On our recent roadtrip down south we stopped on our way back up to Perth to see the Granite Skywalk on Castle Rock. We thought, like most other attractions, it would be a short walk to the lookout. What we didn’t anticipate was an intense hike, a bit of scrambling and even rock climbing to reach the top of Castle Rock. We were not prepared to say the least.
We didn’t take on our own advice, the number one rule of Australia: always take water. And secondly, Shaun was wearing flip flops/thongs/jandals and a jumper!
The hike | Castle Rock Walk Trail
The hike was a steep 2.2 km vertical walk through the dense karri forest. There were various points where we were scrambling over tree roots and rocks. We almost turned back a few times considering how unprepared we were but we powered on.
Up and up and up we climbed, the bush creeping further and further onto the path until we could no longer walk side by side. Then we literally had to move the branches aside with our hands. At this point we were sure we lost, taken a wrong turn off the path. Lost in the dense forest with no water! We had been walking for about an hour and a half. But then, my phone beeped. A messaged from my mum ‘Where are you? We are at the top!’. My family had set off from camp in Bremer Bay an hour or so earlier than us (we are not morning people) and had already started the trail. I quickly messaged back ‘We are either nearly there or we are lost’. As soon as the message sent I heard a loud echo bounding through the forest calling my name. It was my dad! We hollared back ‘yeoooowwww’. We were just around the corner after all.
We scrambled over the last few giant boulders to find my family perched at the top looking as exhausted as we were. ‘Oh this isn’t the top’ they said. They laughed when they saw Shaun’s feet caked in mud. ‘You won’t be able to reach the top in those!’. Shaun borrowed my uncles trainers and off we went in search of Castle Rock, the ‘top’.
There are two paths depending on how adventurous you are feeling. One follows an easy route around the the front of the giant boulders. The other was a scramble, rock climb and a tight ladder to the very top of Castle Rock. Of course we opted for the latter. It was totally worth it.
We ascended the ladder. The forest opening up now below our eyeline. The connecting skywalk wraps around the giant boulder sitting high above the expanse of the Porongurups. There was an eerie low hanging cloud covering the forest for miles. This did obstruct our view but it was spectacular nonetheless. We had panoramic views of the Porongurup Ranges, farmland and could just about make out the top of Mt Manypeaks. What a view.
The cool wind whipping across the top was a welcome relief to our sweaty tired bodies. Looking down however was enough to get the heart rate back up. Through the grated skywalk floor was a huge drop! 38 meters in fact. Not for those scared of heights! We were also joined by a giant spider hanging on to the boulder.
The hike back down was a lot more pleasant. We had the company of our family and it was all downhill. We smiled knowingly at the hikers on their way up. Some well prepared in hiking boots and tramping poles, and others equally as unprepared as us in jeans and heeled boots!
What you need to know
The location | The walking trail is located in the Porongurup National Park (national park entry fee applies by way of parking meter) just 15 minutes drive from Mount Barker.
The hike | 2.2 km steep walk up through a marked path through the forest. Loose red dirt, tree roots and boulders under foot. 4.4km in total return. Allow 1.5-3 hours. Moderate fitness required.
What to pack | Water is key. The hike is hot, humid and strenuous. Mosquito repellent. The forest mosquitoes are monsters. Maybe a snack to refuel at the top. Decent trainers or walking shoes (don’t make our mistake). And of course, your camera for some epic shots.
Porongurup National Park
The Porongurup National Park covers 2600 hectares of native bush and impressive granite rock formations across the Porongurup Ranges. The sealed road provides access to the park day use area near the car park great for picnics. Long drop toilets provided.
Have you hiked the Castle Walk Trail? How did you find the walk?