Porongurup National Park
Porongurup National Park covers 2,511 hectares. The name of the range is derived from the Aboriginal name Purringorep, which was recorded by Captain Wakefield, who led the first expedition to the range. His Aboriginal guides Mokare and Nakina told him of this name.
The granite domes of Porongurup National Park rise over the plain 40 kilometres north of Albany. Twelve kilometres long and 670 metres at its highest point, the Porongurup Range is renowned for its beauty. The granite from which the Porongurup Range is formed is more than 1,100 million years old, and has been exposed by slow weathering of the softer rocks surrounding the range.
The karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) trees which cover the upper slopes grow exclusively on a deep red soil known as karri loam; these trees also need at least 700 millimetres of rain a year. Fossil pollen found in many places throughout south-west WA indicates that in an earlier, wetter era karri forest grew far beyond its present extent. As the climate became drier, the forest gradually retreated west to its stronghold between Manjimup and Walpole. In places where the soil was right, and the rainfall remained high enough, small outliers survived. The Porongurup Range is one such 'island' of karri forest.
As well as the karri trees, many of the understorey flowers and shrubs typical of karri forest, also survive here. Karri hazel (Trymalium spathulatum) is a common understorey shrub. In spring the area is a blaze of colour, with the purple flowers of tree hovea (Hovea elliptica), the blues of the Australian bluebell (Sollya heterophylla) and the yellows of the pea flowered narrow-leaved water bush (Bossiaea linophylla).
The greatest percentage of the 750 plant species in the range, however, grow within the jarrah, marri and other woodland areas which dominate the laterite soils of the lower slopes. In early spring, these forests explode into colour, with the wattles and hovea shrubs competing to be the most vivid. Approximately 55 of the 71 species of orchid in the range can also be found here, as well as 50 species in the Proteaceae family of plants, which include the banksias, dryandras, hakeas and grevilleas.
Most native mammals are nocturnal, but you may see western grey kangaroos and brush wallabies. The main picnic area near the Tree in the Rock is a haven for birds such as the rufous treecreeper and brilliantly-coloured scarlet and yellow robins.
Many unusual rock formations make the range a fascinating place for bush rambles. Footpaths lead to several peaks, other paths cross the range and a nature trail leads through the forest near Tree in the Rock picnic area. This site, set among the karri trees, almost has the feel of a cathedral, with the towering karris providing the domed roof. The tree in the rock after which the site has been named is just 100 metres along a shaded walk. Extending its roots down through a crevice, this mature karri clings to existence on a granite boulder.
As well as the beauty of the moss-covered granite rocks and the lush forest, the views from the Porongurup Range are magnificent. From the peaks and other vantage points the Stirling Range is clearly visible to the north and, on a clear day, you can see the Southern Ocean.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Where is it?:
40 km north of Albany via Chester Pass Road, Mount Barker-Porongurup Road and Bolganup Road.
40 minutes from Albany.
What to do:
Bushwalking, picnicking, sightseeing, rock climbing, nature study.
Bolganup Heritage Trail—600 m circuit, 30 minutes, easy stroll.
The Pass—2 km return, 1 hour, easy.
Devil's Slide—4 km return, 2 hours, medium (not recommended in wet conditions due to slippery rocks).
Marmabup Rock—5 km return, 3 hours, via Devils Slide (recommended for experienced bushwalkers only).
Hayward Peak—3 km return, 2 hours, medium difficulty.
Nancy Peak and Morgans View—4 km circuit, 2 hours medium, returning via The Pass.
Castle Rock—3 km return, 2 hours, medium. This path, at the eastern end of the park, takes you past the famous balancing rock and up to stand on Castle Rock.
Facilities: Barbecues, toilets, picnic tables. A resident ranger is based at the main entrance on Bolganup Road. The ranger can be contacted on (098) 53 1095.
Nearest CALM Office:
South Coast Regional Office, 120 Albany Highway, Albany. Phone (098) 42 4500.
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of The Western Australia Department of Conservation and Land Management