With its pristine environment, serenity and the good life, Denmark is a place where you’ll find the people are genuinely friendly. Walk through the town centre and you’ll see and hear people from all cultures, ages, and countries – it’s just buzzing with community spirit.
Of course, the first people in Denmark were the Aborigines – the Noongar people who lived off the resources of the karri and jarrah forests. Thanks to archaeological evidence found in the Wilson Inlet and along Ocean Beach, their initial presence has been traced back to about 40,000 years ago.
In the late 1800s, Denmark was a farming town, then for a short time became a centre for timber milling, before shifting back to being an agricultural community. Then, in the 1960s it became known as a place of free love, attracting waves of hippies. The ‘tree and sea changers’ have come more recently, many of them with their sights set on a livelihood in tourism. Denmark is now a town for visitors, through and through.
The seven-days-a-week town centre is bordered by the Denmark River on one side, and boasts quaint and earthy specialty shops and services, restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, a tavern and a hotel. Although the highway goes through the town, most of the shops are found off it, on the quiet side streets.
Concealed on the hills behind the town are wineries, restaurants, breweries, galleries, stunning accommodation and farms.
Down at the coastline, it’s all about the magnificent beaches. Greens Pool features a tranquil lagoon-like swimming bay that’s dotted with perfectly placed boulders, making it a beach to rival the best in the world. Just next door to it is Elephant Rocks, a tiny bay populated by rocks that resemble a herd of the aforementioned pachyderms – it makes for amazing scenery. The fresh salty air and waves rolling in at Lights Beach and Ocean Beach add to what are glorious coastal experiences.
There are plenty of other walks and rides that will take you along heritage routes, by the ocean and through forests, including the famed Bibbulmun and Munda-Biddi tracks.
- Hike through ancient forests, where towering karris dominate the landscape. Their sheer size will amaze you, as will the intricate flora and fauna on the forest floor.
- Walk 40m above ground amongst the tingles at the Tree Top Walk.
- Explore the amazing Denmark coastline. It can range from enormous seas, to rolling surf to stunning tranquil pools, all within a few kilometres.
- Drive through the postcard perfect wine region and taste Denmark’s lovely cool-climate drops, delicious produce and sumptuous lunches.
- Relax in the hands of Denmark’s experienced wellness practitioners.
- Get out there, feel the breeze on your face and ride the awesome cycling and mountain bike trails.
- Up the ante at the new adventure park – roll down the world’s longest hydro-zorbing track, play bubble soccer, and climb a karri.
- Snorkel in the beautiful bays of Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks.
- Chill out at an outdoor summer rock concert among the vines.
- Catch a salmon off Mazzoletti Beach (Feb-May).
Visit scooptraveller.com.au/DenmarkCoast for more information.
Denmark is a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Perth. Take Albany Highway to Mount Barker then follow the Denmark-Mount Barker Road.
Daily coach services operate from Perth to Albany and connect to
a twice-daily Albany to Denmark service.
Before you go Where there are forests, there’s rain.
Denmark can truly have four seasons in one day, so pack your coat,
brolly and your shorts!
TOP SECRET SET
While its exact location is a closely guarded secret, an infamous big wave known as The Right is found in a usually calm stretch of deep water near Denmark. It made international news last year as one of the biggest waves ever surfed, and is set to become even more famous as a film location for the movie of Tim Winton’s Breath, being shot in Denmark in 2016. The Right pumps for about three weeks of the year.
DO & SEE
ONLY IN WA
VALLEY OF THE GIANTS TREE TOP WALK
Tiptoe through the tingles – the giant eucalypt forest – on the 40m high, 600m-long accessible walkway. Take your time and stop at the corners so you can really appreciate what life is like in the canopy of the only red tingle forest in the world. Back on the ground, walk through the undergrowth and see where the 400-year-old trees like ‘Grandma Tingle’ bear the scars of time.
Perfectly long rolling waves have earned Ocean Beach a reputation as one of the top spots in Australia to learn to surf. On a good day, it can even match the best right-hand breaks in the world. Fun (and a little bit crazy!) surfing lessons are available, as is hire of surfboards and wetsuits. Experienced surfers should also try Lights Beach and Parry’s Beach.
One of the prettiest bays you’ll come across, Greens Pool has a white sandy beach and shallow waters so calm that they’re perfect for swimming and paddling. It’s not just the striking clear water that makes this one of the most inviting swimming or sightseeing spots in the region, it’s also the boulders that seem to have been plopped into the bay, just begging to be climbed up and ‘bombied’ off! Before you do, make sure you check the depth, so it’s safe to jump off.
Take a short walk from Greens Pool in William Bay National Park to a tiny little bay where enormous boulders appear, looking like a herd of elephants emerging from the shallows – and that’s even before you’ve been wine tasting! Be prepared to take off your shoes and roll up your pants, as the little crevasse that you have to walk through often experiences a small surge. This secluded little bay looks good for a swim, but be careful of occasional rips.
Denmark is often called the Byron Bay of Western Australia, and with its comprehensive cluster of talented wellness practitioners and esoteric venues, you can understand why. Whether you want to get away from it all, de-stress and relax, or start a healing journey, Denmark couldn’t be a better destination. Services include massage, yoga, meditation, Reiki healing, readings, beauty therapies and more. Pop into The Sacred Tree in town for their free community-guided meditation session at 10am every Wednesday.
You don’t need a boat! Denmark’s Wilson Inlet is one of the very rare places where you can catch pink snapper in four to five metres of water! The inlet is also great for King George whiting, cobbler, flounder and crabs. Bream can be caught in the river – get your freshwater fishing licence from the post office. Lights Beach and Parry Beach are good for fishing, but the south coast is notorious for freak waves, so don’t fish from the rocks. Mazzoletti Beach is great for salmon fishing, with deep gutters from February to May. No boat? Hire a dinghy or get out on a fishing charter. If you do have a boat, there’s a ramp near the caravan park at the river mouth.
Swim, ride, paddle, dragon boat, jump, pick, eat, pat, fish, and climb. There’s so much fun and adventure in Denmark for the kids, the hard part will be getting them back in the car!
Denmark has some absolutely spectacular accommodation, with a range of architecture and locations to do the region justice. There are amazing places that bring sophistication and wellness into wilderness settings, offerings that are rustic and quaint, and caravan parks and camping grounds in beautiful national parks. Find short stay options through local real estate agents, or you can rent hotel-style chalets on private properties in the forest, or at the Rivermouth Caravan Park (right on the inlet). Plenty have wood fires, which are perfect to cosy up to in winter, with red wine and good tunes.
DROP IN ON THE LOCALS
Justine Nagorski, CEO, Denmark Tourism Inc
In the warmer months, I enjoy swimming at Greens Pool within William Bay National Park, followed by a hearty lunch at one of the many restaurants in Denmark – all using fresh seasonal produce to create signature dishes. My lunch is always enjoyed with a glass of premium award-winning Denmark wine – the cellar door choices are so immense, you can easily spend three days visiting them all.
Denmark is a dream destination for those who love to hit a trail. The Munda Biddi Trail for off-road cycling and the Bibbulmun Track for hikers both pass through town. Out a little further, Monkey Rock, Mount Shadforth, the Denmark-Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail and Wilson Inlet Heritage Walk Trail offer more adventures. Maps, track transfers, updates, and equipment and bike hire are available at the visitor centre.
MUNDA BIDDI TRAIL
This 1000km off-road cycling route kicks off in Mundaring and ends in Albany. Around Denmark, it passes through farmlands and forests and hugs the coast. Plan your ride at mundabiddi.org.au.
Australia’s world-class long-distance walking trail stretches nearly 1000km from the Perth Hills to Albany. The Walpole to Denmark section is 127km long, with the final stretch from Denmark to Albany at 85km. Both sections offer excellent campsites and pass through spectacular forests, farming land, and rugged and serene coastal areas. Check out bibbulmuntrack.org.au.
If you’re up for a bit of a climb, the 4km return walk from the carpark on Lights Road is up, up, up and then down, down, down! Atop the rock are spectacular views over William Bay National Park, Ratcliffe Bay, Ocean Beach and the Nullaki Peninsula. There are no guide rails, so ensure weather conditions are favourable for a safe climb. To extend your walk, continue on to the coastal cliffs above Lights Beach.
Tips from a Denmark-lover: Scoop staffer Tamara Day
When I first visited Denmark 10 years ago, I fell in love, and planned that day to move my life down there. It is quiet and quaint, very family-orientated, and the people are friendly and welcoming. They’re all so relaxed.
The beaches are pristine and stunning, with bays such as Ocean Beach surrounded by mountains.
You can never tire of Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks, which provide the most beautiful, sheltered bays for swimming and sunbathing. These two areas are like being on some exotic island.
There are plenty of wineries around Denmark, a great ugg boot factory, small boutiques and brilliant food and it’s only a 30-minute (50km) drive to Albany – I think that’s why Denmark has stayed small.
There are national parks, tree top walks, beautiful drives lined with huge karri trees, and you can go exploring and find nearby secret spots like neighbouring Torbay.
In summer, outdoor concerts are super family-friendly, with kids running around and everyone chilling out and having a great time. Artists like John Butler and The Waifs often perform down there.
I feel grounded, relaxed and so peacefully calm and happy when I am in Denmark. Burying my feet into the soft sand and ocean is so cleansing while breathing in the salt air. I often tear up leaving, as I truly feel at home.
EAT AND DRINK
Denmark is renowned for producing exceptional cool-climate wines, and that’s a rarity in Western Australia. Riesling, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and a little merlot, shiraz and pinot noir are noted drops from the area. Few WA regions have the weather to produce a good riesling or pinot, but Denmark does it nicely.
The superb climate and soils also aid in growing a plethora of gastronomic delights, attracting talented innovative chefs to a wine and food region that stands up with some of the best in the world.
Take a drive along the scenic Mount Shadforth Road and the Scotsdale Tourist Drive, where you’ll find a precinct of cellar doors, restaurants, a brewery, cidery and boutique food outlets. If that’s not enough, just follow your nose to the highway, where there’s a host of new options to choose from.
There is a great choice of food outlets open day and night in town, including down by the water, with fresh innovative food and organic offerings starting to make quite an appearance. The roadside stall on Inlet Drive sells freshly caught seafood and shellfish.
Don’t leave town without… tasting a salted caramel truffle!
PERTH INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL, GREAT SOUTHERN PROGRAM
Some of the world’s best theatre, film, art and literature, plus free events. Feb-Mar.
TASTE GREAT SOUTHERN
A food and wine fest with more than 70 individual events across the region, including long table lunches, degustation dinners, masterclasses, food fairs, farmers’ markets, wine festivals, tutored wine tastings and more. Mar-Apr.
DENMARK FESTIVAL OF VOICE
Join in the celebration of the human voice as this festival brings together local, national and international artists, with a focus on community singing. Features free concerts and workshops. Jun.
GREAT SOUTHERN ART AND CRAFT TRAIL
From the totally amazing to the utterly quirky, meander along the trail of fine art and craft, on display at more than 65 venues, including galleries, studios, wineries, restaurants, community halls and retail outlets. Sep-Oct.