Although down-town Perth has plenty of fascinating diversions for visitors, there is also much to see and do on the city's outskirts. Several national parks are just a short drive from Perth's CBD where you can learn more about Western Australia's unique fauna and flora, enjoy a picnic or perhaps go for a wander along one of the scenic hiking trails.
Situated just seventy kilometres south of Perth, the Serpentine National Park is one of the most spectacular and easily accessible national parks in the region, features that have made it popular with generations of locals. Close enough to the city for an easy drive, yet far enough away to provide a much-appreciated change of pace, the park comprises of 4500 hectares of bushland amongst the rugged hills and valleys of the Darling Ranges.
Picnicking is one of the most popular activities that visitors to the Serpentine National Park can enjoy. There is a lovely large picnic area with plenty of tables, benches and gas barbecues, as well as public toilets. If you're at the park in the later afternoon, be sure to also look out for the kangaroos and wallabies which frequent here. For visitors with an interest in the park's history, geographical features, flora and fauna, there are also several interpretative signs around the area. Late winter and early spring is Western Australia's wildflower season, and at this time the park comes alive with a variety of multi-coloured blooms, a bonus for nature-lovers and enthusiastic photographers.
Energetic visitors will be glad to note that several bushwalking trails begin at the picnic area, and these take in much of the park's spectacular terrain. By far the most popular of the park's bushwalks is The Falls Trail, a short walk of just 500 metres return that takes walkers to the Serpentine Falls, an attractive cascade fifteen metres in height that falls into a large rock pool surrounded by rocky canyon walls. While the falls are most dramatic after frequent rain (generally late winter and spring), the rock pool is a popular swimming hole during warmer weather. However, visitors are cautioned to be safety conscious.
Longer walks include the Baldwin's Bluff Trail, a medium-difficult trail up to the summit of Baldwin's Bluff (about 6 km return, taking approximately 2 hours to complete), Kitty's Gorge Trail (11 kilometres return, taking about 3 - 4 hours), which ascends the scarp, the Old Gooralong Trail and Stacy's Loop. If you choose to tackle any of these walks be sure to bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen and a hat, especially during the warmer months when it's advisable to walk during the cooler morning hours. Please also note that the park's gates close at 5pm, so keep this in mind if you're bushwalking in the afternoon.
While unfortunately camping isn't permitted in the Serpentine National Park, there are several accommodation options within the area. Right next to the national park, the Serpentine Falls Park Home and Tourist Village provides several comfortable cabin options, powered sites and much more. With its beautiful tranquil location, it's the perfect spot to linger for a few days or more. Other accommodation is also available, both in Serpentine and nearby, ranging from farm stay and bed and breakfast accommodation to a room in a traditional pub. For more information, take a look at the Serpentine Valley website.
Where: Falls Road, Serpentine, Western Australia, 6125
When: Any time, although late winter and early spring are especially nice as the Serpentine Falls are flowing and many wildflowers are blooming. Summer can be very hot, so exercise caution when bushwalking.
Cost: National Park fees apply, although often there is nobody collecting these. A day pass is $11, if you don't already have an Annual All Parks Pass ($80 per vehicle) or a Holiday Pass ($40 per vehicle, valid over 4 weeks)