Come the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, we’re always ready to get out and see the wildflowers. Most years, the weather has been accommodating. This year it was not. Instead of bright blue skies and lush green paddocks, our trip past the Perth Hills took us through sideways rain, boggy roadsides and dulled views.
But it’s all part of the adventure and it didn’t stop us heading out to the unassuming town of Wongan Hills in search of wildflowers and hopefully, some good weather. We found plenty of the former, but not much of the latter. Still, we made the most of it and managed to find a few gems.
Wongan Hills is a comfortable day trip from Perth. At approximately 185km, it is closer than popular destination Jurien Bay and a great place to stopover if you are seeking wildflower displays. It appeared a popular stopping location for travelers on their way to Coalseam National Park.
There are a couple of different routes there but we chose to drive via Toodyay knowing we could stop for something good at the bakery on the way. The drive out there was wet and it rained and blew the whole trip. As always, the Toodyay Bakery didn’t disappoint with a decent coffee and hot chocolate and we stayed inside while the latest storm front blew through.
Arriving in Wongan Hills, I was surprised at the size of the town. It had a thriving main street with a large dealership for the type of farming equipment so large it’s possibly viewable from space. The Visitors Centre looked newly updated with plenty of information on the local area and a stunning display of wildflowers photos and information. We picked up a couple of maps for walks within the surrounds of the town then were chased inside the pub by another storm front (not an entirely unwelcome set of circumstances).
Our decision to make the trip was only made a few days before we left and we weren’t really prepared for camping. It was also becoming clear that camping, even if we slept in the back of the Landy, was not going to be a pleasant experience in the current conditions. There are a couple of accommodation options in town but we only needed somewhere simple to stay dry and cook a meal so we booked a cabin at the Wongan Hills Caravan Park.
The cabin was standard for most caravan parks. Clean, neat and with all the basics you need for an overnight stay and to keep dry in wild weather. The rest of the park was your standard country town caravan park – plenty of bays, a few trees flowering beautifully, laundry and kitchen.
The park is located on the main road, just before you leave town towards Ballidu. Most town amenities are within walking distance as well as the Christmas Rock Wildflower Walk.
The Visitors Centre was helpful in suggesting walks in the area and can provide up to date information on what’s currently in flower. Based on their advice, we planned a smaller walk on Saturday, then a longer trek for Sunday.
Wongan Wildflower Walk
After watching the large front blow through from the comfort of the local cafe (aka pub) and fueling up with an excellent burger, we took a chance at walking the local wildflower walk.
The Wildflower Walk is a short walk up Quinlan Street. It was still blowing a gale but we were determined to give it a go and it was worth it. The trail was filled with many varieties of wildflowers, some finishing but plenty still in their prime. The walk meanders around a vacant section of bush on the edge of town and is an easy, flat 2km with signage marking directions. We took our time as we walked, taking alternative tracks and pausing to see the beautiful displays and hidden gems.
There was plenty of evidence of wildlife – echidnas, kangaroos, emus – but with storms and strong winds, we were only lucky enough to see a hawk fly away from its shelter as we approached. The walk would be great on a day trip or even on your way through town.
Christmas Rock Walk Trail
Early the next morning, we did the Christmas Rock Walk Trail. Another easy 2km walk located in town, there was a variety of species to be seen, with historical points marked out along the map. The walk took in plenty of sights but didn’t boast as many wildflowers as we had seen the day before. It was more interesting for the historical sites and towering trees. At its flowering peak, it’s easy to see where everlastings would have carpeted the ground.
Mt O’Brien Lookout & Mt Matilda Walk Trail
The following day the winds had dropped but the clouds moved in with rain blowing through. Still, we had somewhere to be – Rogers Nature Reserve. How could we not stop for a photo? There were plenty of wildflowers to see but we pressed on as we were hoping to see plenty more during our bushwalk.
A little further past the reserve is the Mt O’Brien Lookout which has amazing views and information boards with history of the town and its agriculture over the last 100+ years. The lookout was surrounded with plenty of wildflowers to view and if you are lacking in time or don’t want to complete a walk, then Mt O’Brien is the best choice to take in the best of the area.
A little way further is the turn off to Mt Matilda Walk Trail. There are two walk trails available, one is 5km and the other a longer 8km. The walks are well signed but there’s plenty of uphill and downhill slopes to navigate. Again there was a lot of evidence of echidnas and other wildlife, but we saw none.
With excellent views, track information and plenty of flora to enjoy with changing landscapes as you venture around hill, the longer walk is well worth the effort. We wandered through thick scrub as well as more open areas and from the floor of a gully to the top, overlooking a stunning scene.
The walk is well signed for each length, with a T-junction indicating when to leave the trail to complete the 5km loop or keep going to continue on the 8km.
Plan Your Trip
Wongan Hills is likely a town you’ve heard of but have no idea where it is. Or you have likely bypassed it on the way to Coalseam. But it is worth stopping awhile. We found it to be one of the best locations we have seen for wildflowers and Mt Matilda Walk Trail proved a hidden gem for bushwalking. Even if you don’t have time for an overnight stay, it’s close enough to Perth to enjoy a day trip. Just make sure you choose better weather!