Exploring the trails in Ellis Brook Valley
Last weekend after spending a couple of hours at Kaarakin’s Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre I was curious to find out if there were any hiking trails close by. Following a quick Google search I recognised three local bloggers I follow and having read Life of Py, Metrotrekker and The Long Way’s Better own accounts on the trails in Ellis Brook Valley we were ready, set, go!
Our first hike since Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary two years ago, it’s reasonably fair to say this hike has been long overdue and we were excited about the prospect of exploring the trails on foot.
Ellis Brook Valley forms part of the Banyowla Regional Park which is located in the city of Gosnells south of Perth. There are four walk trails within the reserve graded easy and difficult. All trails are fairly short however it is also possible to combine the trails for a longer loop walk.
Length: 7.3 km
Trails: Bit of Easy Walk Trail, Blue Wren Ramble Trail and Sixty Foots Falls trail
Highlights: waterfall, wildflowers (in spring), bird life, manmade quarry, vista views, adventure & exploring!
Total Elevation for the day: 238m
On Sunday morning we woke early, brewed a coffee and consumed some chia pudding before driving to the reserve. On arrival the gates were locked and I suddenly remembered they do not open till 8:00 am. Never mind, we parked on the side of the road and walked a short distance to the first trail. If the gates were open we would have parked at Honeyeater Hollow picnic area and car park.
Easy Walk Trail (Easy)
Marked by the symbol of the Echidna the easy walk trail is a flat 500 metre loop and as the ground is fairly compact it is suitable for wheelchairs and prams.
It’s never easy getting out of bed early on the weekends but there’s something special about being in the forest after dawn. The low light shines through the trees essentially changing the scene into a show of colours and shadows. The animals are active and easier to spot. More than anything, it’s quiet and serene.
The trail takes us through Wandoo Woodland. There is a bit of vegetation disturbance and a few other tracks leading off the loop however it’s easy to identify those ones as they are quite rough and rocky, the opposite to which we are walking on.
As we meander our way we hear in the distance the call of the black cockatoos and spot a couple of Pink Galahs and Australian ringneck parrots. Informative signage can be found dotted around the trail and we keep all eyes open hopeful that we will see an Echidna.
Blue Wren Ramble Trail (Easy)
Leaving the picnic area we walk along the 1.4 km Blue Wren Ramble trail to reach the popular sixty foot falls trail. Although it’s possible to skip this trail for the easier option of driving to the end of the carpark I must divulge this trail is not to be overlooked and I’ll show you why.
After the trail crosses Rushton Road and enters the woodland it follows the Ellis Brook water stream and we see an abundance of bird life. We spot the lovely wren birds and one beautiful blue wren. We find them to be quite fast this morning and their swift movements play tricks on the eyes. The trail takes us along a board walk and through a natural tunnel of shrubbery.
As the trail begins to gently climb away from the brook, marked by some conveniently constructed steps, we see the appearance of the valley’s hill. Spring has gifted the area in wildflowers, as well as blooming invasive weeds. I struggle to tell the difference between a few along the trail. I was surprised to learn the below flower was an invasive weed.
Wildlife Society of W.A lists Ellis Brook Valley in its top 12 places to view the seasonal flowers. While I thought I had viewed all that this trail offered in the way of flowers, I later learned the flowers continued along the next trail too.
The fascinating details from fringed petal edges to curled edges can be see through the reserve. Admirers may be held up spotting the not so frequent orchids.
This picture below I believe is a weed, I like the colour though.
We exit the trail into the car park at the end of Rushton but not before cleaning our shoes on the station to prevent spreading of dieback disease.
Sixty Foot Falls Trail (difficult)
Crossing the car park we take the 2km loop trail anticlockwise and straight into a moderate uphill walk. The trail is narrow and bordered by thick bush either side as well as some colourful wildflowers towards the first look out. We enjoy seeing the natural landscape grow significantly large around us as we continue onwards.
Approaching the sixty foot waterfalls the sun radiates above us and its reflection off the flowing water makes it a little hard to fully appreciate/see the beauty of the falls.
We skip the path that leads to the bottom of the falls and continue in the direction to the top instead, where the trail continues its loop. There are a series of medium sized rocks to step on and over. Although it’s more uphill walking that certainly gets the legs burning and the lungs heavy for air, I prefer this direction over walking in a downward direction because it seems to feel easier on the knees. We are passed by a trail runner and catch up to a family taking photos.
The trail opens to a clearing where we can feel the cool breeze hit us. A significantly large granite outcrop expends terrific views of the coastal plains and the familiar Perth CBD skyline city. It’s the ultimate reward for all the uphill walking. Our short break is spent exploring the section on the other side of the water line which is accessible by some careful steps over a few rocks.
We continue into shady woodland and this is a beautiful short section. Although it’s not quite summer the day’s 28 degree forecast is enough to cause heat stroke without adequate hydration. The flies are out and so are the big bull ants, not my most favourite aspects of the warmer weather. Closed shoes are definitely a must.
Soon enough the trail passes close to the top of the old Barrington Quarry. The cut out ‘look’ a result of digging and extracting raw materials for industrial purposes. The catchment of bluey green water gives a curious appearance against the eucalyptus trees and native bush. There is a fence line along the top and there is also a large hole in the fence. Do as you may, it is precarious to say the least with uneven ground, exposed tree roots and the possibility of snakes soaking up the sun near the fence line. So tread carefully. The view though is sensational.
We make our way down the trail to what looks like a former vehicle road leading straight into the quarry, again once fenced off, the gate has been torn down and discarded into the nearby bush.
From essentially the ground level, we appreciate the sheer size of the chiselled granite walls towering over us. The local council have erected a health warning sign against swimming or drinking the water. There is some derelict graffiti around the place, you know, name practice– nothing to admire really. Today on the trail the discarding of plastic water bottles seems to be more of a problem. Remember, it is Leave No Trace. A special code among nature lovers, explorers and adventurers, so we can enjoy these areas for years to come. For example, do not throw stuff into the bush including food scraps.
The vicinity in and around the quarry is eerily quiet, the only life we spot is a magnificent eagle circling overhead – what a sight! It dropped its catch which we later found to be an unlucky Australian ringneck parrot.
As we walk out of the quarry we encounter a couple of groups approach us for directions to the quarry and it seems they’ve come solely to visit the quarry.
From the bottom of quarry we walk along the vehicle road and eventually see the trail marker, I didn’t realise until we reached the carpark that we inadvertently missed the last lookout. Possibly because we diverted off the trail to go inside the quarry and should have backtracked to the trail again.
While the quarry is a unique point of interest to the trail my favourite section of the day would have to be the walk from the bridge on Blue Wren trail to the Quarry where the forest was well grown.
There are many reasons to love the trails in Ellis Brook Valley and we will definitely return again. First of all it’s easy to navigate, close to Perth and can be completed in as little as an two hours or half a day. The vista views, waterfalls, birdlife and wildflowers are enough to make a memorable walk in the forest. The old Barrington quarry adds an unusual attraction to the trail that may introduce hiking to those that wouldn’t otherwise venture into the forest. Thanks to the spring season, the wildflowers are wonderfully awesome!
This trail is the ultimate exploring trail!