Wildflowers of Mount Barker and Stirling Range, Australia
The town of Mount Barker and the nearby Stirling Ranges National Park are one of the best places in Western Australia to see the state’s incredible collection of wildflowers.
In Spring 2020 and 2021, Odyssey Traveller is offering you the chance to join our Wildflower Tour of Western Australia. Leaving at the peak of wildflower season, our tour takes you through the best of wildflower country: The Wheatbelt, Mullewa and the ‘Wildflower Way’, Merriden and the Avon Valley, Esperance and the Wildflower Trail, the Margaret River and Perth’s Kings Park. Western Australia is home to over 12,000 species of wildflower, 60% of which are endemic to the state.
Mount Barker and the Stirling Ranges National Park are among the highlights of our tour for wildflower enthusiasts. The south west corner of Western Australia has been internationally recognised as a ‘biodiversity hotspot’ – one of only 34 worldwide and 2 in Australia – for its extensive collection of wildflower species.
The Stirling Range National Park is at the heart of this wildflower hotspot. The National Park encloses the only mountain range within southern Western Australia. Rugged peaks here reach more than 1000 metres above sea level, and the park features sharp cliff faces, long gullies, and magnificent views. But most of all, the Stirling Range is recognised as one of the most important areas in the world for wildflowers, with over 1500 species – 87 of which are not found anywhere else in the world – growing within its boundaries.
Particular highlights include banksia, dryandras, Queen Sheba orchids, and Darwinia Collina, better known as ‘Mountain Bell’. Growing to 1.2 metres tall, Mountain Bell produces downward shaped, yellow, flower-like inflorescences. It is endemic only to a few small areas in the Stirling Ranges National Park, and thus is considered an endangered species by the Australian Government.
The Stirling Ranges National park is also noted for its unusual cloud formations. The Aboriginal name for the area, Koi Kyenunu-ruff, translates as ‘mist rolling around the mountains’. The Stirling Ranges are also one of the few places in Western Australia which see snow.
Nearby Porongurup National Park is also worth seeing for wildlife lovers. Marri, Jarrah, and Karri forests enclose granite outcrops, offering panoramic views of the coastline, the Stirling Ranges, and surrounding farmland and vineyards. Porongurup is renowned for its acacia and hovea, as well as native fauna, including grey kangaroos.
The nearby town of Mount Barker is an ideal place to base your tour of the surrounding region, and a wildflower hotspot in its own right. In wildflower season, the surrounding farmlands become awash in canola, while Mondurup Reserve on the edge of town offers a wildflower trail, with labelled orchids and other floral species marked on the trail.
Mount Barker Hill offers sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. The historic Old Police Station was built by convicts in 1868, with extensions in the 1880s and 1919. Today, the Police Station is open as a museum, run by local volunteers and filled with fascinating period objects.
The world’s only complete collection of banksias is open to visitors at a farm near Mount Barker. Banksia enthusiasts and owners of Banksia Farm Enterprises, Kevin and Kathy Collins have collected all 77 known types and 22 subtypes of banksia over their long time in business. Some of the farm’s banksias reach a metre in diameter, and can grow to twenty metres tall.
The farm is well-placed. The area within a 50 kilometre radius of Mount Barker is home to over 24 endemic species of plant; well above the next Australian total of 18. With mild weather and an absence of long frosty, cold periods, the farm is able to grow any kind of banksia. Kevin and Kathy don’t water – they just plant the banksias, and let them fend for themselves!