Walpole-Nornalup National Park Things to Do
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On our car trip from Margaret River to Albany we arrived at the Walpole-Nornalup National Park and Walpole Wilderness Area. It is 430 kilometers south of Perth, on Highway 1. The park has spectacular landscapes encompassing estuaries, forested hills dissected by rivers, and extensive unspoiled areas.
We stopped at the world-famous Valley of the Giants containing gigantic tingle trees some over 400 years old. A spectacular lightweight bridge gently rises 40 metres above the forest floor into the treetops. It consists of a series of sixty metre lightweight steel trusses built on steel pylons to form a secure ramp which is wheelchair accessible.
The walkway allows visitors to experience the forest without damaging the delicate roots of the trees. It was the first walk trail of its kind in the world - at 600 metres long and 40 metres high it allows a unique perspective of the forest. The attraction now also serves to inform visitors about the local ecosystem and the forest's ancient beginnings.
Looking through the forest canopy from the Tree Top Walk we got a bird’s-eye view of the towering forest. Burnt crowns from major fires in 1937 and 1951 appear above the forest canopy at the highest point of the tree top walk. Most of these trees are still alive having grown a new crown under the old dead one. Tingles have adapted to fire however frequent intensive fire would eventually kill them. The walk gives awesome views over the grove of giant trees. There is only one word for such a walk - exhilarating.
This special and uniquely Western Australia tourism attraction has won the Environmental Experience category in the prestigious British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. A panel of environmental experts chose the Tree Top Walk from more than 75 entries from 38 countries as a world role model for responsible tourism.
Descending to the boardwalks below we explored the "Ancient Empire Walk" which winds through a grove of the tingle trees. These are some of the most enormous trees in the world with bases up to 16 metres in circumference and are only found in the forest surrounding the Valley of the Giants. A distinctive feature of many red tingle trees is their large hollowed out base caused by fire, fungal and insect attack. They have shallow roots that sit just below the ground's surface.
Interpretive signage makes for self-guided walks, while a school holiday education program includes interpretive tours including an Aboriginal cultural experience. Sword grass grows prolifically throughout the wet tingle forest. As its name suggests its leaf blades are razor-sharp and can cut an unwary hand.
The burls and gnarled bark of one distinctive red tingle give it an almost human character. It is almost as if she is watching over the forest and those who enter it. She measures more than 12m in circumference and is over 400 years old.
The southern forest bat roost in groups of up to 100 in the hollow butts of the tingle trees. They emerge at dusk and feed on various insects and moths. Other nocturnal creatures are the quenda and quokka which are rat like in appearance.
All in all the Valley of the Giants gives a sense of awe at the ability of nature to produce something so spectacular and even to adapt and survive fire.Related to:
- National/State Park
It's not every day that one gets to walk casually around the upper parts of magnficent trees such as those found here.
A lot of these trees are of the four types of eucalypts only found in the Walpole area. Three species of tingle trees are found amongst these trees in the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk.
Western Australia's Department of Conservation & Land Management (CALM - great acronym eh? couldn't we all do with some of that!) has constructed this walk to help us learn more about the significance of the tingle forest while we actually walk through it at different levels, not just on the ground. Mind you it's still worth a thorough investigation at ground level.
This is not a suspension type structure like the one at Capilano in Vancouver, Canada. You do the treetop walk here on a series of 60metre lightweight steel trusses which afre built of steel pylons. Thus is formed a secure ramp which rises slowly as the terrain below drops away to a deep valley. This structure enables people in assisted wheelchairs to enjoy this spectacular scenery.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Road Trip
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The treetop walk rises about 38 metres above the ground, and from there you can view the old growth Karri and Tingle trees (not quite sure exactly what Tingle trees are! but there's quite a lot written about them at the site)
It's located within the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, which is nearly 20,000 hectares.
For those like me not keen on heights and who don't want to do the walk, there's a good souvenir shop in the ticket office where you can browse and fill in quite a bit of time. Information boards outside explain more about the Treetop walk.
Picnic facilities and toilets also available there.
The place is open 9 am - 5 pm every day of the year except Xmas or during really bad weather conditions like lightning where you wouldn't want to be walking above the treetop canopy on a metal walkway....
Adult admission is $6, children aged 6-15, $2.50 ea.Related to:
- National/State Park