Hiking the Stirling Range
The Stirling Range National Park is a gem of a hiking destination located 100km north of Albany in the south of Western Australia. Running east-west, the chain of granite, sandstone and quartzite peaks contains the largest elevation points in the entire South West (see the Pilbara for the highest points in WA). A biodiversity playground full of unique plants, animals and birds, we are lucky to have trails that take you to six of the peaks in the area.
Where - Located 100km north of Albany, from the centre of town head along Albany Highway until you reach the big roundabout. Take the Chester Pass Rd exit and follow this north until you reach the signs for the park. The park is split in two with Bluff Knoll on the eastern side of Chester Pass Rd, Mount Trio off Formby Rd South and the remaining four hikes accessible on Stirling Range Drive, a gravel road winding its way through the peaks to the west. If you are coming from Perth then follow the signs from Albany Hwy as you approach from the north.
When - Due to the cooler climate of the South West, the hikes can be completed at any time of year but the Stirling Range has its own weather patterns so care must be taken. The peaks are quite often shrouded in low lying clouds, especially in the morning and the weather can change suddenly. The park is best experienced in spring and early summer when the wildflowers are in bloom but on certain occasions throughout the winter it may be cold enough for snow on Bluff Knoll. If you are planning a visit then be respectful of the conditions, pack a jumper, rain jacket and plenty of water and know your limits.
Food and Drink - Being a national park, the food and drink options are somewhat limited. The Bluff Knoll Cafe on the corner of Chester Pass Rd and Bluff Knoll Rd is a great place for a coffee, meal or even a sneaky drink from the small bar. For something a bit more upmarket, check out the Porongurups, 50km south of the park where you'll find great wineries, arts and crafts and a distillery. The nearest supermarket is located in the town of Cranbrook, to the west of the park where you will also find fuel.
Accommodation - There are two accommodation options within or close to the park with various levels of comfort. The Stirling Range Retreat is the only accommodation option that offers cabins and rooms (it even has a pool) and they also offer services for caravans and campers. Located opposite Bluff Knoll Road, it is a great base to use if you don't like the idea of camping or want a little bit more luxury than a tent. The Mt Trio Bush Camp is on the northern border of the park and is a large space for caravans and campers with a central area containing showers, a camp kitchen, fire pit, laundry and the Bluff Knoll Ski Club.
Dieback - A symptom of Phytophthora infection, dieback is a big concern in the Stirling Range. Spread through the transporting of soil, make sure you use the dieback stations provided to clean your shoes or in areas where they are not provided, bring a brush and a spray bottle of diluted methylated spirits. There is no effective treatment for dieback once it spreads to an area so everyone must be vigilant with their hiking equipment.
Check out the hikes below and start planning your adventure!!!