Castle Rock, Porongurups W.A

Castle Rock, Porongurups W.A

Us Aussie’s seem to have a fascination with rocks. Big rocks, funny shaped rocks, balancing rocks, hollow rocks or any rock which looks like it doesn’t belong there. If the rock fits into one of these categories we are quick to name it, build an attraction around it, get photo’s with it and the nearest town will always lay claim to the title of “gateway to” or “home of” the nearby rock. Today’s rock is Castle Rock in the Porongurup National Park, 40km north of Albany in southern W.A.

Castle Rock climb

We are preparing for our second hike of the day with a mean tuna and salad sandwich in the Castle Rock car park after finishing the Nancy’s Peak Circuit on the other side of the park (which we absolutely loved). I have suffered some sort of knee injury from the first hike, but everybody so far has raved about the new granite skywalk on top of Castle Rock; and there is no way I’m missing out!

The trail is much the same as the Nancy’s Peak hike; a little more refined in some parts but mostly scrabbling over rocks. A few older people coming back down the trail told us how they had a very tough time, and were disappointed when they came to the top and couldn’t manage the final climb. We allowed 2 hours for the 3km return hike, and is most certainly do-able in this time frame; however our habit of enjoying views too much cost us an extra half hour.Balancing Rock

The first rock of significance we come across is the “balancing rock”. This one is only a few metres from the main attraction and as a result it misses out on getting a viewing platform built around it, yet still qualifies for a plaque explaining it’s existence and cliche photographs of tourists holding the rock in place.

Balancing rock marks the beginning of the final scramble to the top of Castle Rock which is easy enough for those with reasonable fitness and a tolerance of heights. From here on you are faced with a bit of shuffling through rock crevices, climbing over some large rocks with the help of handles strategically placed by DPAW and finally one looooonnng climb up a ladder to the top of castle rock.

FinalClimb

Now I wouldn’t class myself as a person who’s afraid of heights, it just gives me a weird feeling in my gut.This was especially true with the granite skywalk with it’s mesh walkway and glass fencing; not a place for anyone afraid of heights! The view and the feeling way up here on the very end of the walkway is absolutely incredible. It’s like some Titanic, bow of the ship, king of the world type situation with an equally cold wind to boot. Bring some binoculars up with you; the views are so far reaching that you will want to get a closer look and find out exactly what you are seeing.

DSC_6530

The "Consolation View"

The “Consolation View”

Don’t get too stressed if the climb to the top of Castle Rock is too much for you or your crippling fear of heights though. The parks people have kindly installed what I call a “consolation view” at the bottom of Castle Rock. It is well signposted, but in general if you get to the point of “nope, that’s insane I’m not going up that” you will see a path heading to the left.

This path leads out to a similarly designed viewing platform without the epic climb and whilst you wont be treated to that Titanic feeling, the view isn’t too bad.

Scrambling back down to the car park I reflected my thoughts of the granite skywalk. Parks have a way of wrapping everything up in bubble wrap a lot of the time. But without the work of DPAW the top of Castle Rock would not be accessible to all but the most experienced rock climbers, and yet they have still left an amount of effort and adventure in the experience to get that sense of achievement.

For more information on Castle Rock, the Skywalk and the Porongurup National Park have a look at the DPAW Website‘s page on Porongurup National Park.

Happy Hiking!

Alex

Alex Garner

 

 

 

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