Wundabiniring WalkGPS Route
Directions - Located an hour east of Perth, head east along Great Eastern Highway towards Mundaring and keep going until you reach the Great Southern Highway turn-off. Turn right and follow this for 20km until you reach Wundabiniring Road, where you turn left and keep going until just before the turn. There is a small gravel area on your right where you can park and the walk starts there.
The Hike - Autumn time in Perth and the return of the hiking season always gets me excited thanks to the possibility of new adventures, new places to discover and of course, lots of photos to take. With one of the hottest summers on record, the start to autumn continued this trend with seemingly no end to the warm weather in sight. This always presents a bit of a conundrum for me as the hikes I plan out over the summer are at their best once the rains have hit and the wildflower display is at its best (springtime).
With a relatively short to-hike list of official trails close to Perth in 2022 and wanting to capture them in the best possible time, I set my sights on the extensive list of off track walks that Dave from WalkGPS has put together. I have several of these long self-navigated loops on the calendar this year, having done a few in previous years, as they explore areas that no one would think to visit. With a wealth of walks to choose from, I started looking at options that were in the Wandoo Woodlands as they tend to have more open walking and look dry for most of the year anyway. Scouring the list, I eventually settled on the Wundabiniring Walk located along the Great Southern Highway that leads towards York. Downloading the route to my phone, along with the track notes, I was excited to be heading out for the first hike of the season. This would be the first proper hike for some new gear I had purchased over the summer, a new Osprey Stratos 34L day pack from Paddy Pallin and replacement trail runners (upgrading from Brooks Caldera 3s to Caldera 5s).
With a spare Saturday on the calendar and some milder weather, I headed out early and made my way towards the hills. This is a drive I've done a few times in the last couple of years to explore nearby Mokine Nature Reserve and two visits to the always pleasant town of York. Arriving at the start of the Wundabiniring Walk, the parking is in a small area just off the road with the woodlands looking like they held a lot of promise. Getting that excited feeling as I gathered all my gear together, I wasn't expecting too much in terms of wildflowers or fungi given it was still early April but I was looking forward to seeing what this landscape was all about. As the walk heads in an easterly direction to start with, photographing the woodlands with the morning sun bursting through the canopy made it look a little bit special. Compared to the Jarrah and Marri forests of the Darling Scarp, the Wandoo Woodlands have a much more photogenic quality to them thanks to the golden colours of their trunks.
Initially you follow a vehicle track as it heads into this grey area of land that's not quite a nature reserve and not part of the nearby Wandoo National Park but has somehow survived without too much interference (although there is evidence it has been logged). This allows you to ease into the walk and get your bearings as the navigation is easy. The local bird population had gathered around in the canopy to welcome me with a morning chorus but getting a photo of any of them proved very difficult. Plodding along and scanning the landscape for anything to photograph, I was constantly drawn to the colours of the Wandoo trunks thanks to the golden to white hue they all have. While there were no wildflowers out, I could see familiar plants that I knew would light up in winter and spring with the Hakea varieties still providing interesting leaf shapes to photograph. Keeping an eye on my phone for where the off track walking starts, the openness of this area meant there was little difference when it did divert off. Reaching that point, I could see the route taking me towards a creek system that was surrounded by some lovely examples of Wandoo.
Even in winter these creeks tend to be dry so it was no surprise to see this one empty but it provided something different to shoot. My big worry doing this walk so early in the season was that the galleries would just be full of shots of Wandoo and nothing else. I think I've struck a nice balance but would love to come back in winter or spring to observe the changes. From here I could see where the route would be taking me without looking at the map as I spotted a slight uphill through lovely woodlands. At the top there were some scenic views looking to the south east with Mount Observation poking up above the rest of the terrain. Heading down the hill, you reach the first patch of granite of the day and as always, it was a lovely spot. Continuing down the hill, there are some really impressive Balgas around the place with some being well over 2m tall (and thus very old). Reaching a raised section of granite, I stopped for a rest here and checked where I was meant to exit as I was surrounded by scrub and grass trees. I worked out I needed to head through the grass tree plain and that was great fun as I'd never seen so many of that size in one spot before.