The Zig Zag Scenic Drive

Many people travel into the Darling Range to escape the city, walk in the wilderness, or perhaps just spin pottery.  Judging by the number of tyre marks on the Zig Zag Scenic Drive, pottery wheels aren't the only ones spinning in the hills.

The Zig Zag Scenic Drive.

The Zig Zag Scenic Drive and Coastal Plain.

Twisting down the Darling Scarp, the Zig Zag Scenic Drive provides a panoramic view across the coastal plain to the City Of Perth.  The Darling Range is about 25km east of Perth, and runs parallel to the coast.  It is an ancient line of eucalypt covered hills, extending 80km north of Perth, and roughly 220km south of the city. 

Drive carefully as all those tight corners can send you around the bend.

 

Ok... so it might not be the Swiss Alps, but you can still wear shorts in the middle of winter.

The western edge of the Darling Range is called the Darling Scarp (inland cliff).  The scarp rises steeply, and levels out to form the Darling Plateau.  It is on the plateau, where you will find all the trees, hills, deep valleys, and rivers.  A number of dams in the Darling Range provide Perth with it's water supply.  The average height of the plateau is about 450 metres above sea level, and it provides a rather impressive view of the coastal plain.  The highest peak is Mount Cooke, which reaches a lofty 582 metres above sea level. Some of the rocks that make up the Darling Range are an amazing 3700 million years old.

Take me back to Perth Water. Take me back to Reabold Hill. Perth from the Zig Zag Scenic Drive.

Panoramic view of Perth from the Zig Zag Scenic Drive.

TIP:  Take a pair of binoculars along to bring the action up close.  You can see all the way to Rottnest Island in the Indian Ocean, or even watch planes take off at Perth Airport.  Many people live on the scarp, and enjoy looking at Perth every day.

Houses on the top of the Darling Scarp.

 

Houses on the top of the Darling Scarp.

View looking South West.

The Zig Zag Scenic Drive was originally a section of railway line built to transport timber from the top of the escarpment down to the commercial centre of Midland.  The line was laid in 1903, and required a series of switching points, known as Zig Zags, to shunt trains up and down the steep gradient of the Darling Scarp.  The timber industry eventually closed down, and the rails were removed in 1952.  Bitumen replaced the rails, and the Zig Zag became a 3km scenic road.  The road is very narrow, and has many hairpin turns, so for safety reasons it is one way traffic down to the plain.  The Zig Zag is a feature of the Gooseberry Hill National Park, and is closed on the first Sunday of October, to celebrate the Zig Zag Festival.  It is a community celebration of Spring, involving walking, music, wildflowers, and measuring the longest skid mark.

View looking West.

 

PERTH ALERT:   When the locals aren't burning up the the Zig Zag Scenic Drive in fast cars, they are generally just burning up.  Mainly tree stumps, car bodies, and the odd marshmallow.  Despite being connected to a perfectly good electrical grid, the hill folk love wood fired ovens, and warm crackling fireplaces.  This creates an annoying smoke haze, which is particularly noticeable during cold winter mornings.  While it might add to the ambience of the region, it will certainly detract from the quality of your holiday snapshots. 

Toasting a marshmallow the Darling Range way.
A local resident toasting
 a marshmallow.

Smoke in the hills.
Morning smoke haze across the Darling Range.  Head back to Perth for a breath of fresh air.
 
Stay on the alert for tight bends, and bush walkers.
Be courteous on the Zig Zag, and one  good turn will always follow another.

 

Looking back at the Zig Zag Scenic Drive.

Looking back at the Zig Zag Scenic Drive, and then discovering
why people take photos looking in the other direction. 

LOCATION:  Gooseberry Hill National Park on the Darling Scarp.  It's the narrow twisty road that runs off Lascelles Parade.   There are some great walking tracks in the area, though life is much easier in the Darling Range if you have a car.  No tyre burn outs please.

Copyright 2007 LifeOnPerth.com