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Ongarup Creek Walk

Ongarup Creek Walk

Stirling Range National Park

Directions - Located in Stirling Range National Park, the Ongarup Creek Walk is approximately 100 kilometres (one hour) north of Albany. From the centre of Albany, head north on Albany Highway, turning right at the large roundabout to continue along Chester Pass Road. This will take you all the way to the well signed Bluff Knoll turn-off. The walk starts from behind the Bluff Knoll Cafe, with parking on the other side of Bluff Knoll Road from the cafe, just near the Walkers Registration stand. 

The Hike - With a few days in the Stirling Range to explore the mountain peaks, I was also keen to get out and see what wildflowers and orchids were still in bloom. Staying at the Stirling Range Retreat, they really understand and value the biodiversity of the region, with one of the ladies at the front desk a real enthusiast. I got talking with her as she was updating her spreadsheet about what was still flowering at the various sites she visits. Unfortunately, she was crossing off quite a few species that had been fried by the heat in the last week but pointed me to a few spots, including the Ongarup Creek Walk. 

Having visited the Stirling Range many times over the years, I was unfamiliar with this walk, along with two more that run near the Stirling Range Retreat and Bluff Knoll Cafe. Essentially running along management tracks around the area, I've always liked the idea of having more walks in the Stirling Range that weren't climbs up the mountains. Given the biodiversity found here, just wandering around the flat sections looking for wildflowers and orchids would be a nice walk, but adding in the mountain views would provide an extra element. With the spread of dieback a real issue, I understand why there aren't these types of walks in the western side of the park, and why the walks in this area are restricted to existing tracks. Armed with a map and some directions, I was soon at the car park opposite the Bluff Knoll Cafe, where I had fond memories registering my Stirling Ridge Walk the year before.


It's a short walk down Bluff Knoll Road before you reach the left turn to start the loop trail, just after the big wooden sign pointing travelers to Bluff Knoll. I didn't expect to see a trail marker, so was pleasantly surprised when I did, not that the route is hard to follow anyway. Immediately there were plenty of wildflowers around, with Posy Starflowers and Creamy Candles being some early finds. I had been told that most of the orchid species had died off along this walk but given the biodiversity found within the Stirling Range National Park, along with what I'd already seen on my mountain hikes, I was going to enjoy myself regardless. The short section leading towards the fence line was impressive, and under a large eucalyptus I spotted some Sun Orchids that had decided it wasn't warm enough for them to open, which was a shame.  

Walking along the fence on the northern border of the national park and the surrounding farmland, I wasn't expecting this section to be very interesting. The track you walk along is lined with some mature eucalyptus trees that made life better but the edge of the trail within the national park was a bit weedy in places. As you progressed further, the weeds disappeared and more natural vegetation started to dominate. Reaching the end of the fence line, you turn south and continue along another fence that sections off where Ongarup Creek is located (although the maps I am referencing label it as Martaquin Creek). Noticing some man made objects on the other side of the fence, it looked like someone had dumped a lot of old filing boxes. Having seen this before, it was clear as I approached that they were bee hives, with this area a prime location for collecting pollen. The variety of wildflowers through here ramped up, and I slowed right down to see how many species I could see.


Spotting two kinds of Triggerplants within a few metres of each other was lovely, along with Winged Stackhousia and what I believe is Tree Smokebush (Conospermum triplinervium). As you venture further along the track, the views looking across to Bluff Knoll get better, with the top part of the mountain poking through the tree line. With a grassy field between the fence and the trees lining the creek, this made me think of walking around Orthanc, on the edge of Fangorn Forest, just minus the large black tower (don't ask me why). I was thoroughly enjoying my afternoon walk around this trail, and although no flowering orchids had presented themselves, it was still good fun. Reaching the intersection of the track that takes you back to the start, I decided to instead head left and walk down to the creek crossing. Finding new wildflowers along the way, I reached the thick tree line and eventually the bridge crossing the gently flowing creek. If I kept walking from here I would eventually reach the start of the Stirling Ridge Walk.