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The best waterfall I have seen in Perth so far followed by the poorest signage I have seen in Perth so far.
It's a Monday morning and I have the day off work. What a perfect opportunity for some hiking in the Perth Hills. Pity it's raining. Or is it pity? After some inspiration from thelifeofpy.com (a brilliant website with details of hikes around Perth) I decide to try a walk around Mundy Regional Park, specifically Lesmurdie Falls. The rain is starting to clear so this is probably an ideal time to see Lesmurdie Falls in full flow.
To get to Mundy Regional Park, specifically the southern end where Lesmurdie Falls are located, I took bus 288 from the Esplanade Bus Station in Perth City to Forrestfield. It takes about an hour with about 10 minutes walking. The walking would have been shorter had I not accidentally got off the bus earlier than I should have. The extra walk wasn't much and the bus was starting to fill up with high school students so it was better I got off when I did. Ideally, you would get off the bus at the southern end of Anderson Road.
As I approach Mundy Regional Park via a walk down Palm Terrace I can hear water. Plenty of water. When I hit the carpark I realise I have probably come at an ideal time. The sun is shining and there is a torrent down Lesmurdie Brook. Can't wait to see what is further upstream.
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Just after the carpark there is a map indicating a couple of trail choices around Lesmurdie Falls. If I go straight ahead and follow the "Foot of the Falls Trail" I will shortly reach the bottom of Lesmurdie Falls (hence the name of the trail). There is also a loop which pushes up the valley to the top of the falls and then back down, the aptly named "Valley Loop Trail". The rumbling of water is drawing me to the falls. The Foot of the Falls Trail it is then.
Via a flat clear path a view of Lesmurdie Falls is seen within a few short minutes of walking.
To access the very foot of the falls you need to negotiate some rocks, but it's nothing that strenuous. The rocks were a bit slippery but I made my way over without falling arse-over-head. The climb is worth it.
It is absolutely brilliant here. Lesmurdie Falls would have to be the best waterfall I have seen in all my walks around Perth so far. The main problem in capturing the moment with my camera would have to be all the mist due to the water pounding the rocks. I had to keep my lens cleaning cloth in hand as water drops kept hitting the lens.
What made the moment even more special? It was just me and the falls. There was absolutely no one else around. I guess that is one of the advantage of visiting places like this on a weekday. I think the only way to really give you a feel of the place is with a video.
The visit to the bottom of Lesmurdie Falls was not perfect though. There is certainly a lot of trash around. At the base of the falls there were two wheelie bins full of rubbish. Not sure how the hell they plan to get those out of here, but at least the rubbish was in a bin. There was plenty more rubbish still randomly littered around the area though. People are such selfish pigs sometimes.
What a great start to the walk! Can't believe how well timed this walk is. Wonder what it's like upstream? Time to get onto the Valley Loop Trail and view the Lesmurdie Falls from above. As I backtrack from Lesmurdie Falls I come across signage pointing to the "Head of the Falls". The path is a little overgrown, plus the foliage is a little prickly and still wet from the overnight rain. Luckily I am wearing my new quick dry cargo pants from Kathmandu.
As I make my way through the bushes I hit a fork in the path. Which way? There isn't any signage. I know the lookouts are to the east so I take the left option. Think I made the right choice as I come across an old lookout with good views of the Lesmurdie Falls.
From the old lookout the path up the valley isn't looking promising. It is still overgrown and is definitely getting rockier, eroded and more vertical. But I press on. There are more good views of the falls.
And then the path turns into this.
Not really a path anymore. It's more of a rock climb. What have I gotten myself into? Luckily I soon arrive back into civilisation after scaling the rock face where I meet a designated path, the actual Valley Loop Trail. There were signs of life on the "path" I took, rubbish and footprints, so I think other stupid people like me have recently taken this route.
Thank God I am back on the path and heading in the right direction towards the two lookouts at the head of the Lesmurdie Falls. The most westerly lookout provides good views of the top of Lesmurdie Falls, the valley and the Swan Coastal Plain all the way to the Perth CBD and beyond.
The other lookout lies directly above Lesmurdie Brook just before it tumbles over the Darling Scarp. The views of the falls aren't that good but there are brilliant views of the valley and beyond.
A short walk from the top of the Lesmurdie Falls I find a sign pointing across a bridge towards the "Shoulder Lookout" via the Shoulder Trail. I really should have consulted the map before crossing the bridge as I shouldn't have taken this route. The Shoulder Trail is a by-pass of the easterly section of the Valley Loop Trail and the Cascades (don't worry about it I come back later). The Shoulder Trail starts off very pleasantly. There is a small concrete path surround by bushland.
The luxury of concrete soon gives way to a dirt track which is still extremely walkable except for some overgrown prickly foliage. I come to a break in the foliage and a rocky outcrop. Is this the Shoulder Lookout? Can't be, I am still on the Shoulder Trail, not the Valley Loop Trail, I think. Anyway, there are good views, not of the Lesmurdie Falls (which I can hear) and no sign indicating this is something special. The only sign of life is once again a piece of rubbish, a pizza box this time.
This pizza box is just one example of the multitude of crap left around Mundy Regional Park. It really gets my goat how someone can bring a pizza and pizza box out all this way and then cannot be arsed to take it back. What f@%kwits. Hope they die painfully.
I am soon back on the Valley Loop Trail ... or am I? There are a few arrows pointing me in a direction, but there are a plethora of side tracks with no directions at all. I’m not sure where I am going. I am heading west so I must be on the right track. Foliage is covering much of the path so that makes deciding which path to take a little difficult. Once again I am thankful I wore long pants as the foliage is rather spiny. I can't complain about the views though.
Is that the Shoulder Lookout? Once again no signage so I guess not. I press on in a westerly direction and meet the widest trail I have seen in a while. Phew! I must be on the right track.
Unfortunately the nice wide trail turns into absolutely nothing and I find myself travelling north with no options at all. I turn back and take a look at my tracking app to see where I am. Looks like I'm way off course. Better find another way. The photo below is the better way.
Logic doesn't seem to work on the Valley Loop Trail. Previously I followed a sign from the valley floor and found myself scaling a rock face. Now I am on a two meter wide path which goes nowhere and this overgrown goat track with a tree fallen across it is the best option. And where the hell is this Shoulder Lookout? I am about to head back down the valley and I haven't seen a single sign indicating its whereabouts.
It appears that others have walked down the overgrown goat track as there are plenty of dirty footprints on the fallen tree. I wonder if any of those people turned back when they found the path looked like this.
Surely this cannot be the right way. Surely I am going to meet a dead end. Nope. I find another random arrow and a nice flat path. The Valley Loop Path is something out of the twilight zone. One minute the path is pristine and obvious, next I am wading through thorny vegetation and tackling ravines.
The next obstacle is the flowing Lesmurdie Brook. I need to cross the brook to get to the other side of the loop. The arrow points me this way. This is going to be fun.
I know, I know. It doesn't look that bad. But when you are carrying an expensive camera and have the balance of a drunken hippopotamus with an inner ear problem you get a little worried about taking an unwanted swim. With my heart in my mouth I successfully cross without a single drop of water touching me.
What next? I really want to see the Cascades upstream of Lesmurdie Falls. Time to walk back up the valley. But this time I will not take some random goat track and will instead walk the official southern section of the Valley Loop Trail. Let's just say it was a much more pleasurable experience.
The trail was a little overgrown in some parts but easy to follow. Soon enough I am past the top of the Lesmurdie Falls and heading towards the Cascade which lies just east of the Falls Road entrance to the park.
As the name suggests the Cascade involves water cascading over a large rock and into a fast flowing stream of water. Not as spectacular as Lesmurdie Falls but worth the visit and so easy to access (my Grandma could walk here). I spent quite a bit of time sitting right next to the cascade playing with my camera.
I probably should have called it a day and finished off the walk in good spirits. But I couldn't let it go. Where the hell is that Shoulder Lookout? I can't leave without finding it. I'm going to walk the northern section of the Valley Loop Trail again and find this mysterious Shoulder Lookout.
I immediately lose focus as I cross a small bridge upstream of the Cascade. What is the deal with this signage? There is a pink Goanna emblem pointing west along Lesmurdie Brook and a yellow Goanna emblem point north along a wide dirt path. Where the hell did these Goanna emblems come from? The Valley Loop Trail is pink on the information boards so the pink Goanna option it is.
The path takes me along the northern bank of Lesmurdie Brook and back to the start of the Shoulder Trail I previously walked. Great! I'm going around in circles. The pink goanna trail can't be the Valley Loop Trail at all. Lucky the area is so lush and beautiful or my frustrations would be getting the better of me. I walk back to the Cascade again and take the yellow Goanna option. Where will I end up next?
I end up on a wide gravel path with expansive views over the Swan Coastal Plain.
Unfortunately, this is not the Valley Loop Trail. I have no idea how to access the Valley Loop Trail and find the Shoulder Lookout. There was a side track not far into the yellow Goanna trail but there was no signage. I just stuck to the obvious wide path instead. That couldn't have been the Valley Loop Trail? Surely there would be a marker. Stuff it! I'm going to enjoy the wide trail and see where it takes me.
Guess where it takes me? Back to that goat track with the dead tree across it. Part of the yellow Goanna Trail is that wide section of the Valley Loop Trail which lead to bugger all. That's it! Where is my tracking app! Where am I! F#@k this! I'm going back into the thorny bushes with random trails and find this bloody Shoulder Lookout.
As I wonder around aimlessly looking for the Shoulder Lookout I photograph some of the more pleasurable aspects of the walk.
If you cannot already tell I am certainly getting sick of this walk. Spiky bushes, huge spiders and rustling in the bushes is enough. Time to get out of here. Stuff the Shoulder Lookout ... wait a minute. I can see a construction. Is that a seat?
It amazes me that I found the Shoulder Lookout. Well I think this is it. What else could it be? There is not a single sign indicating this is indeed the Shoulder Lookout. In my mind this is the lookout and that is all that matters.
Was the journey worth it? Not really. Should have left after the Cascade. The views of Lesmurdie Falls are ok.
The view from the Shoulder Lookout that really intrigued me was directly across the valley.
Do you see that line in the middle of the picture devoid of vegetation? Is that a path? Is that the path I took this morning? My God, I can't believe I was stupid enough to walk up that.
Ok. Home time. The sooner I am out of here the better. I just hope I don't run into anymore of those monster spiders.
I stumble out of the bushes at this location and look back.
I'm back on the yellow Goanna trail. That random path into the bushes was indeed the Valley Loop Trail. This place is just confusing. Which path would have you taken?
I make it to the Falls Road exit of the Mundy Regional Park in one piece. From the Falls Road carpark I walk to the bus stop on George Road (about 15 minutes) and catch bus 282 back to the city (about 1 hour).
What an interesting walk. I would definitely recommend visiting Mundy Regional Park and Lesmurdie Falls. The Foot of the Falls trail and the southern section of the Valley Loop Trail up to the Cascade is absolutely worth the trip. The northern section of the Valley Loop Trail and those random Goanna marked tracks are a different story however. I wouldn't bother. The lack of markers and random tracks leading to nowhere is annoying. The spiky bushes overgrowing the trail also ruin the walk. But if you are looking for an adventure the area north of Lesmurdie Brook is probably a great place to explore. Just watch out for massive spiders.
Finally, I recommend wearing some insect repellent while walking around Mundy Regional Park (and probably any bushland area). After getting home and having a shower I noticed a tick was beginning to bury itself into my upper left inner thigh. I blame the area north of Lesmurdie Brook which I didn't like, but I could have picked up the little bugger anywhere. Lucky I wear jockey shorts and not loose fitting boxers. Who knows how far the little bugger would have gone if you know what I mean (I mean my scrotum, how bad would it be to have a tick in your scrotum).
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