Main features / Highlights
This walk is a good exploration of the quite rugged Wungong Brook Gorge area which lies within Wungong Regional Park. The Gorge has been formed by the Wungong Brook eroding about 200m into the granite bedrock as it crosses the western edge of the Darling Range. The walk includes three energetic, but well-separated climbs out of, and back into the Gorge area (each climb approx. 150-200m). This provides for lots of great views along the Gorge and across the Swan Coastal Plain from both the north and south sides. The walk also includes about 3km of easy walking along a section of a wide track which follows the Brook from east to west through the Gorge from near the Wungong Dam to the South Western Hwy.
Note: Along the banks of Wungong Brook, as occurs along many other rivers and streams near the Darling Scarp, the invasive pink- to red-flowering weed Watsonia spp. is rapidly infesting the stream banks. The Narrow-Leaf Cotton Bush (or Swan Plant; Gomphocarpus fruticosus) is another common weed becoming established, which attracts large numbers of Wanderer (Monarch) butterflies (Danaus plexippus) to the area as the larvae feed on the weed (but don’t control it).
Shorter and easier walk options: The full route is rewarding but quite challenging, but it is also very flexible and many alternative route options exist. Choices can be made during the actual walk to suit personal preferences for distance and amount of off-track and uphill walking. The walk can be easily shortened to 12km or less by bypassing one or more of the three main loops that climb out of and back into the Gorge. Four options are included in the Route notes, but many other variations could also work well.
Post-walk activity: If your walk finishes early enough, stop in at the nearby Armadale Reptile Centre which is on the South Western Hwy about 1.5km toward Armadale from the Start point of this walk. This rescue and education centre is open 7 days a week (10am to 4pm) and has over 50 different species of snakes, pythons, lizards and other native wildlife on display in natural surroundings. Well worth a visit!
From the Rails Crescent Start point (waypoint ‘START’) cross the nearby stream at the ford at ‘1’ and follow a track to the junction with a W-E vehicle track at ‘1-1’. Turn left (eastward) and within 30m veer right at ‘1-2’ to follow another vehicle track for about 100m to ‘1-3’. Then leave the track by veering left to continue SE gently upslope across an open grassed area, soon climbing more steeply through trees, and partly following an old vehicle track. Veer left (NE) at ‘2’ up a steepening broad ridge through open forest and grass trees via ‘2-1’, following an informal track. Meet a N-S vehicle track at ‘2-2’ and turn left to follow the track northward for only about 40m to ‘3’. Then veer right ( ENE) to continue uphill off-track. Reach the W-E track again at ‘3-1’ and get good views SE across the side valley. Follow the track initially a short distance eastward, then uphill northward via ‘3-2’ to reach the crest of the ridge at ‘4’. Turn eastward to follow an informal track along the ridge through forest, passing a very small survey cairn near ‘4-1’. Cross another vehicle track after only about 150m at ‘4-2’. Follow the track to reach (at ‘5’) a N-S vehicle track along the fenced boundary of Bungendore Park which lies to the north of the Gorge. Turn right to follow the track and after only 30m turn left at ‘6’ to follow another vehicle track into the Park (with a gate blocking vehicle entry). Follow the track gently uphill for about 250m to ‘7’ and then veer southward off-track and gently downhill to reach after only about 100m (at ‘8’) a small granite outcrop with good views SW down the valley to the Coastal Plain. Veer right (westward) though low heathland and across more outcrops to ‘9’ and then descend quite steeply WNW to cross a small gully to a small rock outcrop at ’10’. Then descend quite steeply westward through scratchy shrubland to reach at ‘11’ the previously crossed N-S vehicle track. Follow the track downhill for 500m via ‘12’, following a stream course just to your left for most of the way. Veer left (southward) at a track junction at ‘13’ and cross the stream. Reach the main track through the Wungong Gorge at ‘15’. The walk route follows this vehicle track eastward through the Gorge for about 2 km. Ignore a left fork in the track at ’15-1’ which leads to an old abandoned granite quarry on the left that was mined in the 1960s to provide rock for the Garden Island Causeway. Within the next 300m along the main track you will see broken rocks left from the quarrying. Soon after, at ‘16’ cross Wungong Brook by a concrete bridge and veer left at ’16-1’. Then veer left off the main track at ’16-2’ for a short diversion down a side track to a flow gauging station and small weir on the Brook at ‘16-3’ at the foot of steep bluffs along the northern side of the Gorge. The large rock ‘slab’ above here is popular with climbers. Return back along the side track to the main track and turn left to continue along the south bank for 500m, with more good views of the steep rock faces. Ignore a minor, concealed old sidetrack entry on the right at ‘16-4’ and re-cross the Brook to the north side via a bridge at about ’17’. (Alternatively at ‘16-4’, see Option 1 below if you prefer a much-shortened ~9.5km walk .) before reaching ‘17’ veer right at ‘16-4’ to follow a very overgrown old vehicle track up and around the southern slopes to rejoin the route at ’40-2’. But be warned the track requires some detours around thickly overgrown sections. See map for the track location.) After ’18’ the track climbs gently. At ’19’ turn left off the main track to follow a side track northward up an initially fairly steep ridge. (Alternatively at ‘19’, see Option 2 below, if you prefer to shorten the walk to about 12km.) After ‘20’ the track rises more gently, and veers NE crossing a small gully and soon rises to a small grassy clearing (the pad of a former, since demolished homestead) where a vehicle side track veers to the right (eastward) off the main track at ‘21’. Follow the side track up the hillside; It soon curves northward to ‘22’. Pass a partly concealed old concrete water tank on the right and immediately after locate a vague old track, also on the right at ‘23’. Follow the track ENE to ‘24’, then veer left onto an old vehicle track. Follow this partly overgrown track northward for 200m. Turn right at ‘25’ to head eastward off-track through the forest to meet a vehicle track junction at ‘26’. Take the track directly ahead. Ignore a sidetrack on the right at ‘26-1’ and continue to another vehicle track junction at ‘27’. Veer sharp right to follow the eastward vehicle track to a bend in the track at ‘27-1’. The continue ESE-ward through the forest, following a minor, informal bike/foot-track along a broad ridge. At about ’27-2’, after the minor track veers left, continue off-track upslope, SE-ward to meet an old track along a former N-S fenceline at ‘28. Veer right to follow the old fenceline across the flat hill top, soon passing from young regenerating jarrah fortest through wandoo woodland and balgas. Pass an old W-E vehicle track/fence bounday junction at ‘29’. Continue southward down the steepening ridge taking care not to trip on possible stray loose wires from the old fenceline. The track emerges from the forest onto an open, grassy hillside (former farmland) at ‘30’. Follow the track down the hillside, gaining a view up the valley to Wungong Dam, 1km to the ESE. Also about 500m across the valley from here is the site of the homestead of the pioneering Butcher family which was built in the 1860s – only the foundations remain. Meet another vehicle track at ‘31’. Turn left (eastward) to rejoin the main track through the valley at ‘32’. (Note: If you have opted to start the walk from the eastern access point near the Admiral Road carpark and Wungong Lower Dam picnic area you can link into the walk circuit at this point.) Reach another junction at ‘33’ and turn right to stay on the main track for the next 1km as it heads down the valley. Then at ‘34’ turn left down the short steep vehicle track to cross a shallow ford across the Brook at ’35’. Follow the track up the south bank and gently up the fairly open grassy hillside. At ‘35-1’ consider making a short (30-40m) diversion off the vehicle track to scramble up the nearby rocky outcrop on the left for a rest stop with pleasant views across the valley. Then continue on the vehicle track around the hillside via ‘36’. At ‘37’ where the vehicle track heads left uphill, veer off-track downslope to the right across the steepish, lightly wooded hillside to ’37-1’. (Alternatively at ‘37’, see Option 3 below if you prefer to bypass about 1.4km of the following quite challenging off-track walking between ’37’ and ’42’.) At ‘37-1’ veer right (NNE) to head more directly down the hillside to ‘38’, taking your time to pick your own easiest route through or around a fairly dense patch of Darwinia shrubs and balgas. At ‘38’ you are within 50m of Wungong Brook. Veer left, to head northward along slope, continuing to pick the easiest route through the often dense shrubland via ’38-1’ and ‘38-2’. At ‘38-3’ then veer left (west) and pick your way up a steepening slope to a clearer area on the hillside at ‘39’. Turn sharp left again (southward) along slope to reach a rocky area at ‘40’. Scramble up the rocky slope and soon enter a patch of fairly dense shrubland toward ’40-1’. Take this short section of shrubland slowly, and avoid scratches by following animal trail/s to pick the easiest way through. Cross an old vehicle track at ’40-2’ and continue along slope through shrubland. (Alternatively at ‘40-2’, see Option 4 below if you prefer to bypass the next 600m of off-track walking.) Soon after ’40-3’, reach the beginning of a more steeply sloping open area of outcrop on the south side of the Gorge. There are excellent views across and along the Gorge from about this point. At ’41’ veer left (SW) to climb the rocky slope and soon reach a broad area of heathland and very open forest around the edge of a southern plateau. From ‘42’ walk westward mainly along slope via ‘42-1’ and ’42-2’ through mixed shrubland and heathland, then climb gently WSW through low heathland to meet a vehicle track at ‘43’. Turn right to follow the track westward, passing a side track joining from the left at ‘43-1’. Turn left (southward) at a Y-junction at ‘44’. At ’44-1’ consider making a worthwhile small diversion on a track to the right for a rest stop at a rock outcrop at ‘44-2’ which offers good views across the western end of the Gorge. Then continue on the old vehicle track until the track turns sharp right at a stream gully at ’45’. Leave the track to cross the gully and climb southward upslope, initially picking a way through low shrubland to soon enter relatively open forest after about ’46’. Continue along slope and cross a minor vehicle track at ’46-1’ before reaching a wide W-E vehicle track at ‘47’. Turn right to follow the track westward, crossing a gully at ’48’. Continue westward on the track, gaining some good views again, north and NE across the Gorge. On reaching ’49’, where the vehicle track veers to the left (SW), continue westward, off-track and downslope to the right. (Take care to avoid possible stray barbwire from a former fence along the north side of the vehicle track.) Soon meet another vehicle track at ‘50’. Turn right to follow the track cautiously down a steep gully which is deeply eroded. (Don’t rush!). The track crosses to the west side of the gully at about ‘51’ and then climbs the hillside northward to a ridge at ‘52’ from where there is a wonderful view eastward up the Gorge. The track then descends initially very steeply to cross Wungong Brook at a small ford just after ‘53’. (Alternatively at ‘51’, see Option 5 below if you prefer to bypass this very steep descent on a deeply eroded and gravelly track.) After crossing the Brook veer left (westward) at ‘54’ and meet another track at ‘55’. Follow the track initially westward via ‘56’ along the north bank of the Brook and close to the fenced boundary with farmland to the south. Where the track veers left at ‘57’, climb the steepish grassed slope to the right to meet the main Gorge track at ‘58’. Follow the main track WNW for about 200m passing an old slate quarry on the right. Then veer NW at ‘59’ to reach a vehicle track at ‘60’. Follow this track back across the open grassed area and then retrace your steps from the outbound journey (via ‘1-3’, ‘1-2’ etc) to get back to the Start point.
Option 1, for much-shortened (~9.5km) walk: Before reaching ‘17’ veer right at ‘16-4’ to follow a very overgrown old vehicle track up and around the southern slopes to rejoin the route at ‘40-2’. But be warned the track requires some detours around thickly overgrown, scratchy sections. See map for the track location.)
Option 2, for shortened (~12km) walk: Bypass the eastern section from ‘19’ to ‘34’simply by continuing 40m further on the main track beyond ‘19’ to reach ‘34’ directly, then cross the Brook at ‘35’ and continue on the described route from there.
Option 3, for bypassing off-track walking between ’37’ and ’42’: By continuing on the vehicle track at ‘37’ you can bypass about 1.4km of off-track walking between ’37’ and ’42’. The track soon bends sharply southward and climbs gently uphill for about 300m before switching back WNW-ward via ‘Alt-37-1’to a junction with a nearby N-S track (30m to west). After reaching the N-S track, follow it northward, mostly downhill for about 400m to pass an old track joining from the right at ’Alt-37-2’. The vehicle track then zigzags southward up to the hilltop before heading westward for about 500m to ‘43’. Turn left at ‘43’ to follow a vehicle track due south. After 400m, at the next junction, turn right to follow another vehicle track west along a boundary fence to rejoin the describeed walk route at ‘47’. This option adds only about 0.3km to the total walk distance, but avoids some challenging (though rewarding!) off-track walking and should be significantly quicker.
Option 4, for bypassing off-track walking between ’40-1′ and ’43’: Instead of crossing th track at ‘40-2’, turn left to follow it uphill to meet a vehicle track within 50m at ‘Alt-37-2’. Turn right (initially westward) to follow the track as it zigzags up the steepish hillside and then flattens westward along slope to rejoin the described route at ‘43’. This option adds only 200m to the total walk distance.
Option 5, for bypassing very steep track descent at ‘52’: At ‘51’ veer right (NNE) to leave the main vehicle track and follow an old vehicle track down the gully to ‘Alt-52-1’. At this point ignore the informal bike/foot-track which veers eastward. Instead pick a way NNE along the left side of the stream course through initially dense shrubland. You will very soon find the remnants of a very old track which is heavily overgrown with shrubs in places. Take time to pick your easiest route along the general line of the old track and after 200m emerge at a good vehicle track at ‘Alt-52-2’. Turn left to follow the track for 400m to rejoin the decribed route at ‘53’ near the Wungong Gorge crossing point. This option doesn’t add significantly to the total walk distance.
Access / Directions
Follow South Western Hwy south from Armadale toward Byford for approx. 4.5km, then turn left into Rails Crescent (south end of the Crescent, not the north end which also meets the S.W. Hwy, but about 1.5km closer to Armadale). Immediately after turning off the Hwy, park on a small grassed area on right hand side of Rails Crescent at the Start point for the walk. (For a much-shortened walk, a second car can be left at a carpark opposite the Wungong Lower Dam picnic area which is reached via Albany Hwy and Admiral Road).
Alternative starting points:
– Main western entry to Gorge track: See waypoint ‘ALT-ENTRY1’. This is off South Western Highway, 400m south of Rails Crescent Wungong. Roadside parking only.
– Main eastern entry to Gorge track: See waypoint ‘ALT-ENTRY2’. This is off Admiral Rd (via Albany Highway), opposite the Wungong Lower Dam picnic area carpark.
West along Wungong Brook track to South Western Hwy, or east along track to Admiral Road.
‘CockatooCare’, Western Australian Museum – Provides good summaries of the endemic black cockatoo species that can be seen in this area, the most common being the Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.
Frank O’Connor’s Birding Western Australia – For a bird spotter’s summary.
Landscope magazine, DEC, Autumn 2008, pp.40-45. – Article (on the history, management, etc) of Wungong Regional Park which covers both Wungong Valley and much of Churchman Brook to the NE.
“Perth Rock Climbing Guide”, Climbers’ Association of W.A., 2010 (2nd ed.) – Includes a climbers’ perspective of the Gorge.
“Travellers guide to the Parks & Reserves of Western Australia”, Simon Nevill, 4th Edn. 2011, p.48 (Simon Nevill Publications) – Includes a brief summary of the adjacent Bungendore Park.
“Wungong Dam”, Water Corp. – Information on picnic areas, history of the dam, etc.
Other map availability
“South West WA 25K Scale Topo Maps”, Greg Harewood & Landgate, 2015. – Digital raster; ECW format on 16GB USB. See tile #316-2133-IV-SW for relevant map coverage.