Bluff Knoll is Western Australia’s premier mountain and clocking in at 1095m, its the 9th highest peak in the state and highest for over 1000km in any direction. I first went to Bluff Knoll when I was 21 with one of my best university friends. We climbed in gale force winds and had to go straight down once we reached the top for fear of getting too cold. I returned 10 years later to give the Bluff another go, this time there wasn’t a breath of wind to be seen.

I hiked Bluff Knoll in August 2019 and below is my account of the trip. 

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After checking the forecast I knew there was a spell of 3 days between 2 huge cold fronts that would be perfect weather. I packed up the car and drove the 4 hours from Busselton to the Stirling Range Retreat. The best website to use for any mountain is mountain forecast. This can give you reliable weather forecasting for different levels of elevations and I’ve used this site for years with pretty good success. Like anything though it pays to be prepared because even if the weather forecast says its good it may turn very quickly, especially in the mountains.

Bluff Knoll

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I decided to stay at the Stirling Range Retreat and I have to say that it is 100% worth the money to stay there. There is a camp site owned by the government around 10km south towards Albany and they charge $10 per night for an unpowered site with only toilets and barbecue facilities. The Stirling Range Retreat on the other hand charges $16 per night for an unpowered site, however they have hot showers, a fully stocked kitchen, a fire pre lit every night and power points for charging. The extra money is 100% worth it in my opinion and a hot shower after a long hike in invaluable. 


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I checked into the Retreat at 3.30pm before making a quick dash across the road to hike Bluff Knoll. There is a pay station on the left just as you turn off the highway and it’s $13 per car. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the car that’s just the rate. I tried to pay with my credit card but that didn’t work and I didn’t have any cash on me so I forewent the payment and proceeded the 8km up the road to the carpark. The last 1 or 2km to the carpark is very steep and if you have a caravan or something similar it wouldn’t be wise to tow that up to the carpark. 
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It had changed a lot in the 10 years since I’d been previously with a brand new parking areas, huge toilet block and a really nice metal walkway being installed. After hiking a lot in Indonesia this year I was really happy to see not a single piece of rubbish on any trail I hiked in the Stirling Ranges. The leave no trace ethics of the Australians is really good.
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Bluff Knoll

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Start of the hike

 

The trail starts right in front of the toilet block and heads down a tarmac-ed piece of walkway before heading up and into the bush. The total distance is just over 3km to the top with 600m of elevation gain. I left the car park at 4pm and was on the summit 50 minutes later. It says to allow 4 hours return but if you are a fast hiker this can be much quicker. I stayed for over an hour on the summit enjoying the sunset and taking in the amazing views so you may need even longer if you plan to relax because it certainly is worth it.
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The trail has been painstakingly made with it being more more stairs for the first part of the climb. You don’t have many views until about half way up when you come out of the trees and into the low lying scrub. You can see all the way to the western end of the park and you have amazing views to the south peak of Bluff Knoll which is a really cool peak in itself. 
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The face of Bluff Knoll is over 200m vertical so for that reason the path goes around the back of the mountain where it is more like a dome shape. The back side of the mountain has a river running through it and the trees are totally different toanything else I saw on the hike. Once you make the left hand turn around the back of the mountain you’re about 3/4 of the way there. The last part is relatively flat compared to the first section and you’ll come to a huge wall with drop offs before the true summit. I watched a video of 2 guys wing suiting from this wall and it’s absolutely crazy to think people have jumped off this edge. 

 

Summit
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The true summit is marked with a post that says Summit of Bluff Knoll. It a large open area right on the side of the cliff so if you have children care will need to be taken. Looking over the edge is quite frightening as it has a kind of overhang to it.

Bluff Knoll

The summit is also the start of the Stirling Range Ridge Walk and if you look east along the range there is evidence of a small path crossing the range to the next peak. 
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Once you’ve had enough of the top its time to make the trip back to the car park and a nice hot shower at the Stirling Range Retreat. 

 

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Would I recommend this hike?

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There is a reason that Bluff Knoll is the most popular mountain in the Stirling Ranges. Sure its the highest but it also has a cool feeling when you are on its slopes. Just about anyone can do this hike and when I went up I saw a family of 5 with young children coming back down after going to the top. The hike is short and the path is very well made and maintained. The views on the top are some of the best you’ll see in this part of the world so don’t think twice about tackling this beautiful mountain. 
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Logistics for the trip

How to get there


For the exact starting point of the hike click here.

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I live in Busselton and left home at 1130am and was at the Stirling Range Retreat just before 4pm. Most people would come from Perth and if this is the case then it’s quite the drive at around 5 hours if you don’t take any stops. 
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From Busselton I drove to Manjimup and then took the Muir Highway to Mount Barker and then carried on along a country road until I came out on Chester Pass road. If you’re going to make the drive down to the Stirling Ranges it’s certainly best to spend a few days in the area to really enjoy the place. All the peaks are very short walks with even Bluff Knoll being just one hour up and 30 minutes down. You can for sure climb 4 or 5 peaks in a day if you wanted to and enjoy what the area has to offer. 

Where to Stay

I stayed at the Stirling Range Retreat which is located at the northern end of the national park. In my opinion they have the best deals going. I chose to get an unpowered camp site for $16 a night. This includes hot showers, use of the kitchen which has 2 cookers, pots and pans, toasters, fridges, kettles and even a TV. If you come in the winter months they even light a fire for you every night right outside the kitchen area. 
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If you compare this to the DPAW campsite down the road they have unpowered sites for $11 a night with basic toilets and thats it. For the luxury of a shower and a fully stocked and functional kitchen it certainly is worth the extra $6.

How long is the hike

 The hike to the summit of Bluff Knoll is only an hour in time and 3.5km in length. The trail is very well marked and starts off right at the toilet block in the Bluff Knoll car park. The first section is tarmac for around 400m before the trail heads off into the bush. The 2nd half opens out into the small shrublands of the high mountain with no trees to block your views. The last section flattens out a lot with most of the gain being achieved in the first half while you’re still in the trees. 
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Gear

  • Small backpack
  • Head Torch 
  • Rain proof jacket and pants (the weather may be clear but you want to always be prepared. Mountain weather is unpredictable) 
  • Breakfast and snacks 
  • Warm Jacket 
  • 2l water minimum 
  • Camera
  • Hiking boots or trail shoes with really good grip
  • Gloves

 

 Do you plan to hike Bluff Knoll? Let me know in the comments how you get on.

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