- Start or End: Loop walk starting and ending at Joondalup Train Station (Google Map Directions).
- Length: 19.2km (11.9mi) in about 4hr
- Grade: Medium. Paved, wide flat paths. Long.
- Date Walked: 29th of March 2014
For a walk around a lake there isn't much water, but there are Kangaroos bouncing on pine needles and Galahs searching for freshly roasted nuts.
I have lived in Rockingham, south of Perth, for more than a year now. As expected a number of my walks have been around the coastline of Rockingham and because of the ease of the Mandurah train line to the city, many of my other walks have been close to the Perth CBD. Today it is time to take a longer train journey past the city and into the far northern suburbs of Perth. Today's destination, Lake Joondalup, aptly named as it resides near the suburb of Joondalup ... and it's a lake. Lake Joondalup is the largest lake in the Perth Metropolitan area and lies with the Yellagonga Regional Park.
Little did I know that this weekend is the Joondalup Festival, which means that a number of roads are blocked off and stages, tents and exhibits are dotted along the road, pathways and parks. Luckily for me I am here early in the morning so the festival is still setting up. The festival did make finding my way from Joondalup Train Station to Lake Joondalup a little more difficult than expected but soon enough I was at Neil Hawkins Park, a small green parkland popular for family picnics located on the western bank of Lake Joondalup.
From a small jetty off Neil Hawkins Park I begin my official trek around Lake Joondalup. The small jetty provides a panoramic view of today's task. Perth hasn't seen substantial rain in months, so Lake Joondalup is well below capacity, but the water views from the small jetty are still spectacular.
Spoiler Alert!! This is definitely the best view of the water I will encounter all trip. For a lake walk I hardly see any water at all. Today's walk is definitely more of a vegetation and wildlife walk.
Just north of Neil Hawkins Park is a lookout which could possibly provide some good water views. Unfortunately, the majority of the water views are hindered by the bush canopy.
The walk along the north-western side of Lake Joondalup is well serviced by perfect paths bordered on each side by dense grass and a variety of local flora. There isn't really anything that exciting along here, no water views, but a least it is extremely quiet. The only people around are a few joggers and a couple of dog walkers. Everyone must be getting ready for a big day at the Joondalup Festival.
At the northern tip of Lake Joondalup the path deviates well away from the lake bank and I find myself walking past a retirement village, the Wanneroo Botanical Gardens (which has mini golf!) and a home improvement store. Resisting the urge to test my putting skills or improve the house I don't own I continue on along the path which now hugs the busy Wanneroo Road.
The path finally heads west away from Wanneroo Road at a pine plantation within Calm Reserve. Not sure why it is called Calm Reserve, I can still hear the traffic from Wanneroo Road. The pine plantation of Calm Reserve is definitely not the most inspiring of places but I do like the symmetry.
A surprise hopped into the plantation part of the walk with a mob of kangaroos resting amongst the perfectly aligned pines. Why kangaroos would venture into a pine plantation I don't know. There is absolutely no grass to eat due to the thick covering of pine needles, so it can't be for food. Maybe the cushioning of a pine needle mattress and the shade of the towering pines makes for a great weekend morning sleep-in.
After the pines the path through Calm Reserve does venture through natural bushland settings before linking to the grassed parklands of Banyandah Park. South of Banyandah Park the path follows Scenic Drive, with the suburbs to the east and large grassed parklands to the west. This stretch takes in Lake Joondalup Park, Rotary Park and Scenic Drive Park, which according to the signs are home to snakes. This is snake country!
Despite the warnings I do venture off the path into the grass fields of Lake Joondalup Park in the hope of actually seeing Lake Joondalup. As you can see the views are not that great and there are even more snake warning signs.
With that disappointment I backtrack to the main path next to Scenic Drive and continue south. Despite the name, Scenic Drive isn't really that scenic, unless you like grassed fields and suburbia. The path finally deviates off Scenic Drive at Poinciana Place before reaching two ponds within the bushland near James Spiers Drive. Despite this being a lake walk, this is the closest I have been to water in quite a while.
Right next to the ponds is this large two-story lookout.
As you may have guessed, there are no water views from the lookout tower but vast areas of lush grasslands. I dare say when Lake Joondalup is full this spot is a hive of activity for local wildlife, especially waterfowl. Definitely not popular today, but well worth a look even at this dry time of year.
Shortly after the two-storey lookout the path ventures quickly into the suburbs and then west between the southern tip of Lake Joondalup and the busy Ocean Reef Road. The surroundings of the path along Ocean Reef Road are not the best, but I did find some kangaroos feeding on the emerald green grasses sucking the final skerricks of water from the lake bed.
The path departs Ocean Reef Road and heads north along the natural bushland of Lake Joondalup. The walk along the western edge of Lake Joondalup is much more enjoyable as the path is right amongst the bushland.
Picnic Cove Park is the only break within the bushland walk on the south-western edge of Lake Joondalup and is the closest I have been to the waters of Lake Joondalup since I started at the small jetty off Neil Hawkins Park (which I will soon be back at!).
Between Picnic Cove Park and my final destination of Neil Hawkins Park the bushland had been recently menaced by fire. The lack of foliage didn't deter the local birdlife, who seemed very happy to scrounge around the ashes. What are they looking for though? Roasted nuts and seeds?
Soon enough I am back at Neil Hawkins Park where I started my trek around Lake Joondalup. This morning Neil Hawkins Park was quiet, but is now coming to life with family picnics and children's birthday parties. I forgot to bring my picnic basket and rug, so instead it's time for me to make my way back through the Joondalup festival to the train station and then home.
In summary, don't expect water views on a walk around Lake Joondalup, especially after a long dry summer. Also, the western side of the Lake Joondalup is definitely the best as the path is within natural settings, unlike the suburban roads and mown grassed parkland on the eastern side. The eastern side did have kangaroos though. All up, an enjoyable morning walk.