Following a festive Christmas we drove down to the great southern region of Western Australia, overnighting on a beautiful farm at the base of the Porongurup Ranges. We found Jilba Farm, on the accommodation marketplace website, Airbnb. Those of you that read the blog regularly, would have seen my posts about our previous visit and unfortunately we were unable to get up to Castle Rock due to weather conditions. This time around the weather was superb, infact, perfect.
Castle Rock is a peak in the Porongurup ranges, large granite boulders rise from a dense green forest of red gum, jarrah and karri trees. Their age visible by the sheer thickness and large circumference of the trunks. The trail leads us past fallen trees with burrowed holes, the forest turns old into new as the ecosystem continues to thrive. Once we get into the swing of the walk, steps appear in the track and it’s all uphill to the summit where the suspended skywalk is located. We start to see one or two granite boulders as we climb higher. We can hear birds in the distance and there is a cool breeze coming through. Apart from a one chance glimpse between a thin section of trees, we don’t see how high we are walking until we reach the summit.
We encounter a gigantic boulder, seen as a balancing rock and that’s the name for it too. It is a curious sight against the backdrop of the forest. We watch a group of friends attempting to push it over for photos. The sight of the balancing rock also marks the point in the trail where things are about to turn interesting. We also, at this point are standing on the boulders we spotted back on the Jilba farm when we first arrived. We ascend into a gap between the granite boulders using rails to climb towards a ladder. It’s relatively easy and a bit of fun.
We are super high standing on a granite outcrop and its astoundingly scenic. The view of the national park and farmed paddocks in the distance was amazingly clear. My fear of heights starts to kick in while Derek excitedly tells me he wants to abseil from the cliff face and regrets not bringing along the climbing gear. I am totally not regretful though. At this point I think, opposites do attract.
The ladder is well secured and safe. Look down and you’ll be treated to a view of the steep drop between the granite rocks. Truthly told, we visited the trail twice and on the first occasion I couldn’t bring myself to the top of the ladder. I gave in to a gripping fear of heights and it consumed me, I sheepishly blamed the strong wind for the reason. But, now that I think about it, I know the fear was from the ladder. Who knows why? I am sure there is a story I am yet to discover about that.
We returned a few days later in the middle of the afternoon. It was windy on the farm however the conditions in the park were calm. I scaled the 7m ladder without a single glance down, knowing too well it would stop me in my tracks. I figured once I was up there, I had to come down at some point! The suspended skywalk was exciting and is a true architecture marvel. It is solidly anchored into the side of the granite rock. The view at 500 or so metres was out of this world! One of the best lookout platforms I have visited in Western Australia.
The highlight of the Castle Rock trail for us was without a doubt the suspended walkway, and also the grates allowing us to view the sheer droop below our feet. There is a lower platform that offers just as good views below the skywalk and easily reached from a pathway opposite the balancing rock. This could be an option for those not keen to climb the ladder.
Castle Rock Trail Facts
Location in the Porongurup National Park
The trail is 4.4 km return
Allow 2-4 hours return depending on fitness level and the time take for enjoyment of the trail and views
Toilet facilities and picnic tables at car park level
National Parks fee is currently $12.00 per vehicle
The trail was shaded at 4.30pm
Interested in the construction of the skywalk? Watch this video
The thing about bushwalking is you never know the conditions of a trail until you have walked it. It’s always good to be a little prepared, not just for safety but also to be comfortable and extract the most from the experience.
- Bring along water, a 1.5 litre bottle per person is good
- Sunscreen and a hat in case the track is exposed to the sun
- Closed shoes with socks worn. Sneakers are good but hard sole boots are better
- Do not litter and bring along a plastic bag to store rubbish in. If there is no bin, take the plastic bag with you when leaving
- Bring some energy snacks or sandwiches for a snack
- Stay on the path
- Allow enough time to return to the entrance if you intend on watching the sunset