Tag: Hike

Sheila Hill Memorial Track

Sheila Hill Memorial Track cave view

Need to know info

Distance: 5.5km one way trail
Where: Trailhead carpark on Ocean Beach Road (Between Chiltern and Heather Roads).
Time: 2-3 hours.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes, wet weather gear
Best time to go: All year round.

Where to find it

Sheila Hill Memorial Track

“You need to be in Albany by 4pm on Monday.” When you get a message like this from your boss, you don’t think about work, you think how can I squeeze a hike in to my schedule.
Being lucky enough to have Sunday night accommodation in Denmark, I started looking for a nearby trail I could complete in a morning and Sheila Hill Memorial Track seemed to fit the bill.

At first I had my doubts. From the trailhead on Ocean Beach Road, which I’ve passed many times before, the Sheila Hill Memorial Track looked ordinary. A sandy car park, straggly bush and ‘medium to difficult walk’ sign showed little promise of an excellent walk.

However, after seeing the positive reports and photos from the Life of Py, the Long Way’s Better, and Bibbulmun Track Foundation, I knew I should put this outwardly modest trail on to my to-do list.

Sheila Hill Memorial Track signpost

Fun fact: The Sheila Hill Track follows a section of the Bibbulmun Track.

A note on distance

If you google the Sheila Hill Memorial Track or Sheila Hill Trail (as it’s also known), you’ll find there are varying views on the time it takes to complete the walk. Most sites say it’s a 5.5km one-way trail that takes three-ish hours. It’s also commonly suggested that you leave a car at each end of the trail.

Map from the Trails of Denmark Brochure: denmark.wa.gov.au

Only having one car, I took the advice of a brochure from the Denmark Visitors’ Centre that claimed it to be a loop trail that would take three-ish hours – despite adding a 3.5km stretch along Lights Road to Ocean Beach Road.

The brochure’s time estimate seemed a little off but being overconfident, I decided I’d set aside 3 hours and see where I got to before I had to head back in time for work.

On the trail

My dad and I began the Sheila Hill Memorial Track mid morning with a cloudy sky and a weather report that predicted on-and-off showers. In true Denmark style, the phrase ‘on-and-off’ turned out to be quite the understatement, but I’ll get in to that later.

Sheila Hill Memorial Track karris

Tall karris line the edge of the track.

From the entry on Ocean Beach Road, the walk began as a four-wheel drive track on flat ground in karri and jarrah forest. Following the yellow triangles (or the Bibbulmun’s yellow Wagyls) the track then turned left up a hill, running along the boundary of residential properties. I noticed these lucky homes have views of Wilson Inlet through the karris, and found myself wondering how much I’d need to save to buy my own holiday home in Denmark.

After about 10 minutes of uphill, the wide trail narrowed to a single track that plunged into dense and changing forest – one of my favourite things about this walk. Reminiscent of trails in Pemberton, the Sheila Hill Memorial Track winds through sections of tall karris and green mossy undergrowth that is scattered with karri hazel and tassel flowers.

Sheila Hill Memorial Track

Along the track you’ll find the odd bit of railing to make it easier to scale some of the boulders.

What makes this track different from its Southern Forest cousins is that it crosses groves of Sheoak trees, steep rocky sections and huge granite boulders that offer glimpses of the coast below – with the biggest boulder hiding an impressive cave.

Exploring this cave was an unexpected highlight. Giant boulders created two ‘rooms’ that someone creative had decorated with ochre dots, handprints and circles. The fresh remains of a campfire and crate full of sleeping bags suggested that this same someone may also regularly spend the night – and with the cave’s excellent views, you can’t blame them.

With a view like that, I’d camp here too.

At the cave it felt like we had reached track’s highpoint. We were mistaken. The track continued past several more enormous boulders before finally emerging from the trees to a large flat granite outcrop, known as Alex’s Rock, and Mount Hallowell.

Now at the top, we were rewarded with 270-degree views of the coast, Wilson Inlet and the rolling hills of Denmark’s farming areas. On a clearer day, we might have even been able to see the neighbouring Mount Lindesay.

Sheila Hill Memorial Track mount hallowell

Even with rain clouds, Mount Hallowell offers a gorgeous view.

Sheila Hill Memorial Track fungus

Fungi adds some colour to the forest.

We took a short break to enjoy the views, keeping our eyes on the clouds coming in from the sea. These looked like the on-and-off showers the weather bureau had promised. With this in mind, we followed the Bibbulmun’s handy signposts to make our way to Monkey Rock. This section was quite hilly, winding up and down over logs and rocks, and we were quickly too warm for our rain jackets.

Naturally, as soon as we shed our wet weather gear, the rain arrived and settled in for what became less of a shower and more of a downpour. When we reached Monkey Rock we were well and truly soaked. Monkey Rock is known for its spectacular views but all we could see was a haze of white. It was a shame to miss but I’ve watched this video of the views, so I feel a tiny bit better.

If we had two cars, Monkey Rock’s carpark on Lights Road would have been the end of the hike. Unfortunately we didn’t, so we agreed to make a run for it and jog along Lights Road back to our start point.

On a sunny day, this last stretch of the loop may be quite pleasant, as the road was quiet and there was grassy farmland along the way. For us, it was a very, very wet four-kilometer run with the only feature being a quick hello to some friendly brown cows.

Looking on the brighter (and drier) side, our sodden jog ensured that we completed the Sheila Hill Memorial Track within my three-hour time limit, meaning that I achieved my goal of squeezing in a hike before my afternoon work commitment. I may have been wet but my hike craving was satisfied!

I do love a mossy rock.

The wrap-up.

The Sheila Hill Memorial Track is definitely worth checking out.

Don’t be turned off by my wet-weather experience. If you go on a fine day, you’ll enjoy a wonderful walk that has a variety of terrain, beautiful trees and lots of rocky features to explore along the way. Whether you start at Ocean Beach Road or Monkey Rock, there is quite a lot of uphill, so your legs are sure to get a work out. The steep, technical sections and narrow single track give this track an element of challenge, while still being achievable for most fit walkers.

Going back to the earlier note of distance, I’d recommend you make this a one-way walk rather than the loop. While the walk along Lights Road is doable, it does add an hour or so. Park a car at both ends or get a lift and spend that saved time at Denmark’s other beautiful sights – that’s my plan for my next visit!

Sheila Hill Memorial Track granite outcrop

There’s plenty of rocky sections to test your footing.

Daydream # 1: Tiger Leaping Gorge

Everyone has a favourite internet time wasting activity. For some, it’s watching videos of cats, pugs or sloths. For others, it’s swiping through strangers’ instagram accounts, being careful not to double tap. For me, it’s looking at photos of amazing hiking and adventure destinations that I can’t afford to visit.  Rather than feel bad about the hours I spend ogling other people’s travel pics, I’m going to share my best finds with you on my Daydream List.

This week’s daydream destination is the Tiger Leaping Gorge Trek in the Yunnan province of China. This two day trek winds through Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world’s deepest river canyons and is bordered by two towering peaks, Haba Snow Mountain and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Lijiang_Yunnan_China-View-of-Jade-Dragon-Mountain-01

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

If snowcapped mountains, white water rapids and turquoise pool aren’t enough excitement for you, the final leg of the trek includes a 168-step climb up the Sky Ladder, which rests against the side of a mountain on an almost 90 degree angle. While the ladder doesn’t have any kind of safety measure, it does save you up to as much as an hour of extra walking.

While the natural wonder of the Tiger Leaping Gorge is undeniably incredible, what really makes me want to go is this toilet. Imagine that, after a long day of hiking you can sit down, relax and enjoy a beautiful view in peace. Ahhh, bliss.

The Mount Cooke Hike

Mount Cooke

A big walk up a big hill for a big view.

Distance: About 12 km
Where: Monadocks National Reserve. About a 1-hour drive from Perth.
Time: 5-6 hours.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. Lengthy with a few steep bits.
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, snacks, water (2L minimum), sturdy enclosed shoes.


Why Do This
Walking up Mount Cooke is an opportunity to do a real hike. You know, the Boy Scout kind where you wear hiking boots, follow a map, and eat trail mix. Just kidding, there’s never a reason to eat trail mix.

Seriously though, this hike does take a least half a day to complete and will put your hill-climbing ability to the test. Don’t let that deter you though, because when you reach the top you’ll be rewarded with a truly impressive 360-degree view of the Darling Ranges and beyond.

Almost at the top of Mount Cooke

Almost at the top.


Map & Directions

If you’re driving from Perth take Albany Highway to the Sullivan Rock picnic area (9km south of the Jarrahdale Rd turnoff). It’s actually quite tricky to find, as the nearby roads on google maps aren’t visible from the highway. So keep an eye out for the red Bibbulmum Track sign on the left and a bushy picnic area on the right side of the road.

  1. Ok, now cross the road (it’s on a bend so be careful) and follow the Bibbibulmun track sign. You’ll reach Sullivan’s Rock, a large rock home to many a lizard sunbaking.
  2. Walk up the rock and head to the left. You’ll see a thin path entering the bush.
  3. This is the track. From now on keep following the little yellow snake markers nailed to trees.

    Bibbilmun Track marker

    Follow this little guy.

  4. You’ll walk for about 1.5 hours through flat scrubby bush. (This is kind of boring but…. deal with it!)
  5. You’ll notice the surrounding bush will start changing to thicker and greener trees. This means you’re almost at the Mt Cooke campsite. Here you can take a break, eat a muesli bar and sign your name in the Bibbulmun track guest book inside that blue box.
  6. Now the uphill climb begins. Keep an eye out for the Monadocks – the giant pink and white circular boulders that the area is named after.
  7. You’ve reached the top! Ok, ok, so it’s not an obvious pointy mountaintop but there’s still awesome views. Take those photos and congratulate yourself for being a nature hero.
  8. Now walk back to the start, enjoying the fact that the downhill is so much easier.