September is Waterfall and Wildflower season so we decided to hike the four trails within Ellis Brook Reserve in Banyowlah Regional Park. Most visitors hike the 60 Foot Falls Trail taking in the magnificent waterfall and Barrington Quarry but the lower walks are easier and have more prolific wildflowers.
Blue Wren Ramble Trail
Blue Wren Ramble is a 1.4km trail which winds it's way uphill linking the lower carpark and Honeyeater Hollow picnic area with the upper carpark and Waterfall Gully Picnic Area. The narrow trail is well marked and easy to follow as it follows Ellis Brook more or less parallel with the access road. As dieback is present in this area there are dieback protection stations at the beginning and end of each trail. Please use the brush to clean your shoes to prevent the spread of this disease.
Starting from the eastern end of Honeyeater Hollow Picnic Area car park the Blue Wren Ramble Trail winds it's way along Ellis Brook along a wide flat path. There are a few points where you can access the brook but the vegetation is quite thick. If you are tall you may have to bend over to walkthrough the thickets which form a tunnel over the trail. A staircase brings you out onto Rushton Road which you briefly walk along to cross the brook before re-entering the bush on the opposite side.
The trail narrows as it continues to follow Ellis Brook. You can access the brook below a rock cliff before crossing over it at the first bridge crossing.
From here the trail climbs steadily with two more bridge crossings and more steps as the trail moves away from the main road
Where there is a trail intersection keep left looking for the blue trail markers as you wind back towards the road emerging at the Waterfall Gully Picnic Area car park. On our return after completing the 60 Foot Falls hike the road had cars parked along it so it pays to get here early to beat the crowds.
The trail took us about 30 minutes on the way up but we did side track to the brook when we had access and paused to take photos of the spectacular wildflowers. Our return downhill hike took just over 20 minutes.
Eagle View Trail
The wider stepped 430 m return Eagle View Trail starts opposite the information bay and heads gradually up hill through heathland which was covered in a spectacular display of wildflowers in September. As you climb the hill you have views across and down the valley, just like an eagle and you can see the blanket of yellow, white, pink and red wildflowers scattered between the grass trees.
There are some information signs along the way and several benches where you can rest.
Easy Walk (Echidna) Trail
A wide 400m dirt trail links the Eagle View Trail to the furthermost point of the Easy Walk Trail.
The Easy Walk Trail is compacted and is universally accessible so you can bring prams and wheelchairs. The 500m trail is flat as it meanders through the Wandoo Woodland. This trail is also named the Echidna Trail as you may spot an echidna foraging amongst the ant hills.
We saw a small group of spider orchids at the top of the trail but the predominant flower were the masses of freesias which, although they are pretty and smell divine, are not a native species.
The Easy Walk Trail crosses Rushton Road just inside the entrance gate and leads you back to Honeyeater Hollow Picnic Area. There is a boardwalk and compacted path which allows access between the two carpark areas. A drop toilet is located alongside the roadside information bay.
Having hiked the 60 Foot Falls Trail o number of times we thoroughly enjoyed the diversity offered by these three very different trails. If you are in the area make time to explore these trails - especially in Spring when the wildflowers are out.
There is a fifth trail you can hike here which is the 9km bridle trail from Honeyeater Hollow to Bickley Reservoir - not sure if that is one way or return as we haven't hiked this one (yet).
The park takes it's name from Banyowla, a Nyoongar elder at the time of colonial settlement. The brook is named after Captain T.T. Ellis, the Superintendent of Mounted Police, who died from injuries sustained in the infamous Pinjarra massacre of 1834, in which Banyowla’s people were involved.
Ellis Brook Valley which is part of Banyowla Regional Park has a diverse range of flora and fauna as it straddles two distinct landforms, the Darling Scarp and the Swan Coastal Plain. There are 550 species of flowering plants, 116 species of birds, 9 species of frogs and 8 species of native animals that call this unique valley home so tread carefully.
Ellis Brook generally flows through the winter months and into October, depending on rainfall. Peak wildflower season is Spring from August to October but there is always something in flower in this diverse landscape if you look closely.
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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.