...trying to build a fire when it's raining sideways.
06.06.2016 - 08.06.2016
After leaving the Swan Valley very late we didn't think we could make our destination, The Stirling Range so headed through the countryside of Perth to the Dryandra Forrest. It was a wet and windy drive but it was all green countryside and we stopped at a bakery and had some warm food sat next to two friendly alpacas.
We camped in the forest and as it was a public holiday it was very busy but the campsite was lovely and a walking group invited us around their fire for drinks and snacks so we had lots of fun. Our destination, after a horrendously cold and wet night was the Stirling Range.
The Stirling Range is a mountain range in Southern WA with the highest peak in the area, Bluff Knoll. This we had our heart set on climbing. We camped at Mount Trio Bush Camp, a farm campground which has showers, a kitchen and a fire pit. We were the only people in the whole place, everyone had cleared out after the public holiday and the weather was cold. We spent the late afternoon sat around a huge roaring fire, ready for some walking in the morning.
The morning however was torrential rain and wind. Once we had put all our pegs back in our tent, had breakfast and moaned a bit it seemed to start to clear so we quickly got in the car and headed towards the mountain, Bluff Knoll. On ground level there were patches of sunshine but as we headed up the mountain in the car it's like we literally entered the clouds. At the car park and view spots we braved it to have a look but we were been whiplashed and the rain was so bad you could literally see it coming down the mountain. We got back in the car, went back down the mountain and sat in a cafe with a log fire with a warm drink.
All day it rained on and off, we managed to get a small 1.2km nature walk in around camp in a small patch of sunshine but other than that we either sat around the fire (which took a long time to light, in the rain with wet logs) or under cover playing Jenga or table tennis. We managed to get the fire roaring which is our greatest success in life! and cooked a nice stew and made some Dampar dough which we made some flatbreads and cooked some on the fire. The friendly owner John though we were a bit crazy, camping in the cold and wet but our tent was dry and warm and he assured us it would be gone by morning.
In the morning, it was only very light drizzle and clouded but we gave up on our Bluff Knoll dreams as the clouds around the mountains were thick. Instead we decided to venture into Porongurup National Park which is very close and is south on our way to Albany. Here there is a 2.2km walk which takes around 2 hours and goes up to a granite outcrop called Castle Rock and the Granite Skywalk. It was cold and overcast but good weather for walking and we set off on the very steep accent up to the top. It is a class four bush walk and the path at points is very over grown and muddy, crossing slippery rocks with outlooks over the farmland and the Stirling Range.
The last 700m is a steep clim up rocky steps until you reach The Balancing Rock, a huge rock on its end which looks like it could roll off and down the cliff at any minute.
The last 65m however is the best. There is a rock scramble, which takes you around the summit, over and up huge rocks. It is more like a rock climb than a walk and they have put pegs in the rocks to help but it is fantastic. It leads to a huge granite summit with views and a 7m ladder to climb to get to the top. By this point we were really in the elements, it was very windy and we were being blasted with a fine rain but the climb up to the top was absolutely amazing. Around the top of the rock is a constructed skywalk, a metal walkway that curves around the rock with a sheer fall under your feet. It was worth the sweaty climb to get there and was both scary and exhilarating at the same time.
By this point it was staring to rain so we made our decent back over the rocks and down the hill. Although the views were a little grey due to the weather the hard climb itself made it worth it and it was so much fun to get to the top of the scary platform.
The National Parks in this area a very different to what we have seen, mountain ranges and granite outcrops, surrounded by flat heath which in spring comes alive with wild flowers. The weather has made it difficult to see everything we wanted to see but we have enjoyed ourselves trying and have all our fingers and toes crossed that we have had our share of rain for now...