Hill Street Walk
Kalamunda National Park
Directions - Located on the edge of Kalamunda National Park in Gooseberry Hill, from Roe Highway, take the Kalamunda Road exit heading east. Take the left turn onto Gooseberry Hill Road and follow that all the way up the hill to the end at Williams Street. Turn right onto Williams Street, left onto Ledger Road, left onto Waljerin Road and then right onto Hill Street. Park on the edge of the road at the end of Hill Street and walk through the white gates to start the walk.
The Hike - The June Long Weekend has typically involved a big adventure in the past with weeklong sections of the Bibbulmun Track hiked to take advantage of the public holiday. With my sectional Bibbulmun E2E completed, the last few years have mainly involved day hikes that I didn't mind doing early on in the hiking season. 2022 was no different and with a greatly reduced list of new trails to experience around the Perth area, my options were fairly limited.
My original plans involved doing another WalkGPS route but after receiving a call from my sister on the Friday before the long weekend, we would end up having her and my oldest niece stay with us for Saturday night as my niece had been invited to play in the state wide netball tournament being held in Jolimont. Deciding to be a good uncle, I made plans to go watch her compete on the Sunday morning and I would add on a hike after that. I just needed a trail to do, preferably a new one so I could add some #content to the website. Enter the Hill Street Walk, one of the last Shire of Kalamunda trails I had not yet done and with lovely weather forecast, it seemed like a good idea. Add in that I could stop in at Zanthorrea Nursery on my way there to pick up more plants for my expanded native garden and it was a lock. On paper this doesn't look like a very interesting walk with a short loop on the edge of the suburbs but going in with low expectations turned meant I wouldn't be disappointed if it wasn't that great. After picking up some more natives to plug in gaps in my garden, I arrived at the end of Hill Street to find a couple of cars already there. Having already downloaded the PDF map from the Shire of Kalamunda website, I should have known that the trail skirted the boundary of the national park to start with.
Confirming this was a SoK sign and arrow pointing me to the right but silly me followed the trail that went straight ahead as it seemed like the nicer path. That turned out to be the case but after walking a short distance, I finally checked the map and realised I was wrong. Walking back to the start, I headed south along the boundary where it's a not terribly pleasant beginning as you have the private properties to your right and there weren't any wildflowers along this stretch. I reached the first turn at the bottom of a small hill and wasn't impressed when I saw that it looked like you just followed a dull fire break as it continued along the fence. Spotting a few deliberately boulders to my left and another path, I was relieved to see the trail headed into the bush, even if it was only a slight distance away from the fire break. The effect of this was a greatly improved trail experience as you were not surrounded on both sides by vegetation, including Grass Trees, Parrot Bush and a few wildflowers. After a brief section of loveliness, you reach an open expanse that I assume was once a little gravel pit. On the fringes were some cool wildflower finds including a couple of varieties of Wattle, some Silky-leaved Blood Flower, Sundews and Holly-leaved Hovea.
Moving away from the old gravel pit, you continue along a vehicle track and ahead was a lot of smoke that initially had me worried. As I got closer and noticed the people and vehicles, it became clear that the owners of the property to the south were conducting a small burn-off of leaf litter. The smoke was blowing to the north so I quickly walked through it and admired how a small burn-off is done with ground crews and not helicopters. Spotting a marker ahead, I was delighted to see that the route takes you off the vehicle track and onto some lovely single trail into the forest. This was where things really started to pick up and it felt like one of the more enjoyable sections of the Bibbulmun Track around nearby Hewett's Hill or before South Ledge. I had missed the pleasant feeling of meandering around a Jarrah forest in the winter sun, with the distinct smell of the forest and iconic black and grey trunks of the trees, depending on how long it had been since they were last burnt (this area looked like it had been a while). Really slowing up here, I took a lot of photos as the trail snakes its way through the trees and eventually reaches near the edge of the hill. With the views looking down towards where Rocky Pool is located but not quite giving you those expansive vistas thanks to the tree line being in the way, I was quite happy for my imagination to run wild here.
Skirting the edge of the hill made for a wonderful experience as you still had the feeling of being in the forest while getting glimpses of distant hills. The wildflower finds through here continued with the white of the Common Pin Heath (Styphelia tenuiflora) reminding me of early season adventures at Christmas Tree Well and doing Bibbulmun Track maintenance. I was interrupted by a couple of approaching doggos and this is a common problem in Kalamunda National Park as it seems the locals think the rules don't apply to them and frequently walk their dogs within the national park. Letting the old guy pass, I continued along the single track as it heads north and then north west. The single track is another issue in Kalamunda National Park as they are informal mountain bike routes that have been created over the years. While this does highlight the demand for mountain bike trails, the creators of these trails sometimes don't do themselves any favours as it puts a black mark on the MTB community that is pushing for properly sanctioned trails. The Grass Trees and Zamias through here are lovely, although just before you reach the vehicle track there is a bare area that's either suffered from the summer heat or is dieback infested. The end of the walk isn't terribly thrilling as you reach the edge of the national park again and walk along the vehicle track under the powerlines back to the start. There are a couple of swings and some Tibetan prayer flags to liven things up but it's a pretty lacklustre finish to the walk.