Ellis Brook Valley Reserve Blue Wren Trail

DRBNats, 21st May 2022

This meandering walk trail in the magnificent Ellis Brook Valley is just off the Tonkin Highway, 15 km from Gosnells.

We saw a variety of orchids and landscape trees generic to the area. Eucalyptus wandoo and Acacia dentifera were in abundance (not yet flowering). We walked down the trail, which has some steeper parts and rocky twists at the start, following the watercourse on the bottom stretch to the lower car park and BBQ area. We returned via a combination of the bitumen road and walking trail.

We saw two types of Styphelia, S. foliosa and S. tortifolia, and Grevillea bipinnatifida; the trail combines dense shrubbery and open Wandoo forest. We crossed the Ellis Brook via bridges; however, there was still no water flowing besides small puddles in stone cracks. Features noted by others on the trail were evidence of indigenous plantings (stone gardens) and various creek bed areas. Silhouetted on the hillside were Kingia australis; numerous hakeas were identified as Hakea laurina (Pin-cushion), Hakea trifurcata (Two-leaf/Kerosene Bush), and Hakea preissii (Needle Bush). Two species of orchids are Eriochilus (Bunny Orchids) and Pterostylis (Greenhood Orchids but not yet out). Evidence of weeds is closer to the bitumen road with Oxalis and Dodders (Cuscuta) interspersed with Lomandra longifolia (Spiny-head Mat-rush).

We heard and had bird sightings such as Barnardius zonarius (Australian Ringneck), Rhipidura leucophrys (Willie Wagtail), Rhipidura albiscapa (Grey Fantail), and Pardalotus striatus (Striated Pardalote). As the trail is named Blue Wren, we were not disappointed as a group of juvenile or female Malurus splendens (Splendid Blue Fairy-wrens) were feasting on ants. They are distinctive by their grey, brown head, back and wings with a lighter belly and a dull turquoise tail.

Ellis Brook Valley is part of the Banyowla Regional Park. The name Banyowla (pronounced ban-yow-la) recognises Banyowla, a Noongar elder at the time of colonial settlement. The history of Banyowla’s people is linked with the name of Captain T.T. Ellis, recognised by the naming of Ellis Brook, which runs through the Valley. Ellis, the Superintendent of Mounted Police, died from injuries sustained in the infamous Pinjarra massacre of 1834, in which Banyowla’s people were involved.

As the area is well known for wildflowers, this is a definite return visit to be scheduled either later in 2022 or 2023.

Arlene Quinn