Stirling Range National Park
Stirling Range Dr
Directions - Located on the gravel road of Stirling Range Drive, take this turnoff from Chester Pass Rd and follow it past Mount Hassell and continue until you see the signs for the Talyuberlup car park. Park on the left and the trail head is located on the opposite side of the road next to the information board.
The Hike - After scaling the toughest day hike in the Stirling Range in the morning (Toolbrunup), I retreated back to Moingup Springs campsite for a well earned lunch and an escape from the heat. Writing some thoughts down in my notebook, eating a banana & nuttino (Italian nutella) wrap and listening to some music, life wasn't feeling too bad. The family I had met the previous day were waiting for some friends to come up from Perth before heading to Bluff Knoll. I thought about joining them as it was clear skies and I hadn't visited there when the summit was clear but in the end decided to stick to the original plan and make my way to Talyuberlup Peak after lunch. I departed the campsite just before 1pm, figuring I had more than enough time to climb up to the summit in the afternoon heat (the car was still reading 28C).
The drive out to the western part of the park along Stirling Range Drive was a delight as usual with sweeping gravel roads leading you past a variety of peaks and the amazing scenes that comes with it. The car park for Talyuberlup is on the south side of Stirling Range Drive and is well marked so you can't miss it. Once again I did my pre-hike routine of filling water bottles, applying sunscreen and checking the bag for all necessary equipment before making my way across the road and to the trail head. As with all the hikes in the area, there is an information board to mark the start of the journey and like Toolbrunup the start is very gentle. You walk through a thicket of Talyuberlup Malee, a skinny tree that grows very close together and the presence of the peak is always looming in the distance. With the sun perfectly positioned near the summit, I wasn't going to be getting any good photos looking up the trail but as the climb progressed the views back south were very impressive. Once you clear the Talyuberlup Malee and Veronica's Wattle, the trail shrinks a lot and the climbing really starts to begin. I came across an older couple (slowly becoming theme for the trip) making their way back down and we had a small chat while we both caught our breath.
They hadn't made their way all the way to the summit as they didn't feel confident scaling the tricky final section but did mention they saw a group doing the Three Ridges Walk. I made a mental note to look up that walk when I got home. Further research hasn't turned up anything so assuming they were just off-track for the whole thing and traversing the saddles between Mount Magog, Talyuberlup and a smaller summit in the area. I wished them good luck on the descent and continued the slog up the path. I came across a small granite outcrop not long after and it provided a respite from the closed in path that dominates the lower slopes. The summit was more visible here and at least looked a little closer than before but it was still going to some more hard graft to reach the more interesting bits of the hike. Thankfully the terrain starts to change as you near the steep rock face on the south side of the summit. The trail sneaks under the shadow of the summit and the plant life starts to change to a more temperate feel. The path also changes to include more rocky steps and a little bit more scrambling so I was a happy camper after so much of the same type of trail in the heat. The imposing rock face that protrudes from the landscape dominates this section as you hug the dark and vertical cliff face.
The scrambling becomes more and more as the trail is now marked by the white markers you see on the other hikes. As you make your way up a steep rocky section towards what looks like a section of the mountain that has fallen off you are greeted with your first views of the western slopes of the national park. Instead of looking at Red Gum Pass though I had my eyes on another feature that makes this hike unique, the giant cave. It's hard to show the scale of it in photos but the roof towers right above you and overhangs the trail so make sure you have stable footing when you crane your neck to look at it. There is a warning plaque about the dangers of falling rock and to tell you not to enter the cave in case of collapse. I wandered over to the entrance to take a look inside and low and behold there is a trail marker bang in the middle of the cave. With the sunlight illuminating the other side in a golden hue I stayed here and snapped some photos, not quite capturing the size or impressiveness of the scene. While not immediately obvious, the trail loops its way around the cave to the west so I followed the narrow path. As Donovan said in his write-up, if the cave is unstable I'm not sure the path around it would be any safer as the whole thing leans in that direction.
Anyway, around I went and came across another impressive scene with the rocky spires adjacent to the summit were in view. The sharp features jut out from the mountain like the proud prow of a granite ship. Across the saddle is the summit of Mount Magog that I had planned on visiting the following day until my plans had to be adjusted. Being fairly sheltered for the entire hike I was now blasted with a moderate wind as I followed the path as it hugs the mountain down into a small valley. It isn't that obvious at first glance but once you see a trail marker it becomes apparent where the trail goes. On the other side of the small valley is the last scramble up to the summit and I put my camera away at this stage as the fall down wouldn't have been nice if I slipped. It isn't too difficult a climb and I was soon admiring the rocky spire from a different angle before finding the gentle path to the marked summit. The short walk up to the summit provides a look eastward towards Toolbrunup before you reach the pièce de résistance of all summit cairns in the Stirling Range, a 2m wide rocky nest that once belonged to a very lost Antipodean Opaleye (not really).