By Michael Roberts | posted on May 28, 2020
WESTERN Australians from across the state ascended on a rebuilt Bluff Knoll trail over the weekend as the iconic hike opened up to the public for the first time in nearly five months.
When bushfires savaged the Stirling Ranges throughout the Christmas and New Year period, nearby walking trails, which attract thousands of visitors every year, were left devastated.
With almost the entire 3km track at Bluff Knoll needing a rebuild, contractors and staff from Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) have spent four months working to repair the extensive damage.
Taking the opportunity to re-design the popular track, DBCA have made improvements to the trail to make it easier to climb and more family friendly.
With Bluff Knoll’s peak 1098m above sea level, more than 50 tonnes of materials had to be airlifted onto and off the mountain by helicopter.
Funding for the repair bill was paid through the Australian Heritage Grant and the rest of the balance was covered by the DBCA.
The revamped trail seems to be already paying dividends for Great Southern tourism.
On Saturday, the Bluff Knoll carpark was packed with visitors gearing themselves up for a steep ascent in picture-perfect conditions.
Perth couple Adam Stokes and Bianca Harding, who were down in Albany for the weekend, said it was an “amazing climb”, and they were pleasantly surprised by the amount of infrastructure that had been built into the trail.
As the Stirling Range’s biggest draw card, the reopening of Bluff Knoll is very welcoming news for local businesses who have been hit hard by the bushfires and then COVID-19.
Mt Trio Bush Camp and Caravan Park owner Margot Byrne said it just felt great to hear the business phone ringing again.
“The fires came through on December 26 and we had a few people at the very start of March and then that petered out with the pandemic,” she said.
“With the park being closed it has been really difficult. It has been a
very slow start to the year, that’s for sure.”
Ms Byrne never thought she would be so excited to see a caravan heading down her driveway.
“We’ve got people coming for the long weekend and we are looking forward to the snow season and wildflower season,” she said.
“The light at the end of the tunnel has arrived. It’s all positives ahead of us.”