As published in the West Australian Saturday edition travel supplement, West Travel:
The Lesmurdie Falls, on the edge of the Darling Escarpment, is one of the best and most easily accessible natural features surrounding Perth.
Remarkably, from entering the Northbridge Tunnel to arriving at Lesmurdie Falls National Park was little more than 30 minutes for my two-car convoy.
The park is small, covering only 56ha, with steep granite terrain that is densely vegetated.
The picnic facilities provide good shade and plenty of room to spread out. Within minutes of settling down, the scurry of movement in the bushes causes great excitement for the kids as moments later two quendas emerge to make enquiries as to our catering. While our group of seven had packed an ample supply of chicken, bread rolls, sausage rolls and salads, we had neglected to bring our friendly arthropods the earthworms and fungi which are the preferred diet of the quenda.
They’re an inquisitive little mammal, quokka-like in their lack of fear in securing the various ‘accidentally’ dropped pieces of food that kept landing between the feet of the kids. Under threat from habitat loss and introduced predators, these quendas are finding ways to survive the best way they can. My species is responsible for introducing the quenda to cats and foxes, so I don’t feel too bad about slipping them a few bits of bread.
The options for bushwalking are extensive throughout the park. During our picnic, there is a constant stream of hikers with tubes in their mouths from their back mounted water bladders, accompanied by the scrape of barely lifted trekking poles as they reach their rest point.
Talking to a few people – after they get their breath back – it’s apparent that many are in training for various legs of the Bibbulmun Track. As a trekker of self-proclaimed renown, I offer my sage advice; “Keep your nose over your toes and with your new boots, wear them in , don’t wear them out.”
From the carpark and adjacent picnic facilities, the Lesmurdie Falls are an easy 10-minute walk away. The path is excellent and capable of accommodating fast kids and slow adults in both directions.
As you approach the Lesmurdie Falls from the carpark and picnic area, you hear the waterfall before you see it. The cascade is a stunning display. It’s white and foamy, splashing and falling over 50m to the bottom of the chasm, flanked by granite cliffs. In the distance and on the flat ground out to the west lies Perth.
If you continue past the viewing platforms you can keep walking down the path to the bottom of the falls or off into the bush for further destinations. The paths continue to be broad, free from trip hazards and have well spaced intervals on the steps. Even carrying tired or just lazy kids is relatively easy. Relatively.
While the park surrounding the falls is the responsibility of the government parks authority, the Lesmurdie community is closely involved in its management. A small group of locals, Friends of Upper Lesmurdie Falls, have set themselves the task of removing weeds growing in the eastern end of the park and are planting native flora sourced from local seed stock.
There’s good shade, public toilets, picnic areas, large viewing platforms, information boards and well-signed and maintained trails with the opportunity to walk for minutes, hours or days.
Lesmurdie National Park is on the edge of the city, but on the other side of the hill is the rest of Australia.