Tranquility in the Southern Forests

There is just something special about canopies that reach for the sky and stand majestic in solidarity, don’t you think? I’ve been a big fan of forests for a long time as my million pics from Tassie would attest to. What can I say, there’s just something about trees that I adore. This trip has exposed us to some amazing forests including the Barrington Tops and forests all throughout  Tasmania. But hands down the most stunning forests we’ve visited have been in the Southern Forests region of WA.

After leaving Albany, we made our way through Denmark before continuing on visit Bartholomew’s Meadery so we could buy some honey!  A fascinating little pitstop, we were able to see what the inside of a bee hive looks like.

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And we were able to identify the Queen Bee! Can you see the long, reddish coloured bee in the middle of the picture below? That’s the Queen!

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After we bought our kilo of honey, we continued on to the Valley of the Giants treetop walk just out of Walpole. It was here we met the giant Tingle trees which just blew my mind. These enormous trees can grow over 85m tall and are one of the only trees in the world that do not require their heartwood to live. As long as they have the first couple of inches of bark and wood on the outside, they can survive and thrive, even if they are hollow in the middle.

We did a guided walk and met the ‘Gatekeeper’ of the forest, Grandma Tingle who is the oldest tree in the forest.

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Tingle trees are very sensistive to compaction around the roots, many of the giant Tingle trees have died, due to people standing within the hollowed out middle, or in some cases back in the 40s, 50s and 60s driving their cars through the middle and stopping for a photo!

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Source: walpolewilderness.net

The Valley of the Giants treetop walk was very similar to the treetop walk in Geeveston, Tasmania and standing within the canopy really gives you a sense of how large these trees are. Of course, the Southern Forest are also known for their stunning Karri forests and after we finished at the tree topwalk, we decided to stop in the small village of Pemberton, having heard of a fabulous campsite out at the Big Brook Arboretum. And fabulous was an understatement.

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The campsite was a clearing surrounded by tall trees and dense forest. With only a dozen spots, the campsite was spacious and provided a great base for explaoring the Southern Forest region. Each morning I’d get up at dawn and go for a walk around the dam about 6km away.

The mist rising off the water each morning and the family of swans make it a surreal experience.

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Over the next few days we checked out the huge Karri trees which could be climbed including the Glouscester Tree, Bicentential Tree and Diamond Tree. Ranging from 55-75m tall, the Gloucester and Diamond trees were used for spotting bushfires before the sophisticated communications equipment replaced the need for men and women to climb up a tree (in the real early days there were no spikes, only climbing straps!) and sit atop it on a platform with 360 degree views on the search for telltale smoke.

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The walk around the Gloucester Tree was gorgeous too.

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We attempted to climb the trees, I think I got about 10-15m from the ground before I decided that the coming back down wasn’t going to be worth it. The spikes, although are definitely embedded in the tree, have a lot of movement in them and spiral up the trees with a flimsy ‘cage’ around them. Going up wasn’t actually too bad, but the thought of coming down gave me heebie jeebies so I decided to get back on firm ground. Although plenty of people made the trip up, there were way more who decided not to!

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We took a 4WD track out to the Yeagurup sand dunes which proved to be a long and bumpy, but fun afternoon.

We also made the trip to Manjimup which was the nearest dump point (the things you have to factor into your travels, right?) and we had lunch in a fabulous adventure park with a ridiculously huge slide. The girls loved it!

We then took the Karri Forest Explorer route back and drove through some stunning forest country with gorgeous orange Karri trees, stopping to check out some waterfalls too.

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We decided to stay an extra night, because it was just too pretty to leave and met some great people (and kids) over the campfire. We never had Pemberton on the radar before, but it is definitely a place that I’d recommend exploring. Stunningly beautiful and one of the best campsites we’ve stayed at, we’re definitely keen to come back and spend a bit more time here.

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Do you love forest country? Would you have climbed one of the huge Karri trees?

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