The karri tree (Eucalyptus Diversicolor) is a eucalypt native to the South West region of Western Australia. Found only in the Warren, also known as Karri Forest Region, these magnificent trees are one of the tallest trees in the world, reaching heights of over 80 metres. Between Augusta and Albany in Australia’s South West, there are a number of national parks and nature reserves that allow us to view these impressive forest giants up close.
There are a number of famous karri trees that stand out as well-known landmarks and tourist attractions. Arguably the most famous, the Gloucester Tree (pictured above), is located just a few kilometres out of Pemberton. It is one of eight karri trees that were used as a fire lookout between the 1930s to the 1960s, and is one of two of the original trees that can still be climbed today.
The Gloucester Tree is one of my must-do item ever since I started the planning of my trip. I reckon that it isn’t often that I will get a chance to climb a (very) tall tree sans safety harness and safety net. It sounds dangerous and it definitely is! It’s even more exciting when going up the tree and someone else wants to come down. It is a tight squeeze up there and it’s a balancing act that has to be performed by both parties on the same metal rung. A signage at the foot lists out the safety precautions to be taken when attempting the climb.
According to the information provided, 153 metal rungs are pegged into the tree trunk forming a ladder spiralling up towards the Gloucester Tree Lookout, 53 metres above the ground. While reasonably strenuous, I feel that the climb is doable for most people. It should take not more than 10 minutes and the view from the top should make the effort worth its while!
Apart from climbing the Gloucester Tree, I also visited the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. East of Walpole and West of Denmark, the Vally of the Giants is named after the red tingle tree (Eucalyptus jacksonii), another forest giant of the South West region. It is said that the tingle tree can measure up to 24 metres at the base, grow to a height of 75 metres and live for up to 400 years.
The Tree Top Walk, another of my must-do item, is a series of lightweight steel trusses built on steel pylons to form a secure ramp. It winds gently upwards to the forest’s canopy and is suitable for children and all ages, including wheelchairs and strollers. As I couldn’t bring my entire family up the Gloucester Tree, the Tree Top Walk was a nice alternative for them to experience the excitement of exploring the canopy of the magnificent forest. It takes around an hour and a half to drive from Pemberton to Walpole.
The highest point in the 600-metre loop is about 40 metres. At that height, we were almost (but not quite) level with the top of the majestic tingle trees. It was amazing to be with the trees in their environment and we were able to enjoy the breathtaking views across the forest.
Information for visitors
1. Gloucester Tree
The Gloucester Tree is located in the Gloucester National Park, about 2 kilometres from Pemberton. It is free to climb but an entry fee applies for vehicle entry into the Gloucester National Park. No fee is payable if a park is entered on foot or bicycle. More information is available at the Department of Parks and Wildlife website.
2. Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk
To get to the Tree Top Walk, travel 18 kilometres east along South Coast Highway from Walpole, past Nornalup town site to Valley of the Giants Road. It is open everyday (except Christmas Day) from 9:00am to 5:00pm. It may, however, be closed during extreme weather (lightning or very windy) conditions. An adult ticket costs A$15.00 and A$7.50 for a child between 6 to 16 year old. Discount is also available for family and concessionaire. More information is available at this website. If you are based in Perth, you may want to consider booking a day tour with a local operator instead.