Saturday, 6 August 2016

Whistlepipe Gully Walk (Mundy Regional Park)

A short but consistently excellent trail in Mundy Regional Park, this walk follows Whistlepipe Gully in the Perth Hills. Along it 3.5 kilometre length, the trail follows the gully as it courses over cascades and small waterfalls, memorably passing through the ruins of a house built right on the gully's edge. A miniature, dog-friendly version of Serpentine's Kitty's Gorge, this is one of Perth's best shorter trails.

Distance: 3.5 km ('tadpole' loop - loop with return section)
Gradient: Largely gradual descent then a gradual ascent. Some moderately steep sections.
Quality of Path: Trail is well maintained and clear, largely following purpose built walk trail with a section along wide track.
Quality of Signage: Trail features a lot of signage but uses a myriad of different trail marker styles. As the only trail in the area this is easy enough to follow.
Experience Required: No Bushwalking Experience Required.
Time: 1 Hour
Steps: Few, if any, steps
Best Time to Visit: Mid Winter- Mid Spring
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The trail starts at the end of Orange Valley Rd. Alternatively, trail can be started at its other end on Lewis Rd

Although I've walked most of Perth's longer walk trails many times each, I have to admit being less familiar with the shorter ones. Unsurprisingly for a blog called The Long Way's Better, I have a strong preference for walks of over 7 kilometres or more (unless in particularly strenuous terrain), and have questioned whether a relatively flat walk of under 2 kilometres can be called a true bushwalk at all. Alissa's recovery from back problems has necessitated some shorter walks for a change, and after checking out the short 2 kilometre waterfall walks of Lesmurdie Falls and Sixty Foot Falls, it was time to stretch things out to the 3.5 kilometre length on the Whistlepipe Gully Walk - a trail I had heard about years ago, but had forgotten about until it was written up on Nature Mondays earlier this year.

The trail starts at the end of Orange Valley Rd. It can be a bit confusing to find the road on a map as Orange Valley Rd seems to become Betti Rd, however Orange Valley Rd continues west as a side street that ends in a cul de sac. There is no obvious trailhead for this walk, however the Shire of Kalamunda has placed a number of trail markers along the way. These seem to have been done over many years and in a myriad of styles - some are pink triangular markers, while others use the white Shire of Kalamunda sign with the top corner painted pink. There is also at least one rectangular, artfully rusty metal directional post similar to those found along the nearby trail at Lesmurdie Falls. This seems to be the current marker fashion, and one hopes they will come to a single style in the long run.

In spite of the lack of stylistic unity in the signage, the Whistlepipe Gully Walk is fairly straightforward as it continually follows the gully's course. Heading out, the gully remains a constant companion to the left of the well maintained trail.

The gully flows over a series of rocky cascades and small waterfalls, although it is never a really ferocious flow over its length. The rugged beauty of the granite-dominated gully bed and the lushness of the area made us think of Kitty's Gorge and the Numbat Track - high praise considering these are two of our favourite day walks in Perth.

Although the terrain along the trail is mainly very easy, there are some steeper descents on laterite soils that can be slippery. While walkers should pay special attention in these sections, they are not particularly difficult and I imagine the terrain would be suitable for most levels of fitness.

The most spectacular section of the trail appears near the first of two waterfalls, with the remains of an old house lying in between.

Whistlepipe Gully flows down the edge of a large granite formation, running as a waterfall. Again, the Kitty's Gorge comparisons are obvious, with the falls look not too dissimilar to the rugged, rocky section of the Gooralong Brook before it joins the Serpentine River.

The section of the trail near the falls is also a superb vantage point from which to see the Swan Coastal Plain, with the city of Perth visible in the distance.

I think many walkers would love to live amongst nature - upon seeing Sugarloaf Rock for the first time, my uncle once proclaimed, "I want to build my house right here!" Few of us get to live out such a dream, but one man once did. A short distance from the waterfall lies the ruins of a house that once spanned the Whistlepipe Gully.

Owned by Wallace Greenham - a noted architect of the Organic Architecture style - the old house was apparently heavily influenced by Japanese architecture and utilised a Pelton Wheel to harness the power of the moving water to provide the home with electricity.

Sadly, the home was acquired by the Regional Planning Authority and the house demolished, with only the foundations and a few retaining walls standing as a reminder of a once remarkable house.

Past the house, the track crosses the gully, and continues on what I guess would have been Greenham's driveway.

Along this section is another waterfall. Shorter than the one near the Greenham house ruins, these are however steeper with the water falling over a sheer drop to a pool below.

From the second waterfall, the track continues to the alternative Lewis Rd start point. Once reaching the car park, walkers simply turn around back to the bridge over the gully.

Just before the bridge, there is a sign with an arrow pointing back the same way we had come, however the return journey to Orange Valley Rd is meant to follow the dirt trail to the right. Walkers should ignore the signage at this point and take the right trail to walk along the other bank of the gully.

This is a nice feature of the walk, as it offers an alternative view of the gully rather than just being a repeat along a return section.

One point walkers need to be aware of occurs when the path veers right as pictured above. Following this trail will lead to a junction, with a second trail going off to the right. Do not follow the right trail as it leads away from the gully; as a rule of thumb, this trail is never that far from the water with much of it right along the gully's edge.

From there, the trail loops back to the start of the walk, heading through an area of lush (though introduced) flora before returning to the car park. Being used to longer walks, Alissa and I definitely had the feeling that we were only just getting into it at this point as we had only been walking for an hour. In spite of this, we agreed that although the Whistlepipe Gully Walk may be short, it was a really superb walk with very strong similarities in scenery to Kitty's Gorge, and remained scenic and engaging over its length. Having walked quite a few shorter trails of late, this would rank highly as one of the better trails under 5 kilometres, and would be a great introductory trail for those just getting into bushwalking. Highly recommended.


  1. yesterday I've been there...very nice walk and view

  2. I enjoyed reading your page and thought you might like to see some pictures of the house that used to be in the gully. We have put together a page on the area at :

    1. Such an interesting story. What a coincidence that you crossed paths with the owner and architect. Would have been such an amazing house to live in.

  3. Thank You for sharing that what a wonderful place to live

  4. Beautiful walk and I remember seeing a report of the Greenham house on ABC TV in the early 70’s. I would be interested in seeing the story
    again if anyone out there has any info.