The Wonders of Walpole

Photo Credit: Bob Figg

Most visitors to Western Australia know all about Margaret River and head to the renowned region when they want to get a change from what the city has to offer – but do yourself a favour now and again take a left turn on the way to discover one of state’s best kept secrets.

Walpole offers a range of options whether you’re in town from the eastern states, an overseas visitor or even a local who is seeking change from the more traditional destinations.

The magnificent tingle and karri forests are the main attraction. However, if you somehow manage to get bored with the amazing wilderness areas there are gorgeous and often virtually unpopulated beaches to explore and a few indoor attractions. So what should you look out for among the wonders of Walpole?

The Tree Top Walk

This is, quite simply, a world-class attraction that would hold its own among any destination in the world. The walk itself is stunning. As the name suggests it takes you through (and above) the towering tingle and karri trees. It is safe and even those in our group who were not so keen on heights felt safe and secure. The views are spectacular; the staff are knowledgeable and friendly and the trees simply stunning.

If you do find the prospect of getting up among the tall timber too intimidating there is an alternative walk called Ancient Empire which offers the chance for those who want their feet firmly on the ground to wonder at the amazing Tingle forests – which are not found anywhere else in the world. Keep an eye out for all sorts of activities including dining among the trees and night-time walks. If you are going during the day it can good idea to get there early or late in the afternoon at busy times of year.

Mount Frankland

Feeling fit? Then take on the walk and steps to the peak of Mount Frankland. The drive in is, in itself, a scenic delight. Be warned though, the hike to the top is challenging. You can take a less arduous route to the well signposted Wilderness View Lookout which offers magnificent views across the forests and across to other peaks in the distance. Stunning views and a sense of the grand scale of the wilderness laid out before you will be your reward for even a little effort.

Frankland River

If you prefer your activities to be water-based then the Frankland River offers the answer. Fabulous fishing for young and old, whether from the shore or by boat. There is also little to beat when it comes to recharging the batteries than a leisurely paddle in the quitter stretches. The trees loom over you and the silence is broken only by water birds, the wind through the trees and the progress through the water of your paddle.

Peaceful Bay

Whenever you off road you should take great care but Peaceful Bay offers beach driving for the cautious. Keep an eye of the tide and check with the locals but you can normally get yourself to your own little private beach spot with a minimum of fuss. If you can’t go off road the car park is easy walking distance to safe swimming and even some decent fishing spots. Keep an eye for signs to Conspicuous Cliffs to – a spectacular spot easily reachable in two wheel drive vehicles.

Now be warned, the weather around Walpole can be cooler and wetter than Perth, even in summer. Take a fold away rain jacket and a long-sleeved top and pants for evenings.

If the weather does close in, head somewhere the like Bartholomew’s Meadery, with its alcoholic offerings for the adults and extremely tasty ice-creams for all ages. The Beadery is another option with its workshops for kids, some wonderful crafts to buy and a bakery attached which serves quite simply the best lamb pie this extremely experienced pie-eater has ever had.

If you fancy something more formal to eat try the treetop Walk Motel, which served up excellent food at reasonable prices, for dinner or a cream tea at the Top Deck Café might fit the bill.

Accommodation is always a matter of taste. We wanted somewhere a little off the beaten track and settled on Che Sara Sara Chalets. This had the added bonus for us of being dog-friendly, with kennels available if you need to take a day trip to a place where your pet might not be allowed.

This was about 15km out of Walpole and sits on the banks of the river. There were canoes available for free and the star show at night was magnificent on clear nights. There is also something very different about a roaring fire in Western Australia in December!

If you need somewhere closer to the action there is a wide range of camping, hotels, motels and even hostels in Walpole itself.

Wherever you stay make sure you soak in the atmosphere of the glorious southern forests and come back refreshed and revitalised.

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