Location: Serpentine, Western Australia
Western Australia is mostly known for its spectacular beaches, and rightly so! With a coastline of white sandy beaches stretching for all of the western seaboard and then a bit more, it’s not hard to see why it boasts some of Australia’s most pristine and picture perfect scenery. However, if you’ve had your share of sandy beaches, and are jaded with seeing clear turquoise water (and hey it can happen!), then it might be time to pack the car, ditch the city, and head to the hills for a change in scenery. Located on the Darling Scarp at the edge of a large plateau which forms the beautiful valley’s in the area, Serpentine National Park is a popular place for day visitors looking to escape the city. And at only an hour’s drive south along the South West Highway you’ll come across a tiny patch of country living that boasts enough to keep you busy for a day, or a relaxing weekend.
Serpentine National Park and Dam
Within the Serpentine National Park you can take your pick from a number of bush walks and trails including the difficult Kitty’s Gorge Trail (14km return walk) and the short Falls Walk Trail which takes you to the falls viewing platform (400m). The famous Bibbulmun Track also passes through the National Park and you can do a section of it in a day where it crosses the Serpentine River. Alternatively the Munda Biddi Trail also passes through the area if you’re more into mountain biking.
The Park is also great for a picnic, with designated picnic facilities including gas BBQ areas that are free for visitors to use, and you’ll also get visits from the curious (and hungry) wildlife but please don’t feed the native animals! Alternatively if you don’t feel like cooking, there is the Cafe on the Dam which overlooks the Serpentine Dam, where you can get freshly cooked food and drinks – and has the most amazing carrot cake ever!
The park is open between 8:30am and 5pm everyday, and costs $12 per car. During the hot summer season be aware of the fire safety warning as the Park can be closed during periods of intense heat and fire danger, and also means no open fires in the Park at any time!
One of the biggest draw cards of the Serpentine Valley is the natural pool and waterfall known as Serpentine Falls. The fresh water comes from the nearby dam and collects in two pools where you can swim. This area in the summer time and school holidays can get pretty busy, and once the carpark reaches capacity the rangers will close it off – so get there before 11am to avoid disappointment! And believe me, it’s worth getting here early for – Siu On and I arrived at opening time (8:30am) and had the falls practically to ourselves for a good few hours before the crowds came.
The Falls area is incredibly slippery so be careful when you’re walking around, and do not attempt to climb the falls as people have slipped, fallen and seriously injured themselves (and unfortunately some have died doing so). Otherwise, it is a beautiful freshwater pool which cascades with water after the winter and any rains that come through the area and I was amazed at how blue and clear the water is!
The Serpentine Falls carpark area is fitted with toilets, gas BBQ, picnic tables and shaded areas. No glass or flotation devices are allowed to be taken to the falls area, and as I mentioned before, please don’t feed the wildlife here as you can be fined on the spot by the rangers if you’re caught doing so!
Not far from Serpentine National Park in neighboring Jarradale is the beautiful Millbrook Winery. If you’re after a bottle of red or white to go with you picnic then a stop by their cellar door should be on your list (open Wednesday to Monday between 10am to 5pm), and if you’re after a more substantial lunch menu they also have a restaurant which overlooks the vineyards and a lake that opens Wednesday to Sunday (but do book before you arrive). Siu On and I were here recently for my brother’s wedding and I can definitely recommend the place and their award winning Millbrook Regional Voignier! It’s located on Old Chestnut Lane in Jarradale, and only a 10-15 minute drive away from the Falls and National park.
The Serpentine Valley is an incredibly unique area that gives you a great taste of WA country living, and if you time it well you can make it to one of the local markets (or two)! If you’re looking to stay longer there are cabins at the Serpentine Falls Park Home Village (no camping sites unfortunately) or there are a few homesteads that can be hired out, and if you get a big group together this can help keep the costs low. Siu On and I stayed at the Yarrabah Holiday Retreat with my brother’s wedding party and guests, and I can definitely recommend this incredible country property if you’re looking to make a weekend of it (although not really in the budget price range, it is a good option if you’re looking to splurge a little).
Our trip back to Western Australia has definitely given us a good taste of Perth and if you’d like updates on what’s happening on the blog, don’t forget to subscribe to The Travelleur over in the righthand side column to get travel ideas and tips directly in your inbox! And you can check out more Western Australia trip ideas right here.
So, where are you going this weekend?
Photography by Jelena Stipanicev.