Victoria Reservoir Trail
Start - Masonmill Road, Carmel
Length - 7.2km (Loop)
Rating - Orange
Terrain - Single Track, 4x4 Track
Vertical Climb - 195m
Time - 1-2 hours
Signed - Yes, Occasional Markers
Date Hiked - 24th May 2015
Best Time - Autumn to Spring
Directions - Getting out there is very simple - turn off Roe Highway onto Welshpool Rd and follow it all the way up the hill to its end point at Canning Rd. Turn right onto Canning Rd and soon you will find Mason Mill Rd, a short loop that connects back up to Canning Rd.
The Hike - With a decent amount of autumn rain hitting the Perth area in the recent couple of weeks; it was long overdue to start Year Two of The Life of Py exploring the hiking trails of the Perth area. After attending a friend’s wedding at the Core Cider House in Pickering Brook I became intrigued on the drive out there about what trails could be in this part of the hills. One trail that kept coming up in my searches was the Victoria Reservoir Trail, a 6-7km loop taking in the New Victoria Dam and the Old Victoria Dam it replaced in 1991.
If you visit between 8am & 5pm then you have the option to drive down to the visitor car park a further 800m down the access road. If you arrive before the crack of dawn like I did then the start of the hike is an 800m stretch of bitumen road towards an information board about Black Cockatoos. Once you are there then the trail is pretty well signed and you begin a trek from the lower car park through some great native forest above the valley. It isn't long before the trail takes you closer to the edge of the hills and you get sweeping views of the Victoria Dam (both old and new).
To take advantage of the great position there is a viewing platform sitting above the New Victoria Dam where you can marvel at the new dam while taking in the views all the way down the valley and if you squint hard enough, the Perth CBD can be seen. The path down to the dam wall is rustic wooden arrangement and at the bottom is a nice gazebo, perfect for a picnic overlooking the artificial lake created by the new dam.
Once you have explored the new dam take the road downhill towards the new pumping station where the majesty of the Old Victoria Dam awaits. A section of the old dam wall has been preserved and there is a big information board telling you all about how it was the first dam built in Western Australia and other great historical snippets about the area. There is more than just a section of the old dam wall down here and it makes a great picnic spot. Along with a small lake there are other gazebos and a large grassed area right at the base of the new dam wall.
Although I had the place to myself it was quite easy to see the area filled with families enjoying the space. When you have explored the area (you can go right up to the dam wall), the trail picks up again right near the old dam wall and is well signposted. Soon you will come across an old information building that is great for photos and to use as shelter if it is raining but little else. Leaving the new (and off limits) pumping station behind the trail becomes a classic Australian bushland scene until you reach the old wooden bridge. It has been restored as part of the bicentennial celebrations in 1988 so don't worry about falling through and a new concrete bridge has been built alongside it.
Take your time here to get some great photos but don’t continue on the 4x4 track, instead take the rocky uphill path to the east. It won’t be hard to spot as its bright orange and is littered with small rocks. Pick your line carefully here as it can be easy to roll an ankle on the loose track. From here it is all uphill but luckily the scenery is very distracting and there is a good chance you will encounter some local wildlife as they go about their day. The trail follows the same path for a couple of kilometres so there is no need to worry about taking the wrong path (the trail isn’t signposted on this section).
The final turnoff is a small Shire of Kalamunda sign nailed to a tree, 100m before the white gate. This is part of the 27km Kattamordo Heritage Trail and leads right back to the start. If you reach a white gate on the 4x4 track then you have gone too far, back track about 100m and you will find the right trail (I may have done this). Take a mental note of the photo to the left as this is the turnoff as you look at it from the 4x4 track.
The final section is narrow and takes you right amongst the trees. Eventually you pop out into the gravel car park where hopefully your car is still there and the end of the trail. If the gates were open when you arrived and you parked in the bottom car park then enjoy the downhill finish to your car.
Final Thoughts – Not every hike has to be a 3-4 hour adventure into the wilderness and it’s great to have smaller trails that provide some different scenery. Victoria Reservoir certainly ticks the boxes for a great day out for any family or solo hiker. If you love exploring there are plenty of photo spots to discover around the two dam walls and if you bring the family then the kids will love running around the picnic areas.
You don’t have to do the whole 6-7kms as there is always the option to head back to the car park from the old dam wall. Pack up the car and head out to Carmel for a little gem of a trail, you won’t regret it.
Get out there and experience it!
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