John Forrest National Park Falls, John Forrest National Park, Perth – Western Australia, Australia

Exploring Perth Hills will always bring satisfaction when it comes to waterfalls, and the National Park Falls up at John Forrest are no exception.

John Forrest National Park is Perth's oldest National Park, about 25-30 minutes out of Perth CBD. Plenty of information on how to get to the falls can be found here.

However, I have a secret short-cut. Travel along Great Eastern Highway Bypass, then exit left at Roe Highway and turn right onto Morrison Road. Follow this until you come across a round-about with a small car park to the left (this is called Pechey Road Carpark).

From here, you can walk towards the Swan View Tunnel (keeping to the right on the gravel path) and follow that towards the falls.

Road Map to John Forrest National Park. Google Maps (2016).
Map of Swan View Tunnel and National Park Falls (walking trails not shown). Google Maps (2016).

I visited the park on my own, strolling along the orange dusty gravel track, admiring the clear blue sky and the sunshine, the view of the million-shades-of-green landscape and whatever insect or bird that flitted by.

Keep to the right for the tunnel, the left to avoid.

I walked through the old railway tunnel, shining my torch on the old faded bricks, and wobbling over stones, trying to avoid muddy slush. Without the torch, you see nothing, but the bright, distant light ahead distorting how much farther you still have to travel.

 
The beginning of the tunnel...

Inside the tunnel looking back...

Looking how far until the exit of the tunnel...

Out of the tunnel, I then headed for the falls, where a small wooden bridge takes you over the very top rocks. To get to the bottom, you have to continue up to higher ground, and veer left onto the gravel walking trail. These trails are marked only with wooden stumps with an outline of an eagle bolted to them. It is slim and steep, so wear proper shoes and remember to be on the look out for snakes and sharp shrubs.
 
Once down at the bottom, there's the viewing platform smack-bang in the middle. I, however, prefer to generally "Bear Grylls" my way around the smooth, red rocks and gushing stream. It was a magical day for me - though probably a bit late in the year, as the falls were not as full as they would be in June-September (this visit was around November).
Photo above is taken from the very bottom of the waterfall.

As you can see, the falls weren't flowing extensively from the top during my visit, so I will definitely be returning in the winter months. Though the weather on the day I went was incredible, so I can't complain about that.

I managed to return to John Forest National Park Falls in October 2017, and while they were flowing a bit better (check out the photos below!), I still recommend a winter visit. 

Quick Facts

Last visit October 2017
Best Time July-October
Start / Finish Peachy Road Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 2km return
Time 1hr
Difficulty Easy, take torch if going through tunnel
FacilitiesNone this way, Picnic area other side
Lat & Long unknown
Nearby Hovea Falls
Watercourse Jane Brook

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Lesmurdie Falls, Mundy Regional Park, Perth – Western Australia, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo taken in April 2017

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I have since returned to Lesmurdie Falls in October, and they look mighty different after winter! Check out the pics below!

Quick Facts

Last visit October 2017
Best Time July-September
Start / Finish Lesmurdie Falls Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance Falls Trail 640m return, Foot of Falls 2km return
Time Allow 2hrs
Difficulty Moderate
Facilities Picnic tables, Toilets
Lat & Long 31.9943° S, 116.0337° E
Nearby Shire of Kalamunda
Watercourse Lesmurdie Brook

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Serpentine Falls – Western Australia, Australia

A small water sanctuary, just South-East of Perth, Western Australia lies Serpentine Falls, where we can frolic and play in nature's pool.

(Hot Dogs Or Legs? Hehe).

Serpentine Falls are located about 55km South-east of Perth, WA. The drive is quite easy really (approximately 1 hr and 10 minutes from the city), though you may miss the final turn off if you aren't careful.

If you are coming from Perth City, head straight down Kwinana Freeway. You will then get to turn onto a typically (and hilariously) Aussie-named exit - are you ready for this? - Mundjidong Road, which will eventually reach South Western Highway. (If you're coming up to the falls from the South, anywhere past the Baldivis kind of area then you will exit the Freeway onto Karnup Road, which also hits South Western Highway.

Either way, turn right onto South Western Highway and if you came from Mundjidong, follow that for another 25km's or so and you'll find Falls Road. If you're coming from Karnup, Falls Road will be right opposite you. Like I said, it's easy to miss, so be on the look out on your left for a tiny little could-you-even-call-it-that service station, and the Serpentine Park Home Village next door. You'll find it eventually, trust.

Road Map. Serpentine Falls. Google Maps (2016).

The only not-so-great-thing about these falls is that you have to pay $12 entry if you are in a vehicle. But that goes to maintaining the park, wildlife and facilities. So it's not so bad, really.

The carpark area is also surrounded by park benches and a picnic area, so it's a great spot to take some food and friends and enjoy being with nature. Though word of warning - the kangaroos are not shy, and will definitely try and join you.

The Serpentine Park is a great spot for bush walking - and if you're up for the trek, you can find your way to the top of the falls. But for those lesser inclined to go hiking - you can simply embark on the short, easy walk to the falls pool (off to the right of the overflow carpark area - which is to the left of the picnic area). If you want more info, you can visit The Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Now - to the falls!

The falls are small, but beautiful. A perfect place to relax on the rocks, or glide through the (freezing cold, might I add) water.

If you visit in the summer months, the falls will likely not be flowing very much, or at all. But it is a great time of the year for swimming in the pool. The winter months are an awesome time to see the falls flowing at their full capacity, but it will be far too cold to venture into the water.

Although, I wish I could say that it goes without saying, but it doesn't: Be Careful. This tiny sanctuary has had 12 deaths due to people underestimating how shallow it really is. So basically, don't go leaping off the rocks. Simply sit back, be smart, and enjoy the fact that we get to experience these 100 year-old falls in the first place.

Quick Facts

Last visit October 2017
Best TimeNov-Feb for swimming, June/July for water flow
Start / FinishSerpentine National Park Falls Rd Carpark open 8.30am-5pm, plan arrival before 10am. $13 entry for vehicles.
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 400meters
Time 5mins
Difficulty Easy
Facilities BBQs, Picnic Tables and Toilets
Lat & Long 32.3679° S, 116.0110° E
Nearby Serpentine Camping Centre, Millbrook Winery
Watercourse Serpentine River

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Yalgardup Falls, Yallingup – Western Australia, Australia

Delving into the South West of WA...

You come across gushing waterfalls like Yalgardup Falls, divine wineries and quirky cafes. Throw away the makeup, the hair products and expensive accessories. You won't be needing them...

These gorgeous, low-formed falls can be found down a windy road in Margaret River. Not too far away are the Waterfall Cottages, perfect for a cute short stay and quite close to the falls - you simply have to follow Kevill Road East, which comes off Walcliffe Road in Margaret River.

Road Map, Margaret River. Google Maps (2016).

My friend Morgan is often my exploring buddy - and I ought to give her credit for the amount of research she does to help us discover places.

However, we stumbled upon these falls by driving around random roads (Kevill Road East) and trying to stay 'off the beaten track'. But, Yalgardap falls are by no means hidden, even though they aren't actually marked on the map.

Literally right next to the road, they are difficult to miss. A small stopping bay next to the falls allows you to pull over and experience their beauty.

The above shot is taken from near the road, but if you go at the right time of the year (after the winter months, during September, or even later October and November, heading into summer) you can walk along the top of the falls, facing either the wide flat river behind them, or the thinning river in front of them filled with shrubs and weeds.

Exploring is what got us these great shots.

I had to wade through freezing cold water, since it was mid-September, with one arm out of the water holding the camera above me. It was quite the entertainment for Morgan, who watched me anxiously, hoping I didn't ruin her camera in the water. But I was successful, and placed it precariously on some rocks and pressed record.

I then monkey-d my way to the top of the falls, up the bank to the left of the above photograph, avoiding tree branches and spider-webs, and with the camera on video we achieved these photos. It was cold, sure, but it was bliss. And really, "It's not that cold once you're in," is the saying, right?

Waterfalls are always an adventure - embrace that! Bare feet and slippery rocks meant we had to be extremely careful, but we managed to see all angles of these falls in the middle of the river. And believe me, it was worth it.

Quick Facts

Last visitSeptember 2015
Best Time June/July
Start / Finish Kevill Road
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance Next to road
Time 2mins
Difficulty Super Easy
Facilities None
Lat & Long -33.942015, 115.039229 
Nearby Waterfall Cottages, Margaret River Town
Watercourse Margaret River

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Quinninup Falls, Wilyabrup – Western Australia, Australia

Some waterfalls are easy to find.

Others, like Quinninup Falls, you stumble across when you're sweaty and exhausted, trekking on the Cape to Cape track in Yallingup, Western Australia.

Finding the Quinninup Falls was on the top of my "To Do" list when I took a camping road trip to the South-West of WA. My friend Morgan and I were determined to find them - despite a complete lack of directions on Google, and absolutely no idea how or where to find them.

These falls are actually the reason I was inspired to make my Chasing Waterfalls blog. Well, they sparked the idea. With just our mobile phones as aid, it was really difficult to source information on where we needed to go and what we needed to do in order to get to these falls. I wanted to make it my life's mission to make it easy for people like me, so that time wasn't wasted driving up and down the wrong streets, or coming to an unsealed road with a shock. Things like that which would really help a budding traveller.

You see, these falls are tucked away on a segment of the Cape to Cape hiking trail along the Cape Naturalist Region - Leeuwin. Hence, we had to actually hike to find them, but which beach did we need to go to? Did we go left or right at the crossroads? That was dilemma number 1.

We started off in the complete wrong direction - at the end of Moses Rock Road, we went left and after a long dusty road, wound up in a very small carpark that backed onto huge sand dunes. We consequently thought we needed to get to higher ground in order to find the waterfall, because, well, water has to flow from up high, right?

So we hiked an unbelievably steep sand dune (photos do not do it justice but hopefully gives you some sort of idea) and aside from some pretty awesome views, we achieved nothing but losing our breath.

We aborted that mission, and decided to try the next beach (back the way we had come). See there are carparks left and right of the dusty roads, so it's a bit of a gamble if you don't know where you are going. (Don't worry, I will help you out).

We followed the road we had come from and eventually pulled into another carpark - packed-full, might I add (this is Moses Rock  Road Car Park on Google Maps). We stared out to the beach and argued for a second about which one of us were going to ask the local-looking surfers and oldies if we were in the right place. In the end it had to be me, so I manned up and asked, "Which way do we have to go to get to the falls on the Cape to Cape?" trying my best not to sound like a typical tourist.

They kindly gave us directions to drive right to the next carpark, and trek along that section of the Cape to Cape which was apparently clearly marked.

Road Map, Moses Rock Road Carpark, Wilyabup. Google Maps (2016).

So, to sum up. Drive to Moses Rock Road (which comes off Caves Road in Wilyabup) until you hit a fork in the road. Turn right along the white dusty gravel and park your car the first small carpark you come across. Get out, find the sign to the right of the road that says Cape to Cape, and begin the journey.

Because, a journey it is. We trekked through a thin track with barren shrub, and those small plants that smell like urine. Some sections were wet, and we got excited. But we were far from flowing water.

Which way, which way?

Word of advice - don't get excited until you reach parts that are sandy. A steep sandy hill (which you walk down - thank the lord) winds around a curve until you find rich, red/orange Earth.

Once you walk around the corner, the falls suddenly appear, as if out of nowhere. They are small, but beautiful. Smack bang in the middle of nowhere.

There's not a big area to admire the falls, so it can be a bit packed with people. Be patient and share the space with everyone. Also be mindful and respectful of the history this treasure bodes with the traditional owners of the land, the Nyoongar people.

We were game enough to get in - though it was absolutely freezing and the sliminess of the floor and debris, I would not recommend.

And yet.

You've travelled such a fair way, most likely in blistering Australian heat, so you may as well cool off under the fresh, clean water.

The walk back is hot enough, so a refreshing dip might be just what you need to help aid the hike. I'll definitely be back here in the winter time, as I've heard the falls get much heavier than they were during this time (September).

Looking for other adventurous, waterfall-y things to do in the area? Try Injidup Natural Spa at Wyadup Rocks nearby, or Yarlgadup Falls a little further in Margaret River.

And if you're heading towards Perth, there's an abundance of hiking trails and waterfalls in to choose from! Simply head here. 

Quick Facts

Last visit September 2015 
Best Time June/July
Start / FinishMoses Rock Rd Carpark 
Unsealed Roads Yes but in great condition
Walking distance 1.5km one way
Time 45 minutes one way
Difficulty Moderate
Facilities Toilets
Lat & Long 33.7463° S, 114.9953° E
Nearby Injidup Beach, Yallingup Maze, Margaret River Chocolate Factory
Watercourse unknown

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