Location: Torndirrup National Park
Distance: .5km loop
Trail Marker: Blue Triangle with boot markers
Cost: $0, free entry
Date Hiked: 21st April 2019
Kml Map File: Please click here.
This short but sweet trail in Torndirrup National Park has amazing 360 degree views looking over the surrounding landscape out to Albany, King George Sound, Eclipse Island, West Cape Howe National Park and the Porongurup and Stirling Range national parks.
It's one of the many little gems that run off Frenchman Bay Rd, a tourist hotpot for international visitors and locals alike. The trail is part of the Western Australian Heritage Trails network.
The heritage trail begins at the steps on the southern side of the car park.
The heathland along this walk comes alive in wildflower season and there are regularly large flocks of black cockatoos, especially when the heathland is in flower. Hundreds of species of nectar-rich flowering plants are found on the sandplains of the Peninsula including Dryandras, Bottlebrushes and many types of proteaceae including banksias. There is usually at least two in bloom at all times, providing an ongoing supply of food for honey possums, honey-eater birds and insects.
During both World Wars, there was concern that the Port of Albany, Western Australia's only natural harbour, could fall into enemy hands.
All sea-going transport passed along the south coast of WA when travelling between the UK and the eastern states of Australia. Enemy control of this small but strategically located port would be disastrous.
Stony Hill, one of the highest points overlooking the sea became a Naval Observation Post and Signal Station.
During WWI, the station consisted of a tent camp with a 70 foot flag pole used for communicating with ships and the Forts in Albany. Any ship entering the harbour had to have coded flags.
During WWII, the station was upgraded to include steel huts and a large operations room that housed the "doover", a motorised radar unit.
The operations room was camouflaged to look like the massive granite boulders on top of Stony Hill. A huge mesh frame was constructed then plastered with a mixture of cement lime and cow's hair, and painted to match the boulders.
Remnants of the buildings can still be seen in the pics below(taken from another outing).
Two plaques (top right) mark the site of the R.A.A.F. air warning radar station number 35.
The only "invasion" that occurred was in 1942 when the US Navy's submarine fleet transferred from Fremantle to Albany and set up a Signal Station at the Forts. The Stony Hill station became redundant and ceased operation in 1945.
The coastal views are just spectacular. Peak Head can be seen (middle pic) from the top, well worth a visit if you have another few hours to kill. Trail info can be found here.
The views overlooking the Port of Albany are simply beautiful. Other obvious points of interest is the Vancouver Peninsula, Mistaken Island, Emu Point and then out to the Porongurup Range.
An interpretative sign talks about visitors being impressed by the amazing wildflowers in the area despite the view that the land had great shortcomings. By mid 1800's Australian plants were being grown in glasshouses and gardens throughout Europe.
The trail loops around on the granite outcrop before heading back into the heathland on a narrow limestone trail.
A final walk along this section and you arrive back at the carpark.
Hopefully this post inspires you to visit and if so, we would love to hear your thoughts on the trail. Please feel free to tag us in your adventures.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we walk, the traditional lands of the first nations people & wish to acknowledge them as traditional owners paying respects to their Elders, past & present, and Elders from other communities who may be here today.