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The Helena Pipehead Walk via Rocky Pool, Perth, Australia

23rd of July 2016

The news is out! Rocky Pool is in full flow after some good winter rains. Better go check it out and then make my way to a more reliable water source, the Pipehead Dam on the Helena River.

  • Location: Kalamunda and Beelu National Park, Western Australia, Australia
  • Start or End: Best public transport access is via the Kalamunda Bus Station, but if you have a car head to the end of Helena Valley Road, Helena Valley.
  • Length: 13.5km (8.4mi)
  • Grade: Medium to Hard. A couple of steep rocky paths but much of the way is a flattish, low gradient gravel path.

The modern day grapevine (mostly Instagram but also Twitter and Facebook) are abuzz with news that Rocky Pool in Kalamunda National Park is in full flow after recent winter rains. I was only at Rocky Pool a few weeks back but at that point, the winter rains had not arrived and Rocky Pool was more of a Rocky Muddy Puddle. Time to go back and see Rocky Pool in its glory. Speaking of water, I would also like to try out the Helena Pipehead Walk which lies just north of the Rocky Pools. I found out about the Helena Pipehead Walk from one of my favourite websites, Kalamunda.wa.gov.au. I hope to complete all of the walks on the website one day.

The Helena Pipehead Walk makes its way into Beelu National Park and loops around to the southern bank of the Helena River and the Pipehead Dam. The official start of the walking trail is at the end of Helena Valley Road, Gooseberry Hill. However, it is a bit hard to get there via public transport so I opt for the scenic route via Kalamunda National Park (I get to see Rocky Pool this way as well).

It's a Saturday, so the earliest I can leave Perth City bound for Kalamunda is via the 299 bus which leaves the Elizabeth Quay Bus Port at 7:16am. The trip to Kalamunda Bus Port takes around 50mins. I head in an easterly direction along Mead Street, join the northern terminus of the Bibbulmun Track and follow it through Jorgensen Park towards Kalamunda National Park.

The wattle is definitely in bloom in Jorgensen Park. Hopefully, the wildflowers are plentiful for the rest of today's walk. I am not disappointed when I hit Kalamunda National Park.

What a beautiful day for a walk, and what's that I hear in the distance. Water. Plenty of water. What a difference compared to my last walk in the area.

The scenery along the Bibbulmun Track is absolutely perfect this morning, and for such a spectacular sight amazingly quite (quite of humans that is, plenty of bird life still around).

Soon enough I hit my first destination. Rocky Pool is no longer a muddy puddle but a flowing oasis.

It's a lot of fun jumping around the rocks next to the water (be careful not to fall in as the rocks are kind of slippery and the water rather cold), but the best views are from the top, just off the main trail.

It's really too early for me to have a break from walking, but why not enjoy the view in front of me. Think I'll have a snack and watch the water roll.

Ok then, that's enough sitting around. Better get on my way to the Helena Pipehead Walk which is only a short distance from Rocky Pool.

Of course, I take the wrong turn for the actual Helena Pipehead Walk and take a slightly different route on the southern section of the loop. Either way, it's uphill.

But it doesn't matter, there were some good views along the way.

I know I am back on the right track when I come across a dumped car which is detailed in the trail notes provided by Kalamunda.wa.gov.au.

The climb to the dumped car was probably the most difficult climb of the entire walk. The rest of the way was via wide, clear and rather flat paths like these.

I also found my first trail maker and found plenty more along the way.

Heading in a clockwise direction around the loop, I continue in a north-west direction. Probably not the most exciting walk in the world, but it is definitely a nice bushland setting.

I hit Helena Valley "Road" (this part of Helena Valley Road is not open to vehicles) at the north-west extremity of the loop. I continue along Helena Valley Road on my way to the official start of the walk but decide not to bother as I will only need to backtrack and there doesn’t seem to be anything that exciting further on up. I did come across a massive puddle though.

The trail now heads in a south-east direction along the southern side of the Helena River Valley. The Helena River is down there somewhere.

There are occasional glimpses of rocks and some flowing water down on the valley floor, but there are much more exciting sights up here on the path.

Like flowers. Spring is in the air.

And expansive views over the Helena Valley ...

and the Helena Pipehead Dam.

The path descends down to the waters of the Helena Pipehead Dam. A good spot for a rest before heading back home.

From the water, it's back up hill for a short time before the loop is complete. Some more good views over the Helena Valley as it heads in an easterly direction towards Mundaring Dam.

Helena Pipehead Walk complete! The prognosis? Pretty good. Nothing that exciting (compared to Rocky Pool) but definitely worth the trip. Another plus was the lack of population. Think I saw about 4 people on the entire loop. A great time with myself.

Now it is time to get back to Kalamunda Bust Port. On the way, I stop at Rocky Pools again. Ok, one last shot.

The time is around noon now and the population in the area has increased. Not many, about 10 around Rocky Pool, but much more than the zero I encountered in the early morning. As I hike along the Bibbulmun Track heading towards Kalamunda I encounter a number of hiking groups. My favourite group would have to be a funny group of kids hiking with two adults. One kid said to another, "I wonder when we will reach Albany". In my head, I say "You’re almost there kid. For those unaware of the Bibbulmun Track I am being sarcastic. Albany is at the other end of the Bibbulmun Track, 1000kms away. Good luck to the parents on this trek ... "Are we there yet ... are we there yet?" for 1000kms on foot.

I arrived back at the Kalamunda Bus Station at around 11:55am, ready for the 12:10pm 296 bus back to Perth City. So in total, the walk was 13.5km and me took around 4 hours, but I did spend a bit of time enjoying Rocky Pool. The actual Helena Pipehead Walk is only a little over 5kms and could easily be completed in 2 hours while enjoying the views at the same time.

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