Just north of Perth is one of the more unique national parks we have in Western Australia with an interesting history and some spectacular landscapes.
What Is It?
Yanchep National Park was granted national park status in 1969 after a history of mixed land use ranging from being a recreation area, public gardens, golf course, campsite and for military purposes. Originally this was meant as a place of leisure rather than a place of natural wonder so there are a number of buildings and lawned areas that you wouldn’t normally see in other national parks. This includes a cave that was converted into a function centre in the 1930s (and still runs today) along with a Koala habitat area (they aren’t native to WA), a Lodge and an Inn. Thankfully there have been efforts since the 90s to rehabilitate the area to be more fitting of the national park status with an emphasis on the environment along with an Aboriginal Cultural Experience to highlight the rich diversity that has always existed here.
Where Is It?
Located just under an hour’s drive north of Perth, take the Mitchell Freeway all the way to the current end at Hester Road and turn right. Follow this until you reach Wanneroo Road and turn left, continuing on until you see the signs for the park. Turn left onto the entrance road and follow this all the way into the park, paying the entry fee or flashing your Parks Pass if you’ve already purchased one for the year. The Ghost House Walk Trail starts at the McNess House Visitor Centre but the official trail head is located on the western side of Loch McNess.
What to Do?
The Ghost House Walk Trail is the premier walk trail in Yanchep National Park with the 12.5km loop providing a nice distance to see plenty of the landscape. Starting on the edges of Loch McNess, experience wetland scenery with Paperbarks, birds and ferns providing plenty to see. Reaching the Tuart woodlands, you leave the wetlands and head north through rolling hills, surrounded by these endangered trees and plentiful undergrowth of Acacias, Grass Trees and various wildflowers during winter and spring. At various points you’ll reconnect with the wetlands and it’s a good time to have a break and watch out for the various waterbirds that call this place home.
Reaching the titular Ghost House, it’s one of the more photogenic places within the park thanks to the crumbling ruins of an old limestone building. While the debate over whether a ghost lives there rages on, a more watertight dwelling is located a bit further on thanks to the Shapcott Campsite that is part of the three day Coastal Plains Walk Trail. Continuing on you finish the second half of the walk with more beautiful Tuart woodlands, some old military bunkers and a walk through the various ovals, campsites and mixed-use areas in the middle of the park.
What Not to Do:
As always, be a good human and adhere to the Leave No Trace Principles, taking all rubbish with you and not picking the wildflowers.
As mentioned before, Yanchep National Park is a bit unique so activities are not limited to the walking trails within the park. An Aboriginal Cultural Experience runs on Sundays and Public Holidays subject to availability and Crystal Cave is a short caving experience similar to those found near Margaret River. For those looking for a bit more adventure there is a Trees Adventures Course providing some thrills.
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.