Walyunga National Park
Walyunga National Park lies in the Darling Range, just behind the Darling Scarp, and covers both sides of a steep valley. Just to the east of the park, in the picturesque Avon Valley, the Avon River joins the Brockman River to form the Swan River. The river runs through the centre of the park, forming a string of placid pools along the valley floor in summer, and a raging torrent with long series of rapids in winter. The latter provides one of the Australia's best white water canoeing courses and is part of the annual Avon Descent race each August.
Outcrops of grey granite and occasional areas of darker dolerite can be seen along the valley sides, and waterworn boulders of both rock types lie in the stream bed. Red laterite caps the hill tops.
The park is also known for sensational wildflowers in winter and spring, abundant native animals and rugged valley scenery. There is plenty of parking at the main picnic sites, as well as gas barbecues, which may be used free of charge. A vehicle entrance fee is payable and camping may be arranged with the ranger.
Walyunga contains one of the largest known Aboriginal campsites around Perth and was still in use by the Nyoongar people late last century. Archaeological evidence suggests that the area has been used by regional tribes for more than 6000 years. A 1.2-kilometre Aboriginal Heritage Trail meanders along the river bank, between Walyunga Pool and Boogarup Pool, and allows people to learn about Aboriginal myths and legends and see the park's plants and animals through the eyes of the original inhabitants.
Walyunga is an Aboriginal name, but its meaning is uncertain. The 'yunga' in Wal-yunga is thought to have been derived from the name 'Nyoongar', and walyunga could therefore mean 'northern Nyoongar' or 'northern group'. It could also be a term that, roughly translated, means 'happy place'.
Plants and animals
Large flooded gums grow along the river's edge and on its floodplain. Wandoo inhabits the sides of the valley, with marri and powderbark woodlands and forests on the uplands, and jarrah on the high ridges. Extensive heaths contain an array of wildflowers, including hakeas, grevilleas, isopogons, petrophiles and verticordias, and are particularly well-developed along the edge of the scarp. In spring, a profusion of plants flower in the mosaic of heaths, granite outcrops and woodlands.
The birds of Walyunga are typical of many bushland areas of the Darling Range. Many of the species commonly seen here were once widespread on the coastal plain before urbanisation and agricultural clearing reduced their habitat. As a result, Walyunga now has many more bush birds than well-known parks around Perth including Kings Park and Yanchep.
When the river is low, black ducks, and occasionally grey teal, can be seen on the pools. When the river is in flood, they shelter among the flooded trees, away from the raging current. Both duck species feed on aquatic plants in the river's shallow margins. The black duck is easily distinguished from the smaller grey teal by the black and white stripes along the sides of its face. Australian shelducks and wood ducks also visit the pools, particularly when waters on the coastal plain and in the Wheatbelt dry up in summer and autumn.
Fish, frogs, tadpoles and small invertebrates in the river attract a range of other waterbirds. Little black and little pied cormorants perch on trees along the river's edge, and can be seen swimming and diving to catch their prey.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Where is it?
40 km north-east of Perth, and 20 km north of Midland along the Great Northern Highway.
It takes about an hour to reach from the city, via the Great Northern Highway and Walyunga Road.
What to do:
Bushwalking, canoeing, picnicking, bird watching, wildflower rambles and camping (by arrangement with the ranger) are the most popular activities.
ABORIGINAL HERITAGE TRAIL -- Easy 1.2 km, 45 minute return walk.
SYD'S RAPIDS -- Medium 5.2 km, 2.5 hour return walk along the grassy floodplain of the Swan River under shady wandoos and flooded gum. Quiet walkers may be rewarded with sightings of kangaroos and waterbirds.
KANGAROO TRAIL -- Medium 4 km, 2 hour loop. Traverses granite outcrops with their specially adapted plants and small animals, like geckoes and lizards.
KINGFISHER WALKTRAIL -- Medium, 8.5 km, 4 hour loop with varied and abundant plant life.
ECHIDNA TRAIL -- Hard 10.6 km, 5 hour walk with breathtaking panoramas across the Swan and Avon Valleys and the whole breadth of the park.
Picnic areas, free gas barbecues, toilets, water.
Nearest CALM Office:
CALM's Mundaring District Office
CALM's Swan Region Office
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of The Western Australia Department of Conservation and Land Management