I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published November 10th 2014
Castle Rock seems to be a popular name in Australia. There must be something about the vision of a big tall rock resembling a castle that is attractive to all of us. When I searched for it on the internet, I found that the name refered to various locations in Western Australia, Northern Territorry, Queensland, and New South Wales. In Western Australia alone, there are at least two Castle Rocks: one near Dunsborough, and the other one I am about to talk about is in Porongurup National Park.
Castle Rock with its "battlements"
Porongurup National Park is a national park 50 km north of Albany with Porongurup Range as its main attractions. This range of "mountains" (the word "hills" would probably be more appropriate) is not as grand and imposing as its neighbour 40 km to the north the Stirling Range. However, the shorter hikes and proximity to Albany mean it is much easier for visitors to do it as a day trip while staying in Albany.
The Castle Rock hike is one of the more popular hikes in this national park. It starts from the picnic area at Castle Rock Road and covers a distance of 1.5km (allow 2 hours). The first stage of the hike is a level and pleasant walk through the shady forrest.
First stage of Castle Rock hike: A walk in the forest.
When you reach the rocky area, the walk starts to get steeper and you would know that you are nearing the top when you see the Balancing Rock, a 6 m high granite boulder balancing delicately on a small base. Use this opportunity to take a deep breath, a drink of water, and a few pictures of yourself with the Balancing Rock.
The walk trail will eventually bring you to the summit at 570 m above sea level. However, the last stage could be a bit tricky with scrambling on rocks and climbing to the top of the "castle" via an upright ladder. Luckily, the area near the top was upgraded in early 2011 to include new lookouts and safety features.
Last stage of the hike with new hand/ foot holds and caged ladder.
Despite the safety cage surrounding the ladder, it is still quite a psychological challenge to climb up as there is a sheer drop on one side of the ladder. Many people decided not to take this challenge as the view was already good enough, either at the area right below the ladder or at the new lookout in front of Castle Rock.
View from area right below the ladder.
For those who decide to go to the top, the view is even better and you can choose which direction to look as there is a walkway built around the top of the rock. I have to admit I had butterflies in my stomach while walking on the metal mesh. But hey, I did it, and so now it is your turn to go. Have fun.