Torndirrup National Park
Three connected peninsulas, Torndirrup, Vancouver and Flinders, embrace and protect Albany’s Princess Royal Harbour.
Torndirrup National Park occupies the rugged southern coastline of Torndirrup and Flinders peninsulas where limestone cliffs, granite headlands and white sandy beaches bear the full force of the powerful Southern Ocean. Located 10 kilometres south of Albany, this 3,906-hectare national park is one of the most visited in Western Australia. All park roads are suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles.
The park’s wind-pruned coastal heathlands put on a colourful display of wildflowers in spring. Thickets of banksia heath lie inland from the granite headlands, providing a year-round banquet for the park’s smallest marsupial, the honey possum.
A mixed forest of medium height karri and swamp yate lies south of the knobbly finger of Vancouver Peninsula. Peppermint woodlands can be found throughout the park. The bush abounds with wildlife, although many species are nocturnal, including the dunnart, mardo and quenda. The park provides habitat for many reptile species. It is not unusual to find a carpet snake stretched across a road in the sun. However, poisonous snakes such as tiger snakes and dugites are also frequently seen. If a snake blocks your road or pathway, it is best to turn around and come back later.
Seabirds and numerous birds of prey can be seen in the sky above the park. Look for a kestrel, black-shouldered kite, whistling kite or square-tailed kite hovering nearly motionless above the scrub. Keen-sighted bushwalkers will see many swift-moving honeyeaters, wrens, red-eared firetails and other birds that live in the heath.
Trails and lookouts
There are a number of stunning lookouts and walktrails in the park, including Sharp Point, Jimmy Newells, Stony Hill, Peak Head, Salmon Holes, and Bald Head or you can visit secluded Misery Beach.
The Blowholes, the result of water being forced up into a crackline in the granite, produce spray and loud eerie sounds when a big swell is running. Depending on the swell, size and direction of approach to the sea cliffs The Blowholes may or may not be blowing. When they do, the noise is quite impressive and this attraction should not be missed, especially on a day when the ocean swell is high.
This walk is the most popular in Torndirrup National Park, but be sure to keep away from the ocean at all times, as several lives have been lost in this vicinity. The 1.6 km return walk begins at the western end of the carpark and is well signposted. Follow the bitumen path for about 400 metres to the top of some steps. There are fine views of Peak Head to the south-east and Eclipse Island to the south-west. After the steps the path swings to the right then traverses an open granite area. Signs indicate the location of the Blowholes. At the Blowholes, do not proceed any further to the ocean and do not stand over the Blowholes.
The Gap and Natural Bridge
A new universally accessible viewing platform at the Gap allows visitors to stand 40 metres directly above the surging seas, allowing those brave enough to view the true power of mother nature. The new raised pathways gives safe access to the stunning views and provide protection to vulnerable plants and lichens on the rock surface.
The pathway out to the Natural Bridge provide a stunning view of the bridge, a monumental span of granite demonstrating the awesome power of the sea when a heavy swell is running. Enjoy epic views of the Southern Ocean and the coast from Bald Head to West Cape Howe.