Wungong Gorge Adventures
Wungong Regional Park
Directions - From Armadale head south on South Western Hwy until you see the Armadale Reptile Park on the right. Rails Crescent is opposite the Reptile Park and the car park is on the corner of South Western Hwy.
The Hike - One of the many things I like to do when researching new trails is to have a play around on Google Maps and take a look at national or regional parks that look interesting and then see if they have any hiking trails in the area. One region that caught my eye was the large patch of green located just out of Armadale that is simply labelled "Bungendore Park". When googling "Bungendore Park" or "Wungong Gorge Hiking", the list of results is very short and all reference back to the WalkGPS website for a 17km hike that involves some off-track expeditions.
If you have ever googled something like "hiking in perth" then you will be familiar with the WalkGPS site and the basic format of his hikes. Generally they involve following GPS waypoints on a combination of existing trails/tracks and off-track bush bashing. For the purpose of this website I tend to stick to the marked trails so only ever looked at them with a curious glance. With the case of Wungong Gorge though, I had no other choice but to use his maps/GPS points as a reference for a hike. Armed with a screenshot of his map, a txt file containing his trail notes and my own GPS tracking app (Runkeeper), I headed out with Life of Py Regional Assistant Trail Officer (aka Aron) to the starting point to see what was what. Wungong Gorge is an interesting place with the now damned Wungong Creek carving a pretty steep chasm (for Perth) into the granite over a very long time. The two sides of the gorge rise 200m above the path that snakes next to Wungong Creek and views from the top of the hills and bottom of the gorge are equally as impressive. Looking at my Runkeeper map after I had finished, there seems to be several named mountain bike trails scattered across the area but I can't find any reference to them online so the area looks to be a severely untapped recreational resource. The start point is very easy to find and the muddy car park already had a few cars in it so it was safe to assume that the on trail sections were fairly popular with locals. Today would also double as a field test for my new Life of Py Tri-Blend hiking shirt from Redbubble so I was keen to see how it performed under sunny conditions. With a trail located we set off in the general direction of the map and kept an eye on Runkeeper to see when we should be making a turn into the bush.
The first section is fairly open and littered with conflicting trails so it was guess work as we climbed up the first of three pretty substantial hills. With some nice views looking back towards the west, the climb was a challenging introduction to the area. We left the winding MTB trails once we hit some grass trees referenced in the WalkGPS notes and started our first off-track section. The going was tough as we tried to reconcile where we were to what the map looked like and to what the notes said. After seeing some very pretty terrain (wildflower season is always a treat no matter where you are) and getting up close and personal with some thick bush, we popped out on a 4x4 track. I'm pretty sure we hadn't taken the right path but seeing as how the WalkGPS hike was documented in 2003 (I think), I wasn't expecting to see exact routes through the off track sections. We studied the maps at great length (not a great sign after a couple of kms) and surmised we must head to the very top of the hill and get our bearing there. This turned out to be the right way anyway and at the top of a 4x4 track we came across some spectacular views to the north-east on a small granite outcrop. This marked the start of another off track adventure and to rectify the navigation issues I switched my Runkeeper map to the satellite view and things became much easier. With the morning sun streaming through the forest this off track excursion was a delight (mainly because it was a straight line in reasonably open forest) and we soon came across the next 4x4 track.