Water and the role it played in the fortunes of early colonial efforts to live out in remote locations east of Perth created an interesting legacy that can be explored today. The water pipeline running between Mundaring Weir and the eastern Goldfields was an engineering masterpiece back in the late 1800s and still provides drinkable water to towns like Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie. The railways that serviced these areas also required a supply of water to run and although they are long gone, the formations still exist as rail trails with the Kep Track utilising them to great effect.
What Is It?
Running between Mundaring Weir and Northam, the Kep Track is a 76km cycle/walk trail that follows the various rail formations and pipeline service roads, exploring the history of this ambitious engineering scheme. Rail trails are fast becoming a popular tourism drawcard with the gentle slopes required for the rail engines to operate on making for pleasant cycling terrain. The Kep Track (Kep meaning Water in Noongar) was conceived as part of the 1988 Heritage Trail initiative and has remained intact over the years to become a fantastic day trip for cyclists (or a multi-day walk for very keen hikers).
Where Is It?
You can start at either end of the Kep Track with the trail starting at the Mundaring Weir Hotel in the Perth Hills and finishing in the country town of Northam to the east of Perth. A car shuffle will be required to cycle this in one day unless you plan on doing a 150km there and back journey but the extra logistics is worth the effort. The trail is reasonably well marked with wooden boards every now and then but it is useful to carry a copy of the GPS file from a source like TrailsWA or AllTrails just in case.
What to Do?
The best way to experience the Kep Track is to grab your gravel or mountain bike, a friend or two and cycle it. There are no tricky technical sections so if you are reasonably confident with your bike handling skills on gravel paths and are fit enough to ride 76km in a day then this trail is for you. Exploring the historical elements of the water pipeline, the old railways and passing through several towns along the way, there is plenty to see to keep you interested.
Highlights along the way include the Jarrah forests leading up from Mundaring Weir, stops at Chidlow and Wooroloo, the bakery at Bakers Hill (they have a fantastic selection of pies and sweet treats), the Clackline Refractory, the Clackline Railway Bridge, open farmland between Clackline and Bobakine, the Northam Water Tanks and the descent down into Northam finishing near the new mural created by Amok Island. Covering a lot of distance and passing through a variety of country, the Kep Track is a nice touring route that will provide plenty of memories and a great workout.
To get more information about the route and what to expect, head here!
What Not to Do:
As always, be a good human and adhere to the Leave No Trace Principles, taking all rubbish with you. As this is a dual use path, please be aware of other trail users.
If you are looking to check out a few more locations just off the Kep Track then Lake Leschenaultia is a short side trip away when you reach Chidlow and worth the detour.
About the author:
Mark (The Life of Py) is a Perth based outdoor enthusiast that loves exploring the trails of Western Australia in his free time. When he isn’t out taking photos he is busy planning the next adventure. See more of his content here.