SChipp Road Walk
Kalamunda National Park
Directions - Located just outside of the centre of Kalamunda, take Mundaring Weir Rd towards Mundaring and just after Jorgensen Park take the left turn onto Hummerston Rd. Follow this down the hill until you reach the intersection with Schipp Rd. Turn left onto the gravel road and follow this all the way to the end.
The Hike - With the last couple of year's adventures taking me away from exploring and hiking the Perth Hills, I make a point of trying to head out when I can to enjoy a hike in the place I call home. With a free morning on the schedule and some recent rains I decided that it was time to tackle another of the Shire of Kalamunda walks that we recently discussed on Real Trail Talk. Late July/early August usually heralds the start of the wildflower season and with a sunny week just gone, I was excited to see what was flowering along the Piesse Gully Valley and up on the hills. With a bit of overnight weather clearing up by sunrise, it was a warm and humid winters morning that greeted me as I drove into the hills.
The famous Perth Hills fog was rolling through the valley as I arrived at the start point at the end of Schipp Road and my first view of the Wandoo lined trail had me thinking this was going to be a fantastic morning. With the Schipp Road Walk utilising a part of the Bibbulmun Track I had hiked plenty of times before, I was keen to see what the linking trail that took in the Piesse Gully Valley and also the hills above looked like. With the early morning fog I decided that an anti-clockwise direction would be best with a quick side trip to Rocky Pool to finally capture some long exposure shots of the rapids that for some reason I'd never taken the time to come out and shoot. With all my camera equipment in my bag I set off along Schipp Road, now a bike and walk friendly track, through the forest and along Piesse Gully. Immediately you are transported into a world a Wandoo, Jarrah, wildflowers and the sound of rushing water. Early on I spotted some yellow flag, purple peas, foxtail and many more that I don't yet have the knowledge to name.
The fog added a moody element to the hike and the wide 4x4 track allowed me to fully appreciate what was a very mature looking forest. Along the trail you'll come across various information boards pointing out a specific reference like the trees, Piesse Gully or the granite boulders that feature quite heavily in this area. The information boards are part of the Piesse Gully Interpretive Trail that is a more family friendly (i.e flat) option taking you along Schipp Road to Rocky Pool and back. Some day I might come back and do the hike at sunset to mix it up and write up the trail for the website but for now I was enjoying the conditions I had this morning. With the sun slowly rising, the hills to the west were beginning to light up with a golden glow. The contrast of golden hills and a still misty valley was very enjoyable and I was hoping that the sun wouldn't rise too quickly as I wanted the valley to stay this way for a while longer.
I was revelling in taking it slow here and trying to spot as many wildflowers as possible. I was especially looking forward to spotting a few orchids as I'd seen some on Instagram from Lesmurdie Falls so figured that being near that area I might get lucky and see a few. I spotted some of my favourite carnivorous drosera plants, the vine variety this time and the morning dew was still clinging to the tiny pads. Crossing Piesse Gully for the first time as it goes under Schipp Rd was a welcome feature as I thought that it would just be off the right of the track and you wouldn't get to really interact with it too much (which is a missed opportunity). Seeing Piesse Gully in full flow was fantastic and it felt like the peak hiking season had arrived, a magical time of the year where the hills come alive and it's just an amazing experience to spend as much time walking on the trails that dot the landscape along the Darling Scarp.
From the gully crossing you rise up a small hill to one of the highlights of this stretch to Rocky Pool. The Wandoo here was fantastic and being higher up you could see more of the opposite side of the valley, now bathed in more golden light from the rising sun. There is a wooden bench where you can enjoy a sit down and appreciate the views, listen to the birds or just take a moment of silence to reset yourself. With the mist slowly burning off and the sun creeping up, I was kind of keen to reach Rocky Pool before it was too bright to do some long exposure photographing. Stopping me was a plethora of new types of wildflowers that I was happy to spend time trying to capture on the camera. My macro photography needs a lot of work and unfortunately a lot of my shots were a bit blurry or the wrong things were out of focus (my camera is still broken and manually focusing is still a hit and miss affair).