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Hiking to Victoria Reservoir via Lion's Lookout, Perth, Australia

30th of July 2016

The long way to Victoria Reservoir via Lion's Lookout is full of history and natural beauty: babbling brooks, the oldest surviving all-timber bridge in Australia, a gigantic Grasstree and a sad end to a young life.

  • Location: Korung National Park, Western Australia, Australia
  • Start or End: Lion's Lookout on Welshpool Road East is the best public transport access.
  • Length: 15.5km (9.6mi)
  • Grade: Easy to Hard. Walk from Lion's Lookout to Bickley Brook is steep and rocky, but the Victoria Reservoir Path itself is rather flat and easy.

It's a sunny Perth Saturday so it's time for a hike. Today I am going to try the Victoria Reservoir Walk in Korung National Park which is outlined on the Kalamunda.wa.gov.au website. The main access point to the trail is on Masonmill Road in Carmel, however, as a public transport user this access is not the most convenient. For me, the best access is probably via Lion's Lookout on Welshpool Road East in Lesmurdie, through the bush to Hardinge Road and then along the Mason and Bird Heritage Trail to access the western corner of the Victoria Reservoir Walk. So, it isn't that convenient (about 4km!) but I have no problems with the hike at all. I think it will be an enjoyable walk just to get to the walk.

Now I just need to get to Lion's Lookout. From Elizabeth Quay Bus Port, I take the 7:40am 282 bus and arrive at Lion's Lookout about 40mins later. Unlike my last adventure at Lion's Lookout I actually take a picture from the lookout. That's the Perth CBD far in the distance.

As soon as I hit the trail it is apparent that spring is in the air. Wildflowers are starting to appear. There isn't a huge collection, but there are a few fields of white appearing. I will need to come back here in the next couple of months to see the best display.

Once I travel south of the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre on Gilchrist Road I am conquering new track. There are some great views around here but it is a little hilly and the paths a little slippy due to a lining of pebbles. But I survive to take in the views.

Apart from expansive views over the bushland and the Swan Coastal Plain, there is some beauty up close as well.

After heading downhill from the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and then back up again I find my way to cross roads. I also find a pink trail marker.

The pink trail marker is for the Bickley Reservoir Walk, another walk outlined by Kalamunda.wa.gov.au. I have two options to get to the bottom of the hill and towards my destination. The long way in a counter-clockwise direction along the Bickley Reservoir Walk or the quick way downhill to the south via the eastern section of the walk. I choose the quick option for now, but I might try the long way on my way back.

The quick option wasn't as quick as I originally thought. Sure, it's the most direct, but the track is steep in sections, eroded and a little slippery. Luckily I brought my walking poles.

At the bottom of the hill, I cross a small watercourse.

At first I thought this must be Bickley Brook as further downstream is the Bickley Reservoir, however, a sign further upstream (I'll get to this soon) indicates that this could be Mundy Brook. Could it be Mundy Brook now and then Bickley Brook after the reservoir? Not sure.

Anyway, after the watercourse, I hit the Mason and Bird Heritage Trail, just at the end of Hardinge Road.

Perfect, a nice wide and flat trail to enjoy. I was getting a bit tired of slippy downhill trails. Most of the trail is surrounded by bushland, but there are spots with views over the hills and the brook.

Along the way, I come across a trail maker.

This is for the Kattamorda Trail which starts at the Bickley Brook Reservoir and makes its way to Mundaring, a total of about 30km. That's a big walk! Going to need a bit more training if I want to complete the Kattamorda in one piece. I plan to one day, though. Anyway, I will enjoy a small section today.

I reach the end of the Mason and Bird Heritage trail at an old tramway bridge over Mundy Brook (I know for a fact that this is Mundy Brook, so I guess the stream crossing earlier was also Mundy Brook) which is commemorated by several plaques detailing the history.

The old tramway bridge, dating back to 1872, along with the Mason and Hill Heritage Trail I just walked formed part of the transport route for the Mason and Bird Timber Company (hence the name of the trail). The tramway was used to carry jarrah railway sleepers bound for India. The bridge is believed to the oldest surviving all-timber bridge in Australia.

Ok class, History lesson is over. Time to do what I came here to do, hike the Victoria Reservoir Walk, which starts right at the old Tramway Bridge.

As shown above, the Victoria Reservoir Walk is indicated by blue trail markers. But it's not like the trail needs to be marked as the route is obvious. Come to think of it, I can't remember seeing too many trail markers at all.

As I am at the northwest corner of the Victoria Reservoir Walk loop I have two options. Head south and get to the reservoir rather quickly, or head east and take a long way. I decide to head east. It is still rather early in the day so I might try and coincide lunchtime with a visit to the reservoir. Surely there are some tables and chairs to rest on there.

A first the path is a little rocky, but soon enough I am on a smooth, wide gravel path.

The northern section of the Victoria Reservoir Walk was an enjoyable bushland walk.

Apart from bushland there were also cleared sections so I assume the area was once farmland. Derelict fence and yards proved this.

Along the whole northern section of the Victoria Reservoir Walk the only people I came across were a couple of dirt bike riders, which quickly passed by anyway. Apart from a couple of noisy dirt bikes, the walk was rather tranquil, the only sound being of birds and the babbling of a watercourse which follows the path but cannot be readily seen.

In the distance, I can see a white gate at the end of the wide gravel track. The trail guide provided by the Kalamunda.wa.gov.au website indicates that I should take a path into the bushland, which is actually part of the Kattamorda trail. Probably the thinnest section of the whole walk so far and certainly a bush track.

The next part of the walk couldn't be any more different. The bush track hits a car park, a bitumen road and the entrance gates to the reservoir.

The gates to Victoria Reservoir are closed and are only open on weekdays. I assume I can walk here anytime, so I walk around the gates and along the road. Not the most inspiring walk.

However, along the way I notice an out-of-place small section of fencing. What is that?

It's a grave.

The grave of a two-day old baby named Francis Weston from 1876 in fact (I found some information on the family and on the heritage listing of the grave if you are interested). That's sad, but it is good to see the gravesite is such good condition.

After a bit more of a walk along the bitumen, I reach the public car park of Victoria Reservoir.

Finally off the bitumen, I follow the signs to the reservoir and back into the bushland. Soon enough I get my first glimpse of Victoria Reservoir …

views down the valley...

and a rest at the lookout.

I venture down to the Victoria Reservoir wall.

Some great views from up here but very windy. I was going to stop for an early lunch here but I was too worried it would blow away. Instead, I head downhill to the base of the reservoir. Hopefully, it is sheltered from the wind down there.

I find a shelter with tables and chairs at the bottom of the reservoir wall and take and early lunch. There is absolutely no one around (like most the hike so far) so I enjoy some fruit and snacks in peace. Peace from the wind as well.

Now that I am refueled it is time to finish the final leg of the Victoria Reservoir Walk. On the way out from the reservoir grounds, I pass by a preserved section of the original dam wall …

and an information building with absolutely no information.

Just a couple of large rocks and a table in the information building. From here it is smooth sailing along a wide gravel path.

The path follows a small watercourse and is a very leisurely stroll through bushland.

Soon enough I am back at the old tramway bridge. Victoria Reservoir Walk complete. A rather enjoyable walk. The paths were clear and not strenuous at all. The walk along the road towards the reservoir was a bit boring, but apart from that I enjoyed it. At 6km the Victoria Reservoir Walk could be finished in about 1.5 hours, but I took over 2.5 hours due to excessive photo taking and enjoying a break at the base of the reservoir.

Now I need to get back home. Back along the Mason and Bird Heritage Trail...

over Mundy Brook ...

and uphill north towards Lion's Lookout.

Instead of taking the shortest distance home (and probably the steepest) I choose to walk the Bickley Reservoir Walk (or at least a section of it that is).

Even though it is the long way around the hill it is still rather steep in sections, and rather rocky.

Just into the trail, I am amazed by possibly the tallest Grasstree (Xanthorrhoea) I have ever seen.

It would have to be close to 5m tall! Grasstrees grow at about a rate of 2.5cm a year, which means this tree could be 200 years old. That's crazy!

The Bickley Reservoir Walk is a good bushland hike with views over the hills and Bickley Reservoir.

The remainder of the Bickley Reservoir Walk passes by the reservoir and terminates in Hardinge Park. I will need to come back one day and try the rest out.

I reach the top of the hill at the north-east of the Bickley Reservoir Walk and head back through the gully and over towards Lion’s Lookout.

Like the last time I visited Lion's Lookout I had to run to catch the bus home. It was about 12:45pm when I reached the Lion's Lookout Walk and decided to consult the bus timetable. The 283 leaves Kalamunda at 12:45pm so I decided to leg it to the bus stop on Welshpool Road East. The bus arrived at 1:10pm, so I did have about 10 minutes to spare anyway.

In total, the walk took me 4.5hours (15.5 km), which included a break at the reservoir of about 20mins.

It was a great walk and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Obviously, if you have a car you could avoid the Lion's Lookout area and significantly reduce the length, time, and tougher terrain I took to get to Victoria Reservoir. The Victoria Reservoir walk itself is rather flat and the terrain easy so even those of moderate fitness could easily finish this one.

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