LESMURDIE FALLS, PERTH – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

I was on my flight home to Perth, settled into my aisle seat with a scratchy Qantas blanket and puffy pillow (I always wonder if they wash those things or chuck them out, but it’s probably best not to think about it). In any case, I was relatively comfortable, apart from freaking out about the possibility of the plane crashing, like I always do when I’m on a flight. Irrational, really. But a fear all the same.

The plane shuddered slightly and my stomach flip-flopped. But then they served dinner, a steamy butter chicken with rice, and I organised my tray table – cup on the right for wine, cup on the left for tea, rubbish in the seat pocket so it’s out of the way, you know the drill. The hippie girl next to me smelled like smoke and spilled her red wine all over my foot, but other than that it was a good flight.

Halfway through, it hit me. I was going home. I didn’t really want to go home (even if it was just for a weekend), other than to see my family for hugs and kisses and maybe a hot cross bun or two (or five). I wasn’t quite ready to be back in my old room, back in that old routine. So I thought I better get a wriggle on with making plans to keep myself busy. That’s when Lesmurdie falls came to mind. I hadn’t had a chance to visit them before I left my home town, and what better way to spend some quality time with Mum than on a bush hike? I’m not sure she agreed, but I dragged her along anyway.

How to get there: 

Lesmurdie is located in the Shire of Kalamunda, also known as ‘Up in the Hills’ in Perth jargon. It’s practically the only part of Perth that isn’t deadpan flat. But anyway. The falls are in Lesmurdie – hence Lesmurdie Falls (thanks captain obvious), and are relatively easy to get to.

They are best accessed from Welshpool Road East, or Kalamunda Road, depending on where you are coming from. I’ve only outlined Welshpool Road directions because it’s the way we went.

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Road Map to Lesmurdie Falls. Google Maps (2017).

Once you’re in Lesmurdie, it’s pretty windy with lots of lefts and rights. It’s easiest if you use Google Maps and have Siri or whoever it is tell you what to do. But if you don’t have access to that, I’ve outlined directions below. (You can skip this part if you’re a pro at following Google Map directions, but not all of us know how soon “in 300 meters, turn right” is).

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Road Map to Lesmurdie Falls. Google Maps (2017).

From Welshpool Road:
Right or Left (depending which way you’re travelling) into Gladys Road.
Left into George Road.
Follow George Road as it curves around to the right, until you reach Ford Road.
Turn left onto Ford Road.
You’ll reach a fork in the road.
Turn right onto Nelson crescent.
Follow Nelson crescent until you hit Falls road.
Turn left into Falls road – this will be a ‘No Through Road’, but you’ll see the carpark before you reach the dead-end.
Congrats! You’ve arrived! See? Easy.

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So Mum and I arrived. Up at the top of the falls, we had a steep descent ahead of us. There are a few hiking trails to choose from, the sign at the beginning of the trail will show you where each one goes and how long it will take. After a little uhmming and ahhing, we decided to take The Falls Trail – only a 640m return. I desperately wanted to manoeuvre to the bottom of the falls to watch them flow, and The Foot of the Falls trail is a continuation of The Falls Trail, so that was a win-win for me.

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The walk is a relatively easy one, and we made our way leisurely, following the signs along the way. Luckily, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to find your way to these falls. Soon enough, we reached the peak where the view overlooking Perth and the city is simply phenomenal. If anything, you should visit these falls to stare out at that.

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It was 27 degrees but it felt more like thirty-something as we walked, sweat trickling down my back between my backpack and my shoulder blades. There wasn’t a whisp of wind in the air, but you couldn’t complain about the weather. Not when it produced views like this.

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There are two lookout spots made of metal frames –  what I assume is the end of The Falls Trail. We reached these and peered down at the valley from the top of the waterfall. The falls were fairly dry, a testament to this time of the year in Perth. We were lucky they were flowing at all, really, probably due to the heavy rainfall which recorded the wettest day ever in February.

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I tried my best to get good photographs of the falls, which undulate down the steep slopes. I ventured further down the pathway, stepped onto precarious rocks and bent my knees in typical ‘photographer’ stance. But it was no use, the lighting wasn’t doing the scene any justice. So we made the split decision to continue to The Foot of the Falls (2km return).

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If you don’t like stairs, this trail is definitely not for you. Wide wooden steps of orangey-red dirt lead the way towards the bottom of the falls.

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A thin, dry, gravel path then winds its way through shrubs, seemingly taking you in the complete wrong direction. Trust me, you’re headed the right way.

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Soon, we reached a fork in the road and pondered over the huge descent. Hint: you want to follow the path down to the right, until you pass another carpark. There wasn’t any signage at this point, so it was a bit of a gamble. I guess it’s all part of the adventure.

My shoes kept slipping on the gravel and we giggled amidst a series of “Did you have a nice trip?” and “You didn’t send me a postcard!” But in all seriousness, maybe wear some shoes that have a bit of grip to them. Apparently my old sneakers have decided they’ve had enough of being grippy.

Finally, we reached the smoother path that resides next to the riverbank, listening to the calm trickle of water as it gradually became louder. I skipped with excitement – we were almost there.

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It seemed as though the windy river would never end. Animals rustled the bushes nearby, bees hummed in the distance. We took it all in as we walked.

I love how every time you go on a nature walk, it will never be the same again. Things are ever-changing, and that’s what makes the experience so worthwhile. You just have to stop when you’re going to admire things, otherwise you can’t see the uneven ground below you and you’ll end up tripping again. Which is embarrassing, trust me.

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Just when I thought we’d never make it, BOOM, there they were. Lesmurdie Falls. We could see the lookouts that we had come from, and thin sprays of water flowing down the rock-face, which is a lot steeper than it looks in photographs.

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I tip-toed over cobbled rocks like stepping-stones, working my way towards the water. Mum was less eager, but eventually found her way. Our glutes were sore, our shoulders were red & raw (sunscreen: would recommend) and we were puffing, deep breaths from our lungs. We chugged down water that had warmed inside our plastic bottles. But we had made it.

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There’s something triumphant about finally finding the falls. It’s like the reward you get for doing some damn hard-work. You can sit, or stand, and admire them for a little while, taking it all in and congratulating yourself for making it.

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Or, if you’re like me, you can kick off your shoes, toss out your hair and jump straight under the fresh, clean water – fully clothed, might I add. Yeah, I’m crazy. But it was hot, and we’d made it this far. I wasn’t about to leave without experiencing the falls first-hand.

The water flow was stronger than I realised, and I had to carefully slide myself along mossy, slippery rocks, feeling for secure cracks and dips for my feet to rest. It’s dangerous, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a thrill I can’t replace. Ironic really, since I can’t even sit on an aeroplane without freaking out. It’s far more dangerous to climb slippery, rocky slopes than it is to sit on an aircraft. But I digress.

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The icy cold water soaked me through – I just laughed and spluttered and threw my arms in the air, feeling the rush of water clean out my fingernails and wash through my hair.

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It certainly cooled me off for the trek back to the top. And boy oh boy, a trek it was. You forget when you’re going downhill that you’ll have to go back up. My wet clothes clung to me and kept me from overheating, trudging uphill for what felt like forever (my iPhone tells me it was 30 flights of stairs, but who knows how accurate that really is). We made it, though, obviously, or I wouldn’t have lived to tell this tale. But it was worth every step.

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