Start - End of Orange Valley Rd
Length - 3.6km (Loop)
Rating - Green
Terrain - Single Track
Dog Friendly - Yes
Vertical Climb - 128m
Time - 1 hour
Signed - Yes
Date Hiked - 19th August 2017
Best Time - Autumn to Late Spring
Directions - To get there take Welshpool Rd East all the way up the hill and take the left turn onto Lesmurdie Rd. Keep driving until you reach Falls Rd and turn left then right onto Burma Rd and then left onto Orange Valley Rd.
The Hike - After spending the morning out at Lake Leschenaultia enjoying a hike, it was time to move on to the second of four hikes for the day. Aron and I would be meeting a newcomer to The Life of Py, Clare, and she would join us for the remaining three walks of the day. We arrived to find her already exploring the area around the trail head so we laced up the boots and started what is regarded by many as one of the nicer trails in Perth. Following the lovely flowing waters of the namesake Whistlepipe Gully, this was one hike I had been waiting until later in the hiking season to tackle.
With a couple of months of above average rain I decided that the time was right and added it onto the list of hikes we would visit today. I am very happy I waited as the gully was brimming with fast flowing water and early signs indicated that the wildflowers were well and truly out. Aron and Clare shot off into the distance while I hung back and took photos of everything in sight. The path narrows occasionally and as you hug the side of the hill to the north you are thrown into the masses of wildflowers among the scrubs. Immediately there is a connection with the water course that will become a familiar companion throughout the hike and it's a nice feeling being surrounded by the forest while listening to the sounds of the flowing water.
Sets of rapids and rocky obstacles keep things interesting, along with the winding nature of the path, so there is no shortage of sights to hold your attention. Making things more enjoyable was the anti-clockwise loop we had chosen was taking us downhill to start so we could just concentrate on taking photos and enjoying our surroundings. The winding path through the forest eventually takes you to an open section of granite providing spectacular views of the Perth Coastal Plain and the CBD, just a speck in the distance. While most hikes on the Darling Scarp have views of the city skyline, I like the one here at Whistlepipe Gully a bit more as the industrial area to the east of the city is mostly hidden from view by the forest canopy.
This granite section is very open and a bit steeper, caused by the flowing water carving a path into the landscape. The result is a cool little section to climb around in trying to get the best photo spot for one of the bigger rapids of the hike. Aron stayed up top while Clare and I jumped down the rock face and took turns in various spots capturing the scenes around us. With an unsuccessful attempt at long exposure photography of the rapids (it was too bright) we moved on to the next set of rapids. Being a lovely sunny day (for now), there were plenty of people and pups enjoying the trail as we made our way down to the half way point at Lewis Road.
Several flower and rapids stops later we reached Lewis Road (which takes a long time to reach by car as we found out later) and headed back up the hill to check out the other side of the trail. As we made our way to where the trail splits into two, the clouds that had been threatening to unleash a dose of fresh water started to do just that. Undeterred we continued on our merry way, photographing what was the foundations of a house built by an architect in the 1960s. It's an interesting thing to imagine that this beautiful section of Kalamunda that is now a walking trail everyone can enjoy was once a private residence until the 1980s. For more information on the house and the history of the area click here.
The rain got a little heavier so we sheltered under a tree contemplating whether or not to get out the wet weather gear. Eventually we looked at each other and just moved on because Hiker's Law says that if you put on your rain gear, the rain stops. That ended up being the case and as soon as we got going it slowed and then eventually stopped. A little soggy we had good fun on this section photographing wildflowers and enjoying a different perspective of Whistlepipe Gully. This section is also full of competing trails that makes you question where to go next. If you get stuck, always take the path that leads close to the south side of the gully as you are never far away from running water on the official trail.
As we finished the walk there was a lovely shaded section of forest that had no doubt been changed over the years with non-native plant varieties. We stumbled down a dead end trail leading to the gully that looked like a scene from the temperate forests of Tasmania. Further on the canopy was thicker and as we came across the houses that border Mundy Regional Park, it felt less like Australian bush (apart from the large flowering wattles) and more like a green English wood. I'm pretty sure this isn't the official trail end but was a nice little detour. We made our way back to the cars and tried to stamp off as much mud as we could before moving on to the next destination.
Final Thoughts - Having read a few glowing reviews from Nature Mondays and The Long Way's Better, this was a hike I was saving for when the conditions were just right. I am very happy I did as the combination of wildflowers and flowing water really make this trail a special one.
The Shire of Kalamunda trails are generally hit or miss but this one is definitely a hit. One of the more frequent questions I get is about where people can take their dogs for a hike and given that most hikes are in national parks and therefore off limits, it is nice to have these trails for dogs and owners alike to enjoy.
Given that the trail starts at the end of a surburban road, I am very envious of those that live in the area. If I did then this would be my haunt every afternoon of the week.
So there you go, a quality Shire of Kalamunda walk trail that is amazing in winter and spring that is dog friendly. Enjoy your time there, take lots of photos, maybe a picnic and make the most of another great Perth trail.
Get out there and experience it!!
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