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Looking for a demanding day hike near Perth, Western Australia? The somewhat forgotten Kattamordo Heritage Trail is a 34km bushwalk from Bickley Brook to Mundaring which will challenge your stamina.
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 original Heritage Council of Western Australia pamphlet on the trail (kindly provided by walkgps.com.au) states that the purpose of such trails was to "enhance awareness and enjoyment of Western Australia's natural and cultural heritage". I think it worked, I did enjoy hiking the trail and I think my awareness has been enhanced. I hope you enjoy the hike as well.
The pamphlet refers to an error in developing the trail. The word "Kattamordo" is the indigenous Noongar word for the Darling Range. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a typo when the signs and trail markers were made, so they read "Kattamorda" (notice the "a" at the end, not the correct "o"). Mistakes happen. I will refer to the correct "Kattamordo" name from now on (there is another error in the pamphlet as well, the trail is 34km long, not 27km, I think GPS tracking technology has improved significantly since 1988).
The Kattamordo Heritage Trail map provided above is good enough to get from Mundaring to Bickley Brook in one piece, without getting too lost (obviously use some common sense and do not completely trust the accuracy of GPS technology), but it may not be the true or original Kattamordo trail (it is very close though). Please remember that this trail is now over 30 years old and has not been maintained. You will need to keep an eye out for the trail markers as they are well worn and are often higher than your regular trail marker (I guess the trees have grown substantially, taking the markers up with them). Luckily, much of the trail is shared with more well-maintained trails such as the Bibbulmun Track, KEP Track, Munda Biddi and other shorter trails marked by the City of Kalamunda.
Ok, that's enough of the formalities. Let me explain what the hike is like and what you will find along the way. I will start at Mundaring, but the walk from Bickley Brook is also an option.
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The Mundaring Community Sculpture Park is a popular spot for families to take the kids for a picnic and enjoy the playground. Located on the site of the old Mundaring Railway Station, the park is full of sculptures (as the name suggests) and is a good spot to get ready for a hike or to have a rest after a long one. There is shelter, toilets and water. The nearby Mundaring Hotel may tickle your fancy if you need a meal or beer after a long day hiking.
The first stretch of the Kattamordo Trail follows Mundaring Weir Road south, crossing it several times. Much of this section is shared with the Munda Biddi, a long-distance cycle trail, and the path is generally a wide, flat gravel track through the bushland.
A point of interest along the way is the location of O'Conner No. 2 Pumping Station and its associated piping. The pumping station was part of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme and the pumping station is named after the schemes Chief Engineer, C.Y. O'Connor. The trail also follows some more up-to-date piping from Mundaring Weir.
The Kattamordo Trail passes by Fred Jacoby Park at the intersection of Mundaring Weir Road and Weir Village Road. It is a good spot for a rest, with toilets and picnic tables. The park is named after Fred and Mathieson Jacoby, who purchased the land in 1899. Upon Fred Jacoby's death in 1954, his daughter donated the land to the people of Western Australia.
A point of interest in the park is one of the largest living English Oak trees in Western Australia. The heritage-listed tree is 140-years-old and is easily accessed via a boardwalk.
After the intersection of Mundaring Weir Road and Weir Village Road, the Kattamordo Trail joins the famous Bibbulmum Track, which stretches 1000km from Albany in the south to Kalamunda in the north. After a short walk the trail meets the Mundaring Weir Hall, now known at the Mundaring Weir Gallery.
The building was constructed in 1908 by funds raised by Mundaring Weir citizens. The building has seen many uses, from its original purpose as a local community and education centre, to an overflow for students from the Mundaring Weir School and to today’s use as a gallery showcasing locally produced arts and crafts.
Across the road from the Mundaring Weir Hall is the Mundaring Weir Hotel, the last spot on the trail for a beer (the only other food outlet from here is the Pickering Brook General Store).
The history of the hotel, like the neighbouring hall, starts due to the influx of population from the construction of the Mundaring Weir. As an astute businessman, Fred Jacoby built the single-story Reservoir Hotel in 1898 to service thirsty workmen. When the weir was completed and the original clientele had departed, Fred Jacoby re-invested and constructed the two-story Goldfields Weir Hotel (currently called the Mundaring Weir Hotel) in 1906 to service the growing tourism trade, which flocked to the area to see the man-made waterfall of the Mundaring Weir.
Following the Bibbulmun Track to the south-west, you will soon find yourself at the Mundaring Weir. The Kattamordo Trail does not cross the weir itself, but the Bibbulmun Track does. A quick walk along the weir is well worth it if you haven't visited before. There are good views across the valley to the west and Lake CY O'Conner to the east. The lookout platform a short walk east from the northern entrance of the weir is also worth a look.
Completed in 1903, the weir and the No. 1 Pumping Station located at the base of the weir were part of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme. The weir was built across the Helena River to store water required for the inland gold processing areas. From the weir, a 556km pipeline with eight steam-powered pumping stations transported the water to Kalgoorlie.
The Kattamordo Trail heads down the north-west side of the Mundaring Weir to the No.1 Pumping Station.
The No.1 Pumping Station is no longer pumping but instead houses the CY O’Conner Museum, which showcases the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme. The museum is open on the weekends and some public holidays but closed during February (I doubt you would want to do this walk during the summer anyway, it would be way too hot).
From the No.1 Pumping Station, there is a bridge which crosses the Helena River to toilets, water and picnic shelters. Take advantage of these facilities as they will be the last you see for a while, particularly water.
From the No.1 Pumping Station, the Kattamordo Trail heads along the north side of the Helena River and then across Mundaring Weir Road into bushland. After a short walk, the trail crosses the Helena River and up South Ledge. It is a climb.
The path flattens out a bit once the Kattamordo Trail crosses the Bibbulmun Track for the last time.
From here you are entering mountain bike territory, which becomes more obvious the closer you get to The Dell on Mundaring Weir Road. Mountain bike trails litter this bushland area all the way to the top of Mount Gunjin. There are 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".
The Dell is the site of a former timber mill, but the name comes from a later inhabitant, Edgar Dell, a Western Australian painter who purchased a block in the area in 1924. He is most well-known for his paintings of Western Australia’s wildflowers. The Dell has a couple of picnic tables and toilet facilities.
Crossing Mundaring Weir Road, the Kattamordo Trail traverses through small bush tracks until reaching the wide dirt Gunjin Road.
It is a long but small incline to the top of the 398m Mount Gunjin (don’t worry it's only a 120m ascent from the start of Gunjin Road).
From the top of Mount Gunjin, it is downhill along the wide Gunjin Road.
Mount Gunjin isn't the most exciting section of the Kattamordo Trail. But it does appear to be a very exciting area for mountain bikers. You will more than likely spot a few flying around in the adjoining bushland.
The Kattamordo Trail now enters the large Korung National Park and the farmland areas of Bickley and Carmel. There is plenty of bushland in this section and rural views as well.
Leaving the farmland behind, the Kattamordo Trail meets the intersection of Canning Road and Pickering Brook Road. Nearby is the Pickering Brook General Store, the final location to pick up supplies. From here it is a long bushland trail through Korung National Park, north of Victoria Reservoir.
The Kattamordo Trail leaves the bushland briefly, crossing the road to Victoria Reservoir.
The final section of the Kattamordo Trail shares the path with the Mason and Bird Heritage Trail, a wide gravel track popular with families.
The path follows the route of the former Mason and Bird horse-drawn tramway, which was used to transport timber between 1872 and 1882 from a sawmill in Carmel to the Canning River. A feature of the Mason and Bird Heritage Trail is the old tramway bridge, the oldest surviving all-timber bridge in Australia.
The Mason and Bird Heritage Trail, as well as the Kattamordo Trail, comes to an end at Hardinge Park, near Bickley Brook Reservoir on Hardinge Road. After such a long walk, you can put your feet up for a while at Hardinge Park, which has toilet facilities and seating areas./p>
Metrotrekker.com: My original blog on the Kattamordo Heritage Trail.
TheLifeofPy.com: Great write up on the Kattamordo Trail and where I got my inspiration to actually try the hike.
National Trust: Information on the CY O’Conner Museum at the old No.1 Pumping Station and Mundaring Weir.
WalkGPS.com.au: Original Heritage Council of Western Australia pamphlet for the Kattamordo Trail.