Stirling Range National Park
The first ship known to visit the coast was the Dutch ship "Guilden Seepaart," in 1627. 195 years later it was English Captain Matthew Flinders on HMS "Investigator" who recorded the first sighting of the inland mountain range on January 5th 1802, calling them "Mount Rugged". The Stirling Range National Park was named by John Septimus Roe on 4th November 1835 after Captain James Stirling, the first Governor of Western Australia. The Stirling Range can be accessed easily by car via Chester Pass Road from Albany, Formby South Road from Gnowangerup or East from Albany Highway via Salt River Road or Redgum Pass.
The Stirling Range offers some of the best Mountain walking in Western Australia. The popular bush walking season is from Autumn (April) through winter and spring to summer (early December). Bluff Knoll (1096 metres) is the highest peak in the Stirling Range. Other favourites are Toolbrunup Peak, Ellen Peak, Mount Trio, Mount Magog, Mount Hassell and Talyuberlup Peak. Extended wilderness hikes are possible - contact the Ranger for the area on 9827 9230.
The park is world renowned for wildflowers with over 1520 species including 125 orchids and 9 endemic mountain bells. Spring starts with the Queen of Sheba Orchid flowering at the end of August through to November when mountain bells, above the 300 metre contour level, and blue sun orchids flower.
For best effects of light and shade on the mountains drive west along Stirling Range Drive in the morning via Chester Pass Road, Stirling Range Drive, Red Gum Pass, Salt River Road, Formby South Road and back to Chester Pass Road. In the Afternoon travel the reverse of this route for the best effect.
According to recent research and fossil finds by the University of Western Australia, the Stirling Range formation was deposited betweeen 590-540 million years ago. It is now thought that the sedimentary beds that form the range began to rise in the deformational age within the last 100 million years. Both Red Gum Pass Road and Chester Pass Road which provide easy access to the mountains for motorists are along the courses of ancient rivers which flowed south during the early phases of the uplift.
Stirling Range has had over 160 species of birds recorded by bird watchers. Birds Australia leaders conduct dawn and dusk bird walks during spring. The Stirlings are a popular venue for Wave Camps conducted by Gliding Clubs. Airstrips for guests are located adjacent to Stirling Range Retreat. Abseiling and rock climbing are also available at the range. For more information contact the National Park Office on 9827 9230.