Ghost House Walk Trail
Yanchep National Park
Directions - Yanchep National Park is located off Wanneroo Rd and is well signposted. To find the start of the Ghost House Walk just park at the Lake car park and head to the south side of the lake to loop around it. The first Ghost House trail marker is on the west side of the lake.
The Hike - With Western Australia Day making this weekend a day longer the Yanchep National Park decided to celebrate by waiving the usual entry fee. I decided to celebrate with them and made the hour long drive up to Yanchep to see what the park was all about. Having passed it several times driving up to the seaside town of Lancelin, I did not expect much given it was so close the highway and didn't look very special on the drive past. How I was wrong. After getting up well before the sun rose (the life of a hiker) I hopped on the freeway north and drove to the very end and then some. Once at the end of the freeway it is a short detour until you reach Wanneroo Road, which will take you all the way to the park.
Once you hit the section of Wanneroo Road that is lined with trees it isn't much further and you can't miss the turn off signs for the Yanchep National Park. The roads inside the park are almost brand new and you soon arrive at the entry gate where you would normally pay your vehicle fee and collect your map (very important). The park is very family orientated and there are ovals, various tearooms and a koala boardwalk (koalas are not native to WA) to spend the day exploring. To get to the Ghost House Walk Trail you need to take your first left and park right near the lake. Unfortunately the trails are not easy to find from the main family area so you have to use the map and guess where they start. The Ghost House Walk Trail actually starts on the opposite side of the lake so you have to take the Wetlands Walk Trail around the lake for just over 1km before you reach the start of the trail.
This is not a bad thing as the Wetlands trail is very scenic and due to the heavy rains recently, it's very green. Once you reach the start of the Ghost House Walk Trail you follow the yellow triangle markers that are well posted throughout the trail. The trail gets it's name from the remains of an old stone house (pictured right) that has been named the Ghost House. After trekking through some amazing forest and coastal scrubland you come across the crumbling frame of the Ghost House. Nature has truly taken over the ruins and what remains is a perfect opportunity to snap some great photos. Before this point though you have the opportunity to hike among some amazing forest that borders the wetlands area. Spotting a gap in the trail I wondered down to an open area and discovered a great spot looking over the wetlands to stop for a cup of tea. I had to laugh at myself here as I realised that I was having a true Australian moment.
There I was drinking a cup of tea, staring out into the wilderness while Kookaburras laughed in the trees and Kangaroos hopped off in the distance. All I needed was Great Southern Land playing in the background and I was in a tourism commercial. Continuing on you soon find yourself at the Shapcott's campsite, which serves as a resting point for hikers on the Coastal Plain Walk Trail. There I met a group of three that were just packing up their gear ready to continue on. After a quick hello they saw me taking some photos of the nearby cliff and recommended that I take a closer look via the tiny path that leads up there. With a day pack on (and being 6ft 1) I was only just able to make it through the dense bush by almost crawling on all fours. Once I was there it was worth it as there was a small cave area under the cliff with a small path leading around the side that takes you to the top of the cliff and a view over the wetlands if you are brave enough to scale the rocks. Departing the cliff/cave I re-joined the trail and as the kilometres went by the forest thinned out to the coastal scrub I was expecting.
This is no bad thing as you get a great sense of space that you don't get when trekking through a forest. With nothing but low lying scrub as far as the horizon you just happily hike away without a care in the world. As you close nearer to the end of the trail you run parallel to Wanneroo Road and the drone of passing cars spoils the natural sounds of the wilderness. To combat this I stuck the headphones in and kept going. I eventually reached the intersection of the Ghost House Walk Trail and the Caves Walk Trail (4.5km return) and decided that the 10km I had already travelled wasn't worth the two hour return trip. I left the Ghost House Walk Trail (it wasn't far from the end) and headed off on the Caves Walk Trail. This proved to be a wise move as I got to experience more than I expected after not really knowing the area before setting out.