Location: Sullivan Rock to Monadnocks, Mount Vincent & Mount Cuthbert
Distance: 15km loop
Grade: 3/4 - Variable terrain with some steep ascents and descents
Trail Marker: Yellow triangle with black Wagyl (snake)
Duration: 5 - 6 hours
Elevation: Mount Vincent (506m climb), Mount Cuthbert (510m climb)
Date climbed: 27th February 2018
Kml Trail File: Please click here.
Climbing two mountains was not what I had intended to do on this day. I had actually set out to climb Mount Randall, a mostly 'off-track' trail which meant making sure I was up to speed with exactly where I was going. I had researched the maps, way points and read over the notes from the Walk GPS blog I had found details of this hike on. I didn't actually feel comfortable though about this one (Mount Randall), had a bit of an odd feeling, perhaps because it was off-track, not really sure. It didn't help that hubby was little worried about me doing this one so probably added to my hesitation but I did still set off to hike it, drove out to the starting point, parked up and crossed Albany Hwy only to find there was absolutely no trail to be seen anywhere. Now ok yes you might be saying to yourself 'well she did say 'off-track', but I still expected there to be some sort of visible trail even just minor, but nope there was nothing, just my map, GPS and compass. I pointed my compass exactly where I needed to go but the notes wanted me to go 'bush bashing' and I just couldn't bring myself to do that for a number of reasons. A/ I didn't really feel like getting lost and feel it would have been super easy too, B/ It was a little warm already and the bush was fairly thick....snakes came to mind pretty quickly and I felt the chances of stepping on one would be high, C/ Considering we value quite highly the ethos of 'Leave No Trace' I was left feeling as though I would be going against everything I believe in, not to mention risk my Eco Accreditation and it left me feeling a little sour that off-track hiking is somewhat encouraged. I am still processing my thoughts on that one but currently it's not sitting with me very well. So Mount Randall was off the cards, (for now) I did read that you could get there via Monadnocks Campsite and is a little more trail friendly so I may explore that possibility when I do that section of the Bibbulmun Track in a few months. Quick thinking had me remember that there were some other great adventures out here and that's when I decided to do the Sullivan Rock to Monadnocks hike over Mount Vincent and Mount Cutherbert. Thankfully I still had phone signal so was able to gather the map and info I needed and drove a little further up to my start point at the Sullivan's Rock rest area.
The starting point for this hike can be a bit tricky to find but it does come up on Google maps, well at least it did for me but if it doesn't work for you basically the carpark itself is on the right hand side, 9 1/2 km's along Albany Hwy past the turn-off for Jarrahdale Rd. Did I make that sound confusing? Hopefully not. Park your car in the rest bay, cross over Albany Hwy and look for the red Bibbulmun Track sign signalling the start of the hike. You will be following the Bibbulmun Track the whole way to Monadnocks and then the old Bibbulmun Track back so if you have this section of the Bibbulmun Track map I highly recommend having it on you but it really is a pretty straight forward track especially when you realise that there are lots of little rock cairns leading a lot of the way. I wasn't walking very long, literally 100m and I had reached Sullivan Rock. How on earth I have not seen this place before I have no idea, I have driven past it thousands of times.
Sullivan Rock is a beautiful granite outcrop located within the Monadnocks Conservation Park. The trail leads up over the rock providing the most gorgeous views of what I am sure to be Mount Cooke in the distance. I loved the little rock pools and the moss covering the granite like a blanket. If your unsure where to go exactly as mentioned before, look for the rock cairns, they literally paved the way up and over but the trail becomes quite obvious in some parts, almost had a red carpet feel to it except that the red carpet was exposed granite with blankets of moss edging the sides. I was so excited that this ended up being the trail I was on as I felt that if this was the beauty I was witnessing so early on then I was in for a pretty spectacular hike. Follow the cairns up towards the edge of the forest where you will leave Sullivan Rock via a sandy track and start making your way to Mount Vincent.
When you leave Sullivan Rock you will come to a 4WD crossroad. This is the old Bibbulmun Track coming in from the left. You will see the sign on the right pointing east which continues on to Mount Cooke, a popular hiking trail for day hikers, Sullivan Rock to Mount Cooke. But for this trail make sure you cross over the 4wd track and re-enter the forest almost immediately and start following a narrow track again. You should see the Bibbulmun Wagyl triangle on a tree not to far in, just to reassure you that you are going the right way. It's not long before reach a die back cleaning station not too far in. Please make sure you do the right thing here and give your boots a spray and a scrub to stop the prevention of die back in the area. If we all do our part then we just might make a bit of difference. Once I had cleaned my boots I continued on and it wasn't long before the summit of Mount Vincent was once again in my sites.
I continued along what was a relatively flat part of the trail before I came across the start of Mount Vincent climb, up and over the large granite outcrop and walked in a north easterly direction along a dirt rocky path, but not before I stopped to take in the beautiful surroundings, the orange colored moss highlighting the granite sloping towards the scarp below. Be sure to take in some pretty awe inspiring views of the mountains out to the west and then as you head out along the rocky path you will start to see Mount Cuthbert in your sights straight ahead.
Continue heading along the rocky path towards Mount Cuthbert and you will see the track continues up taking you another 100m up towards the summit. There is a small section of rocks to scramble up, be sure to take your time as I found quite a few loose ones. I was then rewarded with more beautiful views this time to the south east. There's a few little smaller tracks to some great vantage points so be sure to explore the area before continue on walking along the ridge of the summit. You will pass a large rock cairn which had me thinking I had reached the summit already but continue on following the smaller cairns and the Wagyl track sign and you will see it clear as day. It's from here that you get a real good glimpse at your next summit, Mount Cuthbert.
I got a little confused as to which way to go from the summit as there were two trails and the notes I had didn't really give me a good enough indication to be sure. I took the one in front but the trail didn't look used enough so came back and turned left at the summit, followed the trail around the corner and then sure it enough saw another Wagyl on the tree so started to make my way down into the valley on to Mount Cuthbert.
The change of scenery as I made my way between the mountains was a nice change. The forest was fairly open with a mix of Jarrah, Marri and Banksia trees. There were lots of small areas of interesting outcrops and large boulders and sadly quite a few trees which had succumbed to dieback, a few of which the track deviates around. It wasn't long before I started the ascent up Mount Cuthbert.
I did find this part just a little tricky as personally I don't feel the Wagyl sign was clear enough but it seemed to want me to go right so I did but it narrowed quite a bit along the bottom of the granite which put me off however I pursued a little further around and then came across another Wagyl which directed me up and over the Granite rock.
Be sure to turn around and have a look at where you come from and you will see Mount Vincent. It's a good feeling knowing you have just summited that one and on too the next. Absolutely beautiful views once again. Exit the granite around a boulder situated to the north of the granite slope.
I was walking long before I caught glimpse of my goal, the rock cairns indicating the Mount Cuthbert summit. The views already were just breathtaking. A quick side step to the right where you follow the narrow trail passed a large Balga tree and out through to the granite outcrop. Just like Sullivan Rock there were plenty of little rock pools, moss and sundew covering the area with views out for miles.
Once I was able to drag myself away from the views, the trail continues north across the top before heading slightly north east descending once again into the valley below. In the distance you should be able to see Mount Randall, the mountain I was going to do but that will be for another day. The section did get a little tricky here also but once again follow the rock cairns and you should be right. As you leave the granite outcrop look for the Wagyl sign pointing right and continue on to Monadnocks campsite.
It wasn't long before I came to a 4wd track, known as Herold Rd. Monadnocks campsite is across this track so I proceeded on to check out the Bibbulmun campsite. Nice little spot, looking forward to spending a night here when my Bibbulmun sectional e2e starts soon. Just waiting for some nicer weather up here in the hills.
From Monadnocks Campsite you can either head straight back the way you came back over Mount Cuthbert and Mount Vincent as many people do or if you are wanting a little relief on your legs or just don't like double backing like me then you can loop back along the 4wd track to the start.
Basically head back out to Herold Rd and turn right, follow it for quite a few km's till you get to a Y junction. The notes said to follow the Old Bibbulmun Track (4wd track) to the left back to the start but I had also read that others have taken the right track out to Albany Hwy and followed that back to the start. I was actually running out of time, clearly had spent too much time immersing myself in the experience so I looked for the quicker option (only by 15min) which meant out to Albany Hwy but I highly recommend NOT doing this option. It was boring and there is not much of a shoulder to walk along which meant I was walking quite close to cars and trucks screaming past so make sure you take a left and follow the old Bibb track back until you come to the crossing you came out of earlier on from Sullivan Rock. Turn right, back over the rock and then you'll be back at the start before you know it.
Please note: This track is not your standard well marked out trail like many of the Perth Hills ones so does require a good level of hiking experience. At the very minimum please make sure you have downloaded the map (available from Walk GPS, you need to pay for subscription) and trip notes to help you through. Make sure your phone is charged and if possible carry some sort of personal beacon, we use a SPOT Gen 3 device. Also make sure you have adequate water, minimum 3 litres per person.
I thoroughly enjoyed this unexpected mountain adventure, and look forward to bringing my family back as well as showing the people of Perth the beauty of the Darling Range. Hopefully this post inspires you to get along and check it out, we would love to hear your thoughts on the trail. Please feel free to tag us in your adventures.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we walk, the traditional lands of the Whadjuk people & wish to acknowledge them as traditional owners paying respects to their Elders, past & present, and Elders from other communities who may be here today.