Golden Helena Valley Loop
Beelu National Park

South Ledge

12.1km (Loop)

225M

3-6 Hours

No

Free

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Wajuk people

Directions - From the centre of Kalamunda take Mundaring Weir Rd towards Mundaring Weir. Take the turnoff for South Ledge (look for clearly marked red sign) and drive all the way along the gravel road to the car park. Follow the signs down to the Golden Lookout to begin the hike.

The Hike - The Beelu National Park and Mundaring Weir area has so much potential that it almost seems a waste to have so few trails in the area given how lovely it all looks. With the two major long distance trails in WA (the Bibbulmun and Munda Biddi) running right through the forests here, it's an area of major significance. Day hikes in the area are limited to return journeys on the Bibbulmun, short walks around Mundaring Weir and the popular but uninspiring Shire of Kalamunda walk, Dell to South Ledge. I've often thought there was a better loop trail in the area that showcased the best of the area into a pretty manageable distance.

After following part of the Munda Biddi near Mundaring Weir for the Kattamordo Heritage Trail I began to wonder if it was possible to link up the Munda Biddi with the Bibbulmun to create a loop that also took you over Mundaring Weir and up to the Mundaring Weir Hotel as an added bonus. I mapped it all out and the numbers came up right so I just needed a day for it. Fast forward six months and thanks to yet another cancelled trip to do North Bannister to Dwellingup (thanks to over zealous prescribed burns this time) I had a spare weekend. It was also Election Day (RIP the environment or the future under the Liberals) so there was a great chance the trails would be quiet and given I'd already voted I could head out whenever I liked. Having experienced Mundaring Weir on a misty morning two years ago for Michelle from WalkingTwoByTwo's final walk in on her E2E, I wanted to wait until autumn or winter to try and get similar conditions. With a chilly morning forecast (1-2C minimum) I made plans to check out the loop to see what it was like as a whole. Aiming to be at South Ledge for the sunrise over Mundaring Weir, I arrived bang on time to find the whole place shrouded in the fog I had wanted.

 

I absolutely love these conditions so quickly got everything together and set off via the Bibbulmun Track to capture some moody shots of the Wandoo forest and the valley to the west. Arriving at the Golden Lookout, the view was somewhat limited thanks to the fog so I admired the grey nothingness for a couple of seconds before deciding it was best to rush down to the weir before the fog rolled away. Continuing on the Bibbulmun Track through the forest and down the hill, I chose to go in an anti-clockwise direction (and encourage you to do the same) for reasons that will become a little more obvious a bit further on. This stretch on the Bibbulmun is really enjoyable with a lovely canopy overhead and the odd placement of random Wandoo trees in the middle of the 4x4 track. The pop of golden coloured trunks is very welcome against the darkness of the Jarrah trees and is something I find to be a delight here. As you reach near the bottom of the hill you turn off the 4x4 track and onto some lovely single track that comes alive in spring with an abundance of wildflowers. Winding your way through the trees, you rise over a small, whimsical mound and are presented with the tiniest of glimpses of Lake CY O'Connor (at least if there wasn't fog around).

I passed an older gentleman who was heading in the other direction that I later found out was finishing an End to End of the Bibbulmun, raising money and awareness for Alzheimer's WA. Crossing Mundaring Weir Rd (watch for traffic), it's a short walk along the side of the road before you reach one of the highlights of the Perth Hills, Mundaring Weir and Lake CY O'Connor. The last few times I had visited they were still doing renovations to the dam wall and buildings so access was restricted. It was a nice surprise to get to the viewing platform and find the gates open and a fully restored weir wall looking the goods in the morning fog. Despite the cold conditions (I was swapping my hands between my jacket pockets to stop them from going numb) I was loving being here in this moment. It seemed that no one else was keen to brave the temperatures as I was the only one around and it felt very peaceful to be standing there in the silence, watching the fog roll over the weir wall. Taking a million photos, this was shaping up to be a better show than my previous misty visit here. The lighting looking back to the Golden Lookout was a mixture of deep greens as the forest was shrouded in fog and a golden ray of light as the sun struggled to break through the atmospheric barrier. As I stepped onto the weir wall, the views looking up and down the valley were magical. You could feel the gentle wind pushing wisps of fog up and over the wall, disappearing as it rose into the grasp of the soft sunlight.

 

Staring out over the surface of the lake into the distance, a usually very impressive view without the fog, was an epic light show ranging from soft golds to deep blues. The horizon was hard to make out with the uncertain cloud of white rolling through the valley and an illuminated hill falling into the lake provided a nice focus point for the photos. As I approached the beautiful monitoring building (now longer functioning in that capacity) I could appreciate the restoration work they had done with fresh paint making it look a treat. The yellow edging and dark grey dome add a great focal point for photos and brightens up what is really a dark concrete wall. I had a peer over the dark wall and it has a certain moody quality to it as you look down into the spillway. As your eyes divert upwards you view the old brick pumping station and the tall red chimney that is a beacon for the valley. After taking some up close photos of the monitoring building I headed off to the end of the weir and over to the new viewing platform on the other side. Providing a great vantage point to look back at the dam wall and Lake CY O'Connor, I didn't spend long here because my hands were freezing and I had dreams of a warm breakfast.