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.