Sunday, 1 July 2018

Munday Brook Walk Trail (Korung National Park)

A pleasant forest stroll in Korung National Park, the Munday Brook Walk Trail follows a circuit of vehicle tracks through a parcel of Jarrah forest. Starting at Karagullen Oval, the trail reaches some outstanding examples of Jarrah forest near its half-way point, with a tunnel of dense growth and a section filled with massive trees being major highlights. One of the better forest walks in the Shire of Kalamunda

Distance: 9.9 km (loop)
Gradient: Very gentle and mostly flat with some minor ascents and descents
Quality of Path: Mostly clear and well maintained unsealed vehicle tracks with some very short sections of walk track
Quality of Signage: Generally well signed, however there are a few junctions with missing signage near the start that are very confusing and there is no trailhead. To avoid confusion, the Shire of Kalamunda's route description, map and/or KML file are essential.
Experience Required: Some Previous Bushwalking Experience Required, more so if not using the KML file
Time: 2.5-3.5 hours
Steps: No formal steps
Best Time to Visit: Autumn-Spring
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The trail starts at Karragullen Oval. From Canning Rd, turn onto Old Station Rd and drive to the car park on the north-western side of the oval. Trail starts in the forest immediately behind.

Having had some fairly epic adventures since returning to Western Australia in May, a fairly busy weekend meant something a bit more low key, and resulted in Alissa and I once again turning to the Shire of Kalamunda walk trails for a relatively low fuss trail in the Perth Hills. Having recently seen the Bickley Reservoir Trail written up by Down Under Discoveries, I had considered making that our Sunday morning walk, however Mark from the Life of Py suggested Munday Brook after I lamented Bickley Reservoir's short length. While I'm on record as being critical of much of the Jarrah forest near Perth due to their thin and burnt appearance, Mark had strongly recommended this walk before so I thought it would be good to go see if for myself. 

The trail starts Karragullen Oval at the main car park on its north-western side. As is typical of Shire of Kalamunda walks, there is no trailhead for the walk however a conspicuous marker on a nearby tree indicates that this is a marked trail. From here, the track follows one of the few stretches of walk trail for the whole track as it leads to a series of vehicle tracks for the rest of the walk. 

The initial stretch of walking is pleasant enough, but is fairly stock-standard Perth Hills Jarrah forest, consisting mainly of thin regrowth Jarrah with blackened char marks on the trees. While it is good that forests are protected, I always find it laughable that the forests around the water catchments are called National Parks as they are far from nationally significant. I get that they are being saved as A Class Reserves, but a park can be A Class without being a national park. National Park overstates its importance to me, and something like, 'Regional Park', 'State Park' or 'Forest Park' would seem more appropriate for this area, which is known as Korung National Park. 

Continuing on the vehicle tracks, Alissa and I were keeping any eye out for the Shire of Kalamunda trail markers and found them to be very much lacking at this early stage of the walk and were confused by a makeshift paper sign that was attached to a tree. 

We ended up accidentally walking up the side of this property, which was not correct. As a rule of thumb - if you see this property, you have reached the edge of Korung National Park and need to turn back. Oddly enough, there are markers for another trail that seems to be have become defunct that point walkers in the right direction. Given the slightly unclear nature of the signage, I would thoroughly recommend doing this walk with the KML file available online.  

Finally on the right track and with a lot of markers to easily guide us in the right direction, the walking was still pleasant enough if not the most exciting. There were a few points along the walk where some purpose built walk trail had been put in to cut corners, which provided a welcome respite from the otherwise endless four wheel drive tracks.  

Still, while the walk was not overly exciting, it was lovely to see the early morning light filtered in through the trees. 

Continuing along the trail, Alissa and I passed the burnt out stump of what would have been a massive Jarrah. This is the reason I have such negative feeling about the Jarrah forest - because it had been so severely logged but the early European settlers, there are just so few massive trees left anymore. These stumps serve as an important reminder of how glorious this forest would have been centuries ago before we over-exploited the land.  

The main reason I had never done Munday Brook before was because I had wanted to see the brook in flow, and the few times we'd considered doing it before were early in the Autumn when the Perth-based trails are still a bit dry and lifeless. The trail does a weird doubling back on itself as it crosses the brook, however we were disappointed to find that the brook was still dry even with the decent rain that fell in Perth over June. 

What was not disappointing however was the excellent forest walking that greeted us we followed the road that runs parallel to the brook. Part of what I dislike about the Jarrah forest is the low density open forest that looks oppressively dry and burnt thanks to the regular prescribed burns in the Perth Hills. This was not that at all; while the trees were charred by previous burns, the forest was dense and lush in a way I would normally expect in the Jarrah or Karri of the Southern Forests, not the dry forests near Perth. 

This was magnificent walking as far as Jarrah goes, and Alissa and I really enjoyed this stretch of the track. Your mileage will likely vary depending on how much you like the density of the Karri forest; if you find it beautiful filled with life, then you will probably like this, however if you find Karri's density claustrophobic, then this might not be your cup of tea.  

The walking through the corridor of dense forest continues for several kilometres before reaching the halfway point. At this point the trail crosses Munday Brook at a ford where a bridge used to be located. The footings of the bridge can still be seen at this point, however with the brook not flowing even after consistent rains, it likely fell into disuse from not being required. 

Continuing along the track, Alissa and I entered a section of forest that was still noticeably lush in spite of not being quite as dense. Some of the tall trees along this stretch of track were really lovely as they were mature, large examples. While the forest was enjoyable, we could hear the sound of gun shots and dirt bikes in the distance in the direction we were heading, Alissa and I were really hoping the track would veer left before we got too close to these troubling sounds.  

The track thankfully did turn left, and while the track initially passed through some fairly common looking Jarrah forest, it would eventually lead to some of the best Jarrah forest I've seen in a long time.  

As we continued along, the trees became taller and more impressive, and soon Alissa and I were looking at trees that would be considered giants compared to the scrappy regrowth that usually counts for Jarrah forest these days. 

The tree above was arguably the most imposing tree of the entire track, reminding a little of the King Jarrahs of Dwellingup.  

The excellent forest walking continued for several kilometres, with some excellent birdwatching opportunities thanks to a relatively high number of black cockatoos in the forest. 

The outstanding Jarrah forest slowly fades away as the walk reaches the outskirts of the national park. Some orchards are visible from the vehicle track before heading back towards the start of the walk to complete the loop. 

I have to admit that in spite of Mark's positive appraisal of the walk, I wasn't expecting very much from the Munday Brook Walk Trail thanks to the fact I tend to like Jarrah forest a lot less than he does. Thankfully, I have to admit my expectations were greatly exceeded; while it is basically a loop through forest with not much in the way of geographic interest (i.e. no rocky outcrops or sweeping vistas), the quality of the Jarrah along this walk would definitely be on the higher end, with some of the mature trees along the second half being among the most impressive examples I've seen in a long time. While it lacks the excitement of a Kitty's Gorge or any of the trails in Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary to truly rank amongst the best walks that would be worthy of national recognition, it is a lot better than most of the non-descript Jarrah forest loops in the Perth Hills, and as such would be a recommended walk for local walkers looking for a pleasant stroll in surprisingly nice Jarrah forest. 


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