Ellis Brook Valley Reserve
Posted On 2 July 2019
Ellis Brook, which flows during the winter, tumbles over the Sixty Foot Falls before flowing through Ellis Brook Valley to the Canning River near the City of Gosnells.
The trails in Ellis Brook Valley would have been lovely during spring, when wildflowers grow in abundance and the landscape bursts into colour.
Unfortunately in winter, we did not get to see much wildflowers, but we were happy for the chance to encounter some of the pretty birds that live in the area.
There are several trails with varying levels of difficulty in the reserve, and we aimed to tackle the most challenging but rewarding one first – the Sixty Foot Falls.
The 2-km Sixty Foot Falls Walk Trail promised an exhilarating climb to the top of the Sixty Foot Falls, through steep slopes and uneven loose rocks, our favourite kind.
We parked our car at the Valley Head carpark, which is close to the trailhead.
Before we could set foot on the trail, we were immediately greeted by a raucous bunch of Rose-breasted Cockatoo (Eolophus roseicapilla) at the carpark.
More commonly known as the Galah, this is a very abundant parrot species in Australia, commonly seen in big groups in open fields and up in the trees in urban areas and parks.
The trail was very well-marked, so it would be quite difficult to get lost. As long as we followed the orange triangle, we would be mostly fine.
Near the start of the trail was a fork, where we were presented with the option of a more direct but steeper climb to the falls…
…or a gentler but longer approach via the old Barrington Quarry.
We chose to take the gentler route, which took us on a pleasant journey through a series of gradual steps…
…alternating with some rocky sections where we had fun clambering up and down the uneven surface.
The walk starts from the bottom of the valley and gradually rises to the top of the waterfall, so we had to contend with significant inclines and numerous steps.
Pretty soon, a viewing platform appeared, providing us with a convenient excuse to stop and take a breather…
…and of course to enjoy the view of the surrounding hills and valley.
In no time at all, we reached the old Barrington Quarry, which was used during the 1950’s to mine granite and diorite. It was later decommissioned and abandoned, and the area has now been taken over by the flora and fauna.
Moving along, the trail continued its gradual ascent.
Along the way, we got to admire some of the area’s beautiful residents, such as the Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta)…
…the New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae)…
…and a group of Australian Ringnecks (Barnardius zonarius).
Several steps and climbs later…
…the trail opened up to a breathtaking view of the valley, the Swan coastal plain, and Perth city skyline in the distance.
There were benches planted along the trail…
…where we could sit and take in the superb views.
Through bushes and through briars,
we quickly took our way.
All for to hear the small birds sing,
and the dogs to skip and play.
We soon arrived at a smooth granite landing that looked like it was the perfect place to take a rest, have a picnic or just loll around, far from the madding crowd.
But first, we’d have to find a way to cross over the stream that ran across the trail.
A ginger-footed hop and an awkward skip later, we got to the other side…
…and found ourselves safely on the granite platform.
We took a moment to enjoy the splendid views and breathe in the wonderful fresh air.
From there, it was just a short hike…
…before we reached a rocky outcrop at the top of the falls, which in my opinion was the best vantage point for the amazing valley views below us.
If we sat on that rocky outcrop, we could probably also see the waterfall trickling down below.
The viewing platform positioned some distance away is, however, the best way to enjoy the waterfall.
Despite the winter rains, the waterfall was only a little trickle that day, a far cry from the tumultuous torrents that were advertised in the pictures on the information boards.
The way back down to the start of the trail was a much shorter and direct route…
…through more of the same rocky steps, steep slopes and stairs.
Back at the carpark, we were given a friendly welcome by a couple of Welcome Swallows (Hirundo neoxena), who were perching comfortably on a snag. These Welcome Swallows look very much like the Pacific Swallows (Hirundo tahitica) from back home in Singapore.
The name ‘Welcome’ swallow apparently came from the sailors. When out at sea, the swallows were a welcome sight, signalling to them that land was not far away.
At the other end of the carpark was the trailhead for the Blue Wren Ramble Trail, which is a moderately easy walk trail that meanders along Ellis Brook. This is a 1.4 km one-way walk to the Honeyeater Hollow carpark (2.8 km return), from which more trails originate.
Feeling energized from having accomplished the Sixty Foot Falls Trail, we couldn’t resist attempting the Blue Wren Ramble Trail, which promised to showcase lots of native birds.
Before starting the trek, we had to first disinfect our shoes to prevent the spread of the Dieback Disease, which is very bad for the native plants. This water mould (Phytophthora cinnamomi) infects the plant’s root system, causing root rot and giving the plants a premature death.
After diligently following the instructions for shoe disinfection, we started our hike faithfully following the blue marker this time.
The Blue Wren trail brought us through open bushland and wandoo woodland, where the mid-morning sun was out in its full glory and had the opportunity to work its heat on us.
Despite the trail’s name, we saw none of the blue wrens. But we were quite happy to observe a flock of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii), who were hiding amongst the Eucalyptus trees and feasting on their favourite food, the Eucalyptus fruit.
At one point, the Australian Ringneck (Barnardius zonarius) came out for a brief peek, before flying away into the bushes.
Onward we pressed, working up a good sweat.
The pleasant walk along the Blue Wren trail quickly came to an end at the Honeyeater Hollow carpark, where we were drawn towards the Eagle View trailhead. The main draw for us was, of course, the resident mob of kangaroos, who were said to hang around the area.
We proceeded to follow the green signposts that marked the Eagle View Trail, with much excitement and glee in anticipation of meeting some wild roos.
We somehow managed to lose our way at some point and lost sight of the green marker. After ambling around aimlessly for some time, we found ourselves at the red-signposted Easy Walk Trail instead.
We decided to finish up the 500m Easy Walk Trail, before attempting again to complete the Eagle View Trail.
Back at the carpark, we headed for the Eagle View trailhead again and embarked on our second attempt on this trail.
We managed to locate the inconspicuous turn-off with the green marker that we had missed the first time, and proceeded to climb up the numerous steps…
…that led us to the top of the hill…
…where we were treated to yet more beautiful views of the surrounding landscape…
…and the bustling Perth city below.
The resident mob of kangaroos were nowhere to be seen that day. They must have been hiding in the shade somewhere amongst all that glorious bush. We did, however, spot the kangaroo trails, which we were very tempted to follow, but the mid-day heat got the better of us and we beat a hasty retreat.