Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sixty Foot Falls Walk Trail (Banyowla Regional Park)


One of several walks in Banyowla Regional Park, this 2km trail takes walkers around Ellis Brook Reserve to the top of Sixty Foot Falls before looping back - with an optional spur leading to a wild, adventurous route to the foot of the falls. With Old Barrington Quarry, valley views, wildflowers and the falls as trail highlights, this is an excellent short walk that is at its best after significant winter rains. 


Distance: 1.9 km (loop). Add 600m for the spur to the foot of the falls. 
Gradient: Rises to the top of the falls and back. Some fairly steep sections.
Quality of Path: Trail is well maintained and clear, with some minor erosion damage in the muddier parts. Spur to the foot of the falls starts as a trail but becomes an unmarked informal route right up the brook, with natural, slippery obstacles that require scrambling. 
Quality of Signage: Some signage, but the path is generally straightforward and easy to follow. No signage along route to the foot of the falls. 
Experience Required: No Bushwalking Experience Required for main loop. Bushwalking Experience Required for the spur to the foot of the falls. 
Time: 1 Hour, allow 30 minutes for spur to the foot of the falls. 
Steps: Many steps
Best Time to Visit: Mid Winter-Early Spring
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The trail starts at the main car park at the end of Rushton Rd, near Gosnells Rd East off Tonkin Hwy. 



Sixty Foot Falls has a reputation as one of the most temperamental of Perth's waterfalls. While its epic height is only matched by the shorter Lesmurdie Falls, it is far more ephemeral and runs dry or as a mild dribble for most of the year. With a decidedly wet July and with Alissa still recovering from her back problems meaning shorter walks than usual, we agreed that Sixty Foot Falls would be a good short walk to check out.


After being conscientious walkers and using the Dieback mitigation stations, Alissa and I headed along the track in a clockwise direction, crossing Ellis Brook over a wooden bridge.


Almost immediately, the trail rises up a flight of stairs. Being a walk that starts at the bottom of the valley before rising to the top of Sixty Foot Falls, this is a walk with a significant incline and a correspondingly high amount of steps.


A lookout is located fairly early on along the walk, but with the trees nearby shrouding the lookout's view it provides the least exciting vista along the trail's length. Graffiti and damage to the wooden pickets were early signs that parts of the walk have fallen victim to senseless vandalism.


Continuing along, the trail becomes slightly indistinct as it passes the remains of a quarry along wide gravel and bitumen road, however the trail continues on at the northern end of the quarry, rising up even higher.


Halfway up the ascent, the trail skirts the edge of a chain link fence. At the time of our visit, someone had cut a hole in the fence, providing walkers with a superb view of the Old Barrington Quarry from high above. Unfortunately, the quarry walls have been senselessly graffitied by idiots who can't understand the simple concept of Leave No Trace. This is a real shame, as the Quarry walls are actually quite beautiful, looking like a fake version of a waterhole oasis in the Australian Outback.


From the quarry, the trail again continues up a flight of stairs.


Along this section, it became very apparent why Ellis Brook is renowned for its wildflowers. Orchids were everywhere along this stretch, along with many flowering species. July is obviously still early in the year, and the wildflowers blooms will only get more impressive at the height of wildflower season.


From the micro to the macro, this section also features superb valley views, with the Swan Coastal Plain beyond.


The trail descends briefly down a muddy section of the trail, before crossing Ellis Brook itself.


At this point Ellis Brook runs along a polished, natural channel in the large granite clifftop, running towards the edge of the cliff to fall over its edge.


The clifftop offers even better views of the Ellis Brook Valley, with the brook's course clearly visible in the contours of the landscape.


From the top of the falls, the trail head down via a rocky descent towards another lookout.


This lookout is very well sited, providing walkers with arguably the best views of Sixty Foot Falls along the loop walk. Winter rains had gifted us with a decent flow, although it was still a far cry from the raging torrent featured on the the trailhead sign.


From the lookout, the trail continues to descend down a flight of steps, leading to a fork in the road. Heading left will take you back to the start of the walk, with the right turn being a spur that leads to foot of the falls.


The trail is at first very clear and formal, however it seems to branch off in two directions - one heading along the river bed and another heading further right around through the scrubland. The trail to the right is very overgrown and not recommended, as all it does is lead back to the lookout near the falls. Continuing along the river bed, a faint informal trail can be seen on the other side of the stream. From here on, the walk becomes a lot more wild and potentially dangerous, and I would actively discourage inexperienced walkers from continuing any further.


There is not set path to the foot of the falls, however there is a fairly obvious route that requires scrambling along the rocky brook. At times, the easiest route means heading straight into potentially slippery sections where the water is at its wildest as pictured above, with the rocks to the left being the easiest way upstream.



As we continued our approach upstream, less and less scrub blocked our view, providing us with an absolutely stunning view of the falls in action. At this point Alissa was satisfied that she'd gotten what she wanted from this spur section, however I was determined to get right to the foot of the falls.


Finally clearing the last few obsctacles, I made it to the foot of the falls. Although the flow was no where near as intense as Lesmurdie Falls, it was still a lovely scene, with the falling water providing the characteristic waterfall roar.



From there, Alissa and I retraced our steps back to start of the spur and continued on back to the car park via one last lookout. After chatting to other walkers and patting their dogs (this is a dog friendly trail), we completed the Sixty Foot Falls Walk Trail. 

Although fairly short, Alissa and I were quite impressed by the scenery on offer along this walk. Whether overlooking Old Barrington Quarry, spotting wildflowers and valley views along the ascent or viewing the falls themselves, this was a well planned trail that is perfect for a shorter hike - with the spur route to the foot of falls a great option for the more adventurous. While less spectacular than Lesmurdie Falls, Alissa and I agreed that this was a better walking experience than Lesmurdie's short trail, making the Sixty Foot Falls Walk Trail something of a surprising gem. 

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