Sunday, 25 June 2017

Lewis Road Walk (Mundy Regional Park)

A short but occasionally steep walk in the Perth Hills, the Lewis Road Walk provides a lovely loop through Munday Regional Park. Crossing Whistlepipe Gully and passing through some excellent stands of Wandoo, the loop's ascents are rewarded by stunning views across the Swan Coastal Plain and the beautiful Regional Parklands. Intersecting with the Whistlepipe Gully Walk, this trail offers an excellent alternate view of the same landscape.

Distance: 5 km (loop)
Gradient: Alternates between some very steep ascents and descents with some gentle sections. 
Quality of Path: Mostly unsealed vehicle tracks, with a section of single file purpose built walk track that is overgrown in parts
Quality of Signage: Generally well signed, however there are a few junctions with missing signage. To avoid confusion, the Shire of Kalamunda's route description, map and/or KML file are essential.
Experience Required: Some Bushwalking Experience Recommended
Time: 1-1.5 Hours
Steps: None
Best Time to Visit: Autumn-Spring, though Spring would be the most spectacular time to visit
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The trail starts at the end of Lewis Road, heading north off Welshpool Rd East in Forrestfield. 

Alissa and I always seem to have the worst luck when it comes to illness and ailments before a major trip. Last year we had to delay our Balingup to Pemberton walk on the Bibbulmun Track due to Alissa pulling her back out. In December, Alissa caught a cold just as we were starting the Overland Track, resulting in her being very sick on the day we climbed Mt Ossa. My neck and shoulder issues delayed a number of weekend walks last year, with Alissa having to carry some of my gear when we ticked Boat Harbour to Denmark off our Bibbulmun Track list.

With our trip to Karijini less than two weeks away, my neck problems returned, resulting in agonising pain and a very limited range of motion when trying to turn my neck. Having undergone two sessions with a physiotherapist, we decided to choose an easier walk for the weekend before our departure. With some serious (and very much overdue) rain earlier in the week, I picked the short Lewis Road Walk due to its close relationship with one of our favourite short walks in the Perth Hills. 

One of many walk trails in the Shire of Kalamunda, the Lewis Road Walk starts at the car park at the end of Lewis Rd. Lewis Road is also the halfway point/alternative start point for the Whistlepipe Gully Walk - arguably the best short walk in the Perth Hills due to its similarities to the Kitty's Gorge Walk Trail. Instead of heading straight to Whistlepipe Gully along the walk trail at the end of Lewis Road, the Lewis Road Walk follows another path that runs just to the left of the car park. Being a Shire of Kalamunda Trail, there is no trailhead and walkers are advised to use the KML file and/or map and descriptions available from the Shire of Kalamunda's website

Walkers do get to see part of Whistlepipe Gully however, with the trail crossing over a culvert a few metres into the walk. 

From the gully, the trail ascends a steep vehicle track filled with potentially slippery Laterite gravel. Having made the mistake of undertaking the Lion's Lookout Walk without our trekking poles the week before, Alissa and I were glad to have them wish us and used them to assist us with the climb. 

Rounding the corner, it became clear the track just keeps going up and up. Several corners served as pauses in the ascent, however it is basically a continuous ascent for most of this first leg of the walk. 

The trail levels out slightly as it reaches a stand of Wandoo, with the ascent now being gentle enough to be considered a false flat. 

Looking through the trees, Alissa and I could see the City of Perth in the distance. Due to their smaller size, photographs online never quite capture the true sense of seeing the city from the hills, and while this vantage point is not perfect, it was at least close enough that you can make out the individual buildings towering above the skyline in the photo above. 

The area to the left of the track had obviously been one of the areas earmarked for prescribed burning in the last few months. As with the similarly burnt areas on the Lion's Lookout Walk, the brown leaves gave the area something of an autumnal appearance.

The vehicle track joins the aptly named Panoramic Terrace. Although road walking is not ideal, the appearance of a decent verge made this a lot better than walking along the worryingly narrow and winding Lascelles Parade during the first few kilometres of the Stathams Quarry Walk in Gooseberry Hill National Park. 

The verge continues as the road takes a bend onto Ozone Terrace, with only a single bush providing an obstacle to staying off the road. 

The roadside walking was made worthwhile due to some fairly spectacular views of the forests and valley below.

The trail leaves Ozone Terrace as it returns to follow another vehicle service track back into the parklands. 

Although we somehow thought that the walk would circle the Whistlepipe Gully Walk, Alissa and I were pleasantly surprised to find that the Lewis Road Walk actually cross the gully itself at an intersection with that other trail! It was great to see that the decent rain from a few days earlier had brought the gully to life, and Alissa and I vowed to return later in the season to enjoy this lovely area one more time. 

When we did the Whistlepipe Gully Walk in 2016, I had noted at one point that walkers should not follow a trail going right and away from the gully and instead to continue along the trail going left along the watercourse. The Lewis Road Walk follows this right turn, heading up the other side of the valley through a lovely stand of Wandoo. Although continually uphill, the ascent was considerably easier than the first climb to Panoramic Terrace.

Once at the top of the ascent, the track heads through a section of Jarrah before again returning to Wandoo dominated woodlands. 

Alissa and I had tried to time several of our walks for sunset recently, but have ended up finishing earlier than expected. We got our timing just right for the Lewis Road Walk however, and we enjoyed the golden glow as we walked through a more open section of bushland. White wildflowers were already blooming, and I can imagine this section will be even more spectacular later in the year. 

The track loops back west towards Lewis Rd, providing us with spectacular views of the sun setting across the Swan Coastal Plain. 

Continuing down the hill, the vehicle track passes by two large concrete tanks. Having recently watched Fargo Season 2 and having UFOs on our mind, Alissa and I were intrigued by these structures and completely missed a turn off. Luckily, Alissa had been intermittently checking the KML file on her phone, and we were able to double back before reaching the second tank. 

Other than being mesmerised by the tanks, we had missed the turn off as this last leg is the only part of the walk that is along purpose built single file walk trail. 

This was a mixed blessing; although I much prefer single file walk trails to walking along broad vehicle tracks, the trail disappeared somewhat after the marked tree above. Thankfully Jarrah and Wandoo forest does not have the insanely dense understorey of Karri, and we were able to pick our way through some of the more unclear bits and eventually rejoin the trail just before it reached Lewis Rd and the end of an enjoyable loop walk. 

Having decided to focus our Autumn/Early Winter walking on ticking off a few of the Shire of Kalamunda's day walks, Alissa and I have definitely found them to be a bit of a mixed bag. Some like the Piesse Gully Loop and Whistlepipe Gully Walk are fantastic trails, while others like the the Channel 10 Tower Walk are quite uninspiring. Of the four Shire of Kalamunda walks I've written up this year, the Lewis Road Walk was easily our favourite, with the engaging loop featuring rewarding ascents, stunning views across Mundy Regional Park and the Swan Coastal Plain, and pleasant walking through Wandoo woodlands and across Whistlepipe Gully. Although we had originally wanted to do a more challenging walk for our last weekend before Karjini, the Lewis Road Walk proved to be a really lovely consolation prize. This is a walk Alissa and I would gladly do again, and combining it with a diversion along the Whistlepipe Gully Walk would make for a really enjoyable day in the Perth Hills. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Donovan, it definitely helps if you can time these these walks for as close to sunset or sunrise as possible, the light is so much better and you normally have a better chance of seeing some of the local wildlife as well. Good to see the creeks flowing over there, it's still really dry over here unfortunately, virtually no natural snow yet.
    I hope your neck holds out OK as I'm really looking forward to your Karijini posts, it'll be awhile before Sam and I get up there again I think.

    Cheers Kevin