Mount Toolbrunup in the stirling ranges is one of my favourite hikes in the whole range. The mountain is cone shaped and doesn’t see hardly anything near the amount of hikers that tackle Bluff Knoll each year. With it being only 40m lower than Bluff Knoll, it still presents a huge challenge for people looking to climb its slopes. With the final kilometre to the summit coming in at 42%, its a serious mountain and a fun one at that. 

I hiked Toolbrunup way back in 2009 and I went back in August 2019 to give it another crack. Here is my account below.

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I had driven all the way from Busselton to try and climb as many of the major peaks in the Stirling Range as possible. I had arrived on Sunday afternoon at 4pm and booked into the Stirling Range Retreat. For an unpowered campsite it set me back $16 and is certainly worth it compared to the $10 a night government run campsite down the road. You get full access to the kitchen, hot showers, TV, wood fire they have it all.

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I climbed Bluff Knoll for sunset and was back at the campsite by 630pm and cooking up my dinner. I got an early night and was up at 430am to try to get to the summit of Toolbrunup for sunrise. 
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The drive from the Stirling Range retreat to the carpark of Toolbrunup is about 16 kms and after I had hit a kangaroo and wrote off the car last time I was here in 2017, I decided that I would just drive slowly and not take any risks. There are a lot of kangaroos here in the winter time so a good car or one with a roof bar would be the wise thing to do.

Toolbrunup

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The 16kms to the carpark of Toolbrunup took me about 20 minutes. From the highway it is another 4kms along a pretty good gravel track to the carpark at the top. I parked the car at the top car park and left for the hike at 5am. When you turn off the highway onto the Toolbrunup road there is a big yellow gate. At 5am when I arrived the gate was open so I’m guessing that it stays open all the time and will only be closed if there is a fire or an emergency on the mountain.
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Start of the hike

 

The hike to the top starts through the forest and is very gentle for the first 30 minutes or so. As it was dark I couldn’t see a whole lot but when I went down the views up to the peak are very impressive. A huge rock wall emerges from the right of the trail and the views on the trail are really nice for the entire walk.

Toolbrubup
After 30 minutes is where the trail turns from being really nice to a 40% slope up big boulders and right up the guts of the mountain. If there was ice or snow on the rocks then this would become treacherous so it would be advised to avoid these types of weather events if you’re going for the summit. 

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Once you leave the main path and enter the rocks there is no way that you could ever become lost. There are marker poles that reflect in the night with a torch spaced every 20m or so and it is very helpful as there are a few different ways that you could end up going.

Summit

The final section skirts around the base of the summit cliff before coming out onto the true summit. Once you get to the top you’re greeted with 360 degree views of the whole range and it is something quite amazing. It had taken me 1 hour to get from the car park to the summit and I was on top at 6am. As it was August the sun wasn’t rising until 630am so it was the perfect time to be on the top to watch the sun glow and light up the eastern sky.

Toolbrunup
The summit area is quite small but you can walk around and explore different areas. There are a lot of drop offs around here so it should be noted that care needs to be taken. I spent around 45 minutes on the top taking it all in and enjoying the views, they really are something magical. 

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I was really lucky with the weather as there wasn’t a breath of wind on the top of both Toolbrunup and Bluff Knoll when I went to the top. A good website to check the weather conditions in the mountains is mountain forecastThey have pretty reliable data and I’ve been using this site for years and found it to be pretty accurate. As always be prepared for the worst as even the weather forecasters don’t know it all. 

I was back at the car just after 715am and back at the camp ground by 730. Not a bad start to the day if you ask me.

Toolbrunup
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Would I recommend this hike?

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If this is your first hike or you are new to hiking then I would start with Bluff Knoll or an easier peak in the range. There is only a path that lead about half way up the mountain and then after that it’s just all boulder hopping to the summit.
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On the other hand, if you’re up for an adventure then this is the peak for you. The top is a cone shape and the summit area isn’t that big at all. You can explore the top and even do some bouldering on the summit rocks. 
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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 Toolbrunup is only an hour in time and 2km in length. The path is quite nice until the last half where the path jacks to go up 420m in the final kilometre, thats 42% grade which is very steep. I didn’t walk fast at all and managed to get to the top in an hour so if you if you aren’t too fit 90 minutes to the summit would be more than enough time.
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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 Toolbrunup? Let me know in the comments how you get on.

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