Wednesday, March 7, 2018
WA’s secret gem: Porongurup National Park
Have you ever visited somewhere so amazing you can’t believe it isn’t swamped with crowds and getting the accolades it deserves? This is how you’ll feel when you visit Porongurup National Park in WA’s Great Southern for the first time.
Driving along the highway toward the park, you’ll begin to see forested, craggy hills rising from the flat earth like an island. The Porongurups rise suddenly like this because they are the remnants of an ancient mountain range – we’re talking around 1.2 billion years old. It’s thought they were created when the landmasses that now make up Antarctica and Australia collided to form one during the Precambrian era. Compare this with The Alps, at 65 million years old, or the Rockies which are estimated to be between 55 and 80 million years old.
What to do
The park is nature’s playground. It’s 12km long, the highest peak is 670m above sea level, and it has 750 different plant species. Each season has its own unique beauty, so there’s never a bad time to visit. Notable attractions include:
- Balancing Rock.
- Devil’s Slide Trail. See more below.
- Castle Rock’s Granite Skywalk. See more below.
- Nancy’s Peak.
There are plenty of walks and hiking trails suitable for all fitness levels. Many have tree branches of varying sizes at the start if you think you may need a little balance assistance. All trails are well signposted. For the daring, visit Castle Rock and the Granite Skywalk or Devil’s Slide where you’ll find yourself scrambling over rocks to reach spectacular views. See below for more information on both.
If walking trails aren’t your cup of tea, why not set up lunch at one of the numerous picnic spots in the park and breathe in the crisp air while you sit beneath the lush karri, marri and jarrah trees? This is a photographer’s haven so make sure you have a camera on hand to take photos of wildflowers and the flocks of curious little birds. Or, if you prefer to take in the sights from the comfort of your car, drive the 23km scenic route around the whole park.
Afterwards, take the 40-minute drive south to Albany, for a well-earned meal and more sightseeing, or visit the nearby Porongurup wineries and sample some award-winning drops. Try:
- Castle Rock Estate
- Mount Trio Wines
- Duke’s Vineyard
- Ironwood Estate
- Abby Creek Vineyard
- Jingalla Wines
Must Visit: Devil’s Slide
The highest point in the park can be found at aptly named Devil’s Slide, a 5km hike with difficult sections that will take you between two and three hours to complete. Start off at the Tree-in-the-Rock picnic area at Wansbrough Walk and meander through lush forests on a wide earthy path. Take a right-hand turn to enter Devil’s Slide. A set of natural stairs, a walk through scrub, and it will come into sight: Devil’s Slide – a smooth granite outcrop with incredible views. On a clear day you may be able to see south to the Southern Ocean and north the Stirling Ranges. This is a Grade 4 (difficult) hike and reasonable fitness is required.
Find out more at Trails WA.
Must Visit: Castle Rock and Granite Skywalk
A Grade 5 4.4km loop trail, this is another walk with difficult sections and reasonable fitness is recommended. Starting at the Castle Rock picnic area, it will take between one and three hours to complete. The path will lead you through marri and karri forests and past the famous Balancing Rock (make sure you take a photo of this remarkable geological formation). At the end is Castle Rock and the Granite Skywalk – a suspended walkway that was opened in 2011. There is an upper and lower lookout, with the upper requiring a ‘scramble’ over rock and a ladder climb. If you don’t want to attempt this, you can still get a beautiful view from the lower lookout.
Find out more at Trails WA.
Pack plenty of food and at least two litres of water, a hat, sunscreen, a waterproof jacket, and something warm as the weather can change rapidly. Wear good walking shoes, or even climbing boots if you’re planning on attempting some of the more daring tracks. Take care hiking in the rain, or even avoid some hikes, as the smooth granite can become slippery when wet.
Remember this is a national park with minimal conveniences but there are toilets, trail information points and picnic areas with waste facilities. Part of the charm of this area is the fact you are away from towns and crowds of people, so you must arrive packed and prepared.
Porongurup National Park is a four-hour drive south-east of Perth, 40 minutes north of Albany, and 15 minutes east of Mount Barker. Within the park, most roads are unsealed and some have steep sections. There is no accommodation directly within the park, so make sure you book your stay in a major town nearby.
Bask in the beauty of this hidden gem before more people find out about it. Why not take a day trip to Porongurup National Park on your next visit to the Great Southern? We have stunning premises in Albany and Denmark, so browse our list to find the perfect home for you.
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