Porongurup National Park
Porongurup National Park is situated 40 km north of Albany and 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. Twelve kilometres long and 670 metres at its highest point, the Porongurup Range has panoramic views and is renowned for its beauty and for its rock climbing activities. 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 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 and the yellows of the pea flowered narrow-leaved water bush. 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 Kangaroo, Brush Wallabies, possums and native rodents. However it is the birds that will be most evident to visitors and those keen on bird watching should have a rewarding experience
The best times to visit are late Spring to early Summer (October to December), when days are beginning to warm up and wildflowers are blooming. Winter (between June and August) is cold and wet and visitors should come prepared. Even in spring the weather can be unpredictable, particularly higher in the ranges. Sudden cold changes can cause the temperature to drop and rain or hail to set in. The ranges can be covered in cloud and dense mists and could make walking hazardous. On wet days rocks become slippery. Fire bans may be imposed during summer months. Animals such as the can be found. The roads are sealed within the park and the scenic drive is gravel. There are no four wheel drive tracks. Easy walking tracks lead to most of the peaks where you may behold breathtaking views.
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