Warm spring days are a time for slowing down and smelling the wildflowers, and Yanchep National Park’s Ghost House Trail is one of the best places in Perth to do it. The flat, 11.7km loop is a slowly-unfolding gallery of colour in wildflower season, brimming with golden wattles, red banksias, kangaroo paws and countless other varieties of native flowers from start to finish. Do yourself a favour and take your camera, and allow plenty of time for lingering to take photos of the flowers and wildlife.
The trail is named for an old ruined house it passes by, although I’ve yet to encounter any ghosts in it. If you want to visit the ruins at their spookiest, you can camp overnight at nearby Shapcott shelter.
The walk: The Ghost House Trail is officially a 9.2km one-way path that spurs off the Wetlands Walk Trail, but realistically you’ve got to do the extra 1.5km to complete the loop and return to your car. I recommend picking up a map at the park entrance, and starting the walk from the visitors center at McNess House. There are no signs for the Ghost House at the visitors centre, but all trails lead in the same direction. Follow the many markers and you’ll soon come across the comical Ghost House marker – a clip art ghost hovering over some ruins.
After a short walk through some unspoiled bush and around the camping area, you’ll arrive at Cabaret Cave – a limestone cave that has been converted to a function venue. The path then continues deeper into the park, winding its way through shaded forest and open, sandy areas with low-lying scrub. Shapcott hut, near the half-way point, is an ideal lunch stop or overnight camp, if you feel inclined to stretch the hike over two days. It’s worth exploring the short spur trail that leads from the hut to some low cliffs, which you can ascend with a short scramble.
After Shapcott the track soon turns back towards Loch McNess, the lake at the park entrance. More wildflowers and birds were plentiful on my walk, including a pesky kookaburra I spent five minutes chasing from tree to tree to get the perfect shot. The trail follows the edge of the lake for the last 30 minutes or so of walking, offering expansive views of the water and surrounding wetlands, where you can often see black swans.
After your walk you can enjoy some well-deserved refreshments at the Yanchep Inn, or set up a picnic on the lawns in front of McNess House.