Way down in the deep-south wildflower country of WA, some 318km from Perth and 90km north of Albany, Cranbrook sits in the western shadows of the impressive Stirling Range on rich sheep and cattle country which is being increasingly given over to grain growing and vineyards.
Cranbrook was established in the 1880s when the rail line finally connected it to Albany, but it has never really amounted to much more than a small service town for the surrounding area.
Styling itself as The Gateway to the Stirlings, Cranbrook, however, is a convenient base for forays into the Stirling Range National Park, just 10km away, which rises to above 1000m and boasts more than 500 different species of plants and flowers.
Within the park’s boundaries are something like 40 per cent of all known flora existing in the southern regions of WA. The Mountain Bell plant exists nowhere else in the world, and more than 140 bird varieties, some of them rare and endangered, have been identified in the reserve.