Off the beaten track - West Cape Howe National Park

West Cape Howe National Park is a national park between Albany and Denmark.

Image Credit: Jordan Cantelo

Image Credit: Jordan Cantelo

Torbay Head, the most southerly point of the mainland of Western Australia, is situated within the park.The park is abutted against the coast of the Southern Ocean and takes up approximately 23 km of the coastline between Lowlands Beach and Forsythe Bluff.

The park began as being vested in the Shire of Albany in 1977 for the purposes of recreation. By 1985 the area was gazetted as C Class Reserve after agreement between the shire and vested in the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Authority. Following the addition of an extra 41 ha (100 acres) that was a timber reserve along the northern boundary the park was given an A Class status in 1987. The park is now a single reserve (26177) and is made up of an area of 3,517 ha (8,690 acres). The rare and ancient Main's assassin spider, currently listed as threatened, was found to inhabit the park during a survey conducted in 2008.

The park is home to a range of habitats including karri forest, coastal heath and wetlands each of which support a diverse array of vegetation and plant species. The area around Lake William supports a dense sedge scrub and rare species such as Amperea volubilus and an unnamed species of Melaleuca. The Albany Pitcher Plant, Cephalotus follicularis, is also found in the park.

Due to the sandy nature of many of the tracks, much of the park is accessible only to four-wheel drive vehicles, although all vehicles may reach the popular Shelley Beach where a campground is located. Shelley Beach also has a look-out, toilet and barbecue launching facilities for hang-gliders. The nearby Golden Gate Beach is also a popular location for surfers.

Western Australia's long-distance walking trail, the Bibbulmun Track passes through the park. The park has many facilities for bushwalkers, with a 15 kilometres return trip spur-trail from the track to Torbay Head and a boardwalk section of the track In the West of the park, there is an overnight shelter for walkers that sleeps 12-15 persons, named 'West Cape Howe Campsite'.

In and around Albany - Porongurup National Park

Porongurup National Park is a national park 40 km from Albany.

Granite Skywalk pathway at Castle Rock Image Credit: Aussie Oc via Wikimedia Commons

Granite Skywalk pathway at Castle Rock
Image Credit: Aussie Oc via Wikimedia Commons

It protects the Porongurup Range, an extremely ancient and largely levelled mountain range.  The range is no more than fifteen kmfrom east to west and consists of granite peaks levelled into domes. The highest point in the Porongurup Range is Devils Slide at 670 metres (2,200 ft) whilst there are several other peaks above 600 metres, which is about 400 metres above the surrounding plain.

The Porongurup Range was first sighted by Europeans passing near Albany in 1802 but farming in the surrounding districts did not start until around 1859 when vegetables were first grown on the southern slopes of the range. The giant karri and jarrah trees of the range were first harvested for timber in the 1880s and timber leases did not begin to be withdrawn until 1925 and the National Park was not gazetted officially until 1971 with an area of 1,157 ha. This has now been increased to 2,511 ha.

Though not nearly as rich biologically as the more northerly Stirling Range, there exist ten endemic species of plant in the Porongurup Range, the best known being the mountain villarsia.

The park includes a number of significant tourist features and walk trails.

Source: Wikipedia