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Hiking The Kattamordo Heritage Trail

Perth, Australia

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The Facts

  • Start or End: I started at the bus stop on the Great Eastern Highway, Mundaring (Google Map Directions) and finished at Maddington Train Station (Google Map Directions).
  • Length: 39.8km (24.7mi) in about 8.5hr (the Kattamordo itself is about 34km and it took me about 7.5hr)
  • Grade: Hard. Probably the toughest day hike I have ever done. The terrain isn’t that overwhelming, but the length is demanding.
  • Date Walked: 24th of June 2017

The Story

Is it the Kattamordo or Kattamorda Heritage Trail? Whatever the name, it is my longest day hike ever. A 40km walk from Mundaring to Maddington.

The more you hike, the more trails you come across. Often, I come across unknown trail markers and think to myself, "I'm going to have to try that another day". Hiking can be a virtuous cycle (or is that a vicious cycle?).

One day, while hiking from Mundaring to Mundaring Weir I came across two large maroon signs with "Kattamorda Heritage Trail" emblazoned upon them. The same sign can also be found on the Mason and Bird Heritage Trail near Bickley Brook Reservoir. Mundaring to Bickley Brook Reservoir? That sounds like one hell of a trail. Must be a long one.

I consult the repository of all knowledge, Google, and ask for more information on this "Kattamorda Heritage Trail". The search results provide a great review by the Perth based hiking blogger The Life of Py and the original Heritage Council of Western Australia pamphlet on the trail (kindly provided by walkgps.com.au). Wait a second, all these results reference the "Kattamordo", not the "Kattamorda" as on the signs (notice the "o" at the end, not the "a"). The pamphlet provides more detail, stating that the trail is really called "Kattamordo" (from the indigenous Noongar word for the Darling Range), and the signs with "Kattamorda" are a typo. That is quite the oversight. Oh well, I will refer to the trail as "Kattamordo" from now on.

The Kattamordo Heritage Trail is part of a larger Heritage Trail Network developed by the Western Australian Heritage Committee in commemoration of the 1988 Bicentenary. The pamphlet includes a simple map of all the North Metropolitan Heritage Trails (great, more trails to explore, the vicious cycle continues). The purpose of the trails was to "enhance awareness and enjoyment of Western Australia's natural and cultural heritage". I will leave you to read more about such heritage in the pamphlet, I’m off to walk the Kattamordo Heritage Trail, which is 27km according to the pamphlet and 34km according to The Life of Py (who I agree with).

Starting in Perth City, I take the train to Midland and then bus 320 to Mundaring (out the front of Woolworths). I walk south to Sculpture Park, which according to a marker on Google Maps is the "Heritage Trail and Kattamordo Trailhead", but I couldn't see any information (I only had a quick look). The most interesting sight at Sculpture Park is the railway heritage.

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After a few legs stretches (I'm going to need them for this long walk) I take the obvious path along the east of Mundaring Weir Road. Nothing really that exciting along here, just a clear gravel path in bushland (with the noise of cars from the road).

But I do come across a sign ...

and a few trail markers along the way.

You need to keep an eye out for the trail markers as they are well worn (probably placed here 30 years ago) and are often higher than your regular trail marker (I guess the trees have grown substantially). This section of the Kattamordo Heritage Trail along Mundaring Weir Road also shares the path with marked trails such as the Munda Biddi Trail (cycling trail) and the KEP Track (multi-use trail).

I know I am getting close to Mundaring Weir when the path crosses water pipelines.

The first place of interest is the O'Connor No. 2 Pumping Station, with abandoned water pipes (unfortunately graffitied).

A short distance further, the trail crosses Mundaring Weir Road to Fred Jacoby Park. I don't think the official Kattamordo Heritage Trail enters the park (probably just keeps following Mundaring Weir Road to the round-a-bout where it joins the Bibbulmun Track) but I made a detour to visit the restroom and one of Western Australia's oldest oak trees. Perfect spot for a rest and refreshments.

For some reason, when I left the park, I followed Mundaring Weir Road downhill and then went up Hall Road to meet the Kattamordo Heritage Trail at the Mundaring Weir Gallery. It would have been smarter to backtrack and take the trail from the Mundaring Weir Road and Allen Road round-a-bout, which is flat.

After taking the scenic route I follow the Bibbulmun Track markers along the water pipeline to Mundaring Weir and the Number 1 Pump Station.

There was a lot of construction work occurring around Mundaring Weir when I visited, so the trail in the map above will be different now (the Bibbulmun Track didn't go over the weir, but instead below it).

I took a slight diversion at the bottom of the weir to take some photographs from the walkway over the Helena River, and I'm glad I did. Check out this video.

A flock of very noisy Black Cockatoos! What a sight (and sound)!

Back on the trail I cross Mundaring Weir Road again and enter the bushland. After crossing the Helena River, it is all uphill.

There must have been some prescribed burns here recently as one side of the trail is blackened, while the other is lush and green. Quite the contrast and you can still taste and smell the smoke in the air.

I know I am on the right track as I find another trail maker for the Kattamordo Heritage Trail.

After crossing the Bibbulmun Track the trail flattens out, but the bushland continues.

I am entering mountain bike territory, which becomes more obvious the closer I get to The Dell on Mundaring Weir Road. Mountain bike trails litter this area. Long range ones, such as the Munda Biddi, but also small ones with interesting names such as "Flaccid Ashback", "Luvin Shovels" and "Brand New Secondhand". Who comes up with these names? I think hikers could learn something from the mountain bikers. I would love to hike a trail named "Rocky Balboa".

From the Dell, I cross Mundaring Weir Road and walk the trail shared by the Munda Biddi. Shortly I am at Gunjin Road.

A very wide path, with the occasional car (often with mountain bikes on the back) passing by. It is a slight incline all the way to the top of Mount Gunjin (398m).

And then it is a slight decline ...

down to the dirt Lockwood Road. Crossing Walnut Road, I follow the Munda Biddi for a short while ...

before diverting from the Munda Biddi to cross Patterson Road into more bushland. Unfortunately, some people don’t appreciate what we have.

Jerks. Hope whoever dumped this gets found out and severely fined. How about something nicer.

After some quiet bushwalking, the scenery changes when I reach Valento Road farmland.

I continue along the wide dirt road until it hits a dead end. Fortunately, there is a small dirt track between the bushland and a barb wire fence.

I'm not sure if this is the official Kattamordo Heritage Trail or not. But I find my way off the small dirt track and onto a much wider road, supposedly Weston Road.

Along Weston Road, I find a Red Kalamunda Trail marker for the Carmel Walk (great, another trail I need to walk, the vicious cycle continues). In hindsight, based on the map of the Carmel Walk, I probably should have taken the trail through the bushland to the west of Weston Road to reach Francais Road. Anyway, I follow Weston Road, which changes from dirt to asphalt. Interestingly, there is a "Private Rd Keep Out" sign as Weston Road changes from asphalt to dirt. Probably just to keep cars out, as it is a hiking track publicised and managed by the City of Kalamunda.

After a short walk on the asphalt, it is back into the bushland following the Carmel Walk.

Reaching Francais Road, I take a right and then a left at the dead end into bushland following the shared trail of the Carmel Walk. I do find a Kattamordo Heritage Trail Marker along the way.

The Carmel Walk trail takes a right (to the north-west), just before Canning Road, but I continue south and meet the junction of Canning Road and Pickering Brook Road.

Not sure where to go, I find a path running south, parallel to Canning Road.

And then a wide track, heading west, the direction I wish to go.

A couple of hundred meters along this track I find a small trail heading north into the bushland with a Kattamorda Heritage Trail sign.

I must have missed a turnoff near the junction of Canning Road and Pickering Brook Road. Oh well, hope I didn't miss much (N.B. I didn't, I found the actual trail about a year later. Amazing I found it, as the entry near Canning Road was well over-grown).

The wide track through the bushland north of Victoria Reservoir continues for about 3km. Along the way, I find a few Kattamorda Heritage Trail markers as well.

A great bushwalk along here. Very quiet. As I amble along, I realise I am heading south again. Oops, looks like I missed the turn-off. I really should have been paying attention. I didn't notice any obvious signage. Doesn't matter, I soon find a path to the road which leads to Victoria Reservoir.

Some familiar territory. The road is part of the Victoria Reservoir Walk, which I have hiked previously. Sure, I missed the turnoff to the Kattamordo, but taking the scenic route means I can visit the grave of baby Francis Weston, who passed away in 1876 (I found some information on the family and on the heritage listing of the grave if you are interested).

After passing through the gates to Victoria Reservoir it is onto a small track through the bushland ...

and then onto the Mason and Bird Heritage Trail.

My feet are really starting to hurt, but I know I am almost near the end. I am in familiar territory now and feeling much more confident in my ability to complete the Kattamordo Heritage Trail without getting lost. Smooth sailing from here (my feet think differently though). Time to enjoy a late afternoon walk.

A feature of the Mason and Bird Heritage Trail is the old tramway bridge, the oldest surviving all-timber bridge in Australia.

After a slow walk, I am at Hardinge Road near Bickley Brook Reservoir, the end of the Kattamordo Heritage Trail. I have done it, 34km in 7.5hr. I'm surprised I finished it so quickly. Now I just need to get home. I could walk over to the bus stop near Lion's Lookout on Welshpool Road East, but I don't think my feet could take the terrain. The easiest option is to walk along the flat concrete paths to Maddington Train Station, an hour away.

I make it to Maddington Train Station with very sore feet, but the pain was overcome by the achievement of completing my longest ever hike, 40km! It's got me thinking. How far can I walk in one day?

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Hello, I'm Marc and welcome to metrotrekker.

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Pleasant Trails,
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