Thought Western Australia was flat? Time for a reality trek! The Stirling Range Ridge walk is a brutal, spellbinding beast, and it ain’t easy. But it might be a hike to set your sights on.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Wagyl Kaip and Noongar Nation, the traditional Country of the Wagyl Kaip and Noongar people who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

When it comes to hiking, Western Australia has some real showstoppers; from breathtaking coastal treks to dusty desert ranges, from adventurous bush walks to towering tree-lined epics. But, mountain treks? Well, let’s just say we’re not well known for them. And that’s exactly what makes Koi Kyenunu-ruff (the Stirling Ranges) and the Stirling Range Ridge Walk so special. 

Read more: Bluff Knoll – Hiking the Highest Peak in WA’s Stirling Ranges



Ok, let’s do a run-down of what to expect. Wild weather changes, hell yeah. Little to no defined trail, big tick. Demoralisingly steep ascents, are there ever! Stomach-churning traverses, bingo. Back breakingly heavy pack weights, you got it. Complicated navigation and trail finding, don’t remind me. 

Now let’s chat about what not to expect. Water, nope none of that up there (except the emergency barrel which we’ll chat about later). Trail markers, at the start and end but otherwise nada. It really is the quintessential test piece of WA hiking, a one-off bucket list for some, a lifestyle for others but a unique and unforgettable experience for everyone who has a crack. 


Day 1 – Corner of Kuch and Gnowellen Road to Third Arrow

Time: 7 hours
Distance: 12km

Day one, it’s a doozy! This was by far the hardest day of the hike. It’s got the hardest ascent, your pack is at its soul-crushing heaviest and no matter how much prep you’ve done, it’s quite confronting.

After being dropped at the starting point by a bewildered wife and kids, I started the walk along the boundary to the base of Ellen Peak.

It’s a spectacular summit, but it sure makes you pay for it. From pushing through thick scrub to navigating rocky crags, to the scramble up the final gulley, every inch was hard work.



Thankfully the next challenge the ridge had to throw my way was a bit easier. Pyungoorup Peak. The peak itself is an easy stroll, but the hike actually continues in a messy and confusing traverse filled with dense bush and false trails around the southern side of the peak.



I had aimed to camp in a cave on the north side of the next obstacle, Third Arrow, and managed to make it there with not a soul in sight, which was lovely since the cave has become increasingly popular lately. As I set up camp and explored the area, the dense cloud cover and strong winds that are an icon of the hike, draped the ridge making for a spectacular scene.

Fun fact: Koi Kyenunu-ruff translates to ‘mist rolling around the mountains’.

Day 2 – Third Arrow to the base of East Peak

Time: 6 hours
Distance: 6km

Waking up to a thick blanket of cloud was not what I’d hoped for. The goal was to shimmy up the steep, scrambly summit of Third Arrow to get a sunrise view, before setting off for the day. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained and up I went to be greeted by… yep, complete white out.

So on it was to Second Arrow, an easy climb that paves the way for the rubik’s cube that is First Arrow. First Arrow is notorious amongst Stirling Range Ridge Walk beginners and veterans alike; after summiting, the way down is a steep (like pretty much vertical) scramble before navigating a confusing array of rock ledges.

I made it through the wayfinding nightmare and it was time for the long and wandering Isongerup Peak. The views are epic, but it’s also the most exposed part of the ridge, so I began the descent mostly to get out of the harsh wind. Next up was Moongoongoonderup Hill and a fair bit of bush bashing over various minor hills to my next campsite at the base of East Peak.

The night sky was clear and, after prepping for the next day, a blanket of stars set me off to an early sleep, ready for a very early rise.


Day 3 – Base of East Peak to Base of Bluff Knoll

Time: 3.5 hours
Distance: 4km

Getting up for sunrise on Bluff Knoll has become the thing to do in recent times.



Photographers and drone enthusiasts alike have been making their way up there in increasing numbers, but one of the hidden gems that is often missed is East Peak, which is a stone’s throw to the (you guessed it) east of the iconic summit. I got started at 2am and began the final push and by ‘push’ I mean literally.

The path up East Peak is covered in dense bush that often needs a significant push to get through and with the eery light of a head torch, wayfinding can be taxing.

Despite this, the climb went smoothly and in just over an hour I was watching the warm first light bathe the ridge and bring the ranges to life. From here a short but ill-defined stroll took me to the yawning chasm between East Peak and Bluff Knoll. A couple of minutes later, with the buzz of drones to guide the way I was on the summit. Though Bluff Knoll is not the highlight of the hike for me, there was something nice and reassuring about ending amongst people after three days completely alone.

Read more: Going Solo? 5 Tips for Adventuring Alone in the Wilderness


Frequently Asked Questions

Is there water on the Stirling Range Ridge Walk?

You need to carry all your own water – depending what time of year and how many days you are going for it will be a significant portion of your pack weight. During this trip, given the heat, I took 12 litres and needed it all! There is an emergency water barrel, but the park rangers stress it is for emergencies only.

Pro-tip: I carry a 10l MSR Dromedary and a smaller 2L bladder to decant to. It guarantees you have a back-up bladder, if one should fail.


Are there campgrounds on the Stirling Range Ridge Walk?

There are several small caves along the way that are great to spend the night in and will keep you out of the wind and rain. But, the popularity of the trail is increasing and you might find yourself without a spot!

I pack a sleeping bag, sleeping mat and a one-person bivvy; light enough to haul up the ridge, but guaranteed shelter regardless of the weather or location.


Where can I find more information on the Stirling Range Ridge Walk?

Check out the Stirling Ridge Walk Facebook group, it’s a great community with solid advice. There’s also a book, A.T. Morphet’s Walks in the Stirling Ranges which it’s essential you read before attempting this walk (a copy is available via the Facebook group). You can also find more info from Stirling Range Retreat, which is a great place to recover after the hike.


Essential Gear

  • Emergency contact is a non-negotiable, as mobile reception is far from guaranteed; I took my Garmin In-reach Mini, as well as my phone.

Read more: PLBs and Satellite Messengers – Everything You Need to Know About Off-Grid Safety

  • A breathable waterproof jacket and pants are necessary year-round, no matter how sure you are of the weather! Gaiters are also highly recommended. I walk in fast-drying long hiking pants and a long sleeve shirt (exposed skin will be punished!). When I stop to camp, a windproof down jacket and a beanie are indispensable as things cool down quickly.
  • A small stove such as a Jetboil, as well as enough food for the days you are going. And don’t forget snacks! You will need to get in some calories on the move.
  • Sleeping bag, bivvy/lightweight tent and a sleeping mat.
  • Hiking poles are often used. I don’t find them overly helpful myself, but many people swear by them on this trail.
  • Sturdy hiking boots are a must, you’re carrying a heavy pack on very variable terrain, so I don’t recommend fast and light hikers unless you are doing it in a single day. I tried the Scarpa Moraine Plus Mid GTX and found them a little flimsy at times but overall, did the job pretty well.
  • A head torch is also a must have, especially if you want to make it up East Peak for sunrise!
  • A map and compass should also be brought along. Though I have rarely had to use them, there are situations that might call for it and after chatting to the park rangers, there were concerns about the number of people going up without navigation tools.
  • Dry bags can be the difference between a nice dry night’s sleep and climbing into a sopping wet sleeping bag. Anything you want to stay dry, should be in a dry bag!
  • Trowel and toilet paper… It’s shit (literally) arriving at a campsite and finding toilet paper sitting behind every second bush. Just bury it!


How To Get There

There are a few options here. If you are starting at Ellen Peak (my preference) your drop off point is the corner of Kuch Road and Gnowellen Road. If you have no one to drop you off, you will need to park at the turn off to Bluff Knoll near the sign-in book and hike the length of the firebreak, which adds a significant amount of walking. 

If you’re starting at Bluff Knoll you can park at the car park, and when you finish at Ellen Peak you will need to hike the length of the fire break to return to your car. 

Skill Level


The hike features no water, tough navigation, trackless scrub, steep terrain and true alpine conditions. There are highly variable strong winds and rain any time of year and white outs, sometimes snow. Hiking is best attempted in Spring or Autumn over two or three days (if you want extra epic-points one day is also possible)

Distance / Duration / Elevation Gained

20km – 30km approximately, depending on your drop off point (but it’s the toughest 20km you’ll ever experience) / 3 days/ Around 2000m