Alongside Serpentine Falls, it’s fair to say Bells Rapids is one of Perth’s favourite short trips out of the city.
And fair enough too – the walk itself isn’t too hectic, the scenery is glorious (particularly once those rapids start er… rapiding), and you’re allowed to take your doggo!
If you haven’t been, we’re heading into the time of year when Bells Rapids really sings, and here’s a little primer to get you there:
What is it?
About 45km from Perth, Bells Rapids is a series of streams and waterfalls that make up part of the Avon River. In the past it was best known for being a fantastic viewing point for Western Australia’s annual Avon Descent white water race, but it’s since become a popular walking and picnic spot year-round.
Where is it?
Located an easy-breezy 45 minutes northeast of Perth in Brigadoon, the quickest way to get there from the CBD these days is via Guilford Road, then Tonkin Highway, followed by Gnangara and West Swan Roads. Finally turn on Cathedral Avenue and follow that until it becomes Orlov Trail, and you can’t miss the signs and large car park.
What to do:
Bring ya walkin’ boots and a sandwich! Bells Rapids features a couple of leisurely nature walks that run along the banks of the Avon River, and across it with a walk bridge over the rapids. There’s the 2.5km River Walk and 3km Goat Walk, both offering spectacular views of the Swan Coastal Plain below, along with the rolling countryside of the Swan Valley.
Around July and August is when the waterways begin to fill up, but if you want to see some proper white water action it’s recommended to head there deeper into winter and spring (the Avon Descent usually takes place mid-August).
Western Grey Kangaroos are abundant in the area, along with spectacular wildflowers in Spring, and plenty of other flora and fauna if you keep your eyes peeled. As we mentioned above, it’s a dog-friendly trail (here’s a list of others around Perth) and there’s even a few off-leash areas.
Some areas of the trail are also wheelchair accessible, and there is a picnic area and public toilet at the beginning of the trail.
What not to do:
Trespassing: City of Swan and Arc Infrastructure have issued a Safety Alert for people straying off designated walking paths, in particular the private level crossing 250m from the Bells Rapids carpark. It’s important to stick to marked walking trails, for your own safety along with the safety of “people who are working on the rail infrastructure, train drivers and the surrounding community.”
Go swimming: The main section of Bells Rapids can have strong undercurrents particularly when flowing deep into winter, so be careful close to the river’s edge too.
Arrive late: Bells Rapids’ close proximity to Perth, scenery and leisurely place makes it a popular spot for city day-trippers, so be mindful it can get busy on the weekends.
We know we said no swimming, but you can sometimes find quiet little rock pools along the track that are nice to cool off in on hot days. There’s a somewhat hidden waterfall in the area, and we’ve outlined how to get there HERE.