Have you ever wondered what the coastal suburbs of Perth looked like before the urban sprawl? Star Swamp in North Beach is a showcase of the rich and vibrant natural bushland that once spanned as far as the eye can see. The 96 hectare bushland is now an A-class reserve with an array of fascinating trails and wildlife on offer.
Thousands of people drive past Star Swamp every day. It is situated 15 kilometres North of Perth in North Beach, bordering Marmion Avenue. Many passers-by will go their whole life without realizing the rich history and culture that has become so important in defining Perth's Northern suburbs today.
So, a quick history lesson before getting to the nature side then. Over the last 150 years Star Swamp - whose name's origins are widely speculated - has been used as an orchard, a dairy and cattle lease, a clay mine, a quarantine area for camels, an Aboriginal camping ground, a vitally important stop over for drovers using the Coastal Stock route (which ran from Dongara to Fremantle) and even a watering hole for the 10th Light Horse Division of the Australian Army during WW2.
What is perhaps most amazing however is the fact that it is still around today. The highly valuable land was earmarked for development to cope with the rapid expansion of Perth. Fortunately in the '70s a united front of residents, politicians and environmentalists managed to save the area to become a part of WA's bush forever program.
The main attraction of the reserve is a 1.4km walking trail passing through the low-lying swamp area and up into the bush land above. The trail passes through many historic areas with information boards highlighting where and when all the activities mentioned above took place.
A quiet back track, it's up to you to find out where it leads
For those who want to explore a little further there are many more trails throughout the bushland. Major trails take you around the ever changing area - every 50 metres you walk the landscape around you seems to completely change. Despite being surrounded by road, the peaceful chattering of birds and insects all but makes you forget you're in suburbia.
For the more adventurous there are many small winding dirt trails leading into the heart of the land. Some head right to the water's edge, others deep into vibrant scrub areas. It is quite easy to lose yourself out here, but fortunately just as easy to get back on track.
There are free guided tours as well. They leave from the Henderson Environmental Centre at 8am on the fourth Saturday of each month and give you a great appreciation of the hundreds of different species of flora and fauna found in the area.
Two nocturnal bush walks are held each year too. At night an eerie calm falls over the bush, almost reminiscent of the spooky forests in Scooby Doo. On these you can see the other side of wildlife, with frogs and birds such as tawny frogmouths setting the backdrop for a remarkable experience.