Walking Lake Cooloongup Flora and Fauna Reserve, Rockingham, Perth, Australia
13th of September 2014
The gold of wattle dominates on a beautiful spring morning around one of Rockingham's hidden gems. A walk with wildlife, flowers and unexploded ordnances.
- Location: Cooloongup, Rockingham, Perth, Australia
- Start or End: Start or end at either Rockingham Train Station or Warnbro Train Station.
- Length: 10.9km (6.8mi)
- Grade: Easy. Clear gravel/sand tracks. Flat.
What a beautiful spring morning it is today here in Perth. It has been a while since my last metrotrek so I am keen to take full benefit of the weather and get some walking in. But where? I am planning on leaving Rockingham at the start of next year and moving closer to work in the city, so I better take advantage of my proximity to the paths around Rockingham before leaving. My goal today is Lake Cooloongup Flora and Fauna Reserve, a lake and bushland area located to the east of Rockingham city.
Yes, another lake. I have been obsessed by lakes lately. This is three in a row now, the previous being the North Lake/Bibra Lake loop and the Lake Monger/Herdsman Lake loop. Just south of Lake Cooloongup is Lake Walyungup, so I could do a two lake loop like the previous walks. However, this seems like too arduous a task and research with Google Maps and other sources suggests that the path system is not conducive to such a walk anyway. All of the paths appear to the west of each lake, with eastern access available only by the road. I think I will just stick with Lake Cooloongup and leave Lake Walyungup for another day.
The Lake Cooloongup Flora and Fauna Reserve adventure starts off at Rockingham train station, north-east along the path following the train tracks, over the rail bridge and through the streets of the suburb of Cooloongup and then into the bush. About a 15 minute walk. This is how nature greets me.
I can't believe there is such a great bushland trail so close to Rockingham train station. Recent rains have left the area a lush green, with plenty of grasstrees popping their spiky heads up through the undergrowth and wattles out in bloom. Spring is definitely here.
I explore the northern section of the Flora and Fauna Reserve first. There are a number of paths in this area, but they all basically lead to a loop which explores the bushland away from the lake and then the lake itself. As the name suggests, the Lake Cooloongup Flora and Fauna Reserve has plenty of flora. Here is a selection of some of the flora located in the bushland to the north of the lake.
The paths are very sandy on the northern bushland section of Cooloongup Lake so it is a little difficult to traverse, but I am in no rush anyway. The sandy tracks show signs of the fauna which call Lake Cooloongup Flora and Fauna Reserve home, with numerous kangaroo tracks around. You can tell they are kangaroo tracks because of the footprints and the line between the footprints due to the tail. Either that, or it's the track of a human with a medical condition in need of serious attention.
I am feeling like a real bushman at the moment, using tracks and animal scat to stalk out wildlife. This is my Bear Grylls moment. However, I think Bear Grylls would be able to walk through the sand with a little more poise and I have enough water so there will be no need to squeeze moisture from the kangaroo poo littering the ground for survival. I am sure the kangaroos are hiding in the bushes laughing at me. In all seriousness though, I did come across a small mob of kangaroos bouncing towards the sandy track, but they quickly scattered as soon as they saw me. They were large kangaroos as well, the perfect size for disembowelling and creating a warm flesh sleeping bag should I get lost out here in the cold. Let's hope I don't have to go that far with my Bear Grylls moment.
Closer to the northern edge of the lake the scenery changes. There are less tall trees, it is scrubbier and there are expansive flat areas devoid of major vegetation, which I guess must be flood plains for the lake. Also, there is very little sign of water. In the distance I can see some blue surrounded by thick grasses. Like many of the lake walks around Perth there aren't many water views. I think today will be no different.
I continue along the path on the western side of Lake Cooloongup. The scenery is consistent with bushy scrub to the west and either thick grasses or stark plains to the east.
The consistency of the scenery is broken up with a few surprises of the fauna kind.
Those pelicans will be mightily disappointed with the lake. "We flew all that way for this! Where is all the water?" they would say if they spoke English. I bet the kid pelicans in the back of the formation are all like "Are we there yet? I'm hungry, I'm thirsty and I'm bored" and then the parent pelicans at the front are all like "Shut up! Or I am turning this formation around and we are going home!"
On the path was this little fella.
This frog is definitely a long way from home. He has many a hop before reaching the lake. But there must be some little patches of water around here as the path is muddy. Not muddy enough that you lose your shoe but just muddy at the surface, making the path very slippery.
There is some interesting flora along the west bank of Lake Cooloongup as well.
The path deviates from the lake and heads into the thick bush to the south. There are wattles in bloom everywhere. I have never seen so many in my life.
The further south I head the less dense the bush becomes, but there are still plenty of wattles and larger trees to enjoy.
As I approach Safety Bay Road I can hear the sound of cars in the distance. I also hear the squeak and rattles of an approaching mountain biker. Wait a minute ... since I left the suburban streets of Cooloongup and entered the reserve I have not seen a soul. I nearly walked the whole way without seeing anyone. It is then that I noticed this sign.
Yep, that's a sign indicating that there are unexploded bombs in the area. The navy formally used this area as a bombing range. No wonder I only encountered one other human. Think it is time to get out of here while remaining on "defined paths or firebreaks". In all seriousness though, if you do venture over here just stick to the path and you will be fine. I wonder if the kangaroo's also stick to the paths?
My adventure around Lake Cooloongup Flora and Fauna Reserve formally ends when I reach Safety Bay Road. Warnbro train station is only a few minutes' walk away and soon enough I am on my way home using public transport. How's that for convenience.
This walk is a Rockingham gem. I do suggest a visit to the area in late winter and spring when the wattles are in full bloom and the vegetation is in a lush state. Just dont expect many water views.
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Have you taken this walk? Any suggestions or errors? Please comment below.