I recently returned from living in London so I am re-discovering Perth and its hidden nooks and crannies.
Published February 6th 2015
Ghosts of railways past
The Perth metro and regional area is blessed with many national parks and wilderness areas which you can escape to on the weekend. If you haven't been for a while or at all, it really is worth the drive to WA's first national park in the Shire of Mundaring about a 30 minute drive east of Perth.
My dad, brother and I having parked the car at the Pechey Road end of the park set off along the John Forrest Heritage Trail. This trail is part of the longer Railway Reserve Heritage Trail which follows 59 kilometres of the old Eastern Railway that linked Fremantle to York in the late 1880s. If you're so inclined and have the appropriate bike you can also cycle the trail.
John Forrest Heritage Trail, John Forrest National Park
As we followed the red dirt road, we were surrounded by breathtaking views and I found myself wondering what it would be like to live on the edge of the park and have this as my backyard.
As we made our way along the track, we came to a deserted rail tunnel on the right called the Swan View Tunnel built in 1894 as part of the Eastern Railway. The tunnel unfortunately due to its narrowness caused the deaths of some train crew due to asphyxiation from smoke accumulation. There is an eerie feeling when you walk through it as it is pitch black, so I'd definitely advise a torch or your phone to light the way.
On the way there were plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the view across the hills and even see all the way to Ellenbrook. We stopped at the footbridge over Jane Brook at Hovea Falls while we had a snack and water break.
Footbridge over Jane Brook and Hovea Falls, John Forrest Heritage Trail
At the end of this part of the trail we came upon the John Forrest Tavern and picnic area. As we entered a friendly staff member offered to top up our water bottles and we sat down outside where the mob of local kangaroos hung out. What with the ducks hanging around the drinks fridge and a mob of curious kangaroos inching closer to our table, we weren't short of company.
Curious Kangaroos at the John Forrest Tavern, John Forrest National Park
It took about 1.5 hours with stops to walk to the tavern but to be honest I didn't keep track of the time as I found myself stopping to take in a view or go through the tunnel or stop at the falls. So as a day trip it is a great way to explore an historical and picturesque part of the John Forrest National Park. You may even come across some friendly critters to keep you company along the way.