If you’ve ever been to Western Australia you probably share the opinion that its quite flat, remote and beautiful! When you try and picture a typical WA scene you imagine a white sandy beach with sparkling blue waters lapping its shores, or perhaps you envision the red dirt and ancient rocks of the Pilbara complete with gumtrees and a fiery sunset.
What most likely does not come to mind is a mountain range, with green rolling hills like something out of the braveheart movie! Well that is exactly what lies 400kms south-east of WA’s capital Perth.
Stirling Range National Park is 65kms long running in an east-west direction and contains the tallest mountains in Australia's south-west. Home to over 1500 species of flora, some of which are endemic, it is no surprise this mountain range continues to draw a crowd of bushwalkers, hikers, adventure lovers and rock climbers to the region year after year.
If you’re coming from Perth you’ll likely want to stay a couple nights to get the most out of the region so I recommend staying at Mount Trio Bushcamp which has a great camp kitchen and shower facilities as well as fresh rain water that you can refill your water bottles for the days hiking.
There are a number of different peaks in the range with Bluff Knoll soaring the highest coming in at just under 1100m.
Bluff Knoll is a medium intensity hike with a 6km round trip to the summit taking around 3-4 hours depending on the amount of photo breaks. Don't worry if you’re new to hiking there are plenty of beautiful viewpoints along the way to stop and have a break at. The views from the top are well worth it offering stunning 360 panoramas of the farmlands below, be careful when around the cliff face as it's a long way down!
Toolbrunup Peak is probably the hardest hike with the top third section consisting of large boulders and rock slopes. It only comes in at 885m but offers the best viewpoint in the ranges. The rocky peaks make you feel as though you are perched upon some ancient granite castle. Allow 3-4 hours return.
Mount Trio is a great hike for beginners or people chasing a slightly easier walk. With a far more sensible 2 hour return time it still offers amazing views of the mountain range and is an all time favourite of mine for sunsets.
The Stirling ranges are the only place in Western Australia known to produce snow (only once or twice a year thankfully) so make sure to pack accordingly. They are known for their unpredictable weather patterns so keep an eye out for weather fronts moving in. One minute it can be bright clear skies and half an hour later it can be raining and blowing a gale! The indigenous name for this range, Koi Kyenunu Ruff, translating to “mist rolling around the mountains” is a viable testament to these peaks and their unpredictability.
As for the best season to visit the Stirlings it would have to be Spring, the wild flowers are in full bloom and the weather is warming up a bit but doesn't yet have the full bite of an Australian summer.
Hot tip: for anyone interested in Astrophotography this place can't be beaten! Providing the perfect foreground and no ambient light pollution the photos will be stunning.