Mt Cooke is the highest peak in the Darling Ranges and definitely my favourite!
Heading South along the Bibbulmun Track from Sullivans Rock for approximately 7kms will lead you to the Mt Cooke campsite. The trail starts off as a wide gravel track then morphs into a narrow bush path. Following the Wagyl through typical Darling Scarp bushland (Jarrah, Ghost Gums and Banksias aplenty), you will spot dots of colour from the beautiful native wildflowers that are in full bloom at this time of year. A couple of small footbridges and a small rocky cascade keep things interesting on what some might say is a very ‘same-same’ stretch of trail, but in my mind, no trail is a bad trail, so HIKE ON!
As you near Mt Cooke campsite, the forest becomes increasingly dense and the trail starts to incline slightly. The campsite features a small hut, multiple clearings for pitching tents, long drop toilet, a couple of picnic tables and campfire with hotplate. What makes Mt Cooke campsite unique is that 500mtrs away is a group campsite, which is exactly that, a campsite that caters for larger groups.
Following the Bib from the campsite for approximately 2kms will lead you up the North side of Mount Cooke, it doesn’t take long before you start to appreciate the gorgeous views this monadock provides. With plenty of large sloping granite outcrops, giant boulders, vibrant shrubs and a hidden cave, Mt Cooke is definitely one awesome place to explore! The elusive Mt Cooke Cave is on the South side of the ridge, look for the ‘split boulders’ that face East, the cave is hidden but certainly there and a real treat! If you continue following the Bibbulmun track markers and rock cairns down the South side of the granite slope it will lead you back down through Jarrah Woodlands towards Nerang, however in the interest of completing this trail as a day hike, turn around and take in the beauty of Mt Cooke and those stunning views one more time as you retrace your steps!
In total Sullivans Rock to Mt Cooke return is around 22kms, give or take, which makes it a decent hiking challenge. If the distance of this hike is too much for you, there is also an 11km loop trail accessible via Cooke Rd.
Whether you classify Mt Cooke as a ‘mountain’ or a ‘hill’ is completely irrelevant, what you will agree on is that there is no other place like it near Perth! Those granite slopes, giant boulders, blooming wildflowers, and impressive views (not forgetting the elusive Mt Cooke Cave) provide an ambience that can’t be matched! I highly recommend overnighting at Mt Cooke campsite so you can witness an awe-inspiring sunrise or sunset, or both like I did! Hiking up to the top of Mt Cooke for sunrise is definitely very rewarding and makes for an unforgettable hiking experience Off The Beaten Track!