Mount Lindesay

Start - Mount Lindesay Rd off Scotsdale Rd

Length - 9.9km (Return)

Grade - Orange

Terrain - Single Track, Granite Slab

Vertical Climb - 425m

Time - 3-5 hours

Signed - Yes

Date Hiked - 27th September 2020

Best Time - All Year Round

Directions - From the centre of Walpole find Horsley Rd and take this north until the roundabout. Turn right onto Scotsdale Rd and follow this all the way to the right turn for Mount Lindesay Road. Continue along Mount Lindesay Road for 11.5km until you see the sign pointing you off towards the car park. Zig zag along farmland for 2km until you reach the car park and the trail head will be located on the eastern side of the parking area.

The Hike - Mount Lindesay is a bit of an outlier on the South Coast between Northcliffe and Denmark as it's the only decent length hike in the area that isn't a section of the Bibbulmun Track despite all the excellent scenery around. This is a hike I had previously completed over the Christmas holidays in 2016 but in an unfortunate series of events I had deleted the raw images of that trip. It was also very late in the day so was very rushed and I really only had time to take a few photos in the forested section before making it to the summit for sunset.

Coming back in prime wildflower season as part of a long South West road trip, I was going to be savouring the trail this time and really trying to capture it in the best light possible. After a lovely warm-up walking the short trail through Harewood Forest, I made my way along Mount Lindesay Road towards the big one for the day before heading into Albany for the next leg of the trip. You get a good view of the hill rising up from the surrounding farmland and after a wiggle around various roads, I arrived at the car park ready to re-explore Mount Lindesay on a perfect spring day. It had been almost fours years since my visit and given I was almost running up to the summit in the shadows, my memory of this place wasn't as good as it could have been. There were a few cars there when I arrived including a dad and two boys that were still getting ready as I departed down the trail towards the Denmark River. I stopped at the large information boards and studied the flora I could expect on this hike, with the Leaping Spider Orchid catching my eye as something I would really love to see.

 

Some of the other rare orchids I believe were out of season so I would concentrate my gaze on finding the spider orchids, something that was getting easier after spending pretty much every day hiking in the last two weeks. Recognising shapes and colours from the undergrowth is now second nature and it doesn't take long for me to identify the new flowers from ones I've already spotted. On the jaunt down to the Denmark River crossing I was stopping so often to shoot new flowers or the excellent Kingias scattered throughout the forest that I was soon caught by the dad and two boys. I let them pass as I wouldn't be averaging a good pace with all the wildflowers and turned my focus back to admiring every new flower that I came across. Even on the 300m stretch down to the bridge there were a dozen or so varieties ranging from Coconut Ice, Silky Blue Orchids, Hooded Lilys, Flame Peas to large White Banjine.

Stopping on the bridge crossing the Denmark River, I was enjoying how lush this part of the hike was. On my previous visit I didn't spend much time here on the way up because I was in a hurry and it was already dark on the way back. Now I had some time I could appreciate the beauty of this spot and what a special place it really is. I've walked along the Denmark River much further downstream on the Mokare Heritage Trail as it empties into the Wilson Inlet and I enjoy both locations for different reasons. Even as you're heading up the hill on the other side, there is a cool little switchback where you get one last look at the river with some granite boulders in the foreground just to complete the scene. From here you're on a gentle incline ranging from a couple of percent gradient up to double digits but it never feels like a slog. The reason for this is you are surrounded by excellent forest and if walked between late winter through to early summer, wildflowers as far as the eye can see. 

 

I've tried to balance out the photos to include some shots of the trail where possible but I took so many photos of the various wildflowers that it was hard not to put them all in the galleries. It's unfortunate that this area around Mount Lindesay has been hard hit by dieback because it would be the perfect place to have more trails through the lovely Jarrah and Marri forests north of Denmark. If this is the level of beauty you would get then sign me up for any walk taking in this type of scenery. Through here I saw plenty of colour with some sweet smelling Hakea, Native Iris, a Purple Enamel Orchids hidden away, lots of flowering drosera vines, some Southern Cross, Grevilleas and Cowslip Orchids. To say it was a great pleasure to be here in this moment, especially in 2020, was an understatement. To me this felt like a brand new trail as I was here in a different season with enough time to explore the trail properly and I have to say that a slower pace definitely agrees with me. 

The excellent forest continued for a while longer and I had no problem ambling along the trail at a snails pace. Away from the river valley I was expecting it to feel a bit drier but after a sandy patch, it opened up into a really nice stretch of forest with a lovely understory. A fallen tree provided a feature to photograph and off in the distance, the Kingia's continued to stand tall. The Silky Blue Orchids were becoming a common sight on the edge of the trail but I still hadn't seen a Spider Orchid. I was beginning to spot everything but the elusive white orchids and was starting to wonder if perhaps they were out of season, not likely given September is the month for them. Spotting lots of Purple Hovea, Boronia, more Hooded Lily, Fan Flowers and different varieties of Hakea, I concluded this place is a wildflower enthusiasts idea of heaven. The appearance of granite boulders in the undergrowth marks a change in the landscape as you get the occasional glimpse of a view when there is a slight clearing.

 

You still have a way to climb but by this point you have ascended about 150m from the valley floor and the second part of the hike starts to open up. Transitioning away from the closed in feel of the forest, you start to see farmland off to the south, along with swathes of forest to the east. Getting towards the middle of the day, I was happy for my new wide brim hat that while making me look like a bit of a nerdburger, provides a good deal of shade for my face and neck area. It also makes for better wildflower spotting as I'm not squinting as much (I hate wearing sunglasses while using my camera) and this particular advantage was needed along here. Rounding a corner, you spot the slopes of Mount Lindesay for the first time since the drive up here and it's a nice moment along the trail. It still seems far away but at least the end goal is in sight. I remember that it was a longer than expected hike once you reach the granite section so I was at least prepared for that. 

The change in landscape also brought a change in the wildflowers with plenty of new varieties showing up in the much sunnier and exposed conditions. A smile was brought to my face when I spotted a Fox-Tail on the side of the trail as these purple and blue flowers are one of my favourites thanks to the brilliant shape and colours of the flower. With the trail now snaking through low heath type terrain, I figured it would be easier to find a Spider Orchid if they were to be found through here. Instead I found some beautiful Blue Tinsel Lily (the purple stars with the yellow filament) and they were something unique that you don't find many other places (at least in my experience). A few more new flowers appeared along the path including a purple flower with the most amazing muted green and silver leaves along with what could be a pink myrtle (happy to be corrected). Finally reaching the first of the granite sections you must conquer before the final summit push, I was happy to be back with beautiful photographic conditions (blue skies with fluffy white clouds). 

 

I can imagine that the granite here can get very slippery during the winter months as this area receives a lot of rainfall. This wasn't an issue for me today despite the significant overnight rain as the granite here is well exposed to the morning light. Navigation is made easy by the white plastic bollards attached to the granite by yellow bases so if you're not following them, then chances are you've taken a wrong path somewhere and need to backtrack. This is the steeper part of the ascent with some sections requiring you to walk straight up some granite faces, while others are made easier by steps and little connecting paths. As always, if there is moss along your direct route then please do not step on it as it's very sensitive to any disturbances, especially large human ones. The more you climb, the more the views start to open up and there are some cracking views to be had from Mount Lindesay. 

To the west you get the Walpole Wilderness with the distant peaks of Mount Roe and Mount Frankland looking like little bumps on the horizon. To the east and north east are the impressive ridge lines of the Porongurups and Stirling Range as they run east-west just north of Albany. To complete the scene are the views looking south towards Denmark, the Wilson Inlet, Mount Hallowell and the Southern Ocean. It's an impressive beacon from which to survey the landscape of the South Coast and the trail gives you plenty of opportunity to be in a really nice position to take it all in. One thing that was peaking my interest was the vast amount of Kingias just rising up from the terrain in the distance. Looking like the Australian version of a palm tree, these tall plants grow very slowly (1-2cm per year) so it's always impressive seeing examples that are 2-3m high and marvelling at how old they must be. Continuing to rise, I connected up the various white bollards as they snake from granite platform to granite platform. 

 

The wildlife spotting had not been very fruitful thus far so it was nice when I spotted a large skink sunbathing in the morning sun. Unfortunately it quickly scurried away but only to retreat under a hollow rocky ledge that I could still see it in. I tried to get a good photo but no matter what setting I tried, there was not enough light. Figuring I might get lucky later on, I kept moving up the granite and on towards even better views. I spotted the silver Bibbulmun marker glued to the granite that struck me as odd the first time I was here and it's still a mystery as to why they used it on this trail given the Bibb never came here and is a good distance south of this spot. Moving on, the trail starts to wind it's way north from this point and off the larger granite platforms into a more heath like terrain. This is no bad thing as the wildflowers start to appear again with more varieties that I had not seen. There was only one Rose Coneflower in bloom that I could see but what a sight it was, joining the flowering eucalyptus trees and bottlebrushes as highlights of this stretch. 

The final push up to the summit is pretty spectacular with the summit now a much more visible entity and the surrounding slopes filled with interesting sights like giant boulders and more swathes of Kingia. I reached the summit, which instead of being a small little platform or series of boulders, is actually quite a flat piece of land with it's own 300m loop trail. I spotted the dad and two boys off to the right so decided to leave them in peace and did the circuit in a clockwise direction. Up here you'll  find low scrub with the trail linking various clumps of boulders that you can climb on to enjoy the views and have a snack. I located one such spot with views to the south and got out a protein bar that was serving as a light lunch after my big breakfast in Walpole. With light winds, great views and plenty of sunshine, this was a nice moment to just sit there in the peace and quiet to just enjoy nature at its finest. There was plenty to photograph from this spot and I had good fun snapping various shots at different zoom lengths of the Wilson Inlet and Denmark.

 

With the summit now clear and my snack now gone, I moved on to complete the loop trail and head back down the mountain. I was aware of the time as I was meant to be meeting my friend and podcast partner in Albany for the finish of his Munda Biddi adventure so didn't want to be late. He was providing updates as he cycled his final section and at this point I realised he was well ahead of schedule. The rest of the summit loop is really spectacular with some fascinating looking boulders perched in interesting fashion and a scene that I was looking forward to re-shooting given how iconic the photo was from my first visit. There is a spot looking north from the summit where you get a few granite boulders in shot but what made this one so special for me was the summer storm brewing in the background. It was what made this hike a memorable one for me, even though I rushed it and I'll always remember being in complete awe watching those clouds roll through. The exact photo is this one and I was happy I edited it up properly for the online store before I accidentally deleted the raw files. 

The last little section of the summit loop provides some of the best views with the distant peaks of the Porongurups and Stirling Range a real treat from this vantage point. Remembering back to all the great adventures I've had in those places was a nice memory and I was feeling especially grateful to be living this lifestyle and fortunate to be taking these road trips. As I began my descent back down the hill I was still a little annoyed that I had found the Leaping Spider Orchid. This thought vanished for a brief moment as a bird of prey came into sight and flew right by me before disappearing into the distance. Still wanting to find the elusive orchid, I really slowed down on the descent, checking every nook and cranny I could find in a desperate attempt at finding one. I really should have powered down at normal speed given I wanted to meet Donovan as he rode into Albany, not after but it was really bugging me. I reached the granite sections and wandered around the fringes where they might live but couldn't find anything. I knew I was searching hard because I was finding a good deal of new flowers that I didn't see on the way up including some Blue Squill and a Yellow Sun Orchid. As a group of people passed me the other way I stopped to say hello and realised I was being a bit silly with my search.

 

If anything, the orchid would be in the forested section so I picked up my pace and vowed to resume my search there. The descent through the open stretch was just as enjoyable as the ascent despite the much warmer temperatures. Along the way I did slow down to photograph more wildflowers because I have a problem now with taking too many photos on a hike. Once I reached the forest it was game on again and I was hyper alert to anything off trail that may be  white orchid. Scanning the undergrowth in a sweeping motion paid off as about 2km from the end I spotted something out of the corner of my eye about 3m off the trail and sure enough there was a clump of about three Leaping Spider Orchids. My idiocy had paid off and I was rewarded with seeing what was promised on the information board at last. Beaming a giant smile for the remaining part of the hike, I was a happy boy but unfortunately it also meant I was cutting it fine to meet Donovan at the Visitor Centre as he ceremoniously rode into Albany to complete his End to End. Road works didn't help my cause but I was a bad friend and he arrived at the Visitor Centre with me not there. To be fair he was so ahead of schedule that his wife Alissa was also not there so really it was his own fault. The drive to Albany gave me plenty of time to reflect on the experience and what a great hike that was.

Final Thoughts - Due to the circumstances of my first hike here, I have always rated this trail a bit below some of the other great hikes in the Albany region but this latest visit has thrown that thinking into the ocean.

Along with being a decent length, the quality of the scenery from start to finish combined with one of the best wildflower displays you'll see on the South Coast makes this a top tier trail in my book. 

In the height of spring when I visited, this is just a magical place to explore with a plethora of colour, lush forest, a beautiful river and 360 degree views to rival that of the Porongurups and Stirling Range. 

It's a seriously underrated trail that I will be returning to in the next couple of years for the purpose of completing the full ridge trail linking this summit with Little Mount Lindesay and beyond (you need cars at either end for this).

 

Get out there and experience it!

 

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