Taking you to the Great Southern’s highest peak, Bluff Knoll’s walk trail reopened on 8am Friday May 22, following four months of repair work due to summer bushfires.
More than a third of Stirling Range National Park, home of Bluff Knoll, was impacted by a bushfire that started from multiple lightning strikes between Boxing Day and the New Year.
The 10-person team at Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) have worked tirelessly to repair the fire damage since the start of 2020, with only hand tools used to replace every single step and water bar along the trail, repairing about 20m each day. More than 50 tonnes of material were brought in manually and by helicopter to install a new 5.5 metre pedestrian bridge halfway along the trail, this time made out of aluminium and fibreglass for fire-resistance. In a win for families with young children (or for those who aren’t as fit as they used to be) the height of the new steps has been decreased to make the trail more accessible, and less of a strain on your knees.
Bluff Knolls sister trails, Mt Trio and Mt Toolbrunup and access roads in the park will open at 8am Saturday May 23. Stirling Range Ridge Walk including Ellen Peak will remain closed for all of 2020, and Toll Peak picnic area and Moingup Springs campground and picnic area will remain closed as they all require further repairs.
We asked Peter Hartley, Albany’s District Manager for the Parks and Wildlife Service at DBCA for some tips on climbing Bluff Knoll. As a grade 4 walk trail of 3.4km, and with a altitude of around 1000m, you’ll need a reasonable level of fitness to climb to the top. Peter told us that wearing and packing the right gear is essential,
“Pack warm clothes – it might be hot down the bottom, but it’s really cold once you get to the top”
As always, it’s best to wear hiking boots, take plenty of water and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
On what makes Bluff Knoll such a special spot, Peter told us;
“It’s the only place in WA where it snows. If there’s a report of snow, people drive through the night from Perth to get there at first light just to see the snow up the top”
Along the way, look our for the Critically Endangered Banksia montana pictured above (before the fire), a yellow-orange shrub bush found on Bluff Knoll and nowhere else.
Once you reach the peak, you’ll be met with the native Quokkas, who somehow survive the freezing temperatures with their winter coats.
Photo credits: Parks and Wildlife Service, DBCA; Quokka: Susan Yin