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Kalamunda Railway Heritage Trail

Kalamunda Railway Heritage Trail

Perth Hills

Directions - You can start at either end of this trail with the northern end starting at the corner of Tella Street and Williams Road in Gooseberry Hill. From the centre of Kalamunda takes Williams Road north until you reach the intersection with Tella Street. The trail starts on the western side of Williams Road with a gravel trail heading down the hill from the road. The southern end begins opposite the Pickering Brook General Store.

The Ride - With a rekindling of my relationship with mountain biking and a planned E2E of the Munda Biddi scheduled for August 2021, I was keen on getting a few new bike trails under the belt while also doing some training. A trail I have had on my to-hike list for a while is the Kalamunda Railway Heritage Trail but the memories of hiking along the straight northern section at 2am, cold and tired on the 2014 Oxfam Trailwalker had always meant other trails got preference. 

Recently this one has popped back onto my radar with an upgrade to the trail from Kalamunda to Pickering Brook piquing my interest. With a free Sunday in May, I asked Assistant to the Regional Trails Manager, Aron if he wanted to head out into the hills and cycle a gentle rail trail. Having given the map and website a brief look over, little did I know the upgrades to the southern section would turn this from a run of the mill rail trail into something a bit more technical but more on that later. To reduce our environmental impact, I drove to Aron's and then we made our way up to the planned start at Gooseberry Hill in his new vehicle that has been fitted out with a fancy dual bike rack. Officially they show the trail starting at the Gooseberry Hill Siding but I could see that it ran all the way up to Williams Road so that's where we started (also made parking on the verge of Tella Street easier). This turned out to be a good choice as it meant a very long downhill run to finish but conversely, an uphill to get the legs warmed up. With my new photography setup for mountain biking involving a Peak Design Camera Clip holding my camera on the straps of my backpack, I could easily stop and take photos whenever I wanted. This had worked quite well on the nearby Railway Reserves Heritage Trail and was put to good use along the early stages of this ride too. 


Initially the trail isn't terribly interesting as it's sandwiched between Williams Road and Railway Road until you reach Kalamunda but the trees here are mature enough to be interesting with a nice variety of Marri, Jarrah and Sheoak. The uphill is relatively gentle so you don't really notice it and I was stopping a lot anyway to take photos of various angles that took my fancy. The lighting had a soft and golden aspect to it thanks to the overzealous approach to large scale burning DBCA has taken this year thanks to an extra $22mil of funding for incinerating Numbats and continuing to use the traditional approach to fire management that the indigenous people used (i.e. dropping fire from helicopters to achieve pointless burn targets). A highlight of this first section to Kalamunda was the sound of some noisy Kaaraks in some nearby trees. Aron and I both stopped for photos and I first noticed a lone male up on the highest branch but Aron soon pointed out a lovely mother/daughter combo on the lower branches that were sharing food and having a bit of a cute snuggle. I love these cheeky birds and it always lights up my day when I see them, more so when they are easily visible in the trees like this lot. The straight trail past the Gooseberry Hill Siding is well frequented by locals walking their dog and I'm surprised this style of green space isn't utilised more often in suburbs as it seems like a great way to get places while also providing a fleeting illusion of nature. 

I was much happier to be on the bike for this section as it wouldn't be terribly interesting on foot as it does seem to go on for a long time without much change in scenery. Reaching the outskirts of Kalamunda, we made our way around the Kalamunda History Village, Zig Zag Gallery and Visitor Information Centre, with me stopping for quite a few photos of the public art and old trains/buildings. I caught up to Aron near the Kalamunda Hotel and we rode down towards the Northern Terminus of the Bibbulmun Track. I love the redesign they've done as it now feels like more of a proper event to start or finish the track instead of just being a dull affair opposite a Coles carpark. The landscaping works have come a long way with some Pincushion Hakea flowering near the edge of Mundaring Weir Road. Crossing over the road we came to the start of the upgraded section and I was very excited to see if the work was just signage or something more substantial. Initially it just looked like new signage and a couple were busy checking out the main board so I cycled further down to the next one explaining this first section to Grove Road. I love the Donkey Orchid trail marker they have come up with as it's one of my favourite orchids in WA and the orange and dark blue colour combination looks the business. After cycling along some single track out the back of some neighbouring properties, I was hoping that the trail parted from the fringes of urban life and headed into the bush a bit more.

Further ahead we kept seeing multiple signs for the trail and something clicked that this trail might be a bit different. We soldiered on and didn't think too much about it, reaching the old railway station for South Kalamunda (or Guppys Siding). This railway was built in 1891 as a way to transport timber down to Midland and there were several stations along the way that they have marked with named signs. This particular one at South Kalamunda features some pretty cool views over the valley to the east with a sea of trees making for a nice spot to stop. Continuing on, we came across more markers and finally deciphered the system they have used for the trail. In some sections there is a trail that everyone uses, some where walkers and gravel bikes are encouraged to go and others where only mountain bikes are allowed (with dual direction or one-way systems in place). We reached the first of the pure mountain bike sections of single track (which was actually the second as we'd ridden past the first accidentally) that is either green rated (easy) or blue rated (moderate). I love a winding single track so bolted ahead of Aron and had a blast on this first section that was a good introduction to mountain biking if you don't have the technical skills just yet. Unfortunately with the speed I was going and the limited space to pull over and take photos, it meant I don't have many shots from this area and this would be a theme for the ride.