Canning, Churchman Brook and Wungong - 3 very different dams
Updated: Aug 4
Exploring the hills area around Armadale we drove to Canning Dam, a beautiful drive which reminds me of Caves Road. We parked at the lower picnic area and through the trees could just make out the wall of the dam rising high above us – WOW it is unexpectedly massive! That's it where the green arrow is pointing at the trees!
The picnic area is lovely and shaded and still had a tinge of autumn colour in early June. There is a small fenced playground, barbecues, picnic tables, some grassy areas and a toilet.
We set off down the stairs, map in hand, to explore the loop walk from the picnic area crossing the wall of the dam. The first section following the main outlet was a rough but pretty track before a wrong turn took us to a gated compound where we could look up at that giant wall! We had to back track a little but found our way along the road then onto a track then back on the road again, climbing to the first lookout. It is a very steep climb! The trail was pretty uninteresting and the signs were not really specific just pointing in the general direction but we knew if we were going uphill we would get to the top at some point.
We finally reached the top of the dam and wandered to the northern lookout before crossing over the dam to the southern lookout. We learned that natural rainfall is so low water is now pumped to Canning Dam from the desalination plants for storage and the dam only meets one fortieth of Perth’s current water needs!
There is a car park here at the top of the dam! We could have driven but I am glad we walked as the other side of the hour long loop trail was far more pleasant -and downhill! We took the stairs and then followed a track through bush crossing Turtle Brook at the picnic area. If I ever do this again I will go anti clockwise - uphill through the bush and downhill along the roads.
The trail followed Turtle Brook through the picnic area and it was really beautiful and serene.
The colours around the outlet main were so pretty we wandered back underneath the big pipe and discovered the tunnel portal on the other side!
Churchman Brook Dam
From Canning Dam we drove back north along McNess Road and Croydon Road to Roleystone. Hilly Roleystone is also very scenic with it’s windy roads, lush vegetation and pops of autumn colour! Another option here is to visit Araluen Botanic Park, renowned for it's spring time display of tulips but beautiful at any time of year.
It was another pleasant forested drive to Churchman Brook Dam but not as pretty as Canning Dam Road. This dam is completely different as it is an earth dam and much smaller than Canning Dam at only 26m high. There are large picnic areas with lots of parking, a large nature playground, toilets, barbecues and picnic tables.
Having learned a lesson at Canning Dam this time we drove to the top of the dam but it is so small we ended up hiking the loop trail across the dam and through the picnic areas – it only took 15 minutes. Although not as strenuous as Canning Dam it is still a climb.
You can also hike the Emu, Echidna or Kangaroo Trails in the Churchman Bushland Reserve but we
didn't explore them on this occasion.
Located along our way on Waterwheel Road we popped in to Waterwheel Persimmon Orchard to buy some fruit and they were delicious. This area is scattered with stone fruit, avocado, apple and pear orchards and offers a number of food, wine and cider trails. Check what is in season and open to add to your journey.
We drove down Springfield Road to Wungong Dam, a small rockfill embankment dam which is different again to the other 2 dams we’ve visited. A large shaded parking area with some picnic facilities gave easy access to the lookout at the side of the dam, beautifully decorated with a mural by Brenton See and providing a wonderful vantage point with views across the valley. This dam has a massive spillway! On a clear day you can see Garden Island from here but we couldn’t make it out. I found it odd that the only security feature against people actually clambering over the rock embankment were some timber logs!
We drove the short distance back to the small lookout car park and followed the short 150m trail. The trail through the forest reminded me of the Victoria Dam Trail. The lookout is, unfortunately, not really worth it as the trees have grown too high and break up a clear view. The dam is not much lower than the lookout and provided a better viewpoint. Surprisingly you can see farms from the lookouts which is unusual in a catchment area.
You can cross this dam on foot but either side of the dam has separate road access. For whatever reason we decided against walking across the dam to the other side and chose to drive instead. We headed back along Springfield Road to Albany Hwy then turned onto Admiral Road where we realised that we could have taken a short cut along Wallangarra Drive! On this side of the dam is another large parking area with picnic tables, barbecues and toilets. There are no large grassed areas and although there is a small lake we had to get out of the car and walk right to the edge of the road to see it. This time we drove to the car park near the top of the dam but didn’t walk to the dam wall. This is the end point of the difficult Wungong Gorge walk which follows the Wungong River to Byford.
Young families out for a day will enjoy Churchman Brook Dam with it's large open picnic spaces, playground and easy walk trails.
Families with older children might enjoy the challenge and the WOW factor of hiking up and around Canning Dam.
Nature lovers will enjoy a picnic in the quieter bushy surrounds of Wungong Dam.
All three dams are within easy driving distance of each other if you want to explore them all.
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In the spirit of reconciliation Out and About- Family Nature Connection acknowledges the traditional owners of the Wadjak boodjar (Perth land) and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
As always when hiking in the bush please help to reduce the spread of Phytophthora Dieback by sticking to the tracks and paths, staying out of quarantined areas and, if possible, clean your shoes before and after hiking. A spray of 70% methylated spirit and 30% water can be effective.