Mount Cooke to Nerang
27th July 2019
The Hike - Continuing on from one of my favourite sections on the track, the hike between the Mt Cooke Campsite and Nerang is no less spectacular. Mt Cooke is a popular day hike in the Perth Hills and holds the distinction of being the highest point of the Darling Scarp with an elevation of 582m at the summit. Having been destroyed by fire in 2003, the old campsite at Mt Cooke was in a much better location on the edge of a small valley but the new one is just as nice and has plenty of space to wander around. I've always enjoyed a stop in at this campsite because as a day walker it is a nice place to rest before tackling the climb up to the summit and beyond.
From the campsite you head out along the wide trail towards the looming presence of Mt Cooke that is just there letting you know that some tough cardio will be ahead, even more so if you're carrying a big pack. The trail is very nice single track and in winter and spring this patch comes alive with wildflowers and sundews. Although I have visited this area plenty of times, the walk from the south side of Mt Cooke to Nerang was a section I'd not done for my sectional end to end. With this in mind I planned a lovely overnight trip from Sullivan Rock to North Bannister to tick off this section and also to get out to enjoy some hiking. With perfect weather conditions greeting me on a late July weekend, I enjoyed my walk from Sullivan Rock to the Mt Cooke Campsite (see the last post for details). After a short break I was ready to begin the ascent up Mt Cooke, which funnily enough is not the single biggest elevation change from bottom to top on the track despite looking like a pretty big gain, that honour goes to Mt Hallowell (about 240m instead of 230m for Mt Cooke). With the wildflowers out in bloom and a bit of light cloud around, I was blessed with some ideal photographic conditions for my voyage to Nerang. After crossing the bridge over the creek that runs nearby the campsite, I was greeted with the fragrant smell of Karri Hazel that is just heavenly on any hike.
I located the source pretty quickly and it turns out I wasn't the only one enjoying the aroma as there were plenty of bees buzzing about. I managed to get a pretty cool photo of one still buzzing around and about to land on the Karri Hazel, luckily showing the details of its face and body. As you walk along the 4x4 track there is plenty to see and admire with breaks in the tree cover providing occasional glimpses of the slopes of Mt Cooke. Exposed granite can be seen through the carpet of vegetation and this stretch always brings out the excitement in me as I know what great views are coming. Of course to get up there requires a bit of ascending but with so many stops to photograph flowers and different viewpoints, there is no need to rush. Some darker rocks (potentially laterite) form the basis for some steps as the trail has a couple of switchbacks to help get you up the hill. This is also the last place for a short while where there is a break in the forest and the very short flat section provides some nice views looking back down the valley towards Sullivan Rock and Mount Vincent.