Grade: easy but demanding due to distance length.
Approx 34kms long from Mundaring Weir Road (start in Sculpture Park Mundaring, no trailhead until 50 metres down the path alongside Mundaring Weir Road) to Bickley Reservoir, Hardinge Road Orange Grove. Again easy to start / finish at the Hardinge Road carpark 500 metres pass Trailhead at south end.
The Kattamordo Heritage Trail is one of many government funded Bicentennial projects created 30+ years ago then forgotten about & signage not maintained. A lot of the trail now shares mountain bike trails. The sign markers on trees & trailhead signs read Kattamorda but apparently this was a spelling mistake. I will refer to as Kattamordo not kattamorda. As you will see, the trail is poorly signed, the markers remaining are quite faded & falling off the trees. When I completed this trail only a couple of months ago, I did it in 4 parts, often getting lost, back tracking & guessing a lot which branch of trail to take. When I returned Wednesday 19th August to complete the track in one day, I have been pleasantly surprised to see well overdue track maintenance happening. A group called the friends of Kattamorda heritage trail are re-marking the trail with metal posts & orange ribbons making it much easier now not to get lost! There might even be talk of updating the tree sign markers!
So as close as we can get to the former heritage trail I chose to set off from the south end, starting at the Bickley Brook Reservoir on a very chilly 7.30am start. The first 4 odd kilometres of the Kattamordo Heritage Trail also share the same path as another bicentennial trail called the Bird & Mason Heritage Trail. The track is a wide flat 4WD road for the first kilometre. The Bickley Brook runs parallel to the track and at this time of year, I walk to the sounds of nature & water flowing along Bickley Brook close by. Little tracks spur off to the Brook as I watch the water gushing along. The first bit of history I come across is the oldest wooden tramway bridge left standing in Australia. This bridge is a feature of the Bird & Mason Heritage trail.
The trail then veers uphill over a very rocky ground pathway before smoothing out to a nice flat, firm narrower trail. Before the road there has been a burn in recent months with the area still noticeably burnt out. 1st section to the road crossing that leads to the Victoria Reservoir done & now I’m warmed up! Jacket & gloves are off as I traverse through section 2 to Canning Road. Now I am walking just the Kattamordo Heritage Trail. Another 4 kms along a very nice easy wide 4WD track through pleasant bush land in the Korung National Park. I spot my first Orchids; Hoffman’s Spider-Orchid & Jug Orchids. There are still remaining trail sign markers on some trees. It’s always a delight to find one & be assured you are still on the right track! But a trail head information board located near the Victoria Reservoir end points that you are at the corner of Pickering Brook road & Canning road which clearly you are not! So I believe the signage had been moved from its original location & not placed back.
The trail crosses close to the intersecting roads of Canning & Pickering Brook Road. There are a couple of Cafes & General store nearby, but recently I found them closed. When they do reopen in the future, it would be an awesome spot to dive in for a quick coffee or cake if one is feeling inclined! Maybe more so if heading north to south. I had only been walking just over 90 minutes so kept going into more bushland, part of the George Spriggs Reserve. It can get confusing at this point as new markers haven’t been placed & there is many bike trails going every which way. I look for the older faded orange ribbon I followed last time, doubted myself 200 metres along & turned back only to realise I was on the right track. That turn around was worth it as I happened to spot the only 2 Bird Orchids by the side of the path. More excitement at finding a new Orchid & lots of photos later, I continued along. Previous times out here I have passed mountain bikers but it was very quiet this day, it was just me, myself & I.
The trail shares another Kalamunda walk trail (Carmel trail) for a short ways down a long hill, along winding narrow goat tracks through some mud puddles & over big rocks. Not on the trail but to the left on a higher bike trail is an interesting disused wooden bike ladder circuit ramp that is no longer safe to use that has been nailed into a large fallen tree. Once at the bottom of the hill, the trail enters another variable landscape of vineyards, orchards, farms & large dam. This also signals the first real tough steep ascent. Once pass the farms, I turn right & straight up and up passing a house with a barking maremma looking dog to the left. Kangaroos enjoying the peace & solitude, upset by my arrival, hop across the wide 4WD track in front of me disappearing into the bushland.
I grab a protein ball snack at the top, catching my breath, before continuing to Gunjin Road through more narrow winding trails. I pass more clusters of Jug Orchids & Blue Fairy Orchids. Not to mention the various wildflowers also blooming! More cycle tracks but no one around. The sun has emerged & it is feeling quite warm. I cross onto now the Mundi Biddi cycle trail that shares a lot of the north half of the Kattamordo Heritage trail. Onto Gunjin Road, a wide & frequented road for 4WDrivers & especially mountain bikers where I finally see other people! A 4WD car approaches me & stops while I near it hoping the driver isn’t some weirdo. Well he wasn’t, just waiting for his dog to catch up whom is running behind on the road as he drives. He lets me know the dog is friendly & drives on. Another form of ‘walking your dog’! Gunjin Road may be considered the least favourite part of the trail, it’s long, & basically you walk along the dirt road that steadily climbs up to the top known as Mount Gunjin, second big ascent & almost the halfway point. Mount Gunjin use to be a fire lookout tower site back in 1921. Now base to a web of mountain bike trails. I take a second break & snack some more. Being a Wednesday, it is quiet up the top here. But weekends it is a busy hive of cyclists congregating before deciding which trail to tackle next. This day saw a small hub of cyclists taking a break. One van came up with a trailer of bikes. Out jumped a group of people, grabbing their bikes off the trailer & heading off down a trail. Yes, it can be tricky to share with cyclists, having to watch out for them & move out the way before they bowl you down. But I enjoy being part of the exciting atmosphere. Also the bike trails have such cool & funny names like dead cats tail, mo fo & muffin top. The temperature drops, I start feeling chilled so put my jacket back on.
Heading downwards for section 3 now, watch for that orange ribbon to the left side of the road or you will continue down the road to somewhere else! Now the Kattamordo Heritage trail follows a bike trail called Little Oven Circuit, cutting through other bike tracks heading to The Dell on Mundaring Weir Road. Short, sweet & downhill. I pass an upside down, flattened red car that must have happened recently as was not there on my earlier hike in the area. This is where I noticed the signs stuck to trees at the intersection of bike trails that read out the friends of kattamorda heritage trail. Huh! They were not there before! The trail continues to the left of the popular Dell carpark where more cyclists congregate & take off on other bike trails. It’s after 12pm but I just recently stopped so decide to go further along before having my lunch. The trail continues along what use to be the route of a wooden railed tramway taking timber from the Dell to Mundaring Weir back in 1908. The line was discontinued eventually due to many accidents. The old Kattamordo sign markers on trees re emerge not seen since Gunjin road. The track is wide that descends gradually where it crosses another interesting old trail called the Winjan Track that I struggle to find information on, then the Bibbulmun Track. After this, it is a steep long descent down towards Helena River where the track almost reaches the river, goes right & follows the river from slightly above towards Mundaring Weir which is fairly close now. The traffic on Mundaring Weir Road is loud & noisy after being in the bush. I stop for a well earned lunch on a large slab of rock overlooking the Helena River.
The pole markers & extra ribbons have not gone unnoticed, now more than ever I realised a fairy has been out working their magic re-marking the trail. There wasn’t this much signage 2 months ago! I continue across to the Mundaring Weir wall crossing the bridge. I believe the older bridge further down use to be the crossing point of the trail but now it is in ruins & sealed off. Unless this was the remains of the old Mundaring train line that use to bring city folk out to the Weir wall to see it after it was built. This train line was shut down in 1952. The whole area here is enriched with history. About the Weir Wall, the pipelines, to the Mundaring Weir Hotel where I stopped in for a hot drink before the last section to Sculpture Park! The friends of kattamorda heritage trail decided in the last two months that the trail goes up the stairs after crossing the bridge, all the way to the top, and crosses through the little fenced gated rose garden! Then across the lawn pass a mob of gangster kangaroos, then down to the Weir hotel. Well! 2 months ago those markers weren’t there & I like everyone else, guessed the trail follows the Bibbulmun track below the lookout & pass the Weir Hotel along the side. Well, we won’t know for sure as no original tree markers remain between the last marker near Helena river before you cross the bridge & then pass Jacoby park. I passed a hiker pair finally! I did expect to see more hikers on such a beautiful day. The clouds had come over, it was cool & just right hiking temperature yet no one was out hiking except me!
Section 4 & legs holding up well! I chatted to a friendly twenty eight parrot perched just outside the Mundaring Weir Hotel & enjoyed my chai latte before setting off towards Jacoby Park. This park has the oldest English Oak tree indeed planted in 1870 standing tall & majestic. Though I had a chuckle when I saw how bare it was, not one leaf on the gigantic stick tree! This tree is best viewed fully dressed, such as it was in May. I include a photo from May as the tree looked far more appealing than its current status. Onwards I marched, the Kattamordo Heritage trail now largely follows the two bike paths; Mundi Biddi & Kep Tracks, crossing Mundaring Weir Road 4 times heading north to Sculpture Park where the Mundi Biddi Northern Terminus lies.
The afternoon stays overcast, the sun peeking out of the clouds every so often very briefly. Still the trail continues to the right of the big water pipes, but the friends of kattamorda heritage trail have been busy here placing many pole markers & orange ribbon tied to them. The trail now goes above the old water pump number 2 station instead of through it where I had traversed earlier in the year. And I remember seeing the old trail head post & single tree marker off to the side of the trail and thinking well – the trail used to go in there but there was no tracks, just leaf litter covering the ground & bushes. I did a double take, a triple take, as I was caught out again! A path had been re-formed to go through the trees, pass the old markers & down to the Kep track path below. Scratching my head & thinking I was losing my marbles I was like but! This wasn’t here before! I swear! So I backtracked now on the new pathway just so I didn’t miss any part of the trail out. The tracks are wide, sometimes narrow single bike track, with slight elevation but relatively easy walking. I noticed interesting stuff in the bushes – an abandoned concrete staircase that had no trail running from it, sitting lost in the middle of vegetation with nature slowly reclaiming it, plants growing through all the gaps. Old concrete looking pillars on the ground that looked like they once held massive water pipes? My imagination runs away with me thinking what use to be there a long time ago. If I go walking in there exploring, who knows what I would find!
I pass a farm & someone’s house smack bang in the middle of all that bush. The pretty yellow & orange Donkey Orchids spring up everywhere along this section. Old sign markers appear sporadically along this final leg of the journey on the occasional tree. Just before reaching the road crossing into Sculpture Park, I pass another & final big trail head board for the Kattamordo Heritage Trail. Is this the northern terminus end? After this there is no further trail markings, nothing on the information boards in Sculpture Park to say that is the start / end point. But makes a nice finish anyway. Sculpture Park is homebase to the historic Railway Heritage Trail, another awesome trail following the old railway line out to Helena & beyond that no longer exists. From the park with nice grassy picnic spots, toilets & interesting Sculptures, the Mundaring Hotel is right across the road. So with somewhat tired legs & feet, I headed over for a well deserved beer before heading home. My personal best yet, the longest hike I have done in a day to date. The longest being 26kms until now. I can chalk up a 34km hike successfully completed with limbs still attached ☺️.
I used AllTrails app to record distance. App paused in recording one point pass the Dell. Wasn’t going to back track once discovered it hadn’t been recording. I started at Hardinge Road Carpark but didn’t start recording there. All trails app can be very helpful to not getting lost, however, for the Kattamordo Heritage Trail, they need to update their map as over half the time, it kept sending me alerts I was off route. Well, I was passing old sign markers so clearly wasn’t off route! You can walk either direction. I just liked going north & finishing at the pub! So what are you waiting for? Get out there & enjoy this marvellous trail right on our doorstep!