2020 has taught us West Aussies how darn lucky we are. Given the current situation, there is no better time to explore our own backyard! I decided to start with Bluff Knoll.
Bluff Knoll is the highest peak in Australia’s South West. It stands at 1,099m above sea level. Yes you end up ABOVE the clouds! Sounds difficult right? Thankfully, Bluff Knoll is actually very accessible for anyone with an average level of fitness. Here’s what you need to know.
Bluff Knoll is located within the Stirling Ranges, which is a 4.5 hour drive from Perth metro and a 1 hour drive from Albany. We stayed at the Stirling Range Retreat, a stone’s throw away from Bluff Knoll and various walking trails. The retreat has a variety of accommodation to cater for any budget, including: onsite vans, rammed earth cabins, campsites and motel style rooms.
If you’re travelling in the Winter, I recommend the rammed earth cabin which features 3 beds, a stove, heating and a private toilet/shower.
Go prepared with these essentials:
- Money. There is a fee for entry to the Stirling Range National Park
- 2L of water and snacks
- Layers AND gloves. It is COLD at the top.
- Sturdy shoes. Sneakers are fine.
- Tissues. Your nose will run!
According to the official site, the return journey is 6.8km and takes 3-4 hours. Keep in mind that most of the journey involves steps which means that 6.8km feels more like 15km! As for the time taken, I think 3-4 hours is an extremely optimistic estimate, especially if you have a lower level of fitness or want to stop for the views and to take some photos. Put aside 4-6 hours of your time to be safe.
I often do 10-15km walks and consider myself to have a moderate to higher level of fitness. To be completely honest, the hike was harder than I thought it would be. I made it to the peak in 2 hours and surpassed many people along the way. The rest of the group took around 3 hours to get to the peak. The trail itself is one of the most sturdy and safest paths I’ve ever walked. It’s extremely well maintained and within our group of 6, we only had one slip!
Depending on the season, the trail features wildflowers, spectacular views, birdlife and geological formations. The weather can be unpredictable and mountain mists, wind chill and rain can occur at any time. I am a naturally cold person, so I wore 7 layers (including 3 thermals) and only ended up taking off my scarf and vest, despite the physical exertion. If you’re lucky you may even catch snowfall or a cloud waterfall at the top!
Fun fact: there is weirdly good reception at the peak!
Warning: Prepare to be sore. My calves screamed for a full 5 days after the climb and I was walking like an old woman! My biggest regret was forgetting to pack my magnesium supplement to aid muscle recovery. If I were to do it again I would be taking magnesium the day before, during and after the hike.
Learn from my mistakes:
- Bring gloves
- Go to the toilet before embarking on the climb
- Stretch before and after (rookie mistake)
- Bring magnesium
Hiking Bluff Knoll has been one of my highlights of this unusual year. The stunning views, the wildlife and the friendly people along the way just emphasise how lucky we are to live in WA. As someone who has always shunned local travel for overseas trips, I now see that I have been missing out on paradise. On arriving back in Perth, I only had one thought: Which part of WA should we explore next?!
Photos taken by Clancy Oopow.