A Morning Hike Around Statham's Quarry, Perth, Australia
29th of April 2016
Enjoying a hole in the ground and an abandoned railway line. A hike around Gooseberry Hill.
- Location: Gooseberry Hill National Park, Western Australia, Australia
- Start or End: Loop walk. Best public transport access from the corner of Gooseberry Hill Road and Hermes Road, Gooseberry Hill
- Length: 8.9km (5.5mi)
- Grade: Medium. Mostly gravel paths with a couple of sections along the road. Some high gradient rocky slopes. Watch out around the quarry, it's a long way down.
It's Friday and I'm taking the day off from work. Time to enjoy an early morning hike within the Perth Hills. I received the inspiration for today's walk from a recent hike to Kalamunda via the Bibbulmun Track. The Kalamunda bushland seems really nice so I thought I should explore the surrounding area a bit more. After some searching via Kalamunda.wa.gov.au and The Life of Py I decided on the Statham's Quarry Walk, a circular walk which takes in the bushland of Gooseberry Hill, the scenic unused Zig Zag Railway line and of course the disused Statham's Quarry.
An advantage of metrotrekking during the working week is the frequency of public transport options compared to the weekend. Therefore, I ventured off very early from Elizabeth Quay Train Station to Midland Station and then took bus 297 to the corner of Gooseberry Hill Road and Hermes Road. Total travel time was about an hour and I arrived at around 6.40am. A short walk down Hermes Road and then along June Road I find the dirt track for the Statham's Quarry Walk. I decided to take the counter-clockwise route. After a short stroll next to the local residents back fences (the local dogs did not seem pleased with my presence) I find myself in open bushland with the sun rising over the hills.
What a great start to the walk. Only a few minutes from the bus stop and I am treated to views like this. The lack of tall trees allows some brilliant views.
The trail is rather straightforward to follow but don't trust the path on Google Maps (use the one I created). It is way off the mark. The trail is adequately marked by grey triangles but they are few and far between, especially at junctions. I finally do find a trail marker though as I head up hill into the bushland.
As the trail climbs up towards the carpark on Lascelles Parade I am treated to panoramic views over the Swan Coastal Plain.
From the carpark the trail becomes Lascelles Parade. The road is quiet so there are very few cars to contend with. Along the way I am treated to more bushland views.
There are much better views further along Lascelles Parade at a carpark and rest area. You just have to head along a gravel track about 100m west of the carpark where you will come across a small rocky outcrop with good views. It is here that I decide to have my first rest. Brilliant spot for some trail snacks.
After a rest it's back walking along Lascelles Parade before taking a diversion into the bush, crossing Zig Zag Scenic Drive and then back into the bush again.
Soon enough I reach a fenced off section with a gate allowing access to a "Cliff Risk Area". Welcome to Statham's Quarry.
I was amazed how easy access was to the top of Statham's Quarry. Much different to the Old Barrington Quarry at Ellis Brook Valley Reserve, which was fenced off completely by large chain link fencing (accessible only by a hole cut in the fence). Statham's Quarry was much more inviting. The ease of access is probably attributed to the fact that this is a popular abseiling area.
Not being a fan of heights, in particular cliffs, I didn't venture that close to the edge. But I still think I got some good photographs. Easy with views like this though.
Unfortunately, the morning sun doesn't last long. The clouds are looking a little ominous as I look to the south from the top of Statham's Quarry.
Think it's time to descend to the bottom of the quarry (by the path on the eastern side, not via the abseiling anchors littered around) where there is a shelter. On my way I take in the bushland views to the north-east.
At the bottom of Statham's Quarry, the imposing cliffs make for a good walk. I don't venture too close to the cliff wall as those piles of rocks at the bottom look like they toppled down with a mighty thud.
A light rain begins to fall. Perfect opportunity to have a rest in the shelter at the bottom of Statham's Quarry. So why is it called Statham's Quarry anyway? Time for a history lesson from Wikipedia. As the name suggests, the quarry was established by Thomas Statham along with William Burton is 1894. I'm not sure why poor Burton didn't get a mention and Statham got all the glory. Anyway, Statham managed the quarry until his death in 1920 after which time the local government claimed responsibility. The quarry saws its demise in 1957 when a bushfire ravaged the area and closed operations. Today it is a drawcard for walkers, photographers and abseilers.
After a few trail snacks and an application of sunscreen (yes it is raining, but I do sunburn easily) I successfully fend off a hungry magpie and continue my walk.
I stupidly go the wrong way however. No loss though as it was a pleasant detour. I backtrack to the shelter at the bottom of the quarry and reconnect with the actual path of the Statham's Quarry Walk. Soon enough I find remnants from the glory days of the quarry.
What was this building formally used for? What sort of buildings do quarries even need? My only education on quarries is from the Flintstones. After a search on Google I find my answer via weekendnotes.com ... it was a rock crushing plant. Seems like a legit reason. Today it is a canvas for graffiti artists.
The walk continues south along a gravel path lined by bushland. A peaceful stroll indeed.
The gravel path ends at the asphalt of the Zig Zag Scenic Drive, a quiet and obviously scenic road built over the former Zig Zag Railway line. The Zig Zag Railway line was opened in July 1891 by the Canning Jarrah Timber Company to transport railway sleepers to Perth. I guess the rocks from Statham's Quarry were also transported via this route. Instead of constructing a rail line straight up Darling Scarp, it was found that a zig zag of alternating left and right turns along the gradient would be cheaper. Hence the name Zig Zag Railway. The line closed in 1949 and the track removed an asphalted in 1952.
The person who wrote the Wikipedia section for the Zig Zag Railway line suggests it "is not recommended for hiking". But I found it fine for hiking. I only came across one lot of old grey men riding their midlife crisis motorbikes around. Even then, there was still plenty of room on the side of the road.
After a short section on the Zig Zag Scenic Drive it is back onto the gravel and into the bush. A really nice stroll, but I did find the directions a bit tough. The grey trail markers appeared absent at a number of junctions so I did have to look at the Kalamunda website pdf document a couple of times on my phone to confirm.
An enjoyable and relaxing stroll. However, the clouds are not relaxing at all.
Time to leg it back to the bus stop. Just as I complete the Statham's Quarry Walk loop it starts bucketing down. I quickly put on my raincoat, hide the camera in my bag and put on the bags raincoat. Didn't get that wet in the end. Thank you very much raincoat. As it goes, once I reach the bus stop the rain passes. Oh well, I did actually enjoy walking in the rain for a while and I found the Statham's Quarry Walk really enjoyable.
I definitely recommend this walk. The path is relatively clear (but don't rely on markers or Google Maps, use the one I created) and not that arduous. You are also treated to some great scenery. The walk is approximately 9km and it took me 3.5 hours to complete. Not my PB by a long shot. I wasn't walking slow, it's just that I stopped a number of times to take in the views. Think I would have spent at least an hour strolling around Statham's Quarry with my camera.
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Have you taken this walk? Any suggestions or errors? Please comment below.