Saturday, 8 June 2019

Lefroy Brook Loop Walk (Gloucester National Park)

A 1.5 kilometre loop walk in Gloucester National Park, the Lefroy Brook Loop Walk takes in the famous Cascades of the Pemberton area. Starting at the day use area, the trail follows Lefroy Brook to the Cascades and then continues along the more gentle course of the brook. Heading up through Karri forest, the walk offers some pleasant forest walking. While short, this is a trail of excellent quality that can be enjoyed by the whole family

Distance: 1.5 km ('tadpole' loop)
Gradient: Relatively gentle throughout, with some mild ascents through the forest
Quality of Path: A mix of purpose built walk trail and boardwalks
Quality of Signage: Generally well signed, with clear trailheads and markers at junctions
Experience Required: No Bushwalking Experience Required
Time: <1 Hour
Steps: Several steps along the boardwalks
Best Time to Visit: Autumn-Spring, though late Winter/ early Spring would be the most spectacular time to visit
Entry Fee: Yes. National Park fees apply
Getting There: The trail starts at the Cascades car park. From Pemberton, take Pemberton-Northcliffe Rd south, and turn onto Glauders Rd. Follow the signs for the Karri Forest Explorer to turn left onto the access road. Car park is located at the end of the road

After finishing the Beedelup Look Walk, Alissa and I had a short break in our walking schedule for lunch. By chance, our friend Mark Pybus from the Life of Py had just completed Northcliffe to Walpole on the Bibbulmun Track and we were able to catch up briefly as he was driving through town. After an enjoyable catch up hearing about his adventures, Alissa and I headed south for our second of three walks for the day - the Lefroy Brook Loop Walk. Alissa and I had done this walk many years ago pre-blog, so it was nice to once again add a missing walk to the page. 

From the car park, the Lefroy Brook Walk heads along a sealed path through the forest. While the morning walking around Lake Beedelup had been sunny, the weather had taken on a decidedly greyer appearance, with light drizzle falling as we made our way along the walk. 

The main feature of Lefroy Brook is the Cascades, and it is a local attraction I've been visiting for literally 25 years. Over the years, the facilities have been upgraded repeatedly and it now features an impressive wheelchair accessible lookout point overlooking the main pool along the brook. 

The main pool below is quite stunning, and from the lookout point the rocky Cascades can be seen upstream. While the view gets better, I think that it is excellent that they've been able to provide this lookout with wheelchair access as it is a great spot to stop and take in the beauty of the area.

From the lookout point, the trail becomes decidedly non-wheelchair friendly as it descends a series of stairs and follows a boardwalk along the edge of the pool. At the end of the boardwalk, the trail becomes single file walking track as it makes it way upstream along Lefroy Brook. 

The main view of the Cascades is a short distance from the end of the boardwalk and provides what is to me one of the most iconic images of the Pemberton area. With the winter rains having finally arrived, the Cascades were putting on a fabulous show, flowing better than when we were last here in 2016 doing the Bibbulmun Track between Northcliffe and Pemberton. By the end of winter the Cascade are even more epic! The Cascades are not part of the Bibbulmun Track per se but are one of the few signposted side trips, and I would consider it definitely worth the detour. 

Leaving the Cascades behind, the single file walking track continues upstream alongside more tranquil waters. 

The views of the brook are excellent, with reeds and peppermint trees lining the water's edge. Beneath the surface, lampreys apparently live in the waters of Lefroy Brook, however I've never seen them personally. Leeches can also be found in these waters, and I've heard tales of people swimming in the Lefroy Brook or Warren River only to have a bit of a nasty surprise when they got out of the water covered in slimy black creatures.

Another short stretch of boardwalk appears at a distinctive bend in the river, providing an excellent viewpoint to take in the views of the brook and the surrounding forest.

While Lefroy Brook and its Cascades are certainly the stars of the walk, I have to use one of Mark Pybus's favourite sayings as the devil really is in the detail in the Karri forest. The moss covered logs and the bountiful fungi growing through the forest is one of the charms of walking the trails during winter, and are just as impressive and beautiful as the wildflower blooms that will come later in the year. 

Leaving Lefroy Brook behind, the trail rises and curves back on itself, heading up and away through the Karri forest. While lacking the views of the brook, this section of the walk was nevertheless pleasant, with some nice forest views all along. We would happily walk through Karri forest just about any day, so Alissa and I were definitely enjoying ourselves. 

An interesting feature along the walk is a section of rock just to the left of the trail that appears to have been a quarry. It must have been a very small quarry with very limited use as it doesn't have the appearance of the massive quarries close to Perth like Stathams Quarry or Barrington Quarry near Sixty Foot Falls

Beyond the quarry, the trail continues on nice single file walk track as it meanders through the forest and back to close the loop.

Returning back to the boardwalk near the start, Alissa and I had basically completed the Lefroy Brook Loop Walk, however there is a little bit of exploring to be had while in the area. 

If you follow the Bibbulmun Track signs, a walk trail leads across a substantial bridge over Lefroy Brook. 

The bridge provides furthers views of the brook in action, however this is not the main reason for crossing over here. 

Once on the other side of the brook, if you turn left and ignore the Bibbulmun Track signs, a series of trails lead to some excellent views of the Cascades from the other side that are in some ways superior to the view from the actual loop itself. The walk trails on this side seem to be well maintained, making it appear in oddly good condition considering it is not actually part of a signed walk trail. 

The answer becomes clear if you follow a series of steps up from the brook - this is the area that people see when they travel on the Pemberton Tramway. An old diesel tramway, the Pemberton Tramway provides lovely views through the forest, and it is possible to use the tram to be dropped off at the Cascades if you were looking to do a one way walk on the Bibbulmun Track back into town.

At a meagre 1.5 kilometres, the Lefroy Brook Loop Walk is not something you'll be mistaking for an epic adventure any time soon, however what it lacks in length it more than makes up in quality. There are no dull stretches along this short walk, making it one that is definitely worth checking out. Given the short length and great views, it is definitely worth the time investment and one that would be very accessible for families with children. 


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