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Take a walk in the National Heritage listed Stirling Range National Park, a biodiversity hotspot that's home to more plant species than you'll find in the entire British Isles. Be dazzled by 123 varieties of Western Australian orchids, spot over 100 species of birds and take in sweeping vistas from Western Australia's only mountain range. To start your back to nature adventure from Perth, hit the Albany Highway south and you'll reach the Stirling Range within five hours. Or, if you're making it part of your great southern holiday, the Chester Pass Road north from Albany and Formby South Road from Gnowangerup get you there in one hour. The range was home to the Mineng and Goreng Indigenous people for thousands of years, and the first recorded sighting of the inland mountain range was made in 1802, by English Captain Matthew Flinders of HMS Investigator. However, it was John Septimus Roe who named them after Captain James Stirling, the first Governor of Western Australia, in 1835. The Stirling Range stretches for 65 kilometres and boasts the South West's tallest peak, Bluff Knoll, where you can take the popular six kilometre (three to four hours) return hike to its 1,095 metre summit. The most challenging one day walk awaits at Toolbrunup Peak. This four to five hour mountain trek to the 1,052 metre summit rewards your efforts with 360 degree views of the wilderness. If you're in training to push yourself to the limit, tackle Western Australia's only alpine walk - the three day Stirling Ridge Walk starting at Ellen Peak. You must register with the rangers if you're planning to undertake this challenge. Those in search of spring wildflowers should opt for the three kilometre walk to Mount Trio. Or take a scenic drive through the park and take your pick from one of the picnic spots. To spend a night under the peaks, set up camp at Moingup Springs within the park or book a powered/unpowered site at the Stirling Range Retreat, which also caters for those seeking the creature comforts of a self-contained chalet or budget-wise hostel dorms.
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