Southern Forests

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Grey nomads head t Southern Forests
Hike amongst the towering trees in the Southern Forests Photo: Tourism Western Australia

The majestic Southern Forests in Western Australia’s south west are an irresistible draw­card for the vast majority of grey nomads doing the Big Lap … and with good reason.

Located about 300 kilometres south of Perth, visitors will find a near unbroken chain of national parks here and a true pristine wilderness. As well as commanding karri trees towering up to 90 metres above the ground, there are mighty forests of jarrah, marri and tingle. Travellers can experience the magic of these trees up close and personal by taking to walking trails, self-drive tours … and even having a climb!

The Southern Forest sur­rounds a cluster of timber towns including Manjimup, Pemberton, Walpole, and Northcliffe. These are all great bases from which to explore a very special region that, as well as the forests, boasts stunning waterfalls, sweeping hills, incredibly fertile land, and magical little wineries. Oh, and the coast – and some amazing but wild beaches – are just a stone’s throw away.

But it’s the trees that are the star turn. The Glouces­ter Tree, Bicentennial Tree and Diamond Tree all have metal rungs spiralling up their trunks, and offer fit grey nomads the chance to climb above the canopy. It’s not for the faint-hearted, though.

For most people, the best way to get the forest in perspec­tive is to take the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, situated between Walpole and Denmark. Here, a 420-metre-long steel-truss walkway takes visitors over the huge red tingle trees.

Recommended drives in­clude the Great Forest Trees Drive which meanders for 48 kilometres through the Karri forest of the Shannon National Park, and the Karri Forest Explorer Drive which starts near the historic timber town of Pemberton and wends 85 kilometres through the forests. This drive takes in attractions including two ‘climbing’ trees; Big Brook Dam; the 100-metre Beedelup Falls which can be viewed from a suspension bridge; and the Cascades, where the Lefroy Brook tumbles over a series of rocky shelves,

Walking along at least part of the fabled Bibbulmun Track is another favourite way to get a feel for the enchanting forests of the district.

With national parks including Gloucester, Beedelup, Warren, Shannon and D’Entrecasteaux all here, there are no shortage of camping options for grey nomads, and there are many caravan parks, as well.

This is timber country, so there are some interesting galleries around producing unique handcrafted works, and many places where visitors can learn about the region’s fascinating history.

With no less than 300 kilome­tres of freshwater streams in the area, trout fishermen will be in their element, and the region is also well known for its marron, a delicious fresh­water crayfish. The trees are the big ticket item but there is so much else in this area you really don’t want to miss.

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