18/06/2008 - 22:00

Day-tripping in the Gt Southern

18/06/2008 - 22:00

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If you're looking to combine some truly inspiring scenery with an inspired exercise effort, a hike through the Porongurup National Park should be top of the list.

Day-tripping in the Gt Southern

If you're looking to combine some truly inspiring scenery with an inspired exercise effort, a hike through the Porongurup National Park should be top of the list.

Just 40 kilometres north of Albany, the Porongurup Range is more than 1.4 billion years old and stretches for 12km, reaching 670 metres at its highest point.

Hiking through the park is one of the best ways to take in some of the most breath-taking sights the Great Southern region has to offer.

Nancy Peak, and neighbouring Hayward Peak and Morgan's View, are great day-tripping territory for anyone based in Albany or the surrounding areas, offering stunning 360 degree views to the Stirling Ranges, Mt Barker wine region and the coastline.

The 5.5km, three-hour round-trip starts from the 'tree-in-the-rock' picnic area and snakes a path through dense karri forest, past unique rock formations and over ancient tree stumps and flat granite platforms.

There are other highly recommended walk trails through the national park, including the Wansborough walk (4.5km, or two hours), the Devil's Slide and Marmabup Rock walk (2.5km, or three hours) and the Castle Rock and Balancing Rock walks (1.5km, or two hours).

To get a closer look at Albany's spectacular limestone cliffs, take in the one-hour 'Sand Patch wind farm walk'; or the picturesque Kalgan River on the four-hour 'Luke Pen river walk'.

Located 12km south-west of Albany, the wind farm is made up of 12 giant turbines which can power up to 75 per cent of the city's energy requirements.

The gravel track eventually meets a sturdy timber boardwalk, hugging a sheer limestone cliff covered in heath.

Hundreds of steps lead down to the rocky beach below, which is well worth a visit to see the huge waves of the Southern Ocean pound the coast.

By contrast, the walk along the Kalgan River is mostly flat and, at times, eerily silent, except for rustling trees and the occasional chirp of a water bird.

This is sacred Noongar country, where excavations have revealed signs of Aboriginal occupation stretching back more than 22,000 years.

Downstream, on the north side of an island, ancient stone fish traps can still be seen in the silt, evidence of an ingenious, yet simple, fishing method.

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