Here are a few random paragraphs from my latest published article - "Dandy Walpole" - January edition of On the Road magazine, available in Australia.
Towering red tingle and karri forests, wildflowers, rivers and inlets, and the Southern Ocean’s kilometres of picturesque coastal scenery, rugged headlands, rock pools and secluded beaches. It is no wonder that tourists are drawn to this land of contrast along Western Australia’s south coast, where the seven National Parks of the Walpole Wilderness area form a biodiversity hotspot protecting around 2,500 species of native flora.
|Paperbarks, Wilson Inlet, Denmark|
However the area was not always so idyllic. In the past timber mills clear felled thousands of acres of virgin bush and immigrants with no experience of farming tried to eke out a meager existence living in group settlements. Today there are towns, facilities, camp grounds and many accommodation options to choose from, whilst easily accessible walk tails allow you to explore, ranging from half hour wheel-chair friendly walks to sections of the 963 kilometre Perth to Albany Bibbulmun Track.
Walking the shady paths of the Harewood Forest Conservation Area along the banks of Scotsdale Brook near Denmark, with Karri trees towering over you and forest flowers blooming in profusion accompanied bird song, it is difficult to imagine its past. Interpretive signage along the walk describes how this pocket of regenerated forest was clear felled 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 international export. Karri blocks were used to pave streets in London. After 10 years of intense logging all the usable timber was used and the mill closed in 1905.
|Harewood Forest, Denmark|
66km west of Denmark, the smaller town of Walpole is situated on the Walpole Inlet, surrounded by the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. There are numerous easily accessed walk trails of varying distances and difficulty through the forest, including short walks along parts of the Bibbulmun Track. Behind the Visitor Information Centre a 2.5km loop track allows enjoyment of the forest easy for just about everyone, whilst the Mt Claire Summit Trail (2.4km return) climbs through tingle and karri forest rewarding you with views to the coast.
At ground level the Ancient Empire walk winds through the forest around trees 16 metres in diameter. Accessible to wheel chairs, the walks were built to protect the forests and to enhance the experience of visitors without causing adverse impact on the trees. During school holidays visitors can also experience ‘Forest By Night’ guided walks.
|Valley of the Giants, Walpole|
Continuing north along the South Western Highway you enter the Shannon National Park where there is a beautiful shaded quiet campsite run by the Department of Environment and Conservation on the site of the old Shannon townsite. Timber milling ceased here in 1983 and today there are four walk trails of varying difficulty that allow you to explore the Karri, Tingle, Marri, Blackbutt and Karri Oak forests of the Park, including a walk to the old Shannon timber mill Dam. This is a lovely place for picnicking and canoeing. At the Quokka Observation Shelter you can see runnels and pads which are evidence of the Quokka colony which live in the swampy area along this part of the trail, however being a night forager you will be lucky to see one.
|Driving through Shannon National Park|
This full article can be read in "On the Road" magazine - January 2012 edition.
To check it out, you can click on the link - On The Road - January 2012
Then click on "more" under "Dandy Walpole" title
Here is a scan of the opening page - this picture is actually looking from Ocean Beach across Wilson Inlet to Denmark.
You might also like to read my article "Walking in the Shannon" - click on the link - Walking in the Shannon