Roley Pool Reserve
Start - Collins Road, Roleystone
Length - 4.3km (Loop)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Single Track
Vertical Climb - 81m
Time - 1-2 Hours
Signed - Yes, All Walks are Signed
Dog Friendly - Yes
Date Hiked - 7th June 2021
Best Time - Autumn to Spring
Traditional Custodians - Wajuk People
Directions - Take Brookton Highway east from Armadale until you reach the turnoff for Thompson Road. Turn right and follow this down the hill until you reach the one way entry for Collins Road (first right). Keep going around the bend and park on the side of the road near the steps leading down to Roley Pool. There is an alternative car park along Thompson Road if you keep going and cross the river, along with another parking option on Soldiers Road before the traffic bridge.
The Hike - Roley Pool was a place I had heard of but had never fully investigated because my understanding of the place was that it was going to be a long drive for a very short walk. Heading out to tackle the Mount Dale Circuit and a small section of the Bibbulmun Track, I decided to stop in on my way home as I was heading right past it. Arriving at a pretty busy car park on a nice and sunny Makuru day, it appeared there was more than meets the eye with this one.
I had previously visited this area of Roleystone when I explored the Churchman Brook trails early on in the existence of the website but was not aware of the trails at Roley Pool. It seems there has been some fairly recent investment in this area to go along with the ongoing work that the Roley Bushcare group has done to rehabilitate the river system. At the top of the stairs was a QR code that then takes you to a map of the area (can't find a web link for it), which was a nice surprise when I saw that there were multiple trails I could link up to form a 4km loop. This map is located on various information boards around the four walks so you're never too far away from being able to pinpoint where you are and where you want to get to. Deciding that this was going to be a much longer experience, I headed back to the car to grab my bag before descending the stairs down to Roley Pool. While the flow of the Canning River is very limited thanks to Canning Dam upstream, there is enough water passing through to keep water in Roley Pool, the site of the old swimming club. There were plenty of families here enjoying the picnic areas around the pool and many more taking their dogs for a walk.
Deciding to take the 500m Roley Pool Walk Trail to Soldiers Road then crossing over the traffic bridge to follow the Boardwalk Trail to Nature's Spa and a little further to the River Viewpoint on the Heritage Walk Trail, this would form a nice loop that I could get done in about an hour or so. After admiring the Roley Pool area, I headed off along the wide path where I was happy to see some Wandoo trees glowing in the midday sun. This side of the river has higher banks and the gently undulating track gives you a nice view in places looking down at the water through the tree line. Just before reaching the Soldiers Road car park I was glancing around and noticed at my eye level was the hollowed out section of a cut tree limb with a little skink having a good timing sunning itself. Quite content to let me photograph it from close up, it was a fun little interaction that brought a smile to my face. Reaching the car park, I decided I would cross the river at the traffic bridge so picked a spot where no cars were coming and was safely on the other side where I picked up the start of the Boardwalk Trail. Walking under the bridge, I spotted a series of rocks that would have been easy to cross but oh well.
The Boardwalk Trail stretches along the southern side of the Canning River and gives a much closer connection to the water thanks to several smaller trails that lead down to various parts of the river. Being a curious fella, I took every opportunity to check out these trails and the first one provided a few cool finds including several different varieties of fungi and some excellent examples of the Paperbarks that thrive along the river. Re-joining the main trail, I enjoyed the thick remnant trees that grow along the river valley with some of them being quite girthy. Passing by an old building a little way up the hill, it looked to be a very utilitarian telephone exchange from the '60s or '70s but further investigate reveals it to be a Water Corp Chemical Dosing Plant. Further on you reach the boardwalk that the trail is named after, something I find a bit funny as it doesn't last very long compared to the entire length that is marked on the maps. It's a nice addition to protect the environment and leads to my favourite part of the loop, a rocky area filled with boulders and one of the more picturesque series of rapids.
Here they have marked the boulders leading up the hill with the correct type of rock as both granite and dolerite are found at this location. There is more information in the Roley Bushcare link I provided above but it was interesting to see Dolerite in Perth given the dominance of Granite as the main geological feature. Seeing the Dolerite marker took me back to my time in Tassie on the Three Capes Track so I had a bit of a moment thinking about that trip. In front of the boulder stack is an open granite platform that the river flows over and is full of little rapids, spooky looking Paperbarks and some mossy boulders sitting in the deeper parts of the river. It was a very pretty area that I spent some time photographing and admiring before a group of women walking their dogs came through and I thought it best to let them enjoy the spot without me being there. Moving on, the tree lined path continues all the way through to the next river spot at Nature's Spa. Before then you come across a Toolbrunup style scree field that may have been an old quarry site and a nice rocky lookout with views across the river valley.
Crossing a large granite expanse, Nature's Spa is to your left and is a continuation of the granite but is where the river flows over it. Several large holes and dips provide areas for people to dip themselves into the cool water and must be how the area came to be known as a spa. On a warmer day I imagine this is a refreshing spot to enjoy a picnic and a frolic in the water but today was not that day for me. On the other side of the river is private property so make sure you stick to the area below the hill and you will be fine. Happy with what I had seen so far and keen to explore the rest of the walk, I headed off to finish the official Nature's Spa Walk and re-join the Boardwalk Trail as it headed towards the Cascade car park on Thompson Road. This little section was fine but as you were away from the river, it wasn't as enjoyable as what had come before it. It was nice to be buried in some thicker undergrowth and the birds flitting around everywhere was quite cool. Reaching Thompson Road, to get to The Cascades requires walking up the road to the car park and starting the Heritage Walk Trail (there is more signage at the car park with information).
Here the landscape is more open with the Heritage Walk Trail sitting above where the river is and a small linking trail taking you down to The Cascades. Another granite platform where the river flows over it, this looked to be quite a fun area to explore. With a moderate amount of water around it was enjoyable skipping across the dry sections to reach different parts. I eventually reached the upper pool and it the view looking upstream was pretty cool with all the branches hanging over the water. From here I made my way back up to the proper trail and thought I'd check out the River Viewpoint on the map before turning around and heading back to the start. This turned out to be a good idea as this spot was nice and photogenic thanks to the wide river and sloping trees hanging out over the water. With the gentle water providing a nice reflection back of the vegetation on the other side of the river, I really enjoyed this spot and it was a good choice to make this the turnaround mark. With plenty of photos in the bag, I started the journey back to Roley Pool where I found an easy spot to cross back onto the northern side and back up the stairs, avoiding a walk to Soldiers Road and crossing further downstream.
Final Thoughts – For a spare of the moment decision to visit here not knowing there was an extended walk trail in the area, this was a very pleasant surprise. I had seen Roley Pool mentioned a few times in the TrailsWA FaceSpace group so thought I'd better check it out.
This one checks all the boxes that most people look for in a walk with it being dog friendly, having plenty to keep the kids interested, near granite, water and nice trees plus it's relatively close to Perth.
Thanks to the upgrades by the City of Armadale, navigating around is very easy and glancing over their recent management plan for the area, it seems a bit more money is being invested into weed control and rehabilitation. Some sections are affected more than others with blackberry and bamboo but over time I think the Roley Bushcare group will address that (and a big thanks to the volunteers who pour so much effort into this space).
While not as true of a natural experience like the hike at Mount Dale I did earlier in the day, there is plenty to enjoy here and hopefully things will only get better.
Get out there and experience it!
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