The Kep Track (form the Noongar word for water, Gep) is a rail trail designed for horse riding, walking and cycling that runs from the Mundaring Weir Hall at the Mundaring Weir to the western side of the Poole Street bridge in Northam.
Myself and ajh_ausnzcf (ajh) from the Australian Cycling Forums completed the Kep Track from Mundaring to Northam return (152 km) on October 25, 2008. I rode my Giant XTC 2 and ajh rode his German road touring bike. Neither of us had any serious issues with our bike choice and the track surface/condition. Ajh of course being younger and fitter than me easily out rode me and had no trouble with the ride. Whilst I completed it, I had no desire to knock another eight kilometres to make it an imperial century ride!
We had a few stops on the way to Northam to sort out my seat which kept coming loose and to sample the delights at the bakery at Bakers Hill (highly recommended) which all slowed us down a bit. Once we arrived in Northam ajh promptly got a puncture. Once that was sorted, we had lunch at at one of the bakeries and then headed back to Mundaring.
Kep Track Route Outline
There is a Kep Track brochure that provides an outline of the route and associated information.
Kep Track – Mundaring Weir to Mt Helena
The western trailhead of the Kep Track starts at the Mundaring Weir Hall which is just across the road from the Mundaring Weir Hotel. Initially the Track follows the Munda Biddi Track until it intersections the southern loop of the Railway Heritage Trail. At this point the Track merges with the Rail Heritage Trail and takes an easterly route. On our ride in 2008 this section was poorly marked and the turn to the east easily missed. More recent reports suggest that the signage issue remains.
From Mundaring (well the outskirts) the Kep Track continues to follow the Railway Heritage Trail through Sawyers Valley and on to Mt Helena. Mount Helena was formerly the junction of the two lines and was originally named Lions Mill after the Jarrah Mill.
Kep Track – Mt Helena to Wooroloo
This section of the Kep Track continues on the Railway Heritage Trail passing along the southern edge of the Leschenaultia Conservation Reserve before passing through Chidlow and then reaching Wooroloo. At Wooroloo the Railway Heritage Trail ends and the Kep Track continues heading east.
The townsite of Wooroloo is located in the Darling Range 60 km east north east of Perth and 26 km north east of Mundaring. The area was first settled by the Byfield brothers in the 1870′s and in 1893 a railway stopping place named Byfield’s Mill was opened to service the sawmilling industry in the area. A school was established in 1896, and named Wooroloo, and in 1897 the railway station was renamed Wooroloo. Following the establishment of other community facilities in the area, and the opening of the Wooroloo Sanatorium in 1912, the government surveyed blocks and gazetted the townsite of Wooroloo in 1913.
Wooroloo derives its name from the nearby Wooroloo Brook, first discovered by explorers in 1830. The brook was at first recorded as the “Gatta” and then the “Goodmich River”, although some pools in were referred to as “Worrilow” in 1834. The current spelling was used from around 1896.Â
Kep Track – Wooroloo to Bakers Hill
From Wooroloo, “whom derives its name from the nearby Wooroloo Brook, first discovered by explorers in 1830. The brook was at first recorded as the “Gatta” and then the “Goodmich River”, although some pools in were referred to as “Worrilow” in 1834” (Landgate) the track becomes the Kep Track proper and immediately deteriorates in quality, with the Track surface being mainly pea gravel. Not the nicest stuff to ride on! That said one is rewarded with the opportunity to take a break at The Famous Bakers Hill Pie Shop. The Track passess through Wundowie on the way to Bakers Hill.
Bakers Hill was “originally declared as Mount Baker in 1897, this name was changed to Baker’s Hill in 1902 to avoid confusion with Mount Barker. The apostrophe in the name was not officially dropped until 1944 The town is said to have been named in honour of an early settler, John or James Baker” (Landgate). So there you go, despite The Famous Bakers Hill Pie Shop being here, the name Bakers Hill has nothing to do with pies.
Kep Track – Bakers Hill to Northam
The Kep Track continues on the railway form from Bakers Hill through to Clackline where the railway form comes to an end. From Clackline the Track gets a bit more hilly and there is a 6.5 km section of bitumen road. Really the surface is fine and could be easily ridden on most bikes with wider tyres (say 32 mm plus) such as hybrids through to mountain bikes. Coming into Northam itself is not well marked. On our ride in 2008 we finished the ride at the tourist bureau when we should have finished on the opposite side of the river. Northam marks the eastern trailhead of the Track. With the exception of this part of the Track and the Mundaring section we really had no problems following the Track, the distance markers where frequent and very handy.
Clackline “was gazetted a townsite in 1896. Despite being on a railway line, the name has no connection with the railway, and is an Aboriginal name. The surveyor John Forrest, later Premier of Western Australia, recorded the name for a well and brook in 1879, but did not record a meaning for the name” (Landgate).
Northam is “located on the Avon River in the central agricultural region. The Avon River was discovered by Ensign Dale in August 1830, and following further exploration of the district by Dale in October 1830, land was made available for agricultural settlement. At the same time land was set aside for three townsites, and as early as December the northernmost of these townsites is referred to as Northam. Boundaries for the townsite were officially adopted in April 1836, but it was 1847 before any lots were surveyed, and 1849/50 before the first lots were sold.
Northam was most likely named by Governor Stirling after Northam, a village in North Devon, England, or another village now part of Southampton. The name may also relate to Northam being the most northern of the three Avon townsites, although this seems unlikely. There is no definitive information on the origin of the name” (Landgate) .
Resources and Other Websites Related to the Kep Track
For more information on the Kep Track, the following resources might be useful: