When it comes to the southern section of WA, it is tempting to stick to the coastline; the beaches, after all, are something that needs to be seen to be believed. However, if you don’t stray inland from time to time, you’ll miss out on some real gems. So before we continued on from Fitzgerald River National Park towards Albany and Denmark, we headed north, first to Stirling Ranges National Park. The park has a series of towering peaks, the highest and most well-known being Bluff Knoll, which is the tallest peak in the southern half of WA at 1095m. National Parks camping is available at Moingup Spring, which is a lovely wooded campground with minimal facilities in the centre of the park, or, for only a couple dollars more per night, there are a few caravan parks on the northern edge of the park that provide a bit more in terms of mod cons.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an easy, leisurely stroll in the Stirling Ranges NP; all of the walks are a Class 4 or 5 and mostly involve steep, scrabble-y climbs that will get your heart pumping and the thighs burning! Nevertheless, if challenging walks aren’t your thing, the 45km scenic Stirling Range Drive will take you through beautiful passes and to easily accessible lookouts along the way.
We decided that we had it in us to tackle two walks in the time that we had designated to stay in the park. We started with the 6km return walk up the popular Bluff Knoll. Staring up from the carpark lookout, it was impossible to tell where the path traversed to reach the top but we figured we would find out soon enough so off we went.
We started off through dense bush which gradually opened up as we slowly made our way along the cliff side, stopping frequently to
catch our breath enjoy the views as we were occasionally passed by rock climbers and abseilers, until we reached the top and…WOW!
Every way we looked offered sweeping views over the park and beyond, and we spent a significant amount of time staring out in awe or building the courage to peek over the ledge. Eventually we were satisfied with our time at the top and gradually made our way down, which turned out to be not a lot easier than the way up!
The next day our legs hadn’t quite fully recovered from the previous day’s activity, so of the five peaks left in the park, we chose the nearby Mount Hassell due to it being one of the smaller peaks with a shorter walk. Nevertheless, it still wasn’t easy! But again, at the top we were able to enjoy some really memorable views, this time of the interesting Toolbrunup Peak, as well as looking back towards Mount Trio, and even Bluff Knoll off in the distance.
After leaving the Stirling Ranges the next day, we stopped overnight in Mount Barker, which gave us the opportunity to enjoy some of the local wineries, particularly Dukes Vineyard and Plantagenet Wines. We also paid a visit to Porongurup National Park to check out its most well-known attraction, the Granite Skywalk, a 4km return walk that includes some climbing and scrambling to reach a suspended walkway over the granite rocks offering expansive views.
By the time we left the region and began to make our way back to the coast towards Albany, we were excited to be beach-side again and our legs were looking forward to a bit of rest!