Sunday, November 19, 2017


It is not the best day to be out exploring today weather wise, as it is rather overcast and drizzling with rain this morning.  However, we are off to visit the forests and large trees today, so I guess at least the dampness will highlight the forests in all splendour.  

There is just so much to see in the area, that we all sat together over dinner the previous evening and mapped out exacting where we were going today so as not to miss anything….

Our first stop this morning was a drive out the  Swarbrick Art Loop.   It is situated in the stunning Walpole Wilderness area and consists of a short easy 500m stroll through old growth Karri forest where it hopefully connects you a little better to nature through the power of art.  It has been designed to connect the area’s colonial history to the forest and it has severely impacted

The location for the art loop was chosen because this was a site where conservationists fought to preserve the Karri forests around Walpole and we have them to thank for Walpole still being home to the towering Karri/Tingle forests. 

Giant door leading into the forest

Leaving the car park, the first thing you will notice is a giant door that serves as an information board for what to expect on the trail.

The paved trail then snakes through the forest, past moss covered trees and towards the first and most impressive piece on display, the 39m long stainless steel mirror wall.
 My first impression was "wow, that's a really big mirror" and I couldn't wait to try and get some interesting photos. As I walked past it and read all the events and quotes that are cleverly hidden from far away, the purpose of the wall really hit home.

You get an understanding that so much of the forests in Western Australia have been cleared, which is pretty evident when you drive around the South West anyway. Although work has been done to protect vast quantities of forested land, the majority of the damage has been done and it won't take much more until we are left with nothing. The effect of reading the quotes & events and then looking up at your reflection is a very confronting message. What are you doing to help the forests?
At the end of the mirror there is a doorway that leads to the loop section of the walk and here is where you will find the other art installations. An information board accompanies each piece of art explaining what it represents although you could easily take away your own meaning. 
Coming back to the mirror gives you one last chance to admire the piece before heading back to the car park, hopefully with a new perspective on the forest.

 Next, it was off to visit the Giant Tingle Tree.   It is a 800m circular walk  from the forested car park, which leads down to the Giant Tingle Tree  and the board walk that protects it.   This tree is special as, at a height of 30 m and a girth of 24m, it is the largest living, girthed eucalypt tree known in the world.

Giant Tingle Tree
The large buttresses which spread from the base of the trees are tremendous.
Access to the tree is via a wooden boardwalk about the base of this Queen of Trees.   It is well signposted with great information about the flora and fauna of this nature forest of the south coast. 

 The Hollowbutt sign explains how the heartwood is burned from the trees and how the outer layer sustains those giant trees.  It is all very amazing.
 After  our walk here we drove further into the Walpole Wilderness to checkout  Circular Pool.  Circular Pool is a rock channel segment of the Frankland River.
The name circular pool derives not from the shape of the two pools, but by the froth that is created by the falls, which shows the water currents. The currents of the pools flow in circles, creating moving circular patterns with the foam they create

The foam is a result of saponin, which is a class of chemical compounds found in plants. Saponin, when shaken (not stirred), creates the 'cappuccino' foam for which Circular Pool is famous. 

The foam actually gets stained by the eucalypt leaves in the water and looks like a cinnamon topping on the cappuccino-like frothy foam..

It was an easy 500m walk from the car park to the bottom of the pool. The walk was beautiful with two viewing platforms along the way, which overlooked the river and pools.

The “Valley of the Giants” treetop walk was our next destination.  We had been looking forward to doing this walk and it did not disappoint.  In fact, we actually did the walk twice.  It is a stunning 600m walkway positioned 40m above the ground amid the spectacular heights of the tingle forest canopy.  It is not often you get to stand, canopy height , among these ancient trees and we wanted to make the most of it. 

The ascent and descent were easy and shaded, walking through the trunks of the trees and into the upper canopy. It is an amazing opportunity to be with the trees in their environment far above us in the sky and also where the air is so clean and fresh.

  It's a masterpiece as far as architecture goes too. The framework allows a very holistic view of the surroundings

Much of the plant life in this forest is unique to the south-west of Western Australia.  The tingle trees only occur in this small area and offer us a window to the past.

As we gradually descended from the Treetop Walk and reached the forest floor, another delight awaited us!  A walk trail linked the Tree Top Walk to the Ancient Empire, where an interpretative trail meanders across the forest floor in between 400 year old red tingle trees. The trail followed the story of the lost era of Gondwana

The 600-metre boardwalk has been designed to be an interpretive experience, to explore the science, fantasy, intrigue and the grandeur of the old trees.

The path led us to one of the most popular of the gnarled veterans, known as Grandma Tingle, or the Gatekeeper. The second section of the Ancient Empire walk was a mixture of boardwalk and stabilised earth paths which winds in and out, up, over and through seven more giants.
 We finished our walk at the beautiful Wilderness Discovery Centre, which was both educational and entertaining for people of all ages, and we spent some time reading about the different fauna and flora of the Forest.  We also paid a visit to the gift shop where we stocked up on some more postcards for the grandchildren and actually did a little Christmas shopping.

All in all our visit to the Forests was quite spectacular and one we enjoyed immensely…

On our way back into Walpole we diverted to go and check out Peaceful Bay and Conspicuous Cliffs and beach.  Peaceful Bay is just that, peaceful. It is more like a little coastal fishing village, although probably not the best weather for truly appreciating this pretty spot.  There are quite a few coastal walking trails along these stretches of beach also, but due to the bad weather we didn’t  walk along any of them.
Peaceful Bay
Peaceful Bay
 Conspicuous Cliffs were really quite stunning. I am sure they must have been named this because of the fact that they are so conspicuous.  Standing high above the surrounding heathland, the Cliff-top lookout gives fantastic views of the beach and river flowing into the sea. 

It was a bit of a cliff to the peak, and swimming is not recommended on the beach below as the beach is unpatrolled and large waves and swells are common.   You are definitely unlikely to entice me to swim in these southern oceans anyway as the water is very cold. I am sure it is straight off the ice from the Antarctic.
It has been a full day of sightseeing so after leaving the Conspicuous  Cliff area it was back to the van to put our feet up and have a cuppa.  This has certainly been a beautiful part of Western Australia to explore and we really do hope to come back here one day in the future where we will have a little more time to enjoy it at a more relaxed pace.


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