BARELY an hour from Perth, this 1800-hectare national park is a popular day-trip destination for Perth residents, but it really deserves at least two days if you’re a keen bushwalker, paddler or angler.
Off-roading is at a minimum, but the park’s main feature is the Swan River which runs through the park and offers great swimming, fantastic paddling (kayak or canoe), and the chance to explore the river’s edge on foot.
In the winter months the water level is higher, resulting in some cracking sections of rapids to negotiate (the famous Avon Descent – a white-water paddling event – is held each August). In summer, when the river is generally lower, the park’s three deep pools – Syd’s Rapids, Walyunga and Boongarup – are popular swimming holes.
You can float around them on a Lilo, or take a leisurely canoe trip downriver. For anglers, the river offers the chance to throw a line in for trout, which isn’t a bad way to bag a feed for the night’s camp.
The national park is characterised by spectral flooded gum trees running along the side of the river. As you move up the valley slopes the vegetation changes to more open wandoo (white gum) woodlands, before you encounter impressive examples of jarrah trees up on the ridgelines. For lovers of wildflowers, springtime sees the landscape transform into a kaleidoscope of colour as the numerous varieties of wildflower bloom.
According to WA National Parks, Walyunga NP contains one of the largest aboriginal campsites and one that was still used by the local Nyoongar people late last century – there are claims it has been used as a meeting place for more than 6000 years. This site is located at the western end of Walyunga Pool, which is located at the end of the road of the same name.
For bushwalkers young and old, the park’s tracks are ideal. For families, the flat 5.2km Syd’s Rapids Trail (leaving from Boongarup Pool) leads to some of the sections of rapids used in the Avon Descent, which can be seriously challenging in high-water conditions. The Echidna Trail – an 11km loop that will take three to four hours, and starting from Walyunga lower pool – is more of a challenge for experienced bushwalkers.
The rewards of this walk are the chance to stroll through fields of wildflowers (when in season), as well as along the Swan River’s banks, before you ascend through heathlands on the way to the steep summit of Woodsome Hill (the views over the Avon Valley are brilliant). Keep an eye out for the park’s rich birdlife (black-faced cuckoos, parrots and galahs) while you take a breather before the descent.
Other walks include the Kingfisher and Kangaroo trails, with the Kangaroo Trail (4km; easy grade) involving some rock-hopping across creeks, while the Kingfisher – at 8.5km and a medium grade, longer alternative to the Kangaroo – travels through wandoo woodlands.
The campground here is a first-come, first-served arrangement and is around two kilometres from the Swan River and is a small site that has fire-rings and basic bush camping facilities – in other words, the perfect spot to escape the popular visitor sites within the park.
Walyunga NP may be a small ‘blip’ on the radar of off-road tourers, but it offers all we love in regards to tranquil bush camping settings, oodles of bushwalking and some fantastic swimming and paddling opportunities. Plus, it’s all within an hour of the bright lights of Perth!
30km NE of Perth
Canoeing and kayaking
How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at email@example.com.
The quintessential magazine for Australia’s four-wheel drive and offroad enthusiasts.
Dirk Hartog Island, WA: 4x4 travel guide
Some describe Dirk Hartog Island as the Fraser of the west coast, but this exclusive Western Australia 4x4 destination offers a remoteness that its Queensland cousin simply can’t match.
Exploring Rawlinna Station to the coast, WA: 4x4 travel guide
Whether you’re into trainspotting, birdwatching or gazing out to sea, this route along the Nullarbor Plain offers something for everyone.
4x4 trip guide through the Great Sandy Desert, WA
The Gary Junction Road strikes through the heart of the Great Sandy Desert, and it’s an epic drive.