Whistlepipe Gully - Western Australia


GPS 31 59 07.76 S 116 01 59.21 E




Walk in site Sight seeing area Walk trails Day use site only - no camping




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Whistlepipe Gully is part of the Mundy Regional Park in the Shire of Kalamunda.

A stream tumbles down over a rocky, boulder strewn valley, to the coastal plain below the Darling Scarp.

There is a 3.5 kilometre walk trail leading from the end of Lewis Road up the slope to the western end of Orange Valley Road.

Along the way you will find some concrete foundations of a building that once stood in this magical little valley.

I have walked past these foundations many times as it was one of the favourite places to walk our dogs on the weekend. I often wondered what the building was and what it looked like.

Many years later I found a clue hidden away in a book called 'Western Towns and Buildings' by Margaret Pitt Morrison and John White. On page 145 there was a black and white picture of a part of the house that once stood on the old foundations where I had wandered many times.

The caption mentioned an architect named 'Walter' Greenham and part of a paragraph on the preceding page mentioned that 'Walter' had designed and built the home and lived there during the 1960s.

From later reading I found that 'Walter' was actually 'Wallace'.

Part of the mystery was solved but I really wanted to find out more about this ephemeral house that had been on the site from about 1963 to 1981 (1). There were no pictures of it on the internet and only vague mentions that it was built in a Japanese style and had connecting walkways across the stream.

The house had apparently incorporated the granite boulders in its structure and the whole concept had been to make the building one with its surroundings in a style known as 'organic architecture'.

Power to the house has been supplied by a Penton wheel that Wallace has designed himself. The Penton wheel had originally been invented in the 1870s by Lester Allan Pelton. It is a type of impulse water turbine.

Descriptions of the house included trees growing up through the floor, sloped roofing with raw timber beams, suspended walkways with the central feature being the rushing water of the stream. It sounded like a place of real beauty and magic but there was just one old black and white picture that only gave a tantalising glimpse of what it was really like.

Fast forward quite a few years to November 2004. We had left the area to travel Australia and were touring the south west when we had clutch problems and got stuck at Norman's Inlet for a few days. We bumped into a friend (Gerry) who was also staying there, renting a small shack that sits near the inlet.

As we walked along Norman's Beach we could see a very unusual structure perched up on top of the hill facing the coast. It looked like some sort of huge greenhouse. When we mentioned this to Gerry he said he knew the owner as the owner of the shack he was renting owned the property and lived in the house above the beach. Gerry offered to speak to the owner and find out if we could see the 'dome house'.


The Dome House at Normans Inlet
The Dome House


We were subsequently introduced to 'Wally' who we found out, was an architect and had designed and constructed this amazing structure that incorporated a large glass dome and had seven concrete tubes radiating from the central area.

Wally kindly showed us his lovely home and I will never forget the view from the kitchen out over Norman's Inlet to Mount Manypeaks in the distance. It was one of the most stunning sights that could ever be seen from someone's private home. It was a living picture window of astonishing beauty. I could only imagine what it would be like to live there and look out over the many moods of the ocean on a daily basis.


The magnificent view - andrewtboyne.com
The magnificent view - Photo courtesy of Andrew Boyne


Fast forward again to 2016 and I found an article about the Whistlepipe house on an internet site. It mentioned the architect as Wallace Greenham and it also mentioned the dome house near Albany. I realised then that I had actually met the designer and owner of the building I had wondered about for so long and I didn't even know it!

Now armed with the information I needed, I could finally set about searching for some concrete information on the Whistlepipe house and if I was lucky, maybe find a picture or two.

It didn't take long before I found a link to Wally's daughter and once I explained my interest in the Whistlepipe site, she very kindly emailed me a number of photos of the house. It was simply wonderful to finally be able to see, in detail, the building I had so often contemplated the design of. I could never have imagined just how lovely it was.

Now at last, I am able to share this with everyone who has walked along the Whistlepipe trail and wondered what had once stood on those old foundations.

(1) - Some sources say the house was demolished in 1975.

Our sincere thanks to Perri Pires (Wally's daughter) for the black and white photos in the slide show below and to Rhys Brown for the coloured photos.





This is an attempt to combine old and new photos to give some idea of how the house looked in the landscape.

Wallace Greenham house at Whistlepipe - now and then

Wallace Greenham house at Whistlepipe - now and then

Wallace Greenham house at Whistlepipe - now and then

Wallace Greenham house at Whistlepipe - now and then

Wallace Greenham house at Whistlepipe - now and then

See the full Photo Gallery.



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