Galup - Lake Monger
Updated: Feb 27, 2020
Another of Perth's most popular walks is the 3.5km dog friendly (on lead) circuit around Lake Monger (Galup). It is an easy flat walk or ride suitable for prams and wheelchairs or for the kids to ride bikes or scooters. I even saw somebody rollerblading around! It will take you around 45 minutes to an hour. There are three older but shaded playgrounds along the way and several points of interest to stop at within Lake Monger Reserve.
The northern section of the lake has stunning views across the lake to the city. The western edge of the lake has prolific bird life and is more open while the eastern edge which runs alongside the freeway is nice and shady. Depending on when you want the shade you can walk clockwise or anti-clockwise. Being summer we walked anti-clockwise leaving the shady section for the end so it was a bit cooler.
There are four signposted points of interest (Looking after the Lake, The Nyungah Way, The Parkland Story and Watching Waterbirds) on your way around the lake with information plaques to give you background information. The kids can pull out the QR reader on your phone to find out more.
At this particular sign you are alongside the bowling club where you can grab a coffee at Coffee on the Lake.
On the day we walked there were masses of pelicans floating on the water - they look so elegant bobbing along. There were also quite a lot of them flying around - all lined up behind each other almost like a bike peleton. Watching these big birds moving through the sky is mesmerising!
There were also plenty of ducks and other water birds especially around the small island on the south western corner. As you get to the southern end of the lake there are large playing fields to one side. There is a small but fenced playground here as well as a drink fountain and the (dated) signage for The Parkland Story. Usually Galup features large numbers of black swans but today we only saw one. The Lake is used seasonally by the black swans for mating and breeding so perhaps it wasn't the right time of year.
The southern edge of the lake runs adjacent to Lake Monger Drive and there are three different car parks - two of which are close to playgrounds. There is also a toilet block located here. Seeing a sign on a tree we went up for a closer look and discovered a massive beehive!
Traditionally used as a food and water source and a campground/meeting place Galup was an important place to the Noongar tribes. It still has significant value to them and features in Wagyl dreamtime stories. The Nyungah Way nature trail follows the eastern edge of the lake and is for foot traffic only. The dual use cycle path runs a few metres to the east and can be used for dog walkers and cyclists as well as walkers.
As you get to the boardwalk leading to the eastern bird hide you enter the section called Looking After the Lake. This is where the shoreline has been reshaped to incorporate sediment ponds and nutrient stripping channels - vital for keeping the lake healthy.
It is here that there is a footbridge over the Mitchell Freeway leading to Britannia Reserve in Leederville. I did like that wheelchairs are included on the shared path sign.
As you round the northern edge of the lake you might encounter some faster bike riders as the paths intersect. There is a bike repair station here and a central gazebo with information panels describing the importance of this wetland area to bird life as part of Watching Waterbirds. This is also where the northern bird hide is with great views across the lake to the city skyline. The boardwalk leading to the boardwalk has plaques honouring important citizens.
The city views as you follow the northern shore of the lake are just magnificent! They are one of the most recognisable views in Perth.
We started from the Dodd Street Car park which on a weekend has plenty of spaces available but may be busier during the week when the nearby schools and businesses use the parking. There is an unfenced playground, barbecue, picnic and toilet facilities here. (Note - if you are washing your hands you need to press the front of the basin section with your knee to turn the tap on). There is a large open grassed area for ball games. Take some time to look at the shelter commemorating organ donors.
Although the path is shared use the cyclists using it are generally recreational cyclists. The really fast cyclists tend to stick to the section along the freeway. Lake Monger is not suitable for swimming and is not fenced.
Since European settlement Lake Monger has had a long and varied history as a place of recreation but also as a dumping ground and infill spot (including raw sewage from the nightsoil collectors!) By the 1990s Lake Monger was one of the most degraded wetlands in the Perth area but fortunately today the wetlands are valued and important conservation and rehabilitation works have been undertaken to transform the lake back to a pristine wetland. For a detailed history of Lake Monger Click on the link : https://cambridgelocalstudies.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/lake-monger-the-story-of-a-lake/
Lake Monger is the end (or start) point for the Yange Kep Bidi, (translation Wetland Trail) which follows important sites on Whadjuk Noongar land. This trail winds it's way from Freshwater Bay on the Swan River foreshore, links with the Claremont Meanders Cobblers and Convicts Trail, the City of Nedlands' Mount Claremont Walk and the Town of Cambridge's Heritage Trail, skirting Herdsman Lake before finishing at Lake Monger. At 21 km long I think cycling might be the better option for that trail but when you see the trail markers on the path at Lake Monger at least you will know what they represent.