Southern Forests Explorer
Southern Forests Explorer | Pemberton | 6 days
Immerse yourself in some truly majestic old-growth forests, discover tree-lined swimming holes, taste the flavours of Southern Forests Food, and climb the world's second tallest fire-lookout tree.
Jetstar operates flights directly from the eastern states to Busselton-Margaret River Airport. You can hire a car from the airport and enjoy a pleasant 1 1/2 hours drive to the town of Pemberton.
ARBORS DELIGHT • TIMBER TOWN • WARREN NATIONAL PARK
- Start your day at Wild At Heart Cafe, where they serve great coffee and locally-sourced food. You can also stock on some picnic supplies here if you wish, or there's a local IGA supermarket just down the road.
- Just 15 minutes down the road on the Vasse Highway is the neighbouring Warren National Park. The park has over 3000 hectares of untouched woodland with some of Western Austraia's most treasured karri trees. You can access the park via Old Vasse Road, follow the signs to the Bicentennial Tree.
- The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree the tallest climbable lookout tree in the area and well worth a look. There's over 160 metal pegs to climb up to get to the top of this 65 metre tree, take it easy on the way up and enjoy your time at the top, the view over the canopy is spectacular.
- Make a day of it and explore some of the trails within Warren National Park. The Warren Lookout Trail (2.4km) is a great "best of" option, providing incredible views of the Warren River valley. For a more challenging option, try the Warren River Loop Walk, a 10.5km loop passes through some the regions most significant old-growth karri forest.
- We highly recommend having a picnic in the stunning setting of Warren National Park. This area is home to an incredible amount of birdlife. Splendid Fairy Wrens are often seen flitting around the BBQ area, you'll also see and/or hear Bronzewings, Quails, Cockatoos, Whipbirds and more.
- After lunch, hop back in the car and continue south to the sleepy town of Northcliffe. Just behind the Northcliffe Visitor Centre you'll find the Understory, Art In Nature Trail. This easy 1.2km trail provides a unique display of artwork that interacts with the natural ecosystem.
- Head a little further south toward the Boorara Tree, another towering fire lookout tree. Here you'll find the strat of the Lane Pool Falls Walk Trail, a 5km return trail meandering down the misty valley toward the Canterbury River and beautiful Lane Pool Falls.
- Make your way back to the town of Pemberton and stop in at the Pemberton Museum to learn about the history of this timber town.
- Head back to your accommodation to freshen up for dinner. if you feel like going out there's a good selection of restaurants to choose from on the main strip. Try Jaspers for a more upmarket meal, or Cafe Mazz at the Pemberton Hotel for no-fuss pub grub.
SWIMMING HOLES • WINE • SAND DUNES
- Start your day with a longer hike from town to the Gloucester Tree. This ancient karri tree stands at over 55 metres tall and is something to behold. The Gloucester Tree Walk is a 6km (12km return) easy walk through beautiful towering karri forest paths. The bird song in the forest is just magic, and best enjoyed in the early morning or late afternoon. There are barbecues, toilets and parking near the tree, so it's a great spot for a picnic, and there's the option to arrange transport if you don't want to walk back. Please note, the Gloucester Tree may be closed for climbing due to maintenance, check the Parks Alerts Website for the most up to date information.
- Drive slightly out of town toward Big Brook Dam. Here you can have a swim or try your hand at catching a rainbow trout or marron (check the fishing seasons and limits here). Take a walk around Big Brook Dam, this 4.2km easy stroll around the dam also has an option to explore Big Brook Arboretum at the western most corner.
- For an alternate swimming spot, head to Pemberton Swimming Pool just behind the Mountain Bike Park. This beautiful historic swimming pool was constructed in the late 1920's for the families of the timber workers, it has since become an iconic destination for generations of locals and visitors.
- This region is ideal for cooler grape varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Head to Silkwood Estate for a locally inspired menu, outstanding wines and lakeside views.
- About 30 minutes west of Pemberton is the Yeagarup Sand Dunes and Yeagarup Beach. This massive land-locked dune system rises high above the surrounding karri forest. You can access the lake via 2WD, and you can walk along the boardwalk to be rewarded with a beautiful view. The Yeagarup Track is strictly 4WD only. We highly recommend booking a tour with Pemberton Discovery Tours, who offer adventures of this fantastic part of the south west, you can book online too.
- Head back to Pemberton to freshen up for dinner. Take the short drive to Hidden River Estate, one of the few wineries in the South West that offers dinner. Please note: Dinner is only avaible on Friday nights.
TRANQUIL WATERS • WALK WITH THE GIANTS
- Today we're making our way south to the stunning forest lined coastal town of Walpole. Make your way back to the South Western Highway and head south toward Walpole. Stop on the way to do the King Karri Trail, a 3.5km easy loop trail along the Munda Biddi will take you past "Hollow Butt" standing at 63 metres high, and "Shaggy Karri" at a whopping 73 metres high.
- As you head south you'll have Mount Frankland South National Park on your left, and D'Entrecasteaux National Park on your right. Both of these parks are jam packed with trails and sights to see. Try the Mount Frankland Summit Trail, a challenging 1.2km climb will take you the Towerman's Lookout where you'll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Walpole Wildreness Area.
- Check out Fernhook Falls while you're here, this stunning area has excellent camping grounds nearby and a cascading waterfall which flows seasonally.
- Make your way through to Walpole for lunch, there's a local bakery or cafes to choose from. Alternatively, just out of town on the South Coast Hwy is Nornabar, this great little bistro serves delicious food and is open from Wednesday to Sunday.
- Continue east and take the turn off to the Valley of The Giants Tree Top Walk. Walk among the giants on a 600 metre walkway built 40 metres off the ground toward the canopy. The walk is both pram and wheelchair friendly. Access to the walk is through the Discovery Centre - which is also worth a look. They sell maps, books, unique local crafts and souvenirs.
- The Ancient Empire Walk is a family friendly interpretive trail which leaves from the Ancient Empire Discovery Centre. This short trail meanders around the base of the incredible giants providing a wonderful persepctive of the giant red tingles and hollowed out trunks.
- Head down to Walpole/Nornalup Inlet, here you can walk along a very pleasant section of the Bibbulmun Track, starting at Coalmine Beach and following the shores of the inlet.
- It's about 1 hour and 40 minutes to get back to Pemberton from here, so if it's getting late in the day, start your drive back now.
HEART OF THE BLACKWOOD • MINGLE WITH THE LOCALS
|Getting There:||Bridgetown is a very pleasant 50 minute drive north of Pemberton.|
- Pack your things to leave your accommodation and drive north for about 50 minutes to Bridgetown where we recommend you base yourself for the next 3 days. Bridgetown is a picturesque country town perched on the banks of the Blackwood River.
- Check out the main drag, you'll find plenty of great shops to buy souvenirs, local crafts and art. There's a great selection of cafe's showcasing locally sourced food, coffee, craft beer, cider and wine if you're starting to get peckish.
- Make your way down to the Blackwood River Park just near the bridge into town. Take the Blackwood River Trail, a 6km return easy walk which follows the lush Blackwood River banks upstream. You can connect this walk with the Bridgetown Heritage Trail making it an 8.4km return. Grab an information booklet from the Bridgetown Visitor Centre to learn about the history of this quaint town.
- For dinner, there's plenty of places to choose from on the main drag. For local produce try the Bridgetown Hotel, or Bridgetown Pottery Restaurant.
TRUFFLES • CHERRIES • WOOD CRAFT • WINE
- Manjimup is a pleasant 30 minute drive south of Bridgetown. This larger country town is home to the famous Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival. This free festival is in December and is a celebration of the region and the exceptional produce, arts and crafts it produces, including cherries. It's worth getting tickets to the Long Table Lunch - a 5-course degustation menu featuring local produce, wines and beverages. A foodies delight!
- Truffle Kerfuffle is an annual event held in Manjimup. In line with our truffle season (June to September) the event happens at the opening of the season and celebrates all things truffles. However, you haven't missed out completely, there are plenty of shops selling truffle-based produce around Manjimup and Bridgetown. You may also see it on some menus if you're lucky.
- Grab some supplies from the local supermarket in Manjimup or some takeaway lunch from the Bakery and head to the Manjimup Heritage Park. It offers a fascinating insight into the local industry and logging heritage through a museum, historical hamlet, vintage machinery and a blacksmith’s forge. Plus the playground on site will keep kids and adults entertained for a good few hours! There's bbq's at the park and some gorgeous spots to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch.
- Spend the afternoon exploring the local wineries. This region has a lot of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet planted and produces some award-winning wine. Check out the Southern Forests Wine Trail for a comprehensive list of cellar doors.
- Make your way back to Bridgetown via the Brockman Highway and stop off at the Bridgetown Jarrah Park before town. This reserve is filled with enormous blackbutt, marri and jarrah trees and there's multiple options for shorter walks. The trail is best in the afternoon or early morning to catch the incredible birdsong.
WA'S BEST PIES • ROLLING HILLS • GOLDEN VALLEYS
- Take the road out of town north for about 20 minutes to the tiny town of Balingup. Just before you reach the town centre take the exit to the left for the Golden Valley Tree Park. This 60-hectare heritage listed park is the largest arboretum in WA and has 6 picturesque trails to explore. There's heaps of parking, toilet facilities and informative kiosks at each of the Tree Parks Collections.
- Make your way into Balingup and check out the local Visitor Centre, they sell a huge amount of local crafts and souvenirs and the volunteer staff are incredibly friendly.
- Head next door to The Mushroom @ No. 61 Cafe. This cafe sells arguably the best pies in Western Australia, possibly even Australia. They do run out so get there by midday to ensure you get your pie fix. If you're not into pies the cafe menu is also very good.
- From Donnelly River, follow the signs to Nannup. This lovely little town is nestled alongside the Blackwood River and has some great trails to explore.
- Head to Kondil Park, just north of town and try the Wildflower Wander, a 3.3km easy walk through native flora. Keep your eyes peeled for wildflowers along the way.
- From Nannup, take the road south out of town and follow the signs to Donnelly River Village. Donnelly River Village is a tiny cluster of holiday chalets nestled amonst the forest on the Donnelly River. Check out the shop, they sell gifts, local souvenirs, maps, coffee and cake.
- Take a walk along the Bibbulmun Track, this iconic 1000km Track goes through Donnelly River Village and the surrounding area is beautiful to walk through. You'll discover bright clusters of fungi, wildflowers (seasonal) and closer to the village there's a huge amount of very tame emus and kangaroos to snap a selfie with.
- Make your way back to Bridgetown through the rolling hills and impossibly green rural landscape.