Places, Places we went
Comments 4

Stirling Range – Koikyenunuruff

Bluff Knoll Stirling Range National Park Western Australia

The Dreaming is the beginning of time, when mythical spirits with supernatural powers rose up and travelled the once featureless wilderness, creating mountains, lakes, rivers, sea, stars and everything living on earth – and in the stories about the Stirling Range this is no different. The range is named after the first governor of Western Australia, but known as Koikyenunuruff by the Mineng and Koreng people who once lived in and around these ‘mist shrouded mountains’. Until today Noongar people believe the clouds covering Bluff Knoll or Bular Mial (the range’s tallest peak) are the ever changing visible form of a lonely, dead spirit called Noatch – and that’s why the sign at the bottom of the slope warnes climbers that ‘those who stray might get lost in her misty embrace’. Bluff Knoll therefore remains a place of great cultural significance for the traditional owners.

Bluff Knoll Stirling Range National Park Western Australia

Standing proud in an otherwise flat landscape, the Stirling Ranges are the only obstacle to weather from the Southern Ocean. The slopes and peaks therefore receive relatively high levels of rainfall, and the numerous combinations of soil, precipitation, sunlight and exposition have turned this area into a true biodiversity hotspot. The thicket and mallee-heath habitats in the high parts, and woodlands, wetlands and salt lake communities on the lower slopes and plains harbour no less than 1500 plant species, of which many are endemic.

Stirling Range National Park Western Australia

On the first day of our Easter break we couldn’t resist the call of Bluff Knoll. Unfortunately a front moved in from the south, covering the entire mountain in rain, mist and clouds, blocking the otherwise superb views from the top. But despite the fact we got down wet and rather miserable, we now know the feel of Noatch’s embrace – and also managed to get some moody shots.

Bluff Knoll Stirling Range National Park Western Australia

Bluff Knoll Stirling Range National Park Western Australia


  1. Even if the name is a bit of a tongue twister, the place is beautiful beyond description, Maurice!

    It strikes me how much it looks like Ithala or the mountains around Sabie – might be an equally ancient landscape from a time long ago when Australia and Africa were still connected?

    • I share the feeling Dries – I sometimes even expect a herd of elephants to cross the road so similar the places look. Although all these areas once were part of Gondwanaland the Australian ranges were formed on different places and tectonically plates than the African – the rock formations however seem date to back to the Paleoproterozoic era; the ones in the Stirling Range and the Limpopo Belt were both formed in this period.

      • Earth’s history is so fascinating Maurice! The timescale is almost incomprehensible, and to think how humans have stuffed up so much of it in almost the wink of an eye…

      • It’s a scary fact indeed. Especially in Australia the extinction rate of mammals is staggering since the arrival of Europeans…

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