Channel 10 Tower Walk
Start - Edge of Pomeroy Rd
Length - 3km (Loop)
Rating - Green
Terrain - 4x4 Track, Single Track
Vertical Climb - 46m
Time - 1 hour
Signed - Yes, Follow the Red Markers
Date Hiked - 12th April 2020
Best Time - Autumn to Late Spring
Directions - From Roe Hwy, take the Welshpool Rd East exit heading towards the hills. Follow this all the way to the top and continue on until you reach the turn-off for Pomeroy Rd. Parking is on the verge opposite the old windmill.
The Hike - So here we are, the Channel 10 Tower Walk. It's been discussed many times on the podcast about perhaps being one of the worst trails in Perth and because of that I was really looking forward to hiking it. My podcast partner Donovan can be a bit hyperbolic when it comes to burnt Jarrah so when he didn't rate it very highly, I really wanted to capture it in a good light and show that all trails can be beautiful. This of course meant saving it for spring time when the wildflowers would be in bloom and whatever was lacking in terms of great scenery or trail design could be patched over with photos of the unique and colourful wildflower display that livens up the Perth Hills every year. That was the plan but not being able to travel over Easter plus a new ethos over the lock down period to explore more Perth trails meant I was going to tackle this one at arguably the least aesthetically pleasing time of year.
With that in mind I headed out after lunch on Easter Sunday to worship at the alter of nature, planning on completing two new trails that afternoon. I'd received an email mid-week from a lady from the City of Kalamunda asking me to revise the starting locations for a couple of their walks and this one was on the list (even though I'd not done it before). Obeying the new start points, parking is now on the verge of Pomeroy Road instead of further in due to the fire risk of having only one access point. I did have a chuckle as I arrived because there is a great big field from the walk trail start all the way to the road so there is no shortage of exit points if it came to that but in the interest of fire safety please park opposite the old windmill like I did. I located the walk trail, which is just after the rocks blocking the vehicle track and sure enough there was a marker in the distance guiding me. Some of the Shire of Kalamunda walks are a bit hit and miss when it comes to markers but I can report that for the most part this one is pretty good. The start of the walk is pretty standard affair for Korung National Park (more on this park later on) with the landscape being dominated by Jarrah, Marri and She-Oak. With cloudy conditions, I was happy that things were a little cooler after Perth recorded the highest ever April temperature the day before. I even got a tiny sprinkle of rain at one point that made me so happy because I really miss that feeling of walking in the forest when it's raining.
A little further along the track was the first of many disused gravel pits and I saw the feature that lends its name to the walk, the Channel 10 Tower, a constant presence throughout your time here. My thoughts strayed to Lord of the Rings and compared the tower to that of the Eye of Sauron, an ever present companion watching over you, similar to the media giants of Australia that try to control our every move. Not quite lidless and wreathed in flames, it is a reminder that even out here you are not alone and the ghosts of Gretel Killeen, Rove McManus and Osher Günsberg might be found roaming the forest at night ready to interview your dark, dark soul. I digress though because for the most part the tower is just an unwanted eyesore on what I was beginning to find out was actually a really nice piece of forest. While the trees were burnt in sections, there were some older examples that had been left here to stand guard over this now unwanted piece of land. Always a fan of She-Oak and the moody scenes it creates, I quietened the devil on my shoulder saying this was going to a terrible walk (let's call him Sonovan De Douza) and just simply enjoyed the walking.
Not expecting to see any wildflowers at this time of year, I was happy to see a very small patch of Hairy Jugflower on the side of the trail, distinctive by their red colouring and the white hairs that seems to float off the main structure. As the path got wider and the She-Oak ended, the Jarrah came into view and although still a little black on the bottom (perhaps indicating a rare cool burn-off by Parks and Wildlife) it was fantastic to see the soft grey bark that really draws me to the Jarrah tree. This had me thinking of my time out near Gringer Creek and Mt Wells, places we cannot visit now but the reminder brought a smile to my face. The Grass Trees here were also lovely to see, an evergreen presence during the warmer parts of the year and an introduction to Parrot Bush, a plant I really used to dislike but have now fallen in love with thanks to its photogenic flowers. It was the right time of year for it and I was lucky enough to get a few flowers in various stages of bloom. Continuing along the 4x4 track I really was wondering what Donovan found so offensive about this trail but then I stumbled across a really horrible sight that unfortunately is all too common in the Perth Hills, a large pile of dumped rubbish. The audacity and selfishness of some idiots in society knows no limits and to ruin such a lovely place really gets up my goat.
Unfortunately they get away with it but I'm hoping that the thoughtless morons were stupid enough to leave behind some evidence of themselves so they can be linked/fined for violating this sacred place (this has been reported to the City of Kalamunda). Becoming disheartened because honestly I had really enjoyed the first part of the track, it wasn't long before my faith was restored. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a purple speck that turned out to be one of my favourite wildflowers, the Fringed Lily. These delicate little flowers are one of the few that flower into the summer months so I was lucky to catch them at the end of their flowering season. I found a few more as I continued on that warmed my hiking heart including one that had an ant crawling all over it. It wasn't long before I found some more rubbish dumping spots including one that was clearly an electrician dumping old coils, wiring and other things. Not letting this ruin my hike I soldiered on and into a lovely grove of She-Oaks that looked like something out of an old spooky forest with their twisted and gnarled branches waving around everywhere.
Surprisingly the trail leaves the scraggly network of 4x4 tracks and takes you into the Parrot Bush on a single track. This was most welcome and unexpected even if it didn't last too long. The reason for the single track I'm sure is to take you past a design feature that is common on most Shire of Kalamunda walks, the wreck of a burnt out car body. I would say at least half of them feature one and while a bold statement on the wasteful and destructive forces that cars can have on the environment at large, I quite enjoyed seeing it. The car in question I'm guessing is from the 1960s, perhaps something similar to this but I'm only speculating here. Rejoining a 4x4 track near another lovely section of She-Oak, this is where I missed a turn and got a bit geographically embarrassed. Instead of heading NE along the fence blocking off the Channel 10 Tower, I kept going towards the west and ended up doing a big loop on various tracks that dot this landscape. This did get me closer to the claimed 5km length (I mapped it out as 3km for the official route from the website so not sure where they got the extra 2km from) and I did manage to see a really cute bee that was hanging around the stump of a damaged Grass Tree.
Rejoining the track where I was meant to after my extra loop, it was a somewhat unpleasant experience walking along a fence line that had me thinking back to the stretch of the Bibbulmun just before Nullaki campsite, except this was less sandy. There was some nice forest opposite the fence so I looked there instead and soon it was all over, meeting up with a previous section of track from the beginning. This is where you begin the second of the two loops by heading into the gravel clearing towards another of the gravel pits (the same one as before but on the opposite side). A leftover product of the gravel mining that used to go on here, they have since been converted to dumping grounds and amateur mountain bike tracks but there is an air of mystic about them that made me want to explore them (probably because they are unnatural occurrences). This last little loop is a bit of a downer to finish as there is nothing particularly enjoyable about the landscape and it becomes more about looping you around another ugly pit from a time gone by. Reaching the first part of the track again, there was nothing left to do but head back to the car and digest what had been an enjoyable hike that still left a slight bitter taste in my mouth.
Final Thoughts - Where to begin with this one. First off I'll say that my expectations going into this weren't great so if it ended up being a dud then it wouldn't have been a surprise. That being said it wasn't as bad as I expected.
Looking at this area on a map, it is never going to be able to provide fantastic scenery given it's fairly flat, there are no water courses running through the area and it's fairly close to a built up area. You can't blame the walk for being meh if the basics aren't there to begin with.
What this trail did do was have me thinking about the Perth Hills in general, the attitude towards national parks and what do I really want from a hike.
This area has potential but like most areas of the Perth Hills, it's a mish-mash of past destruction/land use and the slow decay from a lack of care or maintenance. I really enjoyed the She-Oak, Parrot Bush, Marri and Jarrah here and if the whole area was full of that in a somewhat presentable state then fantastic, I'd happily hike through that for fun.
The issue here though is the myriad of tracks that run through here providing access for people to dump their rubbish, build whatever trails they want and treat this like a wasteland. There is no need for them even from a fire break point of view given it's surrounded on all sides by sealed road, they aren't monitored and just encourage people to drive where they shouldn't be allowed.
This is really a larger comment on the national park system in Western Australia that is severely broken. The fact that this area is dubbed Korung National Park is amazing when you consider the vast number of State Forests and Conservation Areas that desperately need National Park status to protect them from forestry, mining and exploitation. Even one of the most beautiful places in the state (Karijini) has been split so a big mine could exist because that's the way we operate in WA. This area has already been mined and logged so has little value now, let's put the national park tag on it just for posterity sake is what I think they did here.
While it is nice to know that this land is somewhat protected from being turned into a housing estate, the fact there is a giant TV tower in the middle is probably the biggest reason why this hasn't happened yet. Call me a cynic but I severely doubt this national park is high up on any list to be looked after or restored other than the chance to burn it every few years.
I'm grateful that these trails exist, without the Shire of Kalamunda trails we'd be seriously lacking in hiking opportunities in Perth, I just wish we were better as a city, a people and a government so these places weren't treated so poorly. This is far from the exception to the rule as these sad ghosts of once great forests can be found up and down the Darling Scarp.
I'll no doubt return to this trail again in the spring, rubbish bag in hand to do my part to restoring what I'm sure would have been a really nice place once.
I still think the Blue Rock Walks in Jarrahdale holds the title of worst hike in Perth so good work C10 Tower Walk on being much more enjoyable than that one, which to be honest is not very difficult.
This next line might seem a little silly after what I said above but...
Get out there and experience it!!
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