“Surely there can be no greater cathedral than forests such as those of the karri” Vincent Serventy, noted Australian naturalist, as written on the “Wilderness Wall of Perceptions” at Swarbrick in Walpole.
Walking through the beautiful Harewood Forest along the banks of the Scotsdale Brook near Denmark on Western Australia’s south coast, it is difficult to imagine its past. The Karri trees tower straight and tall above you, forest flowers bloom in profusion and the sound of bird song fills the air. It is a peaceful world. The trickling brook and picnic tables invite you to linger and spend time enjoying the forest.
Interpretive signage along the walk tells us that the Harewood Forest Conservation Area is a pocket of forest that has regenerated after being clear felled by hand with axes and cross cut saws as part of a 20,000 acre timber lease acquisition by Millar’s Timber and Trading Company in 1895. At its peak, two trainloads of sawn Karri timber per day were sent to Albany for export all over the world. Karri blocks were used to pave streets in London. After 10 years of intense logging all the usable timber was used. The mill closed in 1905 and Denmark was only saved from demolition by the petitioning of locals.
During the 1920’s Western Australia offered free land to settlers from the United Kingdom under the group settlement scheme. Fifteen settlements were set up in the area, one of them in the Harewood area. However many of the immigrants had no background in farming or living in primitive conditions and by 1930 70% of the settlers had left the Group Settlements. For those who remained the life was tough.
That history is in the past and Denmark is now a thriving, diverse community with a friendly, relaxed feel, which attracts visitors to its vineyard covered hillsides, towering wilderness forests, spectacular coastline, pristine beaches, scenic drives and walk trails which showcase the natural beauty of Denmark.
Situated 52 kilometres west of Albany and 66 kilometres east of Walpole on Western Australia’s south coast, Denmark is attractively located on the banks of the Denmark River which flows into Wilson Inlet and then into the Southern Ocean.
Denmark’s mild climate makes it the perfect place to base yourselves. There are five caravan parks close to Denmark, one of which is conveniently located at the river mouth. There are also many cottages, chalets, farm stays, and bed and breakfasts.
Denmark is a place to relax and take time out. Canoe down the Denmark River, relax in the calm waters of Greens Pool, explore a heritage trail, take the Mt Shadforth Scenic Drive or climb Mt Lindesay for magnificent views across farmland to the ocean, visit craft and art galleries and the growing number of wineries, enjoy a platter of fresh local produce, spend the afternoon fishing, or just lay under the trees on the river bank, the choice is all yours.
To read this complete article see it in "Go Camping Australia" magazine, Spring 2009 issue.