East Mount Barren
Fitzgerald River National Park
Directions - East Mount Barren can be reached by taking Ravensthorpe-Hopetoun Road from Ravensthorpe to the turnoff for Hamersley Drive that leads into Fitzgerald River National Park. Hamersley Drive is paved all the way past West Beach and the car park for the East Mount Barren Trail Head is well signed and on the right hand side of the road.
The Hike - With one Barren already in the collection I was excited to complete the set (at least the ones you are allowed to climb) and after driving into the eastern end of the park over Culham Inlet and seeing East Mount Barren in all of its magnificence, my eagerness grew. My plan was to hike this one nearer to sunset to allow for better photographs and I'm really glad I waited. We set up camp at Four Mile Beach and headed for a swim at Barrens Beach where, as I mentioned in my Sepulcralis Hill write-up, it allowed me to make peace with the last Barren before jumping into the hike (plus it was just a little bit relaxing in the warm sun).
With an underwhelming hike at Sepulcralis Hill completed, Caris and I drove to the car park for East Mount Barren and what would hopefully be a much better experience (spoiler: it was). The car park was empty when we arrived, unexpected given it was near the Easter break and it looked quite busy as we drove past less than an hour earlier. This just meant that we had the place to ourselves and could enjoy the hike without coming across another soul (we are both weird people-avoiding introverts). Just like West Mount Barren there are a few opportunities to frame the mountain in your photographs with some Banksias and Royal Hakea aka Traffic Light Bush Kale. With that out the way we started proceedings with a good scrub of the boots at the dieback station and a walk along the boardwalk section that protects the recovering scrub. The gentleness of the boardwalk doesn't last long and you are faced with just over a kilometre of bright quartzite and sandstone to scramble over and admire.
With its close proximity to both the coast and several notable mountainous features, namely the Whoogarup Range to the west and the Eyre Range to the north, there is no shortage of viewpoints to admire as you climb up and up. The climbing thankfully is broken up into stages and each little section offers something unique to look at or switches your focus onto something entirely new. For the first section you climb up to a series of jagged rocks with the view back towards the Whoogarup Range, Mileys Beach and the Hamersley Inlet providing a pleasant distraction. As we reached the first of the rocky features the clouds started gathering to the west and I was hoping that they didn't become overly thick as the reason I chose this hike at this time was the potential for an epic sunset. Having already seen the highlight gallery up the top of the page I think you know how this story ends but the early cloud cover started filtering the light perfectly with rays of sunshine breaking through and livening up an already great start.
A gap in the rocks provides passage into the second section of the hike that offers a more expansive (and flatter) landscape so you can enjoy the views without feeling so much burn in the legs. From here you get better ocean views to the south and the first glimpse of the summit of East Mount Barren. There is still a little bit of climbing up to the plateau of the hike where you will be rewarded with more views back towards the west and the final rocky section you must tackle in order to reach the summit. Along the way there are several plant species to admire and even though it wasn't peak season I still got to enjoy a pop of colour from some early wildflowers. Caris was enjoying the flatter terrain and I couldn't stop taking photographs in the changing light as every turn or elevation change provided a better view or a different angle. I ended the day with just under 600 shots and could have edited every single one of them for the fun of it.
A thicket of scrub and trees hides the rock wall that you eventually hit and when you do it isn't exactly clear to start with where the path is meant to take you. We admired the golden hue of the impressive rock face and located the correct path to the left of the wall. Leading up what looks like a scene from Indiana Jones, Caris wasn't confident she would enjoy scrambling up the rocks and decided to enjoy a rest here while I continued onto the third and final section. The narrow passage leading to the summit requires a tiny bit of scrambling but I was able to do it with my camera still in hand so it isn't too much of an obstacle. There are various little nooks and crannies that I admired and tried to photograph but I really wanted to see what the views were like from the summit so pushed on. What awaited me was nothing short of spectacular with amazing 360 degree views and some great vantage points to soak it all in from.