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A four hour inland drive from Perth will take you to the Stirling Ranges (consult the map for details). This range of protruding sandstone rocks was formed over millions of years. By impacting forces and outside erosive powers the range evolved into its current shape. With 1095m, Bluff Knoll of the Stirling Ranges is supposed to be the highest mountain in Western Australia...

   S t i r l i n g   R a n g e s - Bluff Knoll, Mt Trio, Albany                                
Stirling Range Retreat Cabin

A four hour inland drive from Perth will take you to the Stirling Ranges (consult the map for details). This range of protruding sandstone rocks was formed over millions of years. By impacting forces and outside erosive powers the range evolved into its current shape. With 1095m, Bluff Knoll of the Stirling Ranges is supposed to be the highest mountain in Western Australia. The best time to visit is in late spring, early summer (October - December) because of the pleasant weather. In winter it can snow on the mountains and climbing gets difficult, overall weather conditions are worse. 

In summer it can get quite hot, always bring enough water with you. However, anyone who’s keen on experiencing "nature’s spring show" should visit the area in late spring. A range of wildflowers and wild orchids will await you. Wildlife in the form of kangaroos, emus, snakes and birds is abundant. We went down in September for a weekend and stayed at the Stirling Range Retreat, which is run and owned by a lovely couple. The place consists of a few self-contained wooden chalets, situated at the bottom of Bluff Knoll (more information under accommodation). If you want to climb any of the mountains in the area, consider the weather conditions. Generally, the weather on mountains can change in a matter of moments (as we experienced).

Bluff Knoll 1095m
Bush Stirling Ranges with Bluff Knoll in the distance (at Mt Trio)
Kangaroo on the way down from Bluff Knoll

The best time to start a climb is as early as possible (6.00am). It took us 3 hrs to get to the top in a comfortable pace with breaks. Since we started late (10.00am) we got to the top and could not see a thing (so, no views for the late). We got surrounded by rain clouds real fast. While the temperatures where pleasant about 500m below us, we had to put on jumpers and jackets to keep warm and dry at the top. The cloud formations can be magical and also quite intimidating at times (the mountains can be covered in dark clouds while the sun shines everywhere else).

Cowslip Orchid

This is probably why the aboriginal tribes, who were the original habitants of this area, saw Bluff Knoll and the rest of the mountain range as a dangerous place and home of evil spirits. As I stood before the mountain I carried similar feelings. On the way up you will pass different sorts of vegetation levels. At the bottom you will find tall, green, flowering shrubs and trees, while a hundred metres above the plants will reduce in size with overall smaller leaves and flowers.

Stephen and the rain on the way up to the top of Bluff Knoll
At the top in Clouds - one step further and a 700m freefall is guaranteed
Impatient Pose

 As the air gets thinner, the plants adjust to the changing conditions. Flowers that can be enjoyed in this area include the Blue Lady (Thelymitra crinita) and Cows Lip Orchid (Caladenia flava), different coloured Mountain Bells and some wonderful Mignonette Orchids. Of course there are many more, but these are the ones that I especially love.

  Albany -  Albany town, the Gap and the Natural Bridge
low shrub on the way to the Blow Holes

Albany is a habour town and about an hours drive away from the Stirling Ranges. Historically Albany was the first Western Australian settlement (1826) and used to be called Frederickstown (after an English aristocrat). Britain used to ship its excess prisoners to its overseas colonies and one of these was Australia. Albany was a penal station like most other cities in Australia. Here, the aboriginal people of this area used to live in harmony with the new settlers. Albany used to be Western Australia’s main post collection point due to the coasts natural habour shape. This is why the former Post Office Building is quite a major sight in this town.

The Gap
The Natural Bridge

Apart from the Post Office building, which is now Part of a Restaurant for Tourists, there are some churches and town hall to see. A drive out to the Coast will get you to the whaling museum. However, we were only interested in the natural sights, the sea and the rugged coast in general. We drove out to The Gap and The Natural Bridge, which are natural, bizarre rock formations.

Former Albany Post Office The Natural Bridge

The sea can get quite rough, especially in winter. Once, a visitor was taken into the sea by a metre high wave climbing up the gap. There are warning signs all around these sights, to inform people. Apart from a rough sea in winter, Albany’s coast also offers calm, azure blue waters with wonderful secluded white sandy beaches, which can be enjoyed in summer. More info is available at "Guides and Information".

Lycen covered Rocks at the Blow Holes

Last edited 19-06-01

All photos by A. & S. Goss 

 

© A.Goss, April 2001