West Terrace Walk
Start - End of West Terrace
Length - 3.6km (Loop)
Rating - Orange
Terrain - 4x4 Track
Dog Friendly - Yes
Vertical Climb - 91m
Time - 1 hour
Signed - Yes, Follow the Blue Markers
Date Hiked - 5th April 2020
Best Time - Autumn to Late Spring
Directions - Getting there is pretty simple, from Roe Hwy take Kalamunda Road east towards the hills and turn onto West Terrace. Follow this until the end where you will find a gravel car park near the big concrete water tank.
The Hike - Over the past couple of years I've been exploring different areas so the stream of Perth trails being added to the website was very slow. With the Bibbulmun Track now completed and all of those posts now finished, I said that 2020 would be the year I focus more on Perth, whether it be enjoying favourite hikes or adding new ones to the website. After another long summer that seemed to drag on forever (the last few autumns have felt that way), I was looking forward to the cooler weather to start exploring some of the Wandoo woodlands a bit further out from the Perth Hills but thanks to the COVID-19 lock down I had to look much closer to home (if you're reading this years in the future then remember that crazy time when the world shut down?).
With that in mind and a relatively cool afternoon weather wise forecast, I thought I would mix up the local walks with a new dog friendly trail that was right down the bottom of my priority list. One of the infamous Shire of Kalamunda walks that are responsible for a large percentage of the trails around Perth, the West Terrace Walk didn't seem super appealing given the other options I still hadn't hiked. Bonny from Friendly Dropbear had done this hike in summer at sunset and thought it was an enjoyable way to experience the trail so I thought if I was going to do it then sunset would also be the time I'd visit. Loading the car up with dogs and Caris, I figured it wouldn't be too busy and we could practice good physical distancing if we did see anyone because it would all be on 4x4 tracks. Locating the start point pretty easily, it was a very Perth Hills thing to find an old Commodore parked up with two scruffy looking gentlemen just sitting in the front seats just waiting for a mate. Leaving them to whatever they were doing out here we found the start point heading south and began the trail. Early autumn is a weird time for hiking some Perth trails, especially ones near built-up areas as the influence of humans is more noticeable. What I mean by that is that the replacement of the natural undergrowth with grasses that go yellow over the summer can have a dramatic affect on the look of an area when things are a little dry.
To start with this is kept at a minimum as there is a healthy smattering of Balgas and the occasional golden barked Wandoo along the 4x4 track. I was intrigued by some granite located up the hill and was hoping the trail went near it but wasn't holding my breath. A feature of this walk that is apparent early on is the city views you'll experience throughout your time here. While it fun to see the Perth CBD in the distance, I've never really understood the fascination with the views of the Perth Coastal Plain as it's just a reminder of the urban sprawl that Perth is known for and closer to the hills all you can see are horrible looking industrial parks. Give me endless forests or ocean any day of the week over this. Reaching a junction in the trail, the blue markers pointed us down a very rutted and steep 4x4 track that Caris did not enjoy because of the slippery-ness of the gravel. The dryness of the area is more apparent here with lots of grass bordering the trail but I'm a look for the positive person when out hiking so was loving the colours of the Wandoo trunks and seeing patches of green further off trail. At the bottom of the hill you find what would be a creek in the wetter months of the year but was just a channel craved into the side of the hill on our visit.
Reaching the little bridge over the hilariously named Crumpet Creek, it was disappointing to see the creek bed lined with a lot of non-native plants that seemed to be choking up the waterway (like most creeks in the Perth Hills). Seeing a Cotton Plant that reminded me of the weeds that grow near the cottage on the Kitty's Gorge trail, this area was beginning to feel like a bit of hodgepodge of mixed use land that needs some serious rehabilitation. At this point I wasn't really paying close attention to where the trail was meant to go and we turned left to go up the hill. The trail actually heads right and then left to do roughly the same thing so we just took a bit of a shortcut. The rise up the hill was good exercise and because of the active ant population we couldn't really stop as the dogs were not enjoying having them around (I found one crawling on Kit's head when we stopped once). At the top of the hill things took a turn for the better with some older woodland areas providing a more natural feel and the views opening up a bit more. A cloudy afternoon meant the lighting was a muted golden colour, perfect for the colour palette of dried grass and Wandoo trees. The walk along the top of the hill here was a very pleasant one and with the sun slowly setting, the soft lighting made it look pretty cool (technically warm).
Finding a splash of colour with a yellow wattle plant flowering brought a smile to my face, as did the cool cloud formations over the hill as we headed back north again. Timing would mean we wouldn't stick around for the sunset but with the cloud cover I wasn't expecting it to be super good (I was wrong, it was pretty epic as we drove home). A more gently descent greets you as you see another marker attached to the lovely looking Wandoos that dot the hills here and soon you rejoin the track you walked in on from the car park. With nothing left to do but follow it back to the start, I enjoyed seeing this part of the trail is different lighting, picking up on more details that I missed the first time. We stopped at a bare patch of rock to get some good photos of the doggos without ants making them move all the time. Kit was better at sitting still and did some great posing while god rays streamed down in the background. Sadie wasn't having any of it and the shot below of the two of them together is about as close as we got to her standing still. Hike over, we returned home with the sunset lighting up the sky with pinks and purples. Maybe one day I'll return and watch the sunset from there, possibly at a time when things will be more green.
Final Thoughts - I'm going to be honest, this isn't a great trail both technically or aesthetically and one of the big reasons I did it was because it was on a list of hikes I hadn't done in Perth.
I fully admit this was probably the worst time of year to visit with the long summer and the autumn rains not yet arriving. You can see pictures of what it looks like in the winter and spring here but given the other choices available in the area, this is still not a place I'd visit multiple times unless I lived on West Terrace.
That's not to say there aren't enjoyable aspects on this trail with a lot of pleasant Wandoo including some really old examples that are full of character. I expect the wildflowers along the first section to be out in force come springtime and the grass trees are always a delight.
As I said, this area needs some serious work to return it back to a more natural state and I'd love to see some funding made available for it along with a Landcare type group established. I'd be more than happy to donate my time to help out if it happened.
Get out there and experience it!!
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