It’s easy to be awe-struck by the towering forests around Walpole, a tranquil township around four and a half hours drive south from Perth. Giant red tingle trees, which grow as high as 40 metres, are unique to the Walpole wilderness areas. Get a bird’s eye view of these sky-scraping trees the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk, then see their massive, gnarled trunks on the Ancient Empires boardwalk below. Afterwards, you can cruise Walpole’s peaceful rivers and inlets and discover the great walking tracks and pristine white beaches of Walpole-Nornalup National Park.
It’s just a short drive from Walpole to the Valley of the Giants, one of the most popular tourist attractions along Western Australia’s scenic south-west coast. The treetop walk is a lightweight, architecturally-designed bridge that winds gently upwards to the forest’s upper canopy. At about 40 metres, you’ll be at head height with the majestic tingle trees, enjoying breathtaking views across the forest. Descend to the boardwalks below, where you can follow the Ancient Empire Walk around and even through the trees’ enormous trunks. Some of these trees are more than 400 years old, with trunks up to 15 metres in circumference. They’re among the world’s tallest trees, inspiring wonder and tranquillity in the humble humans who flock to see them.
Sitting on the north side of Walpole Inlet, amidst the wilderness of Walpole-Nornalup National Park, Walpole is surrounded by many other natural attractions. Walk through woodlands to Circular Pool, a peaceful spot for swimming and picnicking. It’s not far from the Giant Tingle Tree that is thought to be the world’s oldest eucalypt.
The national park is also fringed by wild, white beaches on the edge of the Southern Ocean. You can reach these on 4WD and walking tracks, some of which form part of the epic Bibbulmun Track. Visit Mandalay Beach to see the Norwegian shipwreck Mandalay, go surfing from Conspicuous Beach or soak up invigorating views from Conspicuous Cliff Lookout and Rame Head. Walk past grazing kangaroos to Gap Beach and relax in the aptly-named paradise of Peaceful Bay.
From Walpole you can also cruise along Walpole and Nornalup Inlets on a houseboat, or do the Knoll Scenic Drive along the peninsula that connects the two inlets. Further upstream lies Fernhook Falls, a popular place to walk, camp, swim and picnic. For spectacular views over the region’s forested valleys, tackle the short, steep climb to the top of Mount Frankland. Another great vantage point is Hilltop Lookout, east of town.
The region is rich in birdlife, from the karri and tingle forest to the shoreline and shallows of the rivers and inlets to the Southern Ocean coastline. You can spot migrating whales along Walpole’s windswept coastline from June to September. Between September and November, the region is cloaked in colourful wildflowers, from the coastal heathlands to the forest floor.
Walpole’s grand, soaring forests make a great introduction to the region’s other natural attractions.