The Spectacles Stroll, Perth, Australia
6th of September 2015
A disappointing stroll at first turns into a good one. Frogs on paths, eerie Paperbarks, bushfire aftermath and wildflowers emerging from the ashes.
- Location: Beeliar Regional Park, Kwinana, Perth, Australia
- Start or End: Loop walk. Start and end at Kwinana Train Station. If you have a car there is a car park on McLaughlan Road, Kwinana.
- Length: 16.0km (9.9mi)
- Grade: Easy. A little long but the trails are flat and easy to follow.
My quest to conquer the Beeliar Regional Park continues. Today's battle ... The Spectacles Wetlands, located north of Kwinana. Apart from my quest to conquer Beeliar Regional Park the reason for today's walk was born from the wildflower experience gained on yesterday's stroll around Kings Park and Botanic Gardens. Planted wildflowers are all good and that, but to experience wildflowers blooming in the wild sounds much more exciting.
From the Perth CBD I catch the train to Kwinana. The Spectacles are actually right next to Kwinana Train Station, but the actual entrance is located on the western side of the wetlands on Mc Laughlan Road. I thought about jumping the fences on the southern end of the wetlands on Thomas Road, but the paths looked very sandy and not conducive to an enjoyable walk. Instead I took the designated path along Thomas Road and then took a right up Mc Laughlan Road (you have to walk on the actual road, but it's quiet so it's no problem). It took about half an hour (3.5 km) to reach the Mc Laughlan Road entrance from the Kwinana Train Station.
When I first heard about "The Spectacles" I thought they were named as such because the wetlands are spectacular. But no, they are named The Spectacles because from an aerial point of view they look like a pair of spectacles, or eyeglasses. The Spectacles Wetlands are made up of two lakes (where the eyeglass lenses would be) which are joined by a waterway (the nose bridge of the eyeglasses). The likeness is obvious when you see it on a map. Let's see if The Spectacles are spectacular though.
Within the Spectacles Wetlands are two walks, the Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail which circles the larger northern lake, and the Banksia Walk Trail which loops into the bush land on the south-west of the wetlands. Think I will give the Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail a go first then try the Banksia walk trail on my way out.
I walk east towards the larger lake until I reach a fork in the path. I have three choices, take a left and walk the Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail, go straight and walk along the boardwalk to the Biara Lookout, or take a right and walk the Spectacles Walk Trail. What is the Spectacles Walk Trail? It wasn't mentioned on the information board. Is it the same as the Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail but in the opposite direction? It can't be as the return distances are different. I'm confused. Think I will just take the Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail as first intended, that is, clockwise around the largest spectacle.
What do I find? Plenty of bushland with lush green grasses. The vegetation around here has certainly appreciated the recent rains.
There are also areas thick with Bracken fern.
Luckily I was watching where I was going as I nearly squashed this little fella resting on the path.
As the name suggests, the Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail reflects on the history and culture of the traditional Nyoongar people. There are a number of interpretive signs around explaining the story of traditional life. The Spectacles is part of an ancient trade route and has cultural significance as a ceremonial and food gathering site. I wonder if that frog was edible.
So far I haven't seen many wildflowers at all. I hope this is not a sign of things to come. I really had my hopes up for some good wildflower spotting.
As I reach the eastern bank of the lake the vegetation opens up due to a recent bushfire which has decimated some of the bushland. There is some green taking back the landscape from the blackened ground though.
A place of interest on the eastern bank is the Paperbark lookout, which is accessed via a path through tall Paperbark trees (hence the name of the lookout). I find walking through these Paperbark forests a little eerie.
The Paperbark lookout is not really worth writing home about. If you are an avid birdwatcher it is probably a great place to settle and watch the local waterfowl. At least I have seen water now.
The clicking sound of insects or frogs in the video below are freaking me out a little bit as well. Time to get back into the open sunlight were I am much more comfortable.
The view from the Paperbark lookout.
A short distance down the main path from the Paperbark lookout is another sign indicating the Spectacles Walk Trail.
So I guess the northern section of the loop is the Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail while the southern section is the Spectacles Walk Trail? This makes sense as I didn't notice any more Aboriginal Heritage information boards on the southern side of the spectacle. I think I get it now. There are actually three trails at The Spectacles with the Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail and the Spectacles Walk Trail combining to form a loop around the largest spectacle.
Back on the main path I continue my way around the southern bank of the large Spectacle. To be perfectly honest with you there isn't really anything that exciting to report. Just plenty of quiet bushland, occasional open grassland and unfortunately little wildflower population.
After completing the loop I head down the boardwalk to the Biara Lookout. The boardwalk is rather good.
The Paperbark trees with their gnarly branches reaching high into the air allow only speckled light to reach the ground. The surroundings plus the weird noises penetrating from somewhere is the thick bush near the lake are once again freaking me out a bit.
Those clicking sounds really freak me out. Remind me of the Predator sound.
At the end of the boardwalk is the Biara Lookout or Bird Hide.
The Biara Lookout provides a view of the water and any wildlife which chooses to visit. I can hear plenty of life, but not see much.
I feel like I am the one being watched around here.
Ok, those insect/frog noises and the dark overhang of vegetation are freaking me out again. Better get back to the sunlight.
The loop around the largest spectacle is complete and the two boardwalks with lookouts are done. Not that impressed really. The walk was pleasant but nothing was really that exciting. The Biara boardwalk through the paperbark trees was about the best. And where are the wildflowers? Maybe the Spectacles are not as spectacular as I had hoped. Will the Banksia Walk Trail also disappoint?
No way. The Banksia Walk Trail is well worth a walk. Even though it has been ravaged by bushfires the amount of wildflowers rising from the ashes put a smile back on my face. It isn't as eerie as the lake either. Really glad I came and explored the area. Here is a selection of what I experienced. Yay, wildflowers!
And here come the close-ups of wildflowers!
And yes there are also banksia on the Banksia Walk Trail.
The disappointment of the initial walk around the lake is all forgiven. I love you Spectacles, let us never fight again.
It isn't just the wildflowers that are spectacular. The blackened spears rising from the ash and the odd tufted of green make a dramatic contrast against the blue sky and the white streaked clouds above.
But it's not all fire devastated. Some of the Banksia Walk Trail is still lush and colourful.
Awesome. So glad I finished my adventure at the Banksia Walk Trail. I would definitely recommend this walk and I would personally love to come back another day when the vegetation has fully recovered from the bushfires.
It's time to say goodbye to The Spectacles and walk back to Kwinana Train Station. As I do I ponder my next walk. Where to next? Probably should stop chasing flowers for a while and try something a bit different.
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Have you taken this walk? Any suggestions or errors? Please comment below.