Things to do in the Southern Forests
For the active, there’s a range of adventures on offer, many taking full advantage of the region’s old-growth forests – tree climbing, for instance. Pemberton has three enormous climbing trees, the largest, the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree, standing 75m tall. Originally used as fire lookouts in the 1940s, the trio of karri tree lookouts is impressive, but climbing them is not for those with vertigo – or with nervous parents.
- Climb Gloucester, Bicentennial or Diamond lookout trees
- Take a tour, drive or walk to the Yeagarup sand dunes
- Go mountain biking in Pemberton, or ride the famous Munda Biddi Trail
- Tour cellar doors and taste award-winning drops of the Pemberton wine region
- Fish the rivers and dams for trout, marron and perch; go salmon fishing on the coast, or picnic at Big Brook Dam
- Take a half-day Donnelly River Cruise to explore nature and Aboriginal heritage, see squatter’s huts, and walk on the edge of the Southern Ocean
- Take a canoeing tour on the Warren River and learn about the region’s flora and fauna
- Ride the Pemberton Tramway and wonder at the 1920s timber bridges
- Enjoy the fresh pancakes at the Lavender and Berry Farm
- Swim, picnic or walk around the natural swimming pool, constructed in 1928/29, in the Pemberton Forest Park
Enjoying the forests
A staggering 80 per cent of the Manjimup region is forest and national parks. The tall straight trees, some 300 years old, are majestic, and emit an energy you can’t deny. With an array of activities, from bush-walking and mountain biking to canoeing in the river, getting away from it all and into nature is the region’s real attraction.
The downside of living in an ancient forest? The risk of fire. To protect against this, a series of lookouts were constructed at the top of a few very tall karri trees during the 1930s and 1940s. Three remaining towers are open to those who are brave and love to climb: The 61m Gloucester Tree, the 51m Diamond Tree (the only wooden treetop tower in the world!) and the 75m Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree, which offers 360-degree-views of old-growth karri forest.
Nervous to take on a climbing tree? The highly civilised, 38m-high Tree Top Walk in the Valley of the Giants in Walpole offers majestic views of the tingle forests treetops, and is suitable for everyone. The interpretive centre and gift shop are also worth a stop.
For something else, the 10.5km Warren River Loop Walk wanders from the Pemberton karri forest to the Warren River.
- The best ways to stock up on local produce is to purchase from roadside stalls. My favourite is Phil’s Veggie Patch, halfway between Pemberton and Northcliffe
- Create a picnic with the above provisions together with Holy Smokes products, or buy some local Green Valley lamb from Fox Brothers Butchers in Pemberton and go down to Big Brook Dam. There are undercover areas with barbecues, a beach and a wonderful 45-minute sealed walk around the edge of the dam, with bird-watching huts
- Take a drive down to Windy Harbour via Northcliffe and stop at the visitor centre where you can access Understory – a unique sculpture walk through beautiful karri forest. If you’ve got the energy, hike up Mt Chudalup for amazing 360-degree-views
- Visit the amazing Yeagarup sand dunes with a Beach & Eco Forest Adventure Tour through Pemberton Discovery Tours. These dunes are the largest migratory sand dune system in the southern hemisphere, and are extraordinary!
- Plan ahead and book a seasonal dinner, wood-fired dinner or demonstration cooking class at Foragers