Monday, 11 May 2015

Bibbulmun Track (WA) - Kalamunda to Mundaring Weir


Starting from the Northern Terminus in Kalamunda, this sectional day walk on the Bibbulmun Track takes walkers through Kalamunda and Beelu National Parks to Mundaring Weir via Hewitt's Hill - the first campsite along the track. With sweeping views of national parklands and the historic weir itself, this is a good introduction to the Bibbulmun - and even features the popular Calamunnda Camel Farm as a coffee spot along the way. 



Distance: 16.6 km (one way)
Gradient: Steep descent early on and an ascent out of the valley, though relatively easy for the rest of the way. 
Quality of Path: Generally clear and well maintained. 
Quality of Signage: Well signed, with the Waugal providing very clear directional information. 
Experience Required: This section could be walked with little to no Bushwalking Experience, although those with knee problems may need to consider the difficulty of the descent before continuing on. 
Time: 4 Hours
Steps: Some steps in places, especially descending to Piesse Gully.
Best Time to Visit: Late Winter/Early Spring, though acceptable from mid-Autumn onwards.
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The Northern Terminus is located at the corner of Railway and Mundaring Weir Rds. Travelling down Mundaring Weir Rd takes you to the Weir itself. We used the carpark just south of the Weir wall. 



Every journey has its first step, and when deciding to undertake a sectional End to End of the Bibbulmun Track, it seemed like the beginning was the most logical place to start. Located at the corner of Railway and Mundaring Weir Rds and across the road from a sizeable shopping centre, the Northern Terminus of the Bibbulmun Track starts in a small park of native bushland. The terminus features a selection of information about the track, especially pertaining to the section between the terminus and the next town - Dwellingup. Alissa and I parked one of our vehicles down the road at Mundaring Weir before heading to the Terminus to start our walk. While parking our car, we were fortunate enough to encounter a breathtakingly brooding view of Mundaring Weir covered in smog from controlled burns nearby, as pictured in the photo at the top of the page. 



The bushland near the beginning is almost a bit of a false start as the track descends to follow bitumen road for a short while before reentering bushland at Jorgensen Park. Part of this area was once a golf course, and the grassy open spaces make it very easy to imagine what it would have been like in another time. The best bit about this area is that it is very popular with people walking their dogs, and it allows for some dog watching as you pass through. This is a rarity of the track, as most of the Bibbulmun passes through National Parks and Nature Reserves where dogs are not allowed. 



After clearing Jorgensen Park, we entered Kalamunda National Park. The track overlooks the valley below before a Dieback Boot Cleaning Station and a steep descent. Having walked this section many times, the return journey up the valley is considerably more challenging, and we were glad to be doing a car shuffle. 


The area of Kalamunda National Park features many lovely granite rock formations, a sight that walkers will become very familiar with over the entire track. Having walked this section in May before the winter rains, this section was decidedly less spectacular than it could be, as Piesse Gully was not flowing at all. This is a problem with the Darling Scarp area in general - it is really at its best in August and September. 


As the Track rises from the valley, walkers will encounter Powerline Rd for the first time. Powerline Rd will be a frequent companion of the Track as they cross paths in many locations. Indeed, Powerline Rd could serve as a very boring shortcut for most of the section from Kalamunda to Collie!


The area around Kalamunda National Park is criss-crossed with a network of trails both current and no longer used. An interesting junction of the track reveals that this section of the Bibbulmun Track is from the old, pre-1998 Bibbulmun Track alignment, as evidenced by the decaying quality of the signage - a style that would date it as being from the late 80s or possibly earlier. The track now follows Winjan Track before reaching a major trail hub near the Calamunnda Camel Farm. 


The Calamunnda Camel Farm is very popular on weekends, with many walkers stopping in for a coffee before or after setting out for a day of adventure. Camel rides and other attractions are on offer, however we decided press on to Hewitt's Hill. 


Not far from the farm, the track reaches Hewitt's Hill - the first hut of the Track. The first few huts are around 10 kilometres apart from each other, and it is a fairly easy 12.1 kilometres to Hewitt's Hill from the Terminus. Inexperienced walkers looking to get a quick taster could easily park a car at the Northern Terminus and a car at the nearby Asher Rd. This would enable a walk from the Terminus to Hewitt's Hill with a 1 kilometre return walk to Asher Rd. 


Given that this was a fairly easy walk - and our car was at Mundaring Weir anyway - we continued on, with the track descending towards the Helena Valley. The descent here is fairly slow and gradual, and would not be considered particularly difficult.


As the trail continues to descend, walkers will begin to see Mundaring Weir - the famous dam that still supplies water to the Goldfields. The track then enters Beelu National Park which protects the catchment area around the dam. 


Closer to the Weir, a large lookout provides excellent views of the Weir and its surrounding infrastructure. From here, it is basically the home stretch with the easy walk down meeting up with Mundaring Weir Rd and the small carpark just south of the Weir where we had parked our second vehicle. 


Although less wild a section compared to some of the excellent sections just a few days later into the Bibbulmun, the frequent traffic of other walkers, the generally easy terrain and the shorter distances between huts makes the section from Kalamunda to Mundaring Weir an ideal taster for those looking to get started on a Bibbulmun Track adventure and to build confidence in the outdoors. The close proximity to shops and restaurants is another major appeal of the section, as it allows the walk to get used to the car shuffle logistics, and follow it up with a quick bite afterwards.

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