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Stirling Range National Park

Home > Western Australia > Escape the City | National Parks | Nature | Outdoor | Walks
by Judith W (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published June 7th 2012
Stirling Range

Do you know that Western Australia actually has a range of mountains? Real ones that look blue out there on the horizon and mostly exist in movies and calendar pictures? Well, we do. It's called the Stirling Range and its jagged peaks stretch for 65 km from east to west.

Stirling Range National Park is located about 400 km south-east of Perth (via Albany Highway and Cranbrook) and 90 km north-east of Albany (via Chester Pass Road). It is divided into two sections by Chester Pass Road. The much larger western section is serviced by a good gravel road accessible by 2WD vehicles, while the smaller eastern section has paved roads.

Good gravel road in the western section of the national park.

Eastern Section

The eastern section of the Stirling Range National Park is dominated by Bluff Knoll. DEC website describes the main face of the bluff as "one of the most impressive cliffs in the Australian mainland." At 1,095 m above sea level, Bluff Knoll is also the highest peak in the southern part of Western Australia. In case you're curious, the highest peak in Western Australia overall is Mount Meharry in Karijini National Park (1,249 m).

Bluff Knoll at sunset.

Despite its height--or maybe because of it--Bluff Knoll is a very popular hiking spot for locals and visitors alike. It takes on average 3-4 hours to complete the 5.5 km return climb, but I've met experienced hikers who finished the hike in half that time. To cater for its popularity, a very elegant starting point has been built, with ample parking, eco-friendly toilets, shelters, and magnificent view towards the bluff.

Bluff Knoll and the start of the hike.

At the beginning, the hiking trail is surfaced, providing an easy walk even for the less robust of us. It soon turns into rougher forest trail and nearing the summit, the trail becomes more open to the element as the stunted vegetations here do not provide sufficient protection. Because of this, it is a good idea to bring layers of thin clothing, so you can bundle up or shed off depending on conditions.

Open land near the summit

The view from the top is breathtaking. On clear days, you could see all the way hundreds of km away. Interestingly, the peak is located on the same side as the parking lot, giving us a view of the worm-sized roads and ant-sized vehicles.

View from the top of Bluff Knoll with the car park visible.

Western Section

To traverse the western section of the park, you could either drive from west (Cranbrook) to east (Chester Pass Road) or the other way around. There are two lookouts, simply named the Western Lookout and the Central Lookout (the Eastern Lookout being Bluff Knoll).

The Western Lookout is a short drive off the main national park road, with a grim sign asking you to compare the black hill on one side (ravaged by die back disease) with the green pristine hill on the other side. It's a very real reminder that every single visitor needs to take care to avoid spreading the disease (clean your shoes, stay on the designated paths).

Western Lookout

The Central Lookout requires more effort to enjoy as you need to take a short hike up a hill prior to being rewarded with that shimery-blue view made famous by Chinese paintings.

View from Central Lookout.

And all those blue mountains are not just for show. There is hiking galore for the serious bushwalkers out there. The Stirling Range N.P. Brochure has a list. Conditions are more rugged here compared to Bluff Knoll, with no posh car parks or toilets, but despite all that, one lady I met managed to climb Mount Trio carrying her 3-year old toddler with an elder child following. What a feat.


With so many walks to be completed and views to be enjoyed, it is a pity not to stay overnight in the vicinity. The national park has a bush camping site at Moingup Springs (fee applies).

But if you prefer more facilities, you could opt to stay at the Stirling Range Retreat, a caravan park located on Chester Pass Road, right across the road from the Bluff Knoll entrance. Unlike its city counterparts where you have to pitch your tent right next to your neighbour, the retreat provide camping sites that are slightly more private, with trees or bushes in between sites. It also has a swimming pool for warmer months and shared campfires for cool nights.

Camping at Stirling Range Retreat

About 10km north on Chester Pass Road there is an interesting property called The Lily, with an authentic Dutch Windmill and some quaint quarters offered as self-contained accommodations.

And if you really cannot sleep without the city right outside your door, no worries. Albany is just an hour drive away.
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Why? View of shimery blue mountains on the horizons
When: Open all year. Best seasons: Spring/ Summer
Where: 90km north of Albany
Cost: $11 per car entrance fee, extra for camping
Your Comment
Best time to visit Stirling Ranges National Park is in October when all the Western Australian native wildflowers are in bloom. Didn't make it to the top of The Knoll - next time!
by Gloria (score: 2|550) 1746 days ago
Are you allowed to take your dog along?
by Jeanh (score: 1|32) 1025 days ago
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