Bickley Reservoir Trail
Korung National Park
Directions - Hardinge Park is located at the base of the Perth Hills. From Tonkin Highway, take the Kelvin Rd exit heading east and follow this to White Rd. Turn right here and go down to Hardinge Rd where you turn left. The trail head is at the playground in front of the car park.
The Hike - After a very enjoyable hike at Victoria Reservoir earlier in the afternoon, I had pencilled in a visit to Bickley Reservoir afterwards but having to double back and retrieve a headphone I left below Victoria Dam put this at risk. With only a short drive to the start of this trail, I decided that I probably wouldn't be back here for a while and so here we are. Between finishing the Victoria Reservoir Trail and starting this one, the clouds had well and truly rolled over. While a bit of cloud cover is always appreciated on forest dominated hikes to improve the lighting for photography, I was aware that this one was mostly on open 4x4 track and would be looking a little gloomy.
The car park at Hardinge Park was a little busy as there were plenty of families enjoying their Sunday afternoon so with no spots available I found a park just outside the gates (which do close at sunset so be mindful of that). Being fully aware I was a strange bearded male with a camera wandering near a playground, I quickly found the path and moved on towards Bickley Reservoir. Every time I have come here it has been pretty gloomy but even in sunny weather I don't think it is the prettiest looking dam with the concrete bleeding a white substance and lot of razor wire attached to the surrounding fence. Being 6ft1, I could lift my camera over the fence to take unobstructed photos but if you're just walking along this stretch, it's not the prettiest sight. You soon exit the path and join Hardinge Road as it continues along to the Bickley Outdoor Recreation Camp (the reason for the fencing). Again this isn't a great stretch of walking but at the end of Hardinge Road you leave the paved road and briefly join the wide trail that heads to Victoria Dam. Next to the large Kattamorda Heritage Trail sign you leave the 4x4 track and head down along the fence towards Bickley Brook. I had been saving this walk for winter/spring because like so many of the Shire of Kalamunda walks, it is heavily dependant on having both water flowing and wildflowers in bloom to be a nice trail.
Arriving at the wooden bridge over Bickley Brook, I was happy to see a decent trickle of water, although it was mostly obstructed by the undergrowth. Some early wildflower finds put me in a good mood for this hike and walking along the single track on the other side of the brook, the finds kept coming. A Purple Fairy Orchid was hiding in the bushes along with some interesting looking orange and yellow flowers I don't know the name of. There is another access point to the brook further ahead and allows you to wander down to the edge of the water and have a stroll around on the granite. While it was still early season for wildflowers I was happy to see a lone flower on a Pincushion Hakea, something that will be quite common in spring as the hillside here is full of these plants. The single track section ends and you pop out onto a heavily eroded 4x4 track that takes you up the hill. From here on out you are on 4x4 tracks and this is the beginning of a sustained climb up to the hills above Bickley Reservoir. My focus turned to the edge of the trail where there were a lot of wildflowers dotting the undergrowth and I had good fun trying to find all the different varieties I could.
The western side of the Perth Hills is always the best spot for early season wildflowers with many of the hikes on the scarp full of life from mid-winter onward. To go with my Purple Fairy Orchid, I managed to spot a Pink Fairy Orchid, collecting a full set of fairies so early. Reaching a flatter section highlighted with a dark rock, I spotted a flicker of yellow that I hoped was a Donkey Orchid and sure enough there was a trio of donkeys sticking out from the rock face. Ignore what looks to be the track leading off to the left (I can confirm this leads nowhere) and keep heading up the hill to another wide 4x4 track turns off to the left. Continuing to climb, the views start to open up ever so slightly in both directions. A cool open patch of granite to your right gives you a peak up to the top of the hill and glimpses down to the valley start to appear. The forest here starts to change from the occasional Marri tree to a grove of She-Oak, a favourite of mine in the Perth Hills. Some goat tracks lead off the 4x4 track and so I followed one that led down to some granite that I thought would give better views (spoiler - it didn't). I think many assume this and when they don't eventuate, the trail ends.
The good views happen further down the 4x4 track with a cool section of granite boulders providing a foreground object for your money shot of the Bickley Reservoir. It takes a bit of climbing if you want to stand on them and get even better views but it's worth it for the clearer photos of the water below, along with a hint of the Swan Coastal Plain in the background. Moving on from the views, you continue along the 4x4 track as it starts to flatten out, winding around the top of the hill. Views to the opposite valley start to appear and from a little granite platform you can peer across to some interesting looking granite cliffs on the other side. Hoping the trail would explore those areas but very confident it would just follow the existing vehicle tracks, I was content to admire from a distance. Right before you start descending pretty steeply (a bit of a surprise looking up the hill from the start), you get the full sweeping views of the Perth Coastal Plain that was looking a bit gloomy on my visit. The descent was a pleasant surprise with thicker forest and a feeling of being far away from it compared to just a few hundred metres beforehand.