Sunday, 5 May 2019

Mokine Walk GPS Route (Mokine Nature Reserve)

An excellent short walk in the Northam area, the off-track Mokine Walk GPS Route explores the small but spectacular Mokine Nature Reserve. Dominated by outstandingly beautiful Wandoo forest, the walk features some excellent views from laterite breakaways and an incredible natural wall of granite in the middle of the forest. A relatively easy route, this walk can easily combined with other short Walk GPS walks in the Northam area

Distance: 5.5 km (loop)
Gradient: Alternates between relatively easy, gentle gradients and section of moderate terrain
Quality of Path: Ranges from well formed vehicle tracks, informal bush pads and completely off-track sections with no obvious path through mostly open forest
Quality of Signage: Non-existent. This walk is an unmarked route and map reading skills are essential. Route information is available from Walk GPS.
Experience Required: Previous Bushwalking Experience Required. This is a navigationally difficult walk that is highly unsuitable for all but experienced hikers who are comfortable with off-track navigation.
Time: 2 Hours
Steps: Many informal steps
Best Time to Visit: Autumn-Spring 
Entry Fee: No, however access to the GPS file requires a subscription to Walk GPS.
Getting There: The trail starts from the gated entry to Mokine Nature Reserve. From Bakers Hill, take Great Eastern Hwy eastwards towards Northam and turn right to head southward on Decastilla Rd. Turn right off Decastilla onto Leaver Rd. The gate is located 6.6 kilometres down Leaver Rd.

With the weather cooling down in Perth, Alissa and I headed out for our first walk in the Perth Hills for 2019 in the first week of May. While the weather in May is cool enough to head out for a walk in comfortable conditions, many of Perth's best walks are not their best selves until after a few good months of rains so we tend to be more selective of where we head out in these early months of the walking season. While the waterfalls and creeks enliven the often otherwise dull Jarrah forests, the Wandoo and Powderbark-dominated woodlands on the leeward side of the Darling Scarp tend to be less weather dependent, and Alissa and I chose a couple of short Walk GPS walks in the Northam area to tackle, with the 5.5 kilometre Mokine Walk GPS Route the first for the day.

Starting at the gated entry to Mokine Nature Reserve, the route is initially on track as it follows a management track through the reserve.

Almost immediately, Alissa and I were taken by how stunning the Wandoo woodlands were in the park. While less tall than the stately Karris of the Southern Forests, these smooth barked Eucalypts would rank right up there as one of my favourite forest types in Australia, and their fairly open understory is perfectly suited for the off-track hiking that would be a major part of this route.

While initially following the vehicle tracks, the route passes through some areas with trees fallen across the track. Given this is not a managed walk, these management tracks are clearly not as heavily maintained as a major walk would be, however Alissa and I were able to duck our way through the fallen branches and through to the other side with little difficulty (and gladly without injury as had been the case when we visited Mt Buffalo National Park back in January).

Areas of the park appeared to have been either burnt in a recent bushfire or prescribed burn, or the dry hot Summer weather had ravaged the bush in places. Regardless of the cause, these brown looking areas were definitely the exception rather than the norm with most of the bushland looking very pristine.

Having stuck to the vehicle track for the first 1.5 kilometres, the GPS file indicated we were to turn right to commence an off-track section. In the interim between the last time Alissa and I used ViewRanger and this walk, the augmented reality function of the app went from being free to a premium product. Alissa and I were fine to pay for it, however we discovered somewhat disappointingly that the app does a check to see if you have paid for the premium functionality as you switch it to Skyline mode and you require internet reception in order for this to work. While we did have intermittent internet reception on a few occasions throughout the walk, not being able to use the Skyline view because the app makers didn't think about people off-track hiking needing reception is very disappointing, and makes me less glowing in my esteem for an app I previously considered near perfect and essential.

Thankfully the open nature of the Wandoo forest meant that the off-track walking was fairly easy to follow. The forests here was outstanding, and Alissa and I were really enjoying the walk.

Continuing along, the trail skirts along the edge of a laterite breakaway and then runs along the ridge.

The views along the ridge are nothing short of breathtaking. As with many of these Walk GPS hikes, Alissa and I could not believe that places of such potential that truly represent Perth bushwalking at its best are so completely ignored while the inferior burnt, scrappy Jarrah forest has such an abundance of trails - many of which are featureless meanderings through very samey scenery.

Leaving the edge of the breakaway, the trail head across the flats at the the ridge through more stunning Wandoo forest.

As we walked through the forest, Alissa and I were greeted by the lovely birdsong of pink and grey galahs overhead, and we stopped to watch them as they went about their business foraging and walking along the branches of the trees.

Reaching a sharp point at the end of the ridge, the route offers some pretty spectacular views down to the forest below and the classic Wheatbelt farmland beyond, before the walk descends steeply to the lowlands

Through the broad lowlands, a faint but nevertheless distinct trail appears and Alissa and I followed it through the fairly open terrain.

Heading into the forest after a section of open grassland, the walk turns abruptly off the faint trail and over a granite slab. This slab signalled the beginning of one of the walk's best sections.

What attracted me most to doing the Mokine Walk GPS Route was a photo on the Walk GPS website of some impressive granite boulders in the middle of the park, and seeing them in person, they did not disappoint.

The most impressive feature of this granite-dominated section is the 'granite wall'. Looking as if placed by giant from a time when magic ruled the Earth, this natural feature is a true marvel. If the forests alone were reason for this place to have a trail, this rock wall absolutely seals it. I would love to have been a fly on the granite wall when Dave (the creator of these Walk GPS walks) first stumbled upon this formation as it must have been an awe-inspiring moment.

Leaving the rock wall behind, the walk passes more granite boulders before heading through some more excellent Wandoo woodlands.

Running along the edge of another breakaway, the trail heads across some other low granite formations.

A balancing granite boulder brought back memories of the the White Horse Hills on the Bibbulmun Track and the massive boulder just below Castle Rock in the Porongurups.

Having initially been skirting the edge of the breakaway, the trail rises up the slope and through a section of Wandoo with a considerable understory of Dryandra.

In the springtime this area would be filled with wildflowers, and while less impressive than it would be in 4-5 months, the Dryandra made for a nice change of scenery. Less nice was their scratchiness on an off-track walk; while most sections featured a clear scratch-free route to follow, Alissa and I nevertheless walked through many rough sections that made us very glad to not be wearing shorts.

Leaving the Dryandra behind, the trail rises up another breakway, offering stunning views back down to the valley below.

Passing through an area with a plethora of seemingly vacant termite mounds, the route makes it way back to start of the walk, joining onto a vehicle track just before reaching the gate.

As with just about every walk from the creative mind of Dave Osborne, the Mokine Walk GPS Route was an outstanding walk filled with scenery that reminded Alissa and I of how stunning the Perth area can be. The Wandoo forests in Mokine Nature Reserve were seriously top notch, and the massive granite formations were some of the best we've seen in the Perth region. The fact that this is not an official marked trail is truly perplexing given the number of totally unexciting trails that exist in the Perth Hills. It seems to me like the thinking regarding which areas get hikes is based on expedience not worthiness, as Mokine Nature Reserve is more than deserving. Neverthless, given the open nature of the Wandoo forest and the relatively inexpensive subscription charge for Walk GPS, this is a route that can relatively easily be enjoyed, and I would highly recommend it as one to check out.


  1. Excellent! I always love an off-track adventure. That's what *bush*walking is all about. None of this overcrowded, overused "trail" hiking paths.
    So, this was May last year?

    1. It is a lovely area, and yes, a lot more quiet than the overcrowded trails in the Perth area!

      Yes, this was May last year, glad to be able to get back out to those areas now that we can access the Wheatbelt again!