Start - End of Palm Terrace
Length - 2.4km (Loop)
Rating - Green
Terrain - Steep Paths and Paved Trail
Vertical Climb - 110m
Time - 1-2 hours
Dog Friendly - Yes, On Leash
Signed - No, Be Careful With Misleading Trails
Date Hiked - 19th August 2017
Best Time - Autumn to Late Spring
Traditional Custodians - Wajuk People
Directions - The Palm Terrace car park can be found by taking Lewis Rd off Welshpool Rd East and following the signs. Alternatively you can take Welshpool Rd East up the hill and turn onto Lesmurdie Rd. Follow that until you reach Falls Rd, turn left and keep going to the car park.
The Hike - Lesmurdie Falls, the largest and most epic of all the waterfalls in Perth, also happens to be one of the most searched for locations in Google that relates to hiking in Perth. This is for a good reason as the falls are super impressive from both the bottom and the top, with the opportunity for an amazing sunset just adding a little cherry on top to any visit. I had previously visited here before when I first started out and I was never that proud of the photos I took that day so as a result visitors to the page got a half-baked idea of what it was like to visit (you can view the archived page here).
A visit back here was always on the cards but got pushed back again and again until plans were made to take in a few of the Shire of Kalamunda walks all in one day. This was deliberately left until last so we could take in this glorious location for sunset and hopefully get some better lighting conditions for shooting the falls. Joining me for this hike was Assistant Director of Trail Experience in the Oceania Region, Aron, and Clare, a drifter we found at Whistlepipe Gully. One aim for today was to get the full loop in as previously I had only done the trail down to the base of the falls and back up to the trail head on Falls Rd. Before I had the chance to locate an information board, Aron and Clare shot off down the trail leading to the base of the falls. Figuring that was a good starting point in the fading light, I chased after them and caught up just as we watched a woman precariously trying to cross the brook on a fallen log. Not sure whether to start filming just in case she fell in or ease the pressure and leave, we decided to be nice people and move on. The walk down to the foot of the falls is very pleasant, with a gentle forested track next to the flowing water of Lesmurdie Brook that hides the falls well until you round a corner and catch a glimpse of the magnificence of Lesmurdie Falls.
Even without my full tripod and neutral density filters I was looking forward to capturing the falls, especially after the wet July and August we had experienced. Shooting handheld would be difficult but not impossible so please excuse any blurriness to the photos. Being a relatively clear day compared to the previous weekends I was surprised the place wasn't flooded with people scrambling over each to get selfies and other pictures. Instead we were free to explore the wet rocks and pick our spots without people getting in the shot. Light cloud cover helped the lighting and we spent a good amount of time just taking photos and enjoying the fun of getting to new, more difficult spots. In the late afternoon sun it was nice to just take some time out from snapping away and enjoy the place for what it is. With the regular bun fight for positions not really a concern one can appreciate the beauty of the location. The high walls coloured in dark black and bright orange is something pretty unique and if you use your imagination then it could almost be the Kimberley (almost). Aron got tired of Clare and I taking so many photos so wandered off to the nearby Lion's Lookout (not to be confused with this Lion's Lookout nearby). I started creeping a little when I realised where he was and took some photos of him enjoying the falls all by his lonesome.
Clare joined us by climbing up the rocks and we all took the goat path that leads up to the main trail, skipping out a walk back to the car park and around on the official trail. We emerged from the bush to the surprise of a few visitors that had just struggled all the way up the official trail and bounded off to where the lookouts are located (except Clare who stopped to photograph every flower). There are two main viewing platforms from which to view the falls and the Perth Coastal Plain and both have their advantages. The first one provides the best side on views of the falls and a pretty good spot to see the sunset while the second platform takes you out over the top of the falls so you can experience them from overhead. Aron and Clare stayed here a while enjoying the serenity but we eventually moved on to the rocks above the falls to regroup. I really wanted to do the loop trail so left Aron and Clare on the rocks and headed up to the Falls Rd car park to view the information board so I could get my bearings on what trails existed. With directions in my head I returned, spotting a Quenda hanging around the picnic tables, and let the troops know what the plan was going forward. With the sun close to setting we headed off for the Shoulder Lookout, hoping for a magical kaleidoscope of colour to top off what was a very fun day.
We crossed the bridge upstream of the falls and found the trail that was initially covered in pavers that leads to several spots that are perfect to take in the sunset. I interrupted a girl sitting on some rocks (sorry) who it turned out was with her boyfriend but he was busy climbing a nearby tree. When he jumped down he gave Clare the fright of her life who thought a kangaroo had leapt out of the tree. We left them in peace as the sunset wasn't looking like it was going to be super fantastic and we didn't want to get caught out stumbling around the bush in the dark looking for the way home. The trail we were following was the only one showing on my Runkeeper app but there were so many goat tracks that dot these hills we could have easily wandered off course. I'm not sure if the trail we were following was the official loop trail as it was quite narrow and very rocky in places. It certainly didn't look like many people came this way but we eventually made it down to Lesmurdie Brook where we had our own moment of "will they make it" crossing the water. Aron came the closest to falling in but we all made it back to the car park with light left and many memories in the bank. A job well done and the end of a lovely day's hiking in the Perth Hills.
Final Thoughts - As I said before, my previous post was long overdue a refresh and I didn't think my first visit captured the area very nicely. With a couple of friends alongside me this was a much better experience and I think doing the loop trail certainly added more to the trip than just walking up to the falls followed by the two lookouts.
I understand fully why this is one of the most popular spots in Perth as it is relatively accessible for most people, even those who's fitness may not be up to walking up a slight hill.
I mentioned in my first visit that it would be nicer if you came across these falls after a 5-10km hike in the middle of nowhere rather than at the end of a suburban road. I stand by that but also think it is great that everyone from kids to grandparents can enjoy a stunning slice of WA bush with minimal effort.
If you are lucky enough to pick a quiet day with small crowds then this is certainly a very enjoyable way to spend a few hours.
Photographers love this place but you don't need to carry all the best gear to snap your own priceless memory.
Get out there and experience it!
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