Walpole


Walpole is located 120km west of Albany in Western Australia’s great southern region. Nestled on the banks of a tranquil inlet, this beautiful township is surrounded by tall timbers of karri, jarrah and tingle forests.

The forests of the national park and the plentiful waterways here are major tourism draw-cards. The adjoining inlets of Walpole and Nornalup are fed by three rivers, forming a water playground for boating, fishing, sailing and many other aquatic activities. The inlets are connected by a 1km channel.

WOW Wilderness Eco Cruises operate daily boat cruises through the marine park to Western Australia’s first recognised wilderness area, the Nuyts Wilderness Peninsula. Enjoy the magnificent waterways in the heart of the national park, before hopping off the cruise boat and walking the wilderness trail to the secluded Bellanger Beach. Overlooking the Southern Ocean you’ll be treated to morning tea and spectacular scenery. Cruises depart daily at 10am from the Town Jetty and last for 2.5 hours. Tickets cost $40 per adult, $15 per child under 15 and children under 5 are free. Bookings are available through the local Visitor Centre.

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The abundant waterways here also offer plenty of opportunities for the keen anglers. There are so many options to choose from, including inlet and river fishing, offshore, beach and rock fishing. walpole-mark-tailor-fishing The rivers are stocked with Black Bream and the inlets find Black and Silver Bream, Herring, Whiting and Flathead. Offshore common species are Snapper, Dhufish, Shark, Skippy, Salmon, Samson Fish, Herring and Whiting. Beach and rock fishing here finds Skippy, Whiting, Herring, Salmon, Flathead, Mulloway, Shark, Samson Fish, Bream, Blue Groper and the occasional Snapper. Popular fishing spots in the area include the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets, Blue Holes, Conspicuous Cliff, Peaceful Bay, Quarram and Boat Harbour. There are several boat ramps close to town at Town Jetty, Rest Point and Coalmine Beach. East of town boats can be launched at Peaceful Bay, Boat Harbour and Parry Beach. Ocean fishermen are strongly advised to launch their boats off the coast (not in the inlet) in anything less than perfect weather conditions as the Nornalup Inlet mouth can be very dangerous. Rock fishermen take note that king waves occur often in this area so come prepared with suitable safety gear and be vigilant in your fishing practice. Do yourself a favour and call into the local Visitor Centre upon arrival and collect a map which details all the aforementioned spots and popular tourist attractions in the area. Good luck in the fishing department, you are almost certain to catch something here.

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Boating and fishing aside, there is plenty more on offer in the region and the Walpole-Nornalup National Park is the highlight. East of town, along South Western Hwy, the main tourist route begins. A couple of km’s out of town is a 5km scenic loop via Coal Mine Beach and on to The Knoll, where the two inlets meet. There is a boat ramp, rock groyne and caravan park located at Coal Mine Beach right by the inlet. A 3km bushwalking Heritage Trail also runs between the beach and Pioneer Cottage in town. The interpretive trail through forest and wetlands exemplifies the way of life of the first settlers in the area in the 1930’s. Allow 2 hours for a leisurely return.

walpole-hilltop-lookout Back on the highway, diagonally across from the Coalmine Beach turnoff is the Hilltop Road circuit, which explores Hilltop Lookout, the Giant Tingle Tree and Circular Pool.

The first port of call, 2km along, is the Hilltop Lookout, offering breathtaking views of the Frankland River, Nornalup Inlet and Southern Ocean in the distance. This perfect picture is framed by the tall timbers of the forest. The lookout is at the car park. Avid bushwalkers have the option of a 5km return walk to the Tingle Tree from here, through the beautiful forest.

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Those in vehicles continue on approximately 3km to the Giant Tingle Tree. There is a 1km loop walk through karri and red tingle forest, featuring enormous hollow butt trees with impressive roots, gnarled bark and burls. The forest here is absolutely gorgeous and the height and girth of some of these trees is phenomenal. The Giant Tingle Tree boasts a girth of 24 metres and is over 300 years old. These intriguing Red Tingle Trees can live for over 400 years and grow up to 75 metres high. Many wonder how the tree can survive and stay standing with such a hollow base and much weight on top. Well the hollow buttress is generally a result of bushfire and the tree’s trunk is so strong that it can continue to support itself even with a thin shell remaining. As long as the interior or living layer beneath the bark remains unimpaired it will reshoot and rejuvenate. After marvelling at the utter enormity of this tree, the track from the Giant Tingle Tree continues on and involves some steps before continuing back to the car park and amenities. The 400m track to the Giant Tingle Tree is wheelchair accessible, however you just return the way you came. The 1km walk is easy and takes about 20 minutes if you walk at a reasonable pace.

Circular Pool is at the end of the loop some 6km on, along the 11km track. You’ll need to veer left on Hill Top Rd after the Giant Tingle Tree, as turning right leads back to the highway. An easy 550m walk leads to the rapids cascading through rock pools and Circular Pool, which is part of the Frankland River, before it continues another 20km to flow into the Nornalup Inlet. Circular Pool acquired its name from the circular movements the currents form when moving through the rock pools. This picturesque part of the river is a delightful spot to relax, picnic and swim when weather permits. Steps are involved to descend right down to the water’s edge, however wheelchair access is available to the lookouts where there is plenty of scenic viewing. Picnic tables, bench seats and toilet facilities are also located here.

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The Valley of the Giants is another of the fabulous attractions near Walpole and the turnoff is just 12km east of town, and another 6km along reaches the ever popular Tree Top Walk. The drive itself through the magnificent forest of tingle, karri and marri is a delight and a hint of what’s to come.

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The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk is undoubtedly impressive. The 600 metre solid steel walkway ascends into the upper forest canopy of Tingle Trees, some over 400 years old. These amazing old trees with their protective canopies shield the forest below, including a variety of both plant and animal life. It’s an uplifting experience exploring this ancient forest from different levels as the walkway slowly ascends to the highest level of 40 metres and eventually descends back to the forest floor near the Wilderness Discovery Centre.

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The 450 metre Ancient Empire Walk also leaves from here and explores many Red Tingle Trees from the forest floor, all with unique appearances due to their hollowed out bases, gnarled bark , and knobbly burls. Many are so hollowed out you can easily stand inside them and even walk straight through them. The Valley of the Giants experience is open daily between 9am and 5pm and entry fees are charged at $12.50 per adult and $6.50 per child. Wheelchairs are available here, being the Tree Top Walk is totally wheelchair accessible, provided the person has assistance, and the Ancient Empire Walk is partially accessible. There is also a gift shop selling souvenirs and refreshments, a discovery centre, and toilet facilities.

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Whilst on the eastern side of town, if time permits, you can venture south of the highway and explore the coastline. Conspicuous Cliff is a stunning beach and definitely the most scenic in the region. It is accessible to two-wheel drives via Station Rd or Beach Rd, off the highway, and then onto Conspicuous Cliff Rd for 6km. The 250m walk to the first lookout is wheelchair accessible, where views of the beach in the distance can be enjoyed. A 50m walk finds the next lookout and a further 100m climb reaches the ultimate lookout platform, overlooking the magnificent beach and the breathtaking conspicuous cliff framing it. This beach is well worth a visit and offers fabulous photography opportunities and excellent surfing conditions.

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Blue Holes is further west along the coast, however only accessible via Station Rd and then a 4km sandy four-wheel drive track to Bellanger Beach, where the popular fishing holes lie. Four-wheel driving further along the beach is also an option. It is advisable to let your tyres down before attempting the Blue Holes track. Beach fishing here we caught Tailor and Bream.

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Mandalay Beach turnoff is 12km west of Walpole and the beach is a further 8km in via gravel road. It is part of D’Entrecasteaux National Park, where a Norwegian shipwreck lies off the coast. The seas are rough here and definitely not suitable for swimming. Beach fishing we caught just one sized Tailor. The winds were howling and the rain was falling on and off. Rock fishing looks incredibly dangerous here. Day entry passes to the park cost $11 per private vehicle and $5 for vehicles with concession card, motorbikes and coach passengers.

Swarbrick is 8km north of town along North Walpole Rd. This old Karri forest is unique and historic. It is the location of the environmental campaigners’ last stand against the timber culling industry in the Walpole Wilderness Area. A 500m walk takes you through the magnificent forest along the Swarbrick Art Loop, where local artists have expressed their feelings and beliefs about past events relating to the Walpole Wilderness through intriguing exhibits. Others have expressed their thoughts in writing on the “Wall of Perceptions”, which is actually a mirrored wall reflecting the forest wilderness and representing all that’s taken place in the past to keep the forest alive and protected.

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Fernhook Falls is northwest of Swarbrick, about 5km along Beardmore Rd. During the summer months swimming, picnicking and camping are popular activities here on the Deep River. The falls flow with the winter rains and are apparently stunning. The powerful falls between July and October attract white water rafting enthusiasts. Camping is permitted all year round and there is easy canoe access to the river. Gas barbeques, a camp kitchen and camp huts are available to whoever gets there first.

A different attraction close to Walpole is the Denmark Dinosaur World, Parrot Jungle and Reptile Park. walpole-bearded-dragon The small park is located on Bandit Rd, just east of Bow Bridge and is a 10 minute drive from the Valley of the Giants. Inside there are some dinosaur replicas and informative plaques relating to the history of the beasts. There are also several glass tanks with snakes and lizards to observe and reptile handling is held at 11am and 2pm daily. Outside are the vividly coloured and vibrantly behaving birds. Some squawk, some talk and some just stare! Many have bubbly personalities, singing and dancing or calling out to you. “Hello darling” was one of the continuous chants which attracted laughter and responses by many. There are a variety of birds to admire, including native Australian cockatoos, galahs, parrots, lorikeets, rosellas and the exotic Macaws. The park also has a kangaroo pen and is open daily between 9.30am and 4.30pm (closed throughout August and on Christmas Day).

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Walpole and surrounds attract plenty of tourists, particularly during the warmer months. There is a variety of accommodation in the region to suit all budgets. Options include lodges, cabins, chalets, bayside villas, riverside retreats and several caravan parks and camping grounds between Walpole and Denmark for the road trippers.

Near the township are Coalmine Beach Camp Ground, Valley of the Giants Ecopark and Rest Point Holiday Village. Coalmine Beach is 3.5km east of town, offering powered sites, cabins and chalets in a bush setting by the beach. This spot would suit the keen anglers with their own boat as a boat ramp is located here.

Valley of the Giants Ecopark is about 12km east of Walpole at Nornalup. It accommodates caravanning and camping only and is a wildlife haven promoting environmental conservation. The Tree Top Walk is close by.

Rest Point Holiday Village is a scenic stay on the banks of the Walpole Inlet, just a few km’s west of town, on Rest Point Rd. The park is pet friendly and offers camping sites, self-contained cabins and units, private boat ramp, boat hire, a jetty and fish cleaning station. “Stumpy the Stingray”, a 20 year long inlet resident, frequents the foreshore daily to collect the fishermen’s leftovers.

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Sandy Beach is close to Rest Point on Inlet Drive and is a beautiful, clear, calm swim beach on the Nornalup Inlet. There is a picnic table and toilet facilities and the long stretch of sand with inlet views finds plenty of room to settle in and relax in a quiet location.

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There is so much to see and do in the Walpole area and it definitely cannot all be jam-packed into one day. The best idea is to peruse the map at the Visitor Centre, take a copy with you and break the region up into sections to cover over a couple of days or more if time permits. The Walpole waterways, forests and coastline are set to impress. The fishing might spoil you too. Enjoy the Rainbow Coast.

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Gibb River Road

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