So you've got a bucket list? Great, add this to it if you haven't already. This is an extremely rewarding experience, if not just for the view from the top, for the feeling of completion once you have finished it also.
Bluff Knoll is one of the better known mountains in Western Australia (WA) thanks to its accessibility and proximity to Perth, though not the highest - the award for this goes somewhere within Karijini National Park. It is also one of the few places in WA where you can see real snow.
Though not for the faint hearted, Bluff Knoll is challenging while not being especially difficult, granted you are fairly active and have some level of fitness. Even though it is a decent drive from Perth, there are two campsites within close proximity, one of which I can personally vouch for.
Directions: To get to Bluff Knoll, find your way to the Albany Highway south turnoff (in Armadale) and head for the Frankland-Cranbrook Road turnoff, which is marked by the Stirling Range and Crankbrook signs. It will appear after 335km and should take around 4 hours including a rest stop or two.
If you are in need of a break look out for the deli on the left at the stop sign in Cranbrook just up the road. Through the intersection and on the right hand side is a self-service petrol station. Once through this intersection you will now be on Salt River Road.
If you are bunking down for the night before heading up the mountain, you will find Mt Trio Caravan Park on the right just before you hit Formby Road South. Otherwise, take a right at the intersection and follow this road to the end, then turn left onto Chester Pass Road. You will see Bluff Knoll Road approach on the right, easily identifiable by signs and also by the Cafe situated on the corner. If you are heading for Stirling Range Retreat continue a little further and it will be on the left.
Planning for your climb: The trip to the summit of Bluff Knoll is 100% natural and man made steps, so there is no technical climbing required. However I would highly recommend acquiring some quality hiking boots or sturdy shoes with lots of grip if you haven't already. You will be walking for hours so make sure you are comfortable in your shoes and are wearing good quality socks, the thicker the better.
Stair climbing places different types of stress on your feet to normal walking, so equip yourself with some band aids and keep mindful of toe rubbing.
If beginning in colder weather, layer up with clothes that are easily removed and packed away on the move if possible. Making multiple stops to fumble around with clothing will dampen the enjoyment of the journey.
The round trip could take as much as five hours, especially if you like to spend lots of time enjoying the view, so make sure you leave at a time that has you back safely before dark. It's a very, very long night stuck out on the top of Bluff Knoll and in many cases could be your last.
Take plenty of water - I would suggest around two litres to be safe, and more in summer.
Make sure you have the right cash for getting into the park. You can find out the correct pricing here.
Weather: Be aware that the weather around Stirling Range can get very cold. Last time I visited I spent two nights and woke up to a swag frozen solid with ice both mornings. Check the weather report and go prepared with lots of warm gear. As always, be sun smart and take sun protection if applicable.
Keep in mind Bluff Knoll is a mountain and that the weather can change quickly. Be well prepared and keep cold/wet weather gear on hand.
Accommodation: Mt Trio Caravan Park or Stirling Range Retreat. I can't vouch for the latter, though I have been to Mt Trio twice and found it to be an excellent place to hammer down my swag. The owner is exceptionally friendly and along with powered sites and a huge amount of open space, there is a communal fireplace, kitchen with working stoves, sink and running water, ping pong room, hot showers and working toilets.
Above all else, have fun regardless of how far up you are and don't forget your camera!