Serpentine National Park
Posted On 3 July 2019
Serpentine National Park is renowned for its waterfall – the Serpentine Falls – that cascades over a sheer granite rock face into an inviting pool that tempts visitors to jump in for a swim.
Serpentine Falls is located about 55 km Southeast of Perth. Entry to the national park to see the falls costs $13 per vehicle, but is totally free on foot.
We decided to hoof it all the way from Jarrahdale via the scenic Kitty’s Gorge Trail (7.5 km one-way, 15 km return). Marked as moderately difficult, the trail that runs down the Darling Scarp, winds along Gooralong Brook and Serpentine River and ends at Serpentine Falls, is hailed as one of the top trails of Western Australia.
We chucked our car at the wee little carpark – just enough space for three – opposite Jarrahdale Cemetery along Atkins Street.
The trail-head for Kitty’s Gorge Trail starts right there next to the carpark. The trusty marker with the green symbol was standing ready to point us in the right direction.
The trail wound us through peaceful jarrah forest and was pleasantly deserted at sunrise when we started our hike.
At such an early hour, we were the only ones enjoying the fresh forest air – well, except for the Red-tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii), who had beat us to it and were perched up high where they could watch the world – and us – go by.
Before long, we reached our first obstacle where we were presented with our first dilemma – to do the limbo rock or the lindy hop. We would soon discover that the obstacles were only going to get tougher and tougher.
We entered a pine plantation, labelled as a tree risk area…where branches and trees may fall at any time…and creaking noises may serve as warning.
The safe – and only – way to navigate this dangerous forest is to stay on the trail.
Suddenly out of nowhere, a trail map appeared, prompting us to take stock of our progress and reminding us that we had so much more to cover.
From there onwards, we skipped across rivers…
…crawled up stairs…
…pranced over fallen trees…
…climbed up more rickety stairs…
…tiptoed over loose rocks…
…vaulted over tree trunks…
…before we got our first glimpse of the raging waters of the Serpentine River.
That was to be a prelude for greater things to come.
At some point, we reached a crossing where an old rickety bridge seemed to be our only way across the river. There seemed no other choice but to sit and wait patiently for the bridge to be built.
With patience, we will find that we can overcome any hurdle – and cross any river.
Once safely across the river, the trail brought us through mysterious forests…
…across expansive plains…
…and past sprawling farmlands…
…where we were delighted to catch a family of wild kangaroos feasting on the farmer’s grass.
Though the journey was long…
…we were never once bored with the ever-changing scenery.
At some point, signs warned that the trail passes close to private property for the next 1 km, and to proceed quietly and without delay.
We trudged on, with the river as our faithful companion…
…and the chirping birds to entertain us along the way.
We knew we were near our destination – the Serpentine Falls – when the pipeline appeared and guided us along the final stretch…
…which was the most harrowing section of the trail, requiring us to scramble precariously down a steep rocky path.
At Serpentine Falls, we were fortunate to be able to witness quite a healthy flow that winter day. During the summer, it is not unusual to see only a trickle or nothing at all.
The Serpentine Falls plunges over a sheer rock face and cascades into the rock pool, polishing the rock as it flows.
The falls pool looked so inviting, we wished we could join the Pacific Black Ducks (Anas superciliosa) who were swimming in the pool, looking all contented and carefree.
While we were trying to have a peaceful picnic lunch, we suddenly heard a maniacal laughter erupting from the trees nearby, that could only have come from the Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae).
Meanwhile, the Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) was sneaking around surreptitiously, trying to steal food from another group of picnickers.
An Australian Ringneck (Barnardius zonarius) was also nearby, trying to get in on all the action.
All of a sudden, a bright vivid red flashed before our eyes and drew our attention to the Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang). Legend has it – from aboriginal folklore – that the robin once got into an altercation with the Willie Wagtail and got punched on the nose, causing him to bleed down his breast. The bleeding and wounded robin, with his obtrusive red plumage, now haunts the forest and its visitors forevermore.
We managed to spot his partner, who was hanging out not too far away. All garbed in drab brown feathers, the female Scarlet Robin is quite difficult to identify and differentiate from all the other equally drab female robins.
Somewhere else, the restless Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa) was darting around the rocks while energetically fanning and swishing his tail.
Contented with having acquainted ourselves with some of the friendly birds of the bush, we made our way back the same way we came. By then, it was late morning and the sun had come out in full force, casting a bright and warm glow on everything around us.
We were thankful to be well shaded by the trees for most of the way, so it was altogether a pleasant 7-km journey through rocks and rills, over hill and dale, past forest and field, back to Jarrahdale.