This isn’t about Star Wars but rather about a 4.4 Km walk in the Porongurup National Park called Castle Rock and the Granite Skywalk.
Porongurup National Park is in the Great Southern approximately 50Km north east of Albany. The park is 2511 ha of land contains the 12Km long Porongurup Range which is a series of granite domes that rise to a height of 670m surrounded by jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) and marri (Corymbia calophylla) on the lower slopes and thick karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) forest on the upper slopes. Karri need 750mm of rainfall a year to survive so you can expect rain at all time through the year. The park is like a little Eden with some 700 species of plant, 80 species of birds, and a variety of mammals that include western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus), brush tail wallabies (Macropus irma), bandicoots (Isoodon fusciventer), brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), honey possums (Tarsipes rostratus), pygmy possums (Cercartetus concinnus) and bush rats (Rattus fuscipes). So an awful lot in a small space.
At the eastern end of the park, just before the junction with Chester Pass Road, is the Castle Rock Picnic Area. There is a huge car park and the walk starts from it. Now we first visited in 2004 and things are very different now to what they were then. Then nobody really came to this end of the park and the climb up onto Castle Rock was a very basic affair. Now it has been made into a heavily promoted tourist feature with a skywalk that is suspended from the rock face of Castle Rock. As a consequence the car park was packed, the overflow car park was full and we had to park in the overflow for the overflow and this was on a weekday outside of the school holidays.
The walk starts at the information area and the first part up to the Balancing Rock is a fairly steep but doable walk through the forest. It is once you are past Balancing Rock that things get interesting. The next 100m requires to have quite a level of body strength and agility to pull your self up over the boulders and then up the ladder. Once up the ladder the walkway just hangs out over space and affords quite stunning views to Albany on the south coast and to Mount Gardner and Mount Manypeaks to the south-east on a clear day.
Allow 3 hours for the walk, take water, sunscreen, a hat and be prepared for sudden changes in the weather. Although I met a bloke who’d walked up in thongs I would recommend sturdy footwear as the surfaces are rough and uneven and very slippery in or after wet weather. Follow this and it is a great time out.
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