22 May 2014
Airwalk among the spectacular Tingle Trees in the Valley of the Giants
We set off early from Bunbury, travelling south through Boyanup, Donnybrook, Bridgetown and Manjimup, then slight detour through Pemberton and Northcliffe before rejoining the Western Highway to Walpole.
Boyanup is only a 30 minute drive from Bunbury but already we were in the fruit growing areas and the country was lush and green. Donnybrook is said to be the apple capital of Western Australia. At the heart of the Geographe Wine Region, the Donnybrook area boasts seven cellar doors from which to sample the award-winning signature notes as well as a local cider factory. One of the most picturesque towns in Western Australia, Bridgetown sits against a backdrop of the beautiful Blackwood River Valley and oozes old world country charm. The centre of a thriving timber, mining and farming district, Bridgetown is a prolific producer of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and olives, not to mention wine and cider. Many artists are drawn to the area, finding their inspiration in the Blackwood River Valley landscapes and exhibiting their work in local galleries.
By the time we reached Manjimup we were entering the karri forest areas, the tallest species in Western Australia and one of the tallest hardwoods on Earth. This is also the home of Australia’s most successful black truffle industry. A staggering 80 percent of the entire Manjimup region is dedicated to forest and national parks.
Some of the eye catching scarecrows along the main street of Manjimup
Our drive then took us off the main highway to the pretty town of Pemberton, the town of towering timbers and home of the world’s tallest fire lookout trees – the famous Gloucester Tree that stands at 61 metres – roughly the same height as the Sydney Opera House. You can climb it if you have the stamina!
We spoke to a young back packer who had climbed to the top, he was so pleased with his feat, and loved the view from the top. Pete and I climbed up about 6 steps in the narrow ladder-like steps – I truly admire anyone who can climb all the way to the top!
Pemberton has a wonderful park that stretches along the main street, it has the most fascinating white wrought iron fence with panels depicting items of local interest. It was coffee time at the Millhouse Cafe for a devonshire tea, where they had a great collection of photographs by Alex Bond. As we were driving out of town we had to stop for the local tourist train as it passed the highway, everyone waving from the train.
The Millhouse Cafe at Pemberton (left) and the tourist train crosses the highway (right)
This was to be a day when we had some unexpected stops along the road. As we were heading along the road toward Walpole we came to a spot where a herd of Fresian cows were about to cross the road, the farmer called us on so we were not delayed, but I couldn’t help but stop to photograph the herd bearing down on us. We soon got on our way!
The Visitor Centre at Walpole is housed in a Pioneer Hut, we called in to collect some maps of the area and some information on the points of interest, one of which was of course the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. We stopped for a late lunch at the Top Deck Cafe, then headed for Coalmine Beach on the Walpole & Nornalup Inlet Marine Park, a lovely spot where two fishermen were finishing their day by bringing their boat up the ramp, not sure if they caught any fish but they certainly had a beautiful place to spend some time.
Coalmine Beach on the Walpole Nornalup Inlet Marine Park
Then it was time to visit the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, truly a spectacular place, it is amazing to be able to walk among these beautiful Tingle Trees, some many years old and up to 70 metres tall. In places the walk is 40 metres above the ground. It was interesting to meet up with some maintenance men who check the air walk structure on a regular basis, two young men were in their safety equipment hanging over the air walk to do this – scary stuff, but they seemed quite at home – obviously not afraid of heights.
The Tree Top Walk was so enjoyable, we spent some time there and loved being among these giant trees. The walk is about 600 metres long, and very gently sways as you walk along it. It was very special to be up in the canopy of the trees, some of which are up to 400 years old.
Close up of a beautiful Karri tree (left) and a Tingle tree (right)
The highlight of my day was meeting up with my cousin Tim Wither, his wife Meagan and their children Elih and Finlay. We had a great dinner, and plenty of chatting, at the Denmark Hotel next to the Denmark River. We have planned to meet up again before we leave this beautiful town.
Meagan, Finley, Tim, Elih and me with Wilson Inlet as a background
Tomorrow we are going to explore in and around Denmark.