The sleepy little town of Pemberton was in the past known mostly for its massive karri tree forests in the Gloucester National Park and while fortunately they’re still there, it’s potential as a getaway outside of the tourist hotspots a little further north is only growing by the day.
With an expanding wine region that’s become renowned for stellar pinots thanks to the cooler climate, it’s becoming much more than just a stopover to destinations further south.
SEE & DO
Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree
Located inside the Warren National Park, this 75 meter tall karri tree was pegged for climbing to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary in 1988 and holds the claim of being the tallest climbing tree in the world. There’s lookout platform close to the top that can be reached by climbing 165 metal spokes hammered into the trunk. Those planning a visit will need to buy a National Park Pass ($12 per vehicle) from the Pemberton Visitor Centre first.
Big Brook Dam
Big Brook Dam was built in 1986 to supplement the Pemberton town water supply and and in recent times has become a popular recreational destination for locals and tourists alike. It’s one of the best spots in the region for a bbq, picnic, walk, fish and depending on the weather – swim. There’s also a campsite located nearby at Big Brook Arboretum, suitable for tents, caravans and camper trailers. Check out our full guide on Big Brook Dam!
The Gloucester Tree is the slightly shorter sibling of the Dave Evan’s Bicentennial Tree, coming in at 58 meters in height and holding the title for the world’s second tallest fire-lookout tree. Like the Bicentennial Tree, the climb is not for the faint hearted with apparently only 20 percent of visitors making all the way to the top.
Warren River Loop Trail
Located deep in the towering karri forests of Warren National Park and following the banks of the mighty Warren River for a section, the Warren River Loop Trail is one of the best and least talked about trails in the South West. Just a stone’s throw away from Pemberton, experience the magic of walking among giants, searching the forest floor for hundreds of different types of fungi or simply relaxing on a bench by the river listening to the birds chirping in the bushes. With two campsites along the trail, this is the perfect hike for a lazy weekend away where you’ll be surrounded by nothing but the sounds and smells of nature.
Pemberton Pool is a historic swimming pool constructed in the 1920’s for the families of timber workers. Surrounded by karri trees and nestled on the Lefroy Brook right in the centre of town, it’s an incredibly scenic spot for a summertime swim.
Beedelup Falls are the prime attraction of the Beedelup National Park, located a half an hours drive from the Pemberton town centre. The falls are present all year although the best time to see them in full flow is during the winter months or early spring.
D’Entrecasteaux National Park
D’Entrecasteaux National Park (located approximately 20 minutes from Pemberton) is a narrow strip of land 5 to 20 km wide which stretches along the south coast for more than 130 kilometres between Augusta and Walpole. The national park is an important conservation area of wild, pristine beauty; blessed with white beaches, rugged coastal cliffs and towering karri forests.
There is evidence that Nyoongar people have lived in South-West Australia for over 47,000 years. The oldest archeological evidence at D’Entrecasteaux is dated at 6000 years, although this does not mean it wasn’t occupied early than this. The traditional owners of the park are the Murram group, and the site remains an important place for them.
Old Vasse Trout & Marron Farm
Old Vasse Trout & Marron Farm is located only a five minute drive from the Pemberton town centre. Visitors are encouraged to catch their own Rainbow Trout (or marron if you’re lucky) from their private lake. They do not practice catch and release fishing, meaning, what you catch you must keep.
The Pemberton Tramway a privately operated tourist railway, which carries visitors through deep forests and the picturesque countryside. Each motorised tram seats up to forty people and moves and travels at a fairly leisurely pace. Suited to people of all ages.
EAT & DRINK
Pemberton is an unheralded region for superlative wines, its unique growing conditions producing some stellar pinots and Bordeaux-style wines. As a result the area is flush with beautiful wineries, mostly erring on the smaller side so it’s always best to check ahead before popping in. We’ll sling a couple of the more notable ones below, but for a comprehensive rundown best to get it from the town itself, HERE.
If it’s hearty, healthy big burger you’re after, Source Kitchen is the place to park up. They’ll also serve you up a tasty milkshake, and have plenty of other meals to choose from, but it’s hard to ignore a burger when it looks like this:
Treehouse Tapas & Wine Bar
The best restaurants in tourist areas are the ones just as filled with locals, and at Treehouse you’ll be rubbing shoulders with plenty of familiar faces. An awesome selection of tapas to share amongst friends, the atmosphere is chill and service is top notch – if you’re in town for a little while we dare say a repeat visit will be on the cards.
Hidden River Estate
Hidden River Estate is a must-stop for some fine lunch dining, open seven days a week during peak periods. Overlooking the karri forest-lined hills of Pemberton, owner/chef Ardal will look after you with a seasonal menu featuring only the freshest produce. You do pay for it but it’s more than worth it for the views, incredible food and lovely atmosphere. Along with their own wines they’ve got a strong selection of local offerings, plus if you’ve got tiny ones in tow there’s a small kids playground to keep ’em busy.
Having opened at the start of 2022, Ampersand Estates has already become a must-visit for anyone journeying through Pemberton. As well as three luxurious accommodation sites, the boutique winery showcases the region’s distinctive terroir – or wet your whistle at their distillery’s gin and vodka lounge.
Lavender & Berry Farm
For hands down the best pancakes in Pemberton (and perhaps all of the southwest), Lavender & Berry Farm Cafe’s pancakes are basically famous. Unsurprisingly if you’re a fan of lavender in general this place will be heaven for you, and it’s also a great spot for kids with a huge playground and hungry alpacas who love a feed from tiny hands. A wonderful cafe for breakfast or lunch – their sausage rolls are as big as they are tasty. Be aware they’re only open Thursday-Sunday.
A whisky bar and restaurant in a remote country town is a bold move, and Jaspers pulls it off with aplomb. Put it down to helpful, friendly and knowledgeable waitstaff, a delicious menu that’s packed with vegan and gluten free options (not so common this far away from the big smoke), great booze or c) all of the above we reckon. Try their whisky x chocolate pairings for a naughty dessert to really cap things off.
Best Western Pemberton Hotel
We can’t talk about a country town without a shoutout to the country town’s pub, and the Best Western is a fine establishment. The Cafe Mazz serves up great breakfast options (and will cater to gluten free/vegan requirements), while later in the day the pub serves up honest fare without muss or fuss.
A bit of a hidden gem, Chefingo’s restaurant lies within the Forest Lodge Resort and is well worth seeking out. Marron are a big deal down this way, and Chefingo’s signature dish is their Marron Chowder – an essential for any shellfish fan. Throw in some beautiful views from the deck and you’ve got another cracking eat and drink spot.
Header Image: Shutterstock / Agent Wolf