Spectacles Aboriginal Heritage Trail
Start - McLaughlin Rd, Off Anketell Rd
Length - 6.1km (Loop)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Sandy Track
Dog Friendly - Yes
Vertical Climb - Flat
Time - 1-2 hours
Signed - Information Boards
Date Hiked - 6th August 2016
Best Time - Autumn to Spring
Traditional Custodians - Wajuk People
Directions - Take the Anketell Rd exit off the Kwinana Freeway and head west until you reach McLaughlin Rd. The car park is on McLaughlin Rd and the trail can be found by following the track east until just before the lake.
The Hike - Tipped off by Sara from Hike it Baby about a nice little trail called The Spectacles, I researched a little further and there it was on the TrailsWA site (really should check more closely). Being dog friendly and of fairly manageable distance it was perfect for bringing the whole family along so we loaded up into the car one fine Saturday and ventured down the freeway towards Anketell Road. The trail forms a loop around one of the eastern lakes of The Spectacles (hence the name) and includes a couple of detours into the lake area to allow closer contact with the wetlands and local bird life.
We arrived on a sunny morning but with weather approaching in the afternoon we weren't sure on how long the sun would stay out for. The car park is easily spotted on McLaughlin Rd and with the dogs on leash and raring to go we wondered down to the information board for a closer look. With a couple of trail options in the area, we decided to do the longer Aboriginal Heritage Trail but before we started the trail we ventured onto the boardwalks and on the very short Paperbark Trail. Taking you deep into some spooky looking wetlands, the boardwalk leads to a bird hide that looks out over the lake. The musky smells interested the dogs and I was loving the contrast between the boardwalk and the gnarly paperbarks rising from the green moss. Having hiked mainly the hilly parts of Perth it was refreshing to have a change of scenery to photograph and the closed in nature of the wetlands really hid the fact you are only a few hundred metres from the Kwinana Freeway. With no binoculars and Sadie getting tired of standing still we left the bird hide and made our way back to the start of the Aboriginal Heritage Trail.
The trail start is well marked so we headed in a clockwise direction and on the mossy paths. Again this is another difference from the majority of trails in Perth as they are typically orange gravel or dark brown dirt. It did make for some great photos with the paperbarks, Banksias and melaleuca woodlands surrounding the path as it snaked its way around the lake. Even though we had received quite a bit of rain in July, there were still large patches of dead ferns lining the trail. I would love to come back in a month or two and see if they green up as the effect would be sensational. As you reach the eastern side of the lake you start to criss-cross a large number of 4x4 tracks. Given this is a nature reserve I'm not sure why there is a need for so many tracks and I'm sure the land could be put to better use by planting more native trees. The effect is a very open space and the sounds of the nearby freeway can be heard. Some consolation is a smattering of pig face next to the trail and we were lucky enough to capture one patch flowering.
The openness continues along the eastern side and the scenery only changes when you start turning west and traversing the southern edge of the lake. The paperbarks start becoming more plentiful and you are pointed in the direction of another detour into the wetlands. This time instead of a boardwalk you are able to walk on a raised trail towards a small wooden platform. Again the paperbarks provide a friendly suffocation of the space and the platform provides an ideal place to take it all in as you stare out across the lake. When you have had your fill of peaceful relaxation you can join the trail again and head off along the southern edge.
Don't panic when the trail suddenly turns south and looks like taking you off to Mandurah, it shortly points you back in the right direction and off to the starting point. I would like to say this section is just as interesting but it is open trail with not much to look at. Towards the finish you will see some Banksia trees and the last little section is closed in woodland again as you get closer to the lake. Caris spotted some Arum Lily just off the trail and as these are classified as a pest in WA, she had no qualms about picking a large bunch to take home. You soon arrive at the starting point and it is a short stroll back to the car park where just as we entered the car it started to rain. Great timing.
Final Thoughts - Having grown up near Bibra Lake I was aware of the lake system dotting the dune system south of the river but didn't really think to explore the area once I started this website. Having spent so long in the hills exploring other trails it was nice to experience something different while also being able to take the girlfriend/dog along.
The access paths to the lake are mystical enough to let you forget that the freeway is just a stone's throw away and I wouldn't have guessed driving past that I could see something like this if I made the two minute detour from my travels.
The various information boards scattered around the trail make for great reading about the flora/fauna of the wetlands so take the time to appreciate the effort that has gone into this walk.
This trail is definitely worth a visit but if you are bringing your four legged friend then come prepared as there is a severe lack of bin/dog bag facility that I saw.
Get out there and experience it!!!
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