Saturday, 5 August 2017

Palm Terrace Walk (Mundy Regional Park)

One of the Shire of Kalamunda's trails, the Palm Terrace Walk provides a loop walk around Lesmurdie Falls. Starting near the foot of the falls, the trail's loop through Wandoo Woodlands to the area above the falls, crossing Lesmurdie Brook near a series of lovely cascades. While pleasant enough, the trail is let down by its inexplicable avoidance of Lesmurdie Falls itself. 

Distance: 5.5 km (loop)
Gradient: Alternates between some very steep ascents and descents with some gentle sections. 
Quality of Path: Mostly unsealed vehicle tracks, with some very short sections of single file purpose built walk track 
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: 1.5 Hours
Steps: None
Best Time to Visit: Late Winter/Early Spring
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The trail starts at the car park at the end of Palm Terrace. From Welshpool Rd East, turn to head north-east on Lewis Rd. Palm Terrace is a right turn off Lewis Rd - follow the signs to Lesmurdie Falls.

Taking a weekend off from our mission to complete the Bibbulmun Track, Alissa and I decided to revisit two of Perth's most beloved natural attractions - Lesmurdie Falls and Mt Cooke - by checking out alternate tracks that take in these two sights. Being the closer walk, Alissa and I drove out to Lesmurdie Falls first to check out the Palm Terrace Walk. One of the Shire of Kalamunda's many trails, the Palm Terrace Walk had been high on my to-do list after reading a write up of the trail by Nature Mondays, and with the excellent, above average rains it seemed like the perfect time to check out this longer walk around Lesmurdie Falls.

While there is a trailhead for the Parks and Wildlife trails to Lesmurdie Falls and an old sign for something called the 'Federation Trail' (presumably a dead trail), there is no obvious trailhead for the Palm Terrace Walk. Walkers will have to look to the western corner of the car park for a series of rocks blocking a gravel road. This is the start of the Palm Terrace Walk, with a Shire of Kalamunda marker visible on the tree to the right.

Lesmurdie Brook runs through a grassy area to the right of the track that looks like a landscaped garden. I assumed at the time that this must be part of a private property given the manicured appearance, however satellite imagery makes it look like its still part of Mundy Regional Park.

The track continues around the boundary of Mundy Regional Park, running alongside a number of houses on Waterfall and Honey Rds.

As it heads away from Honey Rd, the trail heads uphill. Lesmurdie Falls can be seen in the distance, and I was somewhat hopeful that this would be the first of many vantage points from which to see the falls in action.

For the Lesmurdie Falls viewpoint, the trail heads right as it follows the vehicle track up the scarp. This section of the track left a lot to be desired, as it doggedly follows the fire track rather then utilising any dedicated walk track to explore some of the areas nearby. There are some interesting granite outcrops to the left of the trail that would have been a lot more interesting to explore, and there is a criss-crossing network of informal trails where off track walkers have decided to forge their own paths. This is likely to cause erosion problems in the future, and it would be preferable if the track could be diverted along a formalised route through this area rather than the current proliferation of informal tracks everywhere.

After having spent most of its time ascending, the track dips down through a shaded tunnel of forest.

A small ephemeral stream was flowing gently across the track, creating a large puddle. This was a nice nostalgic reminder for us of the puddle-filled walking we had undertaken the previous weekend when we did Driver Rd to Harvey-Quindanning Rd.

After the puddle, the track continues its ascent once again. Although the walking was fairly ordinary, it was nice to see wildflowers in bloom along the track, and I can imagine the area being even more stunning by the end of August/early September.

As with many of the Shire of Kalamunda walks in the Darling Scarp, the trail offers excellent views across the Swan Coastal Plain and of the the Perth CBD.

Having spent the entire walk on unsealed gravel fire tracks, it was a nice surprise to see the trail narrow to single file walking track as it skirted past several houses.

Unfortunately, the single file walking track was only a short linking trail that brought us to walk along Falls Rd. Road walking is a common characteristic of Shire of Kalamunda trails, and while they are not my favourite I don't necessarily mind then if they are short and on safe roads. This stretch of Falls Rd is a fairly quiet residential road, and it at least doesn't run along dangerously narrow and winding roads like Lascelles Parade along the Stathams Quarry walk.

The road walking ends at the Falls Rd car park near the top of Lesmurdie Falls.

From the Falls Rd car park, the trail runs through the day use picnic area. Rather than following the main track down towards the falls, the Palm Terrace Walk continues right and heads upstream.

This was probably my favourite section of the walk, as it provided the most outstandingly rugged views along the whole trail. The series of rocky cascades reminded me a lot of Whistlepipe Gully, which is one of the Shire of Kalamunda's best trails.

After crossing over Lesmurdie Brook, the track rises steeply to follow more vehicle tracks. This is the most confusing point of the walk, as there are a series of arrow markers along here that appear to be for the Palm Terrace Walk. They are however for a different walk that heads down the scarp with good views of Lesmurdie Falls - walkers need to be vigilant in following the KML file provided by the Shire of Kalamunda or the route map. Inexplicably, the Palm Terrace Walk does not lead to a nice lookout at all, instead opting to take walkers away from the falls by heading north. This was the point where I really lost interest in this walk - you would think a track that is so close to Lesmurdie Falls would embrace this major landmark rather than completely avoid it!

The track reaches it highest point, with the ruins of what appears to be an old cottage being an obvious landmark. From here the track turns left and heads down the hill.

As Alissa and I were walking along this stretch of track, I began to have a strong feeling of déjà vu; this felt very familiar, almost liked we'd walked this stretch of track in the not so distant past.

Upon reaching a trail junction, we were provided with an answer. The section we had just walked was shared with the Lewis Road Walk - a trail we had walked in late June just before our Karijini trip. Although you have to drive down Lewis Rd to reach Palm Terrace, I had not expected the two trails to be so close together that they overlapped.

As the vehicle track descends back to Palm Terrace itself, the track passes a series of granite outrcrops that have a bit of a resemblance to those found along the Eagle View Walk Trail in John Forrest National Park that provide a lookout point with similar views across the Swan Coastal Plain.

The vehicle track joins onto Palm Terrace. Turning left and following the road leads to the car park and the end of the Palm Terrace Walk.

When Alissa and I did the Lesmurdie Falls Walk Trail back in 2016, we had commented that 'it felt like there was clear potential for more adventurous paths to be forged for those hardcore bushwalkers looking for a bit of a challenge', and I think I went into this trail thinking that the Palm Terrace Walk would be the answer to the extremely short nature of the Lesmurdie Falls Walk Trail. While the Palm Terrace Walk is certainly longer, the fact it does not hero the falls at all makes it an odd and somewhat disappointing walk track - I can't see any reason for it to exist at all really given that it is very similar to the Lewis Rd Walk. If you prefer your walks in the Perth Hills to focus on the beautiful waterfalls of the region, give this one a miss - you'd be better off doing the Eagle View Walk Trail, the Piesse Gully Loop or the nearby Whistlepipe Gully Walk instead. 

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