Mount Cooke Walk (Walk #21)
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|On this page:||
1) Walk map - Shows route and waypoint locations
3) 3D map view
7) Waypoint listing and grid references
|Click on map for large version.||
View NW to Mounts Vincent and Cuthbert
from near summit of Mt Cooke, Dec. 2002
(i.e.prior to the Jan.2003 wildfire).
Click on photo for larger version.
Using this map.
|Additional Satellite Imagery|
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|For Google Earth users|
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44 kms SE of Armadale along Albany Highway.
8-11 field kms (60% off-track)
or 10 field kms (7% off-track) Easy version.
|Degree of difficulty :||
MEDIUM - HARD (What does this mean?)
|Amount of uphill walking :||
440m (cumulative ascent)
See Google Map for start point on road map.
(Use zoom ladder for detail. Select 'Hybrid' to add satellite imagery.)
Continue down Albany Highway for 2 kms past the start of the Cooke Pine Plantation (which was logged and mainly cleared in 2004 for re-planting), then turn left onto a narrow dirt road at waypoint 'MTCK-1'. Follow the dirt road NE across the plantation area to reach a T-junction with another dirt road (Cooke Rd) along the NE side of the plantation. Cross the road and park in the large cleared area at the Start point. (Note: By 2010 the narrow dirt road from 'MTCK-1' was becoming a bit rutted, so care is needed if not in 4WD. If necessary park close to Albany Highway in a sidetrack off the dirt road. Walking to the 'Start' point from there will add 1 km to the start and end of the walk.)
Important access issue: Walkers need to be aware that this walk area and many others on WalkGPS lie within drinking water catchment areas. In 2007 DoW in effect recommended a prohibition of all traditional off-track bushwalking activities across the entire Perth region catchment areas covering 4500 sq km, far beyond the limits of existing or proposed Reservoir Protection Zones (see map). By March 2008, the DoW had been persuaded to reconsider its published position. The new Policy of 2012 refrains from banning traditional bushwalking in the outer catchments. The community, including visitors to WalkGPS, need to remain vigilant to ensure that commonsense continues to prevail over regulatory zealotry. See also Home page: 'Access' and Related access issues on WalkGPS, and DOW's "Canning River Catchment Area Drinking Water Source Protection Plan" of 2007.
|Escape route/s :||
In east, to Powerline Road, then due south to meet Albany Highway.
In NW, to Bibbulmun Track and Mt Cooke Campsite, then NW to soon meet Cooke Road (dirt road) then SE about 3.5 kms to the Start point.
From summit ridge area, follow Bibbulmun Track either NW to Mt Cooke Campsite, etc, or follow it SE until it meets Powerline Road, then south to Albany Highway.
This walk within the Monadnocks National Park includes about 3 kms along the main ridge and summit of Mount Cooke which at 582m above sea level (and about 200m above the surrounding plateau) is the highest granite monadnock in the Darling Range. There are some excellent views from the ridge, including to Mounts Vincent and Cuthbert (7-8 kms NW), Geddes Rock (7 kms NE) and more distant Boonerring Hill (17 kms SSE). Almost 3.5 kms of the walk is on the well maintained Bibbulmun Track, including a section extending from the Mt Cooke Campsite in the NW to the summit and then along the summit ridge. The initial, off-track part of the walk visits the less known eastern side of Mount Cooke, near the foot of steep, 100m high granite rock faces. (See Update & Caution below). It then climbs mainly gently to the ridge again before descending to join the Bibbulmun Track at the Mt Cooke Campsite. The hut there was rebuilt by DEC in mid-2004 following a devastating January 2003 bushfire which swept along the whole of Mt Cooke. This very hot fire destroyed most of the forest canopy, including some picturesque stands of wandoo and butter gum. Only 18 months later most of the trees were strongly regenerating and several years later, by 2010, the walk along the summit ridge had returned to being a very pleasant bushwalk. The stark burnt 'skeletons' of the former mature forest overstorey still remain however, protruding above the new vegetation as a reminder that it will be many years before the forest grows back to anything like its previous state.
Although the walk is only 11 kms in length, allow at least 4 hours including a 1/2 hour rest stop. In mid-winter conditions along the narrow summit ridge can be unpleasant and special care is needed in high winds and when rain or low clouds reduce visibility. The 240m climb up Mt Cooke along the Bibbulmun Track from the Campsite should otherwise not be too challenging for a reasonably fit walker.
For overnighters: For those keen to camp overnight in the area: The Mount Cooke Campsite (which includes a 3-sided shelter; at waypoint 'CAMP') on the Bibbulmun Track is located at about the halfway point on the walk routes.
Update & Caution (July 2006): The off-track portion of the original WalkGPS circuit has now become very scratchy/prickly and unpleasant in places. An increasingly dense new understorey of low shrubs (including thick patches of 'Prickly Moses', Acacia pulchella) has become established following the fires of January 2003. This has replaced sections of previously easier open forest walking and has over-grown previous animal tracks.
Sections worst affected by dense regrowth are along the northern extension of the Mt Cooke ridge (between waypoints '11' and '15') and between waypoints '29' and 'LGSLB' in the south. Those sections are now best bypassed by 1) going direct from waypoint '11' to join the Bibbulmun Track at '25' (and therefore also bypassing the Mt Cooke campsite); and 2) taking an alternate route segment in the south, via '40-ALT' etc. These easier options shorten the total walk to only 8 kms and are described in red in the route notes below.
Or follow the Easy alternative, mainly on-track route.
Gaiters, trousers and long-sleeved shirt should be worn to protect yourself from prickles and scratches if you do want to brave the off-track sections.
EASY ALTERNATIVE : This is now recommended for a much easier, mainly on-track 10 km walk; after reaching waypoint 'BIBB' stay on the Bibbulmun Track to cross Mt Cooke from south to north. Then after reaching Mt Cooke campsite (at 'CAMP') continue along the Track for 300m and turn left onto Cooke Road (dirt road) at waypoint '50'. Follow Cooke Road (via waypoint '51') for 4 kms SE back to the Start point, with the pine plantation on your right hand side for the final 2 kms (see orange route segment on the map). - As an option for a more interesting and energetic walk for those final 2 kms, veer left about 200m before reaching waypoint '51' to follow another old forestry track which sub-parallels Cooke Road, then turn right near waypoint '42' to follow an old foot-track back toward the Start point.
Additional maps :
WalkGPS walk map for OziExplorer users: A downloadable OziExplorer format MAP file (*.map) for this walk area is included on the Maps, Waypoints & Track Files page. The zipped folder also includes the associated 'base' topo map image file, plus other attached waypoints, tracks/routes, etc in OxiExplorer file formats.
WalkGPS reconnaissance history: Click here for a map of past WalkGPS test walks in the walk area, plus the final routes. The final routes were selected only after several visits to the area which aimed to achieve a walk that would be the most rewarding.
Other: Jarrahdale 1:50,000 Sheet (WA Forests Dept., ca. 1990);
or Jarrahdale & Yaganing 1:50,000 DEC Conservation Operations Graphic (COG) map series (current) Sheet 2133-3 & 2133-2.
Other background references :
"Forests on Foot (40 walks in W.A.)" by Meney & Brown, 1985, pp.38-47 (Wescolour Press, Fremantle). Includes the Mount Cooke ridge walk (prior to development of the new Bibbulmun Track).
"A Guide to the Bibbulmun Track, Northern Half, Kalamunda to Donnelly River Village" by Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) 2002, 2nd ed., pp.104-107.
"Wildfires can be bad for biodiversity" by Neil Burrows, DEC., Information Sheet 17/2009, Science Division. - Describes the long-term damage to the Mt Cooke area caused by the high intensity 2003 wildfire which swept through forests that hadn't been 'prescribed burned' for about 20 years.
Place name origin: Mt Cooke was named after Ernest William Cooke, the first Government Astronomer of W.A., from 1896-1911. (This Mt Cooke is not to be confused with Mt Cooke in the east Pilbara, also named after E.W. Cooke.)
Route notes :
From the Start point, head initially NE gently uphill (via waypoint '2'). The slope soon steepens and then flattens onto a narrow lateritic ridge before descending a short distance through quite dense low foliage - mainly a 'temporary' understorey of Net-leaved Wattle (Acacia urophylla) and jarrah trees which reshooted after the 2003 bushfire - to meet the Bibbulmun Track (at 'BIBB').
[Alternatively,for an easy bypass of this initial off-track section, follow the dirt road ESE from the Start point to waypt '53' across a low ridge (with a view NW through the forest to the southern granite slopes of Mt Cooke). At '53' meet the Bibbulmun Track on the Powerline Rd. Turn left to follow the Bibb. Track initially northward. Stay on the Bibb. Track when it leaves the road at '54' and continues through 'BIBB'. This on-track variation is a good and very easy option even though it adds about 1.5 km to the walk route).
Follow the Bibbulmun Track northward (via '3') and gently uphill along the ridge for about 400m. When the track veers slowly left (at approx. 'LVTRK'), continue approx. north along the east-sloping hillside (to '4') and then continue along slope NW (gaining views through the burnt forest of the steep eastern granite face of Mt Cooke).
[Alternatively, at 'LVTRK' if you wish to follow the now recommended EASY alternative on-track route, continue NW-ward on the Bibbulmun Track.]
Soon descend to cross a steep-sided stream gully (at about '5'). Continue along slope northward (via '6') and cross a smaller stream gully (at about '7'). Continue northward, initially climbing a moderate slope (again gaining views back to the eastern granite face through the trees). The slope flattens and there is a view NE (about 6.5 kms) to Geddes Rock. Cross another stream gully (soon after '8') and then veer NNW to climb along a moderately steep forested slope skirting around granite boulders and small outcrops, gaining a view NE across a side valley to a rocky ridge. Cross the granite slab in the stream gully (at 'SLAB') which is a good spot for a break. Then head NE to climb uphill behind large boulders and outcrops to reach the spur ridge (near '9'). Follow the narrow ridge uphill NNW (picking a way through thickening 'Prickly Moses'), gaining eastward views across the Darling Range and again to Geddes Rock. After 'VUROK' the slope flattens onto the northern extension of the Mt Cooke ridge. Continue NW initially along the lateritic ridge top and then descend slightly on the western side to gain (at '11') a view south to the granite outcrops below the summit of Mt Cooke. At this point, due to dense new growth of 'Prickly Moses' along the ridge to the north, it is now recommended you go direct from waypoint '11' to join the Bibbulmun Track southward at about '25', following the alternate route segment, in orange on the map, bypassing the northern section of the original walk route. [Alternatively if you wish to stay on the original WalkGPS walk route (in red on map), continue north (to'12') and NW (via '13' ) along the ridge through quite dense regenerating foliage in places. Veer WNW at '14' to head along a narrowing, rocky spur ridge. Cross a dark-coloured dolerite outcrop (at 'DOL'; now largely hidden under a blanket of 'Prickly Moses') and continue along the narrow ridge to '15', then turn sharp left (SW), to initially descend quite steeply and cross a low granite outcrop slab before the slope flattens. At '16' veer WSW and continue gently downslope. After the slope steepens again (near '17'), veer approx. SW and soon reach the Mt Cooke Campsite (at 'CAMP') on the Bibbulmun Track (camp toilet nearby). This is the halfway point on the walk and a good place to stop for a lunch break. Then head initially E/ESE (via '22' and '23') along the Bibbulmun Track. The track soon veers southward, after '24', with a view south to the rocky summit area of Mt Cooke, and starts the fairly steep and steady climb to the rocky summit at 'SMT'.]
After '25' there is an excellent view NW to Mounts Vincent and Cuthbert (from a large granite slab on the right soon after '25A'). Continue SSE on the Bibbulmun Track along the narrow rocky ridge, again gaining views east (near '27'). About 200m further along the Track, the view opens up impressively to the south. There are also good views to the east, and also 31 km due north to Mount Dale, on the horizon. A large boulder located just to the left (east) of the track before a large SE-sloping granite slab contains a sizable, low-ceilinged cave. The cave can provide good shelter for walkers caught on the ridge during inclement winter weather. Then descend the large granite outcrop (with a view south to distant Boonerring Hill), initially following the small rock cairns. Just before the Track starts to veer more eastward (following the cairns), continue southward and off-track (at approx. '28' ) to cross a partly shrub-covered (Calothamnus sp.), gentle gully to reach the southern edge of the outcrop at about '29'. At this point, instead of re-entering the forest (and braving the dense new growth of 'Prickly Moses' along the ridge to the SW), head SE downslope and near the southern edge of the outcrop to '40-ALT' on the alternate route segment (in orange on the map). Then follow an old foot-track eastward and downhill quite steeply for less than 100m to 'TRK1'. Leave the track to head SSE gently downhill through forest to cross a creek gully at 'CK-1'. Follow a track on the east side of the gully for about 75m to reach a small granite slab above the gully. Then head due south through the fairly dense regenerating forest down the sloping eastern side of the small valley to '2', then veer SW to retrace your outbound steps back to the Start point. [Alternatively if you wish to stay on the original WalkGPS walk route (in red on map), re-enter forest at about '29' and head approx. southward along the eastward slope of the ridge. Proceed slowly and patiently to find the easiest route through the increasingly dense understorey regrowth. (Previously, animal and human tracks could be more easily followed here, but are now overgrown and mainly concealed). Then descend more steeply to soon reach a large SW-sloping granite slab (at 'LGSLB'; This outcrop is seen on right hand side of photo of south slopes). Head SSE down the edge of the outcrop, following an old and quite steep foot-track (and in wet weather, very slippery on the red clay surface). Part of the way down the outcrop (at 'TRK'), follow the old track when it veers off through the shrubland and forest. Then follow the track southward through the forest (via '40' and '42'), then SE to cross a stream gully (at '43'). Then head approx. due south to soon return to the Start point.]
Right click here and then "Save Target/Link As..." if you wish to download the waypoints and GPS 'track' as a GPX file in the standard format recognised by most devices and programs including Garmin and Magellan units and GPS Mapping Software. If you have a problem uploading the data, please feel free to contact me directly at WalkGPS rather than your users' forum!
The waypoints in the alternative listing below are given as UTM coordinates with datum to match the Walk Map. NOTE: If you wish to manually enter these into your GPS unit you must first set your unit to the correct Datum. Caution: An incorrect datum can result in an approximate 200m location error! (This is a very slow, error-prone method compared to using the above downloadable file and is not recommended.)
Route list :
Projection : UTM Datum : Australian Geodetic 1966 Zone : 50
Waypt name Easting Northing Comments
START 435281 6411262 Park car in cleared area off Cooke Rd.
2 435466 6411467
BIBB 435683 6411842 Meet Bibbulmun Track.
3 435656 6412054 On Bibbulmun Track.
LVTRK 435561 6412211 Leave Bibbulmun Track.
4 435584 6412389 On eastern slope.
5 435279 6412792 Near steep stream gully.
6 435259 6413017
7 435306 6413085 Near small stream gully.
8 435250 6413510
SLAB 435123 6413789 On granite slab in stream gully.
9 435188 6413832
VUROK 435123 6414008 Granite outcrop on spur ridge. Nearby view.
11 434945 6414269 On west side of northern ridge. View south.
12 435011 6414511 On ridge.
13 434900 6414604 On ridge.
14 434839 6414761 On ridge.
DOL 434530 6414913 Dark dolerite outcrop along narrow ridge.
15 434197 6415137 On narrow ridge.
16 433978 6414903
17 433635 6414782
CAMP 433535 6414591 At new (rebuilt) Mt Cooke Campsite.
22 433807 6414549 On Bibbulmun Track.
23 434431 6414280 On Bibbulmun Track.
24 434707 6414276 On Bibbulmun Track.
25 434815 6414120 On Bibbulmun Track.
25A 434843 6413860 On Bibbulmun Track. (Nearby views NW.)
26 434698 6413436 On Bibbulmun Track.
SMT 434783 6413343 On boulders at Mt Cooke summit (582m).
27 435039 6412557 On Bibbulmun Track.
28 435199 6412282 On Bibbulmun Track. Southern granite slope.
29 435183 6412150
40 435154 6412005 In forest, on hillside sloping south.
LGSLB 435143 6411869 At edge of large SW-sloping granite slab.
TRK 435197 6411766 Old foot-track veers from outcrop into forest.
41 435234 6411678 Old foot-track.
42 435199 6411406 Old foot-track.
43 435280 6411347 Cross stream gully.
END 435277 6411258 Back at Start point.
Additional Waypoints on map :
MTCK-1 434637 6410580 Narrow dirt road running NE from Hwy to Start pt.
MTCK-2 433434 6412189 Dirt road off Albany Hwy, connecting to Cooke Rd.
50 433228 6414704 Bibbulmun Track crosses Cooke Road (approx.)
51 434063 6412701 Junction of Cooke Rd and road to 'MTCK-2' on Hwy.
53 436174 6410937 Junction of Cooke Rd and Powerline Rd(& Bibb. Tr.)
54 436167 6411550 Bibbulmun Track meets Powerline Rd. (approx.)
55 436139 6413088 On Powerline Road (east of Mt Cooke).
40-ALT 435305 6411993 Near south edge of large SE-sloping slab.
TRK-1 435398 6412002 On minor foot-track nr foot of large slab,
CK-1 435452 6411874 Cross small south-flowing creek.
SLB1 435486 6411807 On small rock ledge above stream gully.
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This page was last updated : 24 March, 2017
Site authored by David Osborne. Photographs and text are copyright © 2003-2013 David Osborne.