Munday Brook Walk Trail
Start - Football Oval, Saunders Rd
Length - 10.1km (Loop)
Grade - Orange
Terrain - 4x4 Track
Vertical Climb - 169m
Time - 2-4 hours
Signed - Occasional Markers
Date Hiked - 17th March 2017
Best Time - Autumn to Spring
Directions - Located in the beautiful Canning Mills section of the Perth Hills, get yourself onto Canning Rd and locate the turnoff at Rokewood Rd. The trail starts on the north side of the football oval but parking might be at a premium on Saturdays and Sunday during the footy season.
The Hike - With a very mild start to 2017 and record rains in February, Perth has barely felt the effects of a usually dry summer. This of course means that there is the occasional opportunity to sneak out and get some kilometres under the belt when the right conditions come along. Early March presented such an opportunity with temperatures in the high teens and a rainy forecast (my favourite conditions). I luckily had a few hours free in the morning before a pilates class so opened up my "to-hike" list and scoured potential hikes for a suitable candidate. One resource that I always find handy for a short hike is the Shire of Kalamunda website and I still have a few of their hikes that I haven't done yet.
Feeling like a long, gentle walk in the forest was what I needed in the gloomy conditions that were forecast, I selected the 10km Munday Brook Walk and set my alarm for Saturday morning. Having hiked along Munday Brook before on the Victoria Reservoir Trail and Kattamordo Heritage Trail, I was keen to see what it was like before it empties into Victoria Dam. The start of the trail is very easy to find, park on the north side of the football oval off Saunders Rd and look for the Shire of Kalamunda sign. The dark clouds had arrived in the hills when I started, making it feel like the dead of winter, so I headed into the forest with a smile on my face. As with all of the Shire of Kalamunda walks, there is a map and a set of notes to follow with the occasional trail marker to guide you along the way (dark pink for this walk). These are not specialised trails and thus follow 4x4 tracks for their entire duration, something that is not ideal but at least they have been created. The notes and markers are setup for an anti-clockwise undertaking and who I am to argue so I made a right turn to begin another adventure. The path showed signs of trail bike use so I would be keeping my wits about me on this hike just in case.
Some may find this type of trail uninspiring and sometimes I tend to agree but any walk through Jarrah forest is always better than sitting on the couch doing nothing or walking on urban pavements so I was happy to be here. The pea gravel was softer than if this was actually winter so the first uphill section was an exercise of finding firm footing, made harder by the extensive use this section must receive compared to the rest. Still being March I had not expected any colour to appear in the forest but some late summer wildflowers were dotted here and there along the sides of the trail so that made for a pleasant surprise. This section is also where you need to pay the most attention as there are a number of trails that criss-cross the main track. The first couple of kilometres are fairly intuitive and trail markers will appear frequently if you are on the right track. About a kilometre in it started to mist up, not heavy enough to have me reaching for the rain jacket and pack cover but wet enough to add a damp smell to the air. The mist also allowed me to catch sight of something I would have to be weary of for the rest of the hike, a giant spider’s web. The first one I saw was in my peripheral vision and well off the track so wasn't a problem. It was probably a good thing too as the resident spider was massive and easily the size of my palm.
I took some photos of the beast and made a note to be aware of webs on the trail going forward. Continuing on I was trying to keep an eye on my GPS and cross reference it to the map/notes but unfortunately the Shire of Kalamunda logo kind of overshadows the section where you are meant to turn. I must have been too busy looking at the vast quantity of dumped rubbish (asbestos included) to check the map against the notes as I walked straight past the 4x4 track that is meant to be the turn-off. Points 4 & 5 of the map are hidden by the logo so I didn't really think much of those tracks until I came to a paved road (Dale Rd). Not seeing an obvious path on the other side of the road I just bush bashed my way through until I found another 4x4 track that headed the direction I needed to be (north). Figuring that the whole trail was on 4x4 tracks I plotted a way back to Munday Brook so I could rejoin the official trail. My detour wasn't the most scenic one as the 4x4 track I was on that ran parallel with Dale Rd was very straight and very uninteresting. I eventually came to the road that I knew would link back up with the trail and waiting there for me was a couple of Korung National Park signs, probably to remind people that this is meant to be pristine bushland and not the local tip as many treat it like.
I found my way through the thicket of she-oak forest and open spaces that lined the track before spotting some familiar dark pink trail markers and rejoicing that my detour was over. All in all I added an extra two kilometres to my hike through some rather dull bush compared to what the actual trail would look like. For the next 2.5 kilometres you follow the namesake of the trail, Munday Brook, and I have to say that it is the most spectacular section of the trail. Running parallel to Munday Brook I would assume looking at a map that the vegetation here would be thicker than elsewhere but the difference was amazing. While the 4x4 track wasn't any wider than the others this trail uses, it felt a lot smaller thanks to the thick undergrowth and towering forest either side. I can't remember seeing forest like this in the Perth Hills where the trees were so close together and so tall. Given the straightness of the track, it gave the feeling of being in a long hallway with very high walls and a limitless ceiling. Adding to the wow factor, the rains became heavier, to the point where I had to bring out the pack cover and hide the camera to stop it getting drenched. So instead of viewing from behind the camera lens I simply enjoyed the walk at a slow pace and took it in all in with open eyes.
Someone before me had left their rainbow beanie (not the only piece of clothing I found on the trail) and soon I found more evidence of humankind with a couple of very old household appliances dumped into a hole where water gathers in winter. It would have made for a very pleasant scene as signs of an old wooden bridge are still present. Further up the track Munday Brook changes course while the track keeps going straight. I would be interested to know if the water level is sufficient in winter that you can cross without getting a sock or two wet so will have to return and find out. The crossing also presents a very pretty scene with towering Jarrah trees joined by a large collection of ferns. For a while I could have been anywhere but where I was and I have to admit I didn't expect to find something like this on the hike. Again this was only the start of autumn so I might return in winter or spring and see how much of a change a winters worth of rain will make to the place. A fallen log or a bench here would make for a nice rest spot. With a few photos taken on my soggy camera I departed and made my way to the next turn-off, which the notes say is not easy to see. I came across the natural clearing and sure enough there were trail markers everywhere pointing me in the right direction. This marks the lowest point on the trail so from here it is all uphill until you reach the start/finish point.
Familiar Jarrah forest lines both sides of the trail but is older and more spaced out then along the Munday Brook section. I found a few more spider webs, this time over the trail but without occupants thankfully. Eventually you arrive at the T-junction that marks the turn-off back towards the start. Being close to Canning Rd and the farms that line the area, the feeling of being lost within a national park is not as strong. The forest is no less thick on the eastern side of the track and occasionally you will arrive at a section of she-oak that I personally love to see as it adds a bit more of a spooky feeling to the forest. After you make the final turn you are well aware of being near a settlement as the trail borders a few orchards and one strange deposit of what looks like an outdoor archive setup. On the other side of the fence is a very organised set of filing cabinets that must serve some purpose, it's just odd to figure out what that might be. My girlfriend said it was probably a bee hive setup and that makes sense so let's go with that. Be careful around this point if the bees eventually take up residence in the near future. The finish is just a short walk away and I finished in the same conditions I started in, light mist. I unlaced the boots, slipped the thongs back on and made my way to the Pickering Brook General Store for a cheeky coffee and snack. A great way to spend the morning and with perfect conditions, winter can't come soon enough.
Final Thoughts - You have to commend the Shire of Kalamunda for the effort they have put in to creating a large number of trails in the Perth Hills using nothing but existing 4x4 tracks and a few coloured markers. Something is always better than nothing and to have the ability to explore even the smallest of national parks like this section of Korung NP is a delight.
Hopefully you will learn from my mistakes and take the right path. This trail may not to everyone's taste given it is all on 4x4 tracks and there are no breathtaking views or granite domes to explore but if all you want is an uninterrupted escape in the forest for a few hours that is still relatively close to the city then this perfect for that.
The one criticism I have is the complete lack of respect some people have for the forest by using it as a dumping ground. Unfortunately it isn't limited to one spot so you will have to put up with constantly seeing bottles, cans and much worse scattered in the undergrowth. I might organise an unrestricted group hike here later in the winter as a form of clean-up so stay tuned.
All in all, the positives far outweigh the negatives on this trail and based on the feedback I received on the Instagram teaser photo, plenty of you would walk this trail just to see the Munday Brook section.
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