Hiking Mount Bruce in Karijini National Park
Mount Bruce is located in the Pilbara region within Karijini National Park. Being Western Australia’s second tallest peak, our walk is set to be an adventurous and challenging one as we scale to 1,234 metres above sea level.
The trail is classified into 3 categories beginning with Class 2, then into 3 before the serious climb along class 5 to the top. Essentially to reach the summit, hikers will complete all of the classes over a 9km return walk.
Setting out in the cool morning at 6:00 am, we walk in low light towards the sunrise behind Mount Bruce. The first 500 metres is a pleasant warm up, taking us to a lookout where we can see Rio Tinto’s Marandoo Mine Site in the far distance. The iron ore open pit mine sits adjacent to Mount Bruce. We hear the rumblings of the train tracking towards the mine. Trains transport iron ore to Dampier Port along the private railway constantly. The further we travel, we view more of the mine to the right side of the trail.
Sunrise creates soft pink and blue tones in the sky behind us and it doesn’t take long before our car is simply a speck lost in the panoramic landscape.
We’re in good spirits, it’s been a while since we’ve completed a hike of this calibre. The last one being Bluff Knoll almost two years ago.
We are carrying water and snacks including some slices of Derek’s mums yummy almond cake which has travelled 2000 kilometres! Trust me it’s worth every crumb.
By the looks of it we’ll be hiking up a series of hills before reaching the foothill of Mount Bruce.
The sun lights up the ranges within the national park and the scene becomes a picture worth painting.
The layers of rocks along the trail are fascinating to see, after all we’re in Iron Ore country here in the Pilbara region.
The trail begins to narrow as we trace around one of the hills where we see some evidence of a past fire. The Australian landscape possesses a remarkable mechanism for regeneration.
When we reach the top of one of the hills, a fantastic view is revealed of the beautifully green and red coloured terrain. Appreciating the sheer size of the rock formation, we look at the small appearance of trees in comparison.
As we later discover, we’ll need to scale up the rock face of the hill in the top right hand corner before we see the trail leading to the foothill of Mount Bruce.
The terrain of the trail changes quite substantially when we begin the Class 5 section. We find the trail markers quite good throughout and easy to follow.
The path disappears and we begin to scale large rocks requiring some long steps as we pick our line upwards.
Native flora grows within cracks and nooks of the rocky landscape.
Taking a breather, we turn around absorbing the view. It is a mighty good feeling knowing we have walked those series of hills. We should almost be there, I think!
We come across a chain secured in the rock face, holding on for support, we trace alongside the rock and lucky for me a tree blocks out the view of the sheer drop, well, until we reach the below photo.
Those that have a fear of heights may find this spot challenging and while I’m honest, I’m one of those people. I scramble into a safe nook, planting my butt down for an important moment of gathering my thoughts. I question whether to go on, knowing my fear of heights can be paralysing at times. Let’s face it, I froze on the ladder at Castle Rock in Porangurup a couple of years ago.
We assess the next stage, to be, three or four steps while hugging the rock face and moving upwards to the other side which Derek advises opens up to plenty of standing room. No visible sheer drops.
Fear shrinks the brain Lee, I move forward and up. Careful steps and hugging the rock with sweaty palms, the mental road block has been broken as I continue along the trail.
Most people will be fine with this section and find it good fun. On the way back I have to say it wasn’t as scary as that first initial step.
We scramble up a series of rocks a few more times to reach the top of the hill. I begin to wonder if we will encounter the same obstacles scaling up Mount Bruce.
We walk the ridge and it’s fun traversing the large rock tiles, there’s trees and shrubbery as well as a few wildflowers.
The sun is well above us at 8.20 am, its warming up and we’ve been fortunate to cover a bit of ground in shade of the peak.
The rock formations are incredible to experience on foot, especially since travelling along Karijini drive in the car, they seem so far away.
Derek’s eagle eye spots the tiniest little reptile who seems to be very curious by our presence, a little scared it retreats before returning to us several times. I guess it doesn’t encounter too many humans around.
When we reach the side of Mount Bruce we take another short breather, we’ve hiked along some leg burning terrain thus far and we’re about to embark on the final steep section. Vegetation rises above our heads on either side of the trail.
We find some lichen on the rock in this section.
We arrive on the summit to an impressive rock pile and beautiful panoramic views of the Hamersley range in the national park. We pull out some cake and enjoy the serene setting. It’s just us. On the summit of Mount Bruce.
Course we have to take a picture, a memory of the summit trail.
We begin the descent and the legs are a little wobbly tackling the steep rocky trail. Derek’s sporting a DIY fashionable shade accessory. Easy to assemble with a spare t-shirt. Sometimes you have to make do with what you have on the trail!
Some of the oldest geological land forms are found in this iron ore rich region and it’s exciting to be right in the middle of it. To see the weathered red rock form. To be in a remote location. To be in the Pilbara!
The descent is slowed by the scenic views. Is this Western Australia’s version of the wild wild west?
Hiking to the summit of Mount Bruce is a memory we won’t be forgetting anytime soon, the experience, not without its mental and physical challenges, like any hike to such heights, was incredibly rewarding.
The hike to Mount Bruce brought many spectacular views to take in. The great thing about the trail is that hikers don’t necessarily need to reach Mount Bruce’s summit to experience some memorable views.
The ruggedness of the terrain definitely calls for some agility and determination as well as bush walking experience. The trail has lots of rocks and physically demanding sections. Don’t forget to plan the hike, consider the time of the day you’ll be doing the hike and what to bring. Water, high energy snacks, small rubbish bag to take rubbish back to the car, loose sun protective clothing or sunscreen, insect repellent, supportive shoes and a hat.