Located in the Fitzgerald River National Park, Western Australia’s East Mount Barren prominent jagged rocks and distinctive outline make it a prominent landmark. The trail leading to its summit presents a steep climb alongside rock walls, offering panoramic views of Hamersley Inlet. As hikers progress along the entire trail, they are afforded stunning views of the surrounding dramatic headlands. The summit itself provides 360-degree views of the park’s vast landscape. Overall, East Mt Barren is both a challenging hike and an opportunity for a fantastic view for those who venture its path.
The ascent can be divided into three levels, which increase in difficulty as you get higher. Although that might sound like a challenge, we can assure you this walk is worth the effort for the breathtaking views along the way!
The beginning of this trail presents itself as a short wooden boardwalk, perfect for a beginner warm up. Though not suitable for wheelchairs due to its narrow path and a few sneaky steps.
Come spring, the timber boardwalk attracts many nature enthusiasts looking for banksias that have burst into bloom. Their fiery orange and red flowers attract the elusive honey possums out of hiding. If you’re looking to snap a photo of these guys? Patience, stillness, and a good zoom lens are your allies here, for these furry creatures are a shy lot.
Ascending to the second stage is like turning up the intensity on your treadmill. Known as the schist and quartz scramble, it’s not for the faint-hearted. The journey may be arduous with a persistent uphill gradient, but the vistas that unfold are unparalleled. Expect sweeping views of the shimmering bays to become your companion, which make this section of the track worth it!
While a hiking pole provides a semblance of balance, it’s advisable to rely more on your nimble hands, especially when the schist gets slippery. And just when you believe the ascent might never end, the false summit emerges, a sanctuary where the tall plants stand guard, shielding you from the fierce winds. An almost secretive path on the left spirals away to an unofficial viewpoint, revealing the untouched beauty of the rolling parkland below – a sight that we promise will make this section well worth it.
Don’t be too eager to move on from the false summit; it’s more than just a pit-stop. Besides offering a delightful flat walk, it’s a treasure trove of diverse flora. Banksias of varying hues rub shoulders with other rare blossoms. Navigate through, and a peculiar geological formation emerges that we’ve dubbed to resemble a slumbering Godzilla’s rugged spine.
The last leg is deceptive. While largely flat, it springs a few surprises. The thrill of two short, steep boulder climbs gets the adrenaline pumping. And as you push through a dense foliage tunnel, the magic of the trail truly reveals itself.
However, caution is the word as you approach the peak. The denseness can confound, offering two routes – a challenging boulder ascent and a more concealed path through a bush tunnel. Choose wisely, lest you end up at a dead end!
But all effort is rewarded as you step onto the peak, the town of Hopetoun sprawling below. For those with a queasy disposition towards heights, keep your gaze fixed on the horizon. A cleverly positioned rock ledge offers a comfortable perch to soak in the view, though do exercise caution with belongings, for the mountain has a cheeky habit of claiming unsecured objects!
Descending often bears its own challenges. Especially when the schist beckons again. The trick is to maintain a gentle pace, and if in doubt, the age-old advice of landing on one’s rear rather than risking a sprained wrist holds true. But as you finally set foot at the base, looking up at the mammoth you’ve just conquered. Get ready to feel a sense of accomplishment.
The geography of East Mount Barren is defined by its striking rock spires that tower above the landscape, showcasing a diverse range of rock types. Many of these formations consist of ancient rocks, bearing witness to millennia of geological processes.
However, caution is advised while exploring, as the terrain is littered with loose rocks. We’re sure there are a fair share of geology enthusiasts who have come away with scrapped hands and knees.
The flora along the way up East Mount Barren offers a breathtaking array of flora, showcasing the region’s rich biodiversity. During the wildflower season, the trails are adorned with beautiful wildflower displays, including the Barrens Clawflower and the vibrant crimson flowers of the Hakea Victoria, commonly known as the Royal Hakea.
Hikers on the Hakea Trail can expect some awesome wildflower action, as this path highlights the extraordinary plants unique to the area, such as the Barrens Regelia. With such a diversity of plants, from the family of plants that give us plenty of wildflowers to the more specific and amazing flora, visitors are guaranteed an immersive botanical experience.
Parks WA has a guide on Parking, Park entry fees apply, and Toilets.
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Thank you to our IO Guide Erin for providing her information and experience for this article.
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