10.06.2016 - 14.06.2016
Driving from Parry Beach was another beautiful ride, through woodlands and farms, bright green fields and we had finally had a break from the rain. Our first stop was into the forest around Walpool to The Valley of the Giants. This is a place in the forest where they have built a boardwalk through the trees but we had gone here more for the Ancient Giants Boardwalk. This was a route on the ground that took you through some of the oldest trees in the area, the Giants and explained about the flora and fauna. The trees here are tingle trees, a type of eucalypt and the trees in particular around this walk are red tingle trees. They grow tall and often grown outwards, they hollow out and so have huge circumferences often with spaces in the trunk to walk through. Here there are several trees which have huge cave like trunks that are so wide people used to park their cars inside them at one point. These trees however, although very tall only have shallow root systems and need lots of rain to grow so are only found in this part of Australia and are very sensitive to driving or walking over the roots. We wandered through the forest looking in amazement up at the trees and walking straight through their huge trunks. It was like a movie set with red gnarly trunks everywhere, huge archways and dense forest. It was beautiful.
After a coffee and some shopping in Walpool we visited another sight called the giant tingle tree. This was two huge trees in the forest. One of them had grown huge and widened at the bottom so you could walk through it. Around its circumference at the base measured a huge 24m. It was a pretty amazing sight.
We then tried to find a camp that had been recommended to us, Sids. It took us a while to find it but when we did it was worth the effort. It is a tiny site on a farm and the owner had made a real effort to make it comfy. There is rustic but immaculate showers and toilets, a big campfire, and a little kitchen with a wood burning stove inside in case it rains to keep warm. It is pay by donation and it recommends $5 which is super cheap so we set up camp. This will be our base for exploring the surrounding are for the next few days and we are happy to pay more than the recommended donation for such a lovely little spot.
We spent our time here exploring the amazing Karri forests in the area. Annoyingly our National Parks pass had ran out the day before so we bought a day pass and decided to drive on the Karri explorer, a scenic drive through the different regions, parks and forests.
First up was the Gloucester tree. This is one of the famous climbing trees. In the past huge Karri trees had been used to climb and keep a look out for fires by the fire brigade as from the top you can see for miles and miles. Several of these trees still have their climbing spikes and you can climb up to the top, to the observatory area. Looking up at the Gloucester tree we knew we wouldn't be going to the top. It is 53m high, with steel bars coming out of the sides and some wire meshing wrapped around to stop you jumping off. It was terrifyingly high and the people at the top were like ants. We did a short bush walk in the forests around here and they are beautiful. Hugely tall, straight Karri trees dominate the landscape and walking in the cool fresh air through the trees was just lovely.
From here we drove to big brook dam and pretty reservoir with walks around it and had a stroll along the water in the sunshine. The roads here are unsealed, dirt roads and is a gorgeous scenic drive through the towering forests, winding up and down the hills.
We decided to also stop at Beedelup Falls which was a lovely little bush walk through the trees to a powerful waterfall. The walk took us along the falls to a lookout and then we crossed the river and walked along the other side. To get back across we had to cross a tiny suspension bridge which was fun as it moved a lot and there was a sheer drop into the river below.
Our last sign on the scenic drive was the Bicentennial Tree, another Karri climbing tree but this one towered over the forest at a staggering 65m. Half way up was a lookout so we decided we would try to climb to this rather than the top. Liam immediately decided not to but Chelsea gave it a go and managed about half way up to it before quickly returning to safe ground. They are amazingly high, so high that the lookout at the top can sway a metre and half each way if it is a windy day. Just watching someone else climb it is scary enough for us, they disappear into the tree top it is so high.
On the way back we decided to stop off around Pemberton for a warm drink and were recommended the Lavender and Berry farm as they do really good cakes. They have famous pancakes and scones so we ordered one of each to share. The small serving of pancakes we ordered turned out to be huge, with homemade ice cream and berry sauce and the scone was giant. It was a lavender scone with local honey and cream to have with it and it was absolutely delicious. The farm itself is in a stunning location, on a lake surrounded by beautiful lavender gardens. At the back they have friendly farm animals, miniature horses and alpacas and we had a stroll around.
On our final day we had planned to do a full day bush walk through the forests but the rain was torrential again so we had to stay around the log fire at camp as it was too wet to take our tent down and move on. Nevertheless we had a cosy day in front of the fire and it is good to have a day doing nothing in particular once in a while. The Southern Forests we have really enjoyed. It is a beautiful, ancient area full of bright green moss, huge trees and mushrooms everywhere. The local produce, cafes and small country towns are friendly and lovely to warm up in if the weather is rubbish and when the sun comes out the scenery is stunning.