Monday, 31 October 2011

Great Southern

The Great Southern is a region of WA that includes Albany, Denmark, Plantagenet, the Stirling Range and other small inland towns. Last weekend we headed down to a township within Plantagenet called Mount Barker that we used as a base to explore the region.

Several years ago we visited Albany and decided it was worth another visit as the coastline is so spectacular but our goal over the weekend was to visit the Sterling Range and climb Bluff Knoll.

The Sterling Range is one of Western Australia's few mountain wildernesses with beautiful wild flowers and rugged mountains peaking to 1095 metres above sea level at Bluff Knoll. There are many day and overnight walking tracks and over 200 rock climbing sites around the Sterling Range area.  We decided to climb Bluff Knoll for the challenge and to take in the views that apparently go to the coastline, unfortunately not on Saturday when we walked.

It was a challenging walk, especially if you don't like heights, as there were times when it was a sheer drop to the side, as long as I held onto a rock or plant on the high side of the track I felt fine but there was no way I could look at the view.  The track was well marked but occasionally you needed to move out of the way for walkers coming in the opposite direction. When we were approaching the summit/peak we could smell sausages being cooked, and as we got closer to the peak there was actually a portable BBQ that someone decided to carry along as they thought it would be the quintessential Australian thing to do. I'm sure there's a business idea here as it was a cool 12 degrees with a probable wind chill factor of 8 and as the walk had been strenuous your clothes were damp when you stopped to recover, so a hot sausage sizzle would be great to help you recover and keep you warm but I don't think the National Parks would agree.

It's suggested that the walk of 7 kilometres return takes around 3 - 4 hours, which is about what we did. My fear of heights didn't seem to kick in on the way down, it was a lot easier than I thought but physically more challenging than going up as there was a lot of pressure on the knees. At about half way down we stopped at the waterfall and enjoyed some cold fresh water before walking towards the car park. We both loved the walk and hope to visit for an extended period next time so that we can enjoy a few more walks and maybe visit some of the wonderful vineyards in this area.

One of the beaches at Torndirrup National Park outside Albany

Driving towards Bluff Knoll

On the way up

BBQ at the peak of Bluff Knoll

View from the summit

View on the way down with the car park in sight

The walk at a  lower point on the climb

A profile view of the Bluff Knoll

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