Drive the Karri Forest Explorer and discover some of the State's most beautiful forest country.
Most of us associate Pemberton with its magnificent surrounding forests. Known as Karri country, the area is also thick with jarrah and marri trees. There are numerous walk trails that wind their way through the thick vegetation, but as summer in Pemberton can get a little warm, you can keep cool by discovering the forest from behind the wheel.
The new Karri Forest Explorer Tourist Drive winds though several national parks and past some of Pemberton's best natural attractions, wineries and accommodation. What makes the drive particularly unique is that each main attraction has a FM radio station you can tune into from your car to learn more about the history and preservation of the area. From conservationists to long time residents, the stories are told by people intimately involved in the project. Starting just outside town, the 86km trail is meant to be travelled in an anti-clockwise direction, although you can join it at several points along the way depending on where you're coming from.
If you plan on driving from start to finish, the first major stop outside Pemberton is Big Brook Dam. Made in 1986, the Dam supplements the Pemberton water supply, and there's also great trout and marron fishing down stream. If casting a line is on your agenda, the Pemberton Trout Hatchery is right nearby, but seeing as marron is in season, fishing at the dam is the way to go. Marron fishing is restricted to snare only during the summer months so you're better off leaving your nets at home. There is interpretive information and wheelchair access right around the dam.
If you were hoping to pick up a crisp bottle of white or two, the drive takes you along Channybearup Road where you'll come across Mountford Wines and Phillips Estate. Along with their winery, Mountford also boasts a cidery and an art gallery featuring WA painters, photographers and sculptors with live entertainment every Sunday. And if the driving has left you feeling a bit peckish, the restaurant at Phillips Estate has a large deck overlooking the lake and gardens, perfect for an alfresco summer. If you're travelling with the kids, you can let them loose on the children's playground while you enjoy some peace and quiet.
Long drives and picnic lunches marry perfectly, so if you'd rather pack a hamper full of your family's favourites there are many great picnic spots along the way. One of the best is the picnic area in the heart of Giblett Forest. Although in the final stages of construction, the area was once the scene of large scale forest protests and is now protected under the government's Old Growth Forest Policy. The broadcast gives listeners an insight into the protests and forest management, and the location is now equipped with car parks, signage, walk trails, sheltered picnic and barbecue sites and interpretive information.
While the drive takes around a day to complete, if you're interested in pitching a tent for the night, a great place along the drive is the Heartbreak Trail in the heart of the Warren National Park. This 11km one way track drives along the edge of the Warren River where you're greeted by some breathtaking river valley views. Two large camping areas, Drafties Campsite and Warren Campsite, have been built on the trail. Drafties is the largest of the two with 20 camp spaces, toilets and a soon to be completed camp kitchen. With decking and jetties located at each picnic and camp spot, this is a great place to get out on a canoe, fish or simply cool down with a refreshing dip.
Other major attractions along the drive include the Bicentennial and Gloucester Trees, Beedelup Falls in the Beedelup National Park, and the Cascades on the Lefroy Brook. The Cascades is the last stop on the way back into Pemberton where you'll discover the famous suspension bridge, easy wheelchair access, and walk trails with magnificent views of Karri Valley Resort.
Trout and avocado are harvested in December and are best experienced from the local restaurants and cafes. If you'd like to head to the coast for a day, the views across the ocean from Mt Chadulup in the D'Entrecasteaux National Park are breathtaking and the fishing is brilliant at this time of year.