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Mount Melville Circuit Trail

Mount Melville Circuit Trail


Directions - From the centre of Albany head north on York Street until you reach the roundabout where the Caltex is. Take a left here onto Serpentine Road and follow this up the hill until you reach the corner of Halifax Street. There is a small grassed parking area on the opposite side and the trail begins as you walk through the gate pictured below.

The Hike - Albany holds a special place in my heart with some great memories holidaying down here as a kid along with plenty of adventures for this website as an adult. Returning for a five day stretch as part of a three and a half week road trip in the South West and Great Southern, this would be an opportunity to tick off the remaining Albany hikes that I had not yet completed for the website. Arriving the previous day after a fantastic hike up to Mount Lindesay and then driving into Albany to celebrate my podcast partner's completion of the Munda Biddi, I had settled into my AirBnB and was ready to explore.

Packing a lot of hiking into my time in Albany, first on the list was an exploration of Mount Melville and if I'm honest, I did this one first because I didn't think it would be any good. The last time I was in Albany was to finish my sectional end to end of the Bibbulmun Track and part of the last day is to scoot around the base of Mount Melville, something that wasn't the most enjoyable experience. Information on the walk trails on Mount Melville is very limited and the only source I could find was on the Alltrails app that can be a bit hit and miss sometimes. Using that as a guide, I downloaded the GPS file and drove out to the suggested starting spot along Serpentine Road (look out for the replica Leaning Tower of Pisa along this road, it's a hilarious addition to someone's front yard). Reviews of the trail on the app suggested this area is mainly used by locals walking their dogs so that tempered my expectations even more. The grassy space that is used as a car park/trail head certainly doesn't scream anything different but I was prepared to be surprised.


Creamed up and sporting my nerdburger hat, I walked through the gate and started the trail on what was a lovely day for it thanks to the occasional sunny skies mixed with white clouds. Immediately I was a bit dismayed as the trail seemed to continue what I had seen the previous year on the Bibbulmun Track with lots of non-native species dominating the landscape including the thick green Watsonia plants that have orange flowers. Thankfully the Watsonia doesn't last too long and the path takes you along some open granite that is flanked by some more natural looking vegetation. I was happy to see my first Sticky Tailflower of the hike and the native flower finds continued as I moved along. Worryingly there was an unpleasant smell lingering in the air and based on reviews of the trail it was suggested that not all dog owners were great about picking up after their furry friends but this smell was different. It disappeared as I headed towards the granite hill that is the main feature of this area and I was soon entering some nice looking Marri and Jarrah forest filled with more wildflowers and cheeky Black Cockatoos. 

There are some trail markers in the area pointing you along various paths and the route I was following combines a few of these trails that can be a little confusing. Moving deeper into the forest, I was very pleased with the quality with lots of wildflowers and because it's so close to town and on a granite hill, the trees escape the ravages of prescribed burns. This means the bark on the Marri trees especially is this gnarly, character filled delight that I love to photograph. Spotting some late season fungi on the edge of the trail, this was turning out to be a pretty nice walk and I hadn't even reached the best bits. With lots of intersecting paths, I kept checking my GPS but it was suggesting that I go right through the middle of the bush at one point, instead of selected between two paths. I ignored it and made a guess, something that paid off as I joined what is called the Summit Trail (taking the left turn here would have taken me to the suburbs surrounding the reserve). Heading up the hill I was noticing all the granite boulders that were starting to appear behind the thick tree line.

Popping out onto a granite platform, I was presented with the first of many great views, this one looking west across to the outer suburbs and industrial area of Albany. I was greeted by a bird of prey circling above the granite and I managed to get a few shots in before it flew off behind the massive boulders. I wasn't expecting this type of terrain so it was a great surprise and one that I welcomed wholeheartedly. Snapping away at the lichen stained granite and the views looking towards the moody skies, I was excited to continue on and discover if this was just the start of an excellent stretch of trail. It was indeed with the markers pointing you along the granite as you hug the large boulders and continue uphill. It was at this point that I discovered the source of the earlier smell and it appears that the side of Mount Melville is still being used by the City of Albany as a tip, something I really can't fathom given how close the area is to the main part of town, the recreation trails on the hill and the fact that there is so much cleared land north of the city that could be used instead. Baffling to say the least and it certainly doesn't make parts of the trail very enjoyable to walk.