top of page
Echidna Trail

Echidna trail

Walyunga National Park

Directions - Walyunga National Park is located north of Perth along Great Northern Highway. From the start of Great Northern Highway off Roe Highway, head through the Swan Valley until you reach the Walyunga Road turnoff. Drive into the park (gates open between 8am and 5pm daily), stopping at the automated pay station if you require a pass for the day and then park at either Walyunga Pool or the main car park at the end of the road. There are trail heads at both locations so it's just a matter of personal preference. 

The Hike - The Echidna Trail in Walyunga National Park is one of the first hikes that I did way back in 2014, back in the simpler times when I had no idea what the website would become and was just starting out this amazing journey. Armed with my old Nikon D50 that was limited to a 1GB memory card, I think I only took about 200 photos and they weren't very good, even after applying all my learnings on Adobe Lightroom a couple of years ago (you can visit the old post by clicking here). Part of my 2022 plans are to visit some of the legacy pages from the early days and completely re-do them so they are represented in their best light. 

I had actually meant to do the Echidna Trail last year but the Woorooloo bushfires of late 2020 meant that these plans were put on hold until the area had a chance to recover. With a relatively wet end to autumn and other trails getting priority for the best hiking times of late winter through spring, I figured there would be enough to see out here to make a lovely post. With the gates of Walyunga not opening each day until 8am, I could take my time and enjoy breakfast at home before driving north from Fremantle along Roe Highway and then Great Northern Highway to the start point. With a glorious day forecast full of sunshine and light cloud, the conditions were spot on as I arrived at the main car park. With hiking getting a boost in participation numbers during the pandemic, it was no surprise to see a few cars here already at 8:30am. Excited to be back and in a bit of disbelief that it had been eight years since my last visit, the drive out was full of reflection about what I've done with my life during that time and how far things have come from the old TLoP website. My enjoyment of trails hasn't changed and after spraying down my trail runners with an anti-dieback mixture and connecting up my drinks bladder, I was ready to tackle the 11km Echidna Trail. 


Having parked at the main car park at the end of Walyunga Road, I made the same mistake as last time given the trail on the information board indicates that it starts and finishes at Walyunga Pool. This would mean I would have to finish by walking the link trail along the river between the two car parks twice but that wasn't such a bad thing in the end. Walking down the path between the car park and the Avon River, it all seemed very pleasant and not burnt at all. Not knowing the extent of the bushfire that hit this area, I was happy to see that at least this first section would be looking somewhat normal. Following the edge of the river all the way to Syds Rapids, this is a really nice start to the loop and I recommend doing the loop in an anti-clockwise direction because of this reason. Ambling along and taking my time, the views looking down to the river were pleasant and there was plenty of bird life around with Corellas, Shelducks, Shags and Galahs among some of the early sightings. On the other side of the river is the train line that runs through Toodyay, Northam and then onto Kalgoorlie and I heard the distinct rumble of a train in the distance. Sure enough one popped out through the tree line so I zoomed the camera in and took plenty of photos of the various graffiti marked carriages. 

Given my glacial pace, I was being passed by a lot of people as I stopped to photograph every little detail along the river. One father and son group I was quite happy to be rid of as they were talking quite loudly and it was clear their political leanings were to the right of the spectrum. Not wanting to hear from two privileged white males about how switching welfare payments back to cash would mean the collapse of society, I deliberately stopped for a while to let them pass. The river section had been a quality experience and I knew it was at an end when I saw the bubbling waters of Syds Rapid to my right. This spot marks where the trail leaves the river and heads up the hill to explore different terrain. Before starting the climb, I headed down to the edge of the river to photograph Syds Rapids in all its glory. Caused by a natural bend in the river, there is a small pool to the left and the aforementioned rapids flowing from what looks like straight ahead. It's the same river but it takes two different paths to reach the same spot. The recent rains had raised the water levels in the river so the rapids were flowing quite nicely while I was there. While the morning sun wasn't in the best position to photograph this area, it was still a lovely spot to be and I enjoyed it very much. 


Having given the father and son enough of a head start by now, I headed towards the start of the climb and memories of my first visit here came flooding back. Those that have hiked this trail will understand but this begins a 160m vertical climb over the next kilometre as you join the series of old vehicle tracks that make up the Echidna Trail. Completely forgetting that my first visit was right after a previous fire that occurred in 2013, it was looking a lot better this time around as this part of the park was not affected by the 2020 fire. Being late autumn, I was on the lookout for early season wildflowers and this is also about the time of year that the Sundews start to re-emerge. These marvellous carnivorous plants come in all shapes and sizes and supplement their nutrient intake by catching insects on their sticky pads. While there were no wildflowers around, I was super happy when I spotted a couple of Sundews on the edge of the trail, stopping to take photos and have a breather. The climbing isn't too bad if you're a seasoned hiker and the best bit is turning around and staring back at the river valley below. Seeing the river snake along, almost as an extension of the trail if you line it up right, it's certainly a good reward for the effort.