Thursday, 27 Apr 2017
Kangaroo, Emu and Echidna Walk trails
This article was compiled by local resident Bill Scott who regularly walked our local area and was happy to share his experiences.
Bill's walking trails
There are a large number of walktrails around Roleystone that include fantastic bush situations and views out-of-this world. And, in the right conditions you will see a bandicoot and possibly a wallaby, a goanna or even an echidna, along with the usual bobtail lizards and, of course, the squillions of kangaroos and cockatoos. People always seem to worry about snakes; dugites, tiger snakes and even death adders. In my 20 years of walking about 80 km a fortnight on bush walktrails, I have seen only one tiger snake and a dugite. Point is that, provided you make some noise, and I usually wear thongs, there isn't a worry with snakes. They are more afraid of you, and much more at risk. Be encouraged to walk, and as much as possible, in our beautiful bush walktrails.
The normal trails along the river include the ones around Roley Pool, the Roley Pool Walktrails. General maps of these walktrails are presented on the display to the west of the Soldier's Road Bridge; on the display is some information on flora and fauna and pictures of some of the scenes. On the north side there is a track going from Soldier's Road East through to the Pool, Roley Pool Walktrail . It passes the old pipeline which has a handrail but is considered unsafe and is closed. At the pool there are picnic facilities, with sheltered tables. Roley pool used to be a popular public site for swimming and picnicking before and during most of the 1900s. Until recently there also was a rough rock building with male and female loos along the rock stair north of the Canning River. There is access to Roley Pool and parking along Collins Rd, off Thompson Rd, down the 91 rock stairs. Continuing your walk along the North side, it is a bit rough going but you can get to the ‘Face Rock'; looking to the east is a startling and complete silhouette of an aboriginal spirit in the rock, bulbous eyes, chin, eyebrows, nose and chin; perhaps this is Bakoke, the spirit of the Canning Gorge.
The southside walktrails, The Boardwalk and Thompson Track, go completely between Soldier's Road and Thompson Road. There are many pools or billabongs and most are inviting in the summer heat. Take care, however, so as not to disturb or harm the aquatic animals or their habitat; native fish, freshwater clams, marron and gilgies. Importantly, the moss that grows on the rocks is incredibly slippery! You will see large granite (or gneiss) outcrops and single rocks, including water rapids along much of the path. Included on The Boardwalk is a rambly wooden footpath. Along Thompson Track there are special almost circular ‘bathtubs' at Nature's Spa and several scenic outlooks. The track (sort of) carries on as a walktrail along the Canning River to Heritage Drive, where a bridge crosses to Croyden Road. Just after Thompson road on the left there is a section of the river called ‘The Cascades' that was an old ford. A small shortcut across a paddock near the East end (near heritage drive) follows the old course of Bevan Road using an earlier version of the bridge across the Canning River; from the bridge Bevan Road led directly around to the right and upward to a homestead on the nearby hill.
Kangaroo, Emu and Echidna Walk trails
Along Churchman's Brook, to the west and east of where the brook enters the "possum" tail of the Canning River, there are a number of longer and steeper walktrails; the Kangaroo, Emu and Echidna Walktrails, in particular, are shown on the map. They are several kilometres in length but shorter sections may be accessible. The Echidna track, particularly, starts at the end of Stocker Road. Go over the steel bridge, follow the dirt road to the right through the turnaround to the gate and turnstile. There is a "Churchman's Bushland" sign there; the track goes steeply up the hill. Some 240m along is a ‘T' junction with a seat; the Echidna walktrail joins here and continues along to the East, mostly an old road/firetrail along the Canning River. Turning to the south at the ‘T' is also the Echidna walktrail which goes up the ridge which has many steep sections with flats but there are great scenic lookouts of the whole valley. On the ridge the Echidna walktrail joins the Emu or Kangaroo Walktrails. Markings on some of the walktrails are provided by the volunteers of the Churchman's Bushland Association, including signage near many of the native trees and shrubs, and a "Botanical Walk". The west end of the Abandoned Air Strip, particularly, has a special species of Zamia palm that is one or two metres high. A special circular loop passes near the top of the climbing rocks, has outstanding views and presents many native species including Bull Banksia, Prickly Poison and the Spreading Snottygobble as well as the scrub species Bracken Fern, Karri Hazel, Old Man's Beard and Sally Wattle/Orange Wattle.
Following the Echidna track East along the river there is mostly cleared paddocks to the south but in 300m or so on one sees the ‘almost bridge' made by the water supply pipes which supply drinking water to Perth from the Canning Dam. Along there somewhere north of the river, smudged on the map and inaccessible, is supposed to be one of Moondyne Joe's caves. Further, about another kilometre from the pipes, the "possum tail" shape meanderings of the Canning River lead to the junction with Churchman's Brook. From there much of the brook is waterfalls that are not really visible from the track; the brook is not very accessible partly because of private holdings. Another 500m of fire track becomes steep near the end, and you reach a relatively flat trail with a ‘Y' junction just west of former lot 6. Carrying on to the right and west, the fire trail fades into a minimal bush at a large Marri tree with an orange echidna marker. At that point, the walktrail takes you right up the ridge perhaps another 200m higher and past the vertical climbing rocks. Much of this is marked with white arrows. Don't despair as you climb; at 250m along there is a flat that is proper Yarri Forest; in front of you and through the rather sharp Karri Hazel bush are the dolerite climbing rocks, a shear, vertical face rock.
Another way to reach the last part of the Echidna track is off Soldier's Road, a new part of the Darling Range Regional Park at lot 6, about half way between Wymond Road and the Churchman Brook Dam. There you will find a small, white arrow that, along with some orange echidna symbols will be your guide to the climbing rocks. There is room for one or two cars in the former driveway and therein; you enter ‘The Brook' down a slope and over Churchman's Brook; on the other side there is a small parking space, a former house site. Before the site the walktrail deviates to the left, up a fire trail and through the white CALM gate. Continuing, the firetrail runs along the west side of Churchman's Brook to meet the Echidna Trail, 400m from Soldier's Road entrance. You join the ‘Y' of the trail and shortly hit a large Marri tree with the proper echidna marker, with an arrow to show the direction of the upward track.
Somehow it is easy to miss one's way along this run so, be warned, it is easy to get lost. The track winds ever upward along a ridge among the remaining Moitch trees (Moitch is the Aboriginal name for Eucalyptus rudis or commonly known as Flooded Gum), a grazed slope, into some relatively dense Yarri bush, a wooded, broad, flattened region with Bracken Fern. Looking back you see some fantastic views of the Churchman/Canning valley, with hardly a house visable. There, after your 250m stretch and about 100m vertical climb, you feel on the top of the world. But, whoa, through a tunnel of Karri Hazel there is a vertical climbing rock, well attended by most of the climbers of Perth. The rock has a vertical face of more than 20m. After resting you carry on along to the east but mostly south and up, ever more up, following the two trails made by the climbers, roughly 400m along and another 100m vertically. This part of the trail is poor; some horses have come through so it is dusty or slippery and must be traversed with caution though you don't need to be a rock climber. There are really two trails out from the climbing rock; they end up at the other trails at or near to Beeloo Close, the 51key carpark; one trail (to the west and slightly closer to the rock) has big steps that are tough to climb or descent but are safe, the other is easier of slope but dusty and slippery. The 51key carpark is a flat open reception area for all three walktrails; The Kangaroo, The Emu and the Echidna. It has room for several cars and usually cars of rockclimbers are parked there. Signs and information about most of the tracks are presented at the carpark, except for the Echidna Walktrail. The rough map (below) is a little old but should be of some help.