Out and About
Wandoo Heights Reserve
Wandoo Heights Reserve is a unique bush landscape in the Swan Valley. The original block of 4000 hectares was granted to George Fletcher Moore, the Advocate General for the Swan Colony, in 1830. As the land was unsuited to farming it was not cleared and is still in its virgin state just as the botanists would have found it in the 1820's.
The property was gifted to Miss Olive Gear and Mr Harry and Miss Adela Hyde in 1960. Sadly My Hyde drowned two years later but the two ladies maintained the property, improving access so that the wildflowers could be observed without damaging the environment. Over time it became too difficult for the ladies to manage the property and in 1988 it was entrusted to the City of Swan, becoming a flora and fauna reserve for future generations to enjoy.
Wandoo Heights is a controlled access walk trail. Permission is required through the City of Swan, contact 9267 9267, to obtain the key which can be collected from the City of Swan in Midland.
The entrance gate for the reserve is located on Range Road in Millendon near the Loton Road intersection. If travelling south along Range Road from Hardwick Road you will travel a short distance on a single lane dirt road which is a bit disconcerting. Access is easier travelling north along Range Road from Loton Rd. As you crest the first hill the gate will be on your right. Entering the gate there is a short drive up to the cottage where there is parking. The gate key will open the cottage where you can access the toilet and there is also a large dining table so you can enjoy your thermos or picnic if you wish. The verandah offers great views across the city.
Dieback has recently appeared in the reserve so please ensure your tyres are clean of mud and dirt before entering the reserve. Clean your shoes/boots prior to arrival to ensure dirt and mud from previous trails is removed then spray with a mix of 70% methylated spirits and 30% water. Boot scrubbing stations are located within the reserve so please use these to stay clean. The motto to prevent being a dieback carrier is: Mud sticks! Start out clean, stay clean.
Phytophthora dieback is a devastating plant disease and its infection is permanent. It kills many susceptible plants such as banksias, jarrah and grass trees by attacking the root system and causing them to rot. Dieback is spread through the movement of soil and water by vehicles including bikes, footwear and animals. There is no known method to eradicate Phytophthora but we can minimise its spread and impact.
Wandoo Heights Walk Trail is actually two trails - the Long Walk and the Short Walk. They loop around and cross over each other so you can always double back if you miss a section. From the cottage both walks meander through wandoo forest before splitting. We started with the Long Walk which descends gradually through banksia forest and past granite outcrops before starting to climb back up the valley. As we descended we could hear the babbling of Susannah Brook in the valley below. The trail is quite steep as you ascend and after heavy rain it was also slippery. Our walking poles came in very handy! Late in July cream, white and yellow flowers, which signal the beginning of the Noongar season of Djilba, dotted the bush. As we move into Spring the wildflowers should be amazing!
At the top of our climb we came to a large granite outcrop where we rested for a while and took in the sounds of the bush around us as we looked across to the Darling Scarp and the Perth coastal plain with the CBD in the distance. We found a lone donkey orchid and some purple orchids.
We then walked through a section which showed evidence of dieback before coming to an intersection with a sign directing us to the sundial. This is the Short Walk but we diverted anyway and followed the trail back to the cottage. This loop took us an hour.
After shedding our jackets at the cars we followed the beginning trail again through the wandoo forest this time veering to the left onto the Short Walk. This trail had a gentler climb and some very useful steps to help us up the incline past more large granite outcrops. After negotiating a small tree across the track we emerged at the sundial intersection again, this time turning left to continue along the remainder of the Long Walk trail. We came back out at the cottage again, completing this loop in 20 minutes.
Although the trail is clearly defined it is narrow, rocky and uncleared so you will be brushing up against bushes. Keep an eye out for snakes as they are hard to spot in the thick bush either side of the trail. I recommend spraying with a DEET spray before your hike and checking for ticks afterwards. I would only recommend this hike for those familiar with and comfortable in bush environments. Please be respectful of this pristine environment and leave it as you found it.
After our hike we stopped off at Taylors in the Valley on the corner of Great Northern Highway and George Road. This fabulous indoor/outdoor cafe has a great mudkitchen and nature play area for the kids, a vintage shop and the junk artworks add to it's arty feel.
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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 extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.