Mt Frankland is a granite dome looming large over the forest north of Walpole in Western Australia. At 411m above sea level it is not big even by Australian standards, but it is enough for some great views over vast tracts of barely disturbed karri and jarrah forest. It is also accessible to anyone able to walk up a steep path with lots of steps.
Most people who visit Mt Frankland do so from Walpole, a small town on WA's south coast. A 29km drive up the North Walpole Rd with a right turn at the end brings you to the large car park with picnic areas and toilets. The last 12km are gravel, but it is a good surface.
There are two active options - the climb to the summit, and a 1.5km walk trail looping around the peak. Both commence by ascending the bitumen path from the car park. It starts gently and at first gives the impression of being wheelchair accessible, but soon becomes steep. The steepness and lack of relief from the incline told me it wasn't really made for wheelchairs ... but it certainly makes it easier for walkers. By not having to be so focussed on where to put my feet, I was able to look more at the trees growing tall in the ever-steepening hillside.
Mid-way up, a walk trail branches off to the left; this follows a circuit around Mt Frankland before returning to the car park. The bitumen path continues upwards in the other direction, soon giving way to steps. Then comes the ladder.
Those with a fear of heights, or high ladders, might hesitate at this point. I certainly did. However, the ladder on Mt Frankland is one of the better kinds. The steps are flat - like a household step ladder, only deeper - and there are hand rails. Also it is in two sections; the first set of seven steps, followed by a viewing platform, serves as a trial run for the main ladder which has 24 steps.
I've been nervous on ladders since falling off a high one many years ago, but managed this one okay. Anyone without height or ladder issues shouldn't find it an obstacle. Anyone put off by the ladder can still get some good views from the loop walk trail.
Beyond the ladder are more steps as the giant dome of granite on top of the hill is ascended. Distant views glimpsed through the trees become unobstructed as bare rock is reached, followed by the fire lookout and antenna on the summit.
The views are all-round, and extend a long way as Mt Frankland is higher than anything else in the area. To the south, the coast near Walpole is visible, and patches of farmland to Walpole's north. Forested hills and lowlands form the views in other directions. What impressed me was just how much forested and undeveloped land still remains in the south of Western Australia. From the top of Mt Frankland you can see quite a lot of it!
It was winter when I last visited, and I got to enjoy watching a precession of rainclouds pass over the landscape. Dramatic clouds, misty downpours over nearby hills, and a couple of rainbows enhanced the view. It was much more scenic than the plain blue sky I sweated under on my first visit which was in summer.
Going down retraces the upward route. Half way down there is the option of diverting to the walk trail for a longer route back to the car park, or else just continue down the bitumen path.
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