Lake Gwelup and the reserve that surrounds it is one of the few areas of wetland that is still relatively intact. This means that it is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna which is all the more surprising considering it is just 12 Km north of Perth’s CBD in the City of Stirling which with a population of 210,000 (2016 Census) is the largest local government area by population in Western Australia. The bush around the lake is comprised of Marri, Jarrah, Flooded Gum, Tuart (, Swamp Paperbark and several species of Banksia. The bush and the lake provided a habitat for birds (according to eBird Australia 110 species of bird have been sighted there), frogs (notably Moaning Frogs), and reptile species (e.g. dugites, skinks and long necked turtles). One of the strange facts that has prevented the land from being developed is that the peaty soils around the lake if disturbed release arsenic and iron sulphates. In the areas nearby that have been drained and reclaimed they have the highest concentrations of dissolved arsenic in the world – some 25000 ug/L (some 400 times higher than that identified as safe levels for drinking water).
So what is there to see and do? Well there is a networks of paths around the lake and through the surrounding bushland and you can bring your best canine friend with you. There are BBQ’s and picnic shelters, public bathrooms, sail-shaded playground, sporting grounds and cricket nets for those who don’t feel the need to connect with nature. For those wanting a nature fix on the southern side is a broad walk and viewing platform that allows you to get up lose and personal with the wildlife. An interesting development is that the bush northwest of the lake is a breeding ground for Rainbow Bee-eaters. These migratory birds come from Papua New Guinea and Tropical Australia and build their nesting burrows in our summer time. The City of Stirling has taken measures to protect the nesting sites and at the same time promote them as a feature of the reserve encouraging people to come and see them. Something that the City of Armadale could learn from with their management of Forrestdale Lake. Conservation and protection doesn’t mean you have to fence people out. So when I went the other week I put together a 3.75 Km walk around the lake that also took in the Rainbow Bee-eater nesting site. It was a loverly walk and it was great to see people out enjoying the sunshine in such beautiful surroundings.