Are you sick of the hustle and bustle of city life? Feeling the urge to go off the grid and escape into nature? Let us introduce you to (or reacquaint you with) Walpole, a small coastal town a five-hour-and–45-minute drive south of Perth, where the forest meets the sea.
Walpole is the definition of rugged natural beauty, with scenic limestone clifftops, the pumping Southern Ocean, ancient eucalyptus trees and natural swimming holes. Sitting on the southern edge of Western Australia, 65km west of Denmark and 120km southeast of Manjimup, Walpole has a plethora of outdoor activities on offer.
SEE & DO
Valley of the Giants
A must-do activity in Walpole is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, which treats you to unbeatable views 40m high in the sky. Walk along platforms through the canopies of the breathtaking tingle trees, taking in the unique bird’s eye view of the forest. There’s also a boardwalk called the Ancient Empire Walk along the forest floor, weaving past, and sometimes directly through, the massive red tingle, yellow tingle, marri and karri trees.
Did you know Walpole has a large population of quokkas? Unlike the Rottnest quokkas though, they are pretty shy and tend to move around at nighttime. If you are in the Valley of the Giants early in the day, you might be lucky enough to spot a cute quokka in the vegetation.
WOW Wilderness EcoCruises
For the chance to explore Walpole from the water, hop on a WOW Wilderness EcoCruise and journey through the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park and Nuyts Wilderness Area. Enjoy the natural surroundings and spot wildlife from the comfort of the boat, all while learning about the region thanks to the educational and entertaining commentary by the local guides. You can book your tour via the Walpole Visitor’s Centre.
The Giant Tingle Tree
It’s worth admiring the mighty and ancient Giant Tingle Tree, a 400-year-old (and then some!) red tingle tree tucked into the Walpole wilderness. Tingles are considered the world’s largest girthed eucalyptus, and this hollowed-out beauty is one to behold. There’s an 800m circular trail that leads you from the car park to the ancient tree.
The aptly named Peaceful Bay is a quiet settlement and beach about 30km from Walpole, in the direction of Denmark. The calm and pristine bay is perfect for swimming, fishing, snorkelling, boating, SUP boarding and kayaking, and if you’d like to stay a while, there are chalets and a caravan park a stone’s throw from the water’s edge.
Swarbrick Art Loop
Part of the Walpole Wilderness Discovery Centre, the Swarbrick Art Loop is a family-friendly walk only 500m in length, featuring artwork and sculptures within the centuries-old karri trees. Be sure to check out the Wilderness Wall of Perceptions, a large steel wall with quotes relating to the preservation of the forest.
Get your camera ready and head to Conspicuous Cliff, a limestone clifftop granting sweeping views over the waves of Conspicuous Beach. There are lookouts (perfect for spotting migrating whales), a picnic area and stairs taking you down to the beach below.
Mount Frankland National Park & Fernbrook Falls
If you fancy a hike, hop in the car and head 30km north of Walpole to Mount Frankland National Park. The 31,000-hectare park is home to towering endemic eucalyptus trees, where you can truly escape into the pristine forest. A vista of the canopy can be seen from the accessible Mount Frankland Wilderness Lookout, but to get your heart rate up hike to the summit of the mountain. Also within the park is Fernhook Falls, a great spot for picnicking, and there’s a boardwalk that guides you along the river to Rowell’s Pool.
Pack a picnic and head to Circular Pool, a serene natural watering hole on the Frankland River. There’s a boardwalk, viewing platforms and a picnic table for you to fully enjoy the sights. After heavy rainfall in winter, rapids tend to gush over the granite boulders, but in summer the pool is calmer and more suitable to paddle around in.
EAT & DRINK
The Marron Tale Café and Farm
Have you ever tried freshly caught marron? This freshwater crayfish is only found in WA’s southwest, and The Marron Tale’s new cafe has to be the best place in the area to feast on this delicacy. The cafe serves property-farmed marron as well as other lunch options, plus brekkie, cold drinks, coffee and cakes if you’re after something lighter.
Previously the Nornalup Teahouse, after renovations and a rebranding this bar and restaurant is now called The Nornabar and is headed up by two Sri Lankan chefs who dish out both South East Asian and Mediterranean dishes. Opt for Sri Lankan-style fried rice, seafood pasta or even the lamb curry. Swing by for a brunch of shakshuka eggs, muesli parfait or a BELT sandwich with sourdough (and Denmark bacon) before hitting up the Tree Top Walk or the calm waters of Greens Pool.
This family-run winery by Melissa Boughey and David Britten is situated between Denmark and Walpole, the perfect pit stop on your south coast journey. Sample their range of hand-picked wines, notably the chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, before admiring Melissa’s beautiful artworks on display.
Admittedly closer to Denmark, The Dam is a must-visit lunch venue about a 40-minute drive east of Walpole along South Coast Highway. The lush farm property is home to a large restaurant facing a beautiful blue dam, plus a distillery creating seltzers and spirits distilled from cannabis sativa (hemp) grown on the property. The menu sees share plates of roasted local marron and Esperence octopus, and larger plates of barramundi and local beef.
If you’re not hungry, just come for a drink on the decking – there’s a lovely selection of cocktails and seltzers made from their hemp spirits, plus wine and beer. The Dam is only a few minutes down the road from renowned local beaches Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks.
Sly Fox Diner
Unassuming from the outside, this hidden gem is a 1950s-style diner adorned with retro decor, memorabilia and even a jukebox. Located just off the highway in Bow Bridge, halfway between Walpole and Denmark, this is a quirky lunch spot with amazing burgers and milkshakes. If you have other lunch plans, it’s worth still stopping by for a coffee to look at the walls covered in nostalgic wares.
Peaceful Bay Fish & Chips
For the freshest fish caught from the waters around you, try Peaceful Bay Fish & Chips. The line-caught fish is best enjoyed on the sands of Peaceful Bay, but there’s a dine-in area too. This family-run business is located at the Peaceful Bay Caravan Park.
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