North Lake Loop
Directions - Located in the southern suburbs of Perth, from the city head south on the Kwinana Freeway and get off at the Farrington Road exit. Head west on Farrington Road until you reach Progress Drive, turn left here and there is a small car park on your left hand side about 150m down the road.
The Walk - On the Swan Coastal Plain, Perth is lucky to have a lake system extending north-south about 10km inland from the Indian Ocean that provides a home to many native flora and fauna species. Despite already visiting a similar trail called The Spectacles (located south of here) a few years ago and enjoying that, the area around North Lake and Bibra Lake wasn't really on my trails radar. Having grown up a stones throw away in Leeming, this area was always known to me as the lakes near Adventure World with the cool pirate ship playground, which I'm not sure exists anymore.
Fast forward to 2022 and I got a message from friend Melina, who some of you might know as the super enthusiastic hype machine who runs Perth Trail Series, saying we should take the dogs and check out the trails near Bibra Lake. I suspected this was all part of her master plan to rip off my website as "The Life of Pyrette" (inside joke but not one I think is actually a joke sometimes) as she wanted more content but I also needed early season content so was happy to play along. My partner Caris had also been saying we need to take the dogs on more walks that aren't around our immediate area to give them something new so this fit the bill. With that in mind we set a date for one Sunday morning in May and it was party of seven that arrived at the edge of North Lake ready to experience some trails. Melina and Vince (her partner) were waiting for us with Jack (aka Jack the Jerk aka Jarcky Jarck) and we brought along Sadie and Kit, our two puppas. It had been a while since they had been out on a new Life of Py adventure, mainly because the list of dog friendly trails in Perth is quite low and Kit is a giant bork muppet that doesn't like walking on cronchy ground, so that limits where we can go.
Melina was at the helm for this trails treasure hunt and had mapped out a couple of loops around the northern most lake in the area, aptly named North Lake. There are a series of interconnecting tracks dotted around the area with one main trail looping around the lake. Being late autumn, experiencing a very hot summer, the winter rains not arriving in full force yet, the drying climate and Perth's groundwater supply being reduced to next to nothing, the lake was looking very dry. There was a small body of water near the middle and some swans had taken up residence, along with a few other birds. We started by walking along the track closest to the lake where you get some really nice spots overlooking the lake. It still feels like an urban walk as you then join a paved path with views of the local houses across Progress Drive but it's not long until you take a left turn onto a crushed limestone and sand path. This is where it starts to feel like you're escaping the suburbs a bit as there are trees either side and some more natural looking ground cover like Pigface and Bracken Ferns. This area is home to some relatively untouched remnant bushland although non-native grasses appear to be issue here, like they are all over Perth.
Spotting my first banksia flower was exciting as they usually make up for a lack of wildflowers at this time of year and this area is full of mature examples. Arriving at a trail junction, Melina announced that we would be taking a right and doing another smaller loop in addition to the main loop around the lake. I'm not one to argue so we all followed and were soon out in the open staring at some big powerlines. While not ideal in terms of aesthetics, this area is undergoing rehabilitation under the powerlines so there were some cool finds including a pea variety that looked very much like the ketchup and mustard colouring that Melina was sporting. The Firewood Banksias (Banksia menziesii) along here were also spectacular with plenty in full bloom in that stunning red and orange hue. While out in the open, I noticed a couple of birds of prey circling above the lake and managed to get an okay photo of one of them. Reaching the end of the powerlines, we headed back into the Banksia woodland via a sandy track where there were some really old character trees to be found and some Zamia. I spotted some Zamia seeds on the track and my thoughts were to how some emus would love it here but then you'd probably have emus running around the suburbs and terrorising people instead.
I was lagging behind a bit, photographing every little thing that caught my eye but I caught up as we reached the trail junction again, ready to complete the loop around North Lake. There is a smaller swampy area to the right that I assume would fill up in the very wet times of the year but it just looked like a grassy patch from the trail. Continuing along, there were some gnarly Paperbarks twisting all over the shop and made for a really cool scene. Add in some early season fungi finds and this was turning out to be a better than expected walk from my perspective. Rounding the northern part of the lake, Jack the Jerk broke free and went racing off into the undergrowth chasing something that turned out to be some escaped chickens that I guess were now living their best life in the wild. Vince went to collect Jack and confirmed that perhaps they weren't the healthiest looking birds. With that kerfuffle over, we set about finishing the loop, passing a drainage point and small car park that I distinctly remember visiting with my dad a few times when I was little to feed bread to the ducks (before it was frowned upon to do this). That was a bit of a blast from the past that I had completely forgotten about but was nice to remember. Arriving back at the car park, we agreed it was a nice walk and we should do the others in the area some time in the future (watch this space).