire devastated forest. I thought this first section would be safe being so close to civilisation but apparently not. Not all of the bush has been damaged like this but what used to be a fairly closed in section now feels empty and will do for some time. The trail began to climb up through the pink quartz deposits and past what used to be a sacrificial site for the 43rd Legion of the Skull and Bones Society. The satanic symbol has now been replaced by a simple addition/multiplication sign (depending on how you look at it) so one can only deduce that one night over the summer, Ed Sheeran battled the devil and love prevailed. If you forgot to bring a goat to sacrifice or your guitar to bust out "Give Me Love" then the trail heads uphill and twists through the granite lined valley.