Walpole-Nornalup National Park
Walpole–Nornalup National Park, surrounding the town of Walpole on the state’s south coast, is renowned for its forest of rare red tingle trees, known as the Valley of the Giants. These ‘giants’, the most massive of all eucalypts and unique to the Walpole area, can be seen from the breathtaking heights of the Tree Top Walk, which leads through the canopy.
From Perth via South Western Hwy to Walpole
All seasons, but winter months can be cold and wet
430 km south of Perth; surrounding Walpole
DEC Walpole (08) 9840 0400
15 861 ha
Walpole (08) 9840 1111
Featured Activities in the National Park
Take a bird’s eye view of the giant tingle forest from the Tree Top Walk
Learn about tingle trees on the Ancient Empire interpretive boardwalk
Paddle a canoe along the Frankland River, where huge karri and tingle trees line the banks of the river
A look at the past
According to the Murrum people, Nornalup means ‘place of the black snake’. This tribe used the Walpole–Nornalup area for hunting, ﬁshing and camping, and the remains of stone ﬁsh traps still lie around the inlets. Sealers and whalers arrived on the coast in the early 1800s, but it was not until 1910 that permanent European settlement began. That year, the Frenchman Pierre Bellanger and his family took up land beside the Frankland River and, the following year, the Thompson family from England settled at Deep River. Between 1924 and 1930, land settlement schemes for unemployed men and their families opened up the rest of the area for farming.
The tingle forest provides a habitat for western grey kangaroos, brushtail possums, southern brown bandicoots, western pygmy-possums and dunnarts. Across the coast, inlets and forests, the park boasts 141 bird species, among them the only native ﬁnch found in the region, the red-eared ﬁretail. There are intriguing invertebrate species such as the tingle spider, primitive snails and Peripatus, a living link between worms and arthropods. Incredibly, these invertebrates have survived for some 65 million years.
Natural features and native plants
Walpole–Nornalup National Park extends some 40 kilometres along the coastline, surrounding the Walpole and Nornalup inlets, the latter fed from either side by the Frankland and Deep rivers. Within the park are towering open forests, heathlands and wetlands, while the coast is marked by granite headlands, sandy beaches and picturesque coves.
The park is a sanctuary for four eucalypt species: red tingle (Eucalyptus jacksonii), yellow tingle (E. guilfoylei), Rate’s tingle (E. brevistylis), and the brilliantly coloured red-ﬂowering gum (E. ﬁcifolia). The distribution of red tingle has contracted to just a few thousand hectares around Walpole. Reaching 75 metres in height, the tingle has a huge trunk up to 20 metres in circumference. The understorey plants are similar to those found in karri forest: karri she-oak, karri wattle, karri hazel and tassel ﬂower. Australian orchids are also proliﬁc here, with some 90 species recorded. The best time to search for their delicate blooms is from mid-August to early October.
The most famous walk is the 38-metre-high Tree Top Walk in the Valley of the Giants. At ground level, the Ancient Empire interpretive boardwalk weaves its way through veteran tingle trees. Other walks include Giant Tingle Tree Trail (800 metres, easy) to a huge old tingle hollowed out by ﬁre; Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail (6 kilometres return) from Walpole to Coalmine Beach with interpretive plaques; Mandalay Beach boardwalk with descriptive notes about the 1911 shipwreck of the Mandalay; easy walks around Conspicuous Cliff with its outstanding coastal views; and sections of the Bibbulmun Track, a world-class trail between Perth and Albany.
One of the best ways to see the river and inlet systems is by canoe (Nornalup and Walpole offer canoe hire). Fernhook Falls to the mouth of Deep River is one of the most popular areas.
Around Walpole amateur anglers can ﬁsh from a boat in the inlet and rivers or off the coast, or from the beaches and rocks. Black bream, ﬂounder, ﬂathead, salmon trout, herring and King George whiting are some of the 37 ﬁsh species recorded here. Access to the coast can be difﬁcult without a 4WD. Two good ﬁshing spots with 2WD access are Peaceful Bay and Mandalay Beach.
Four-wheel driving and touring
Scenic drives through this park include Valley of the Giants Drive through magnificent karri and tingle forest to the Tree Top Walk; Hilltop Drive, a 24-kilometre-loop drive leading to Hilltop Lookout, Giant Tingle Tree and Frankland River’s Circular Pool; and the 5-kilometre Knoll Scenic Drive through beautiful karri forest with panoramic views of the inlets, as well as access to good picnic areas and fishing spots.
Most of the 4WD tracks in the park lead to the coast and have stretches of deep sand. Some of the more popular tracks include the 4-kilometre Blue Holes Track to Bellanger Beach, popular with fishermen; Long Point Track winding 9 kilometres to the coast starting from Mandalay Beach Road; and the park access track west from Peaceful Bay.
Southern right and humpback whales can often be seen off the coast between June and September. One of the best viewing platforms is at Conspicuous Cliff.
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