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Things to do in Pemberton and the great South
In Springtime the little south west towns are all bursting with new life, and there’s nothing we like doing better than taking a trip south.
It’s probably my favourite time of year for a road trip because the ground is green and lush, and the splashes of intense colour are bright and new, which makes walking or cycling a pleasure, plus it’s a bonus that the weather is cool for exercising.
For instance, life just doesn’t get much prettier than this nature’s pink, below, for me.
Light showers, blue skies, grey skies, clouds and bursts of intermittent sunshine characterise the months of September and October in the south west pocket of Australia. Take a jacket, don’t take a jacket, but definitely take a fleecey jumper if you’re heading down to Bridgetown or Pemberton.
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To reach Pemberton from Bunbury and Perth, you have a couple of options. We like to drive south either via Busselton and Nannup or through Donnybrook, Bridgetown and Manjimup. Both routes take about 2 hours from Bunbury.
Donnybrook, the apple centre of WA, is bursting with blossom during the months of late August and September. I can’t wait for the apples and pears which will be in abundance in Autumn, but until then I’ll have to be patient. However, the blossoms are a sight for sore winter eyes.
Once in Pemberton there are trees to be climbed and walks to be walked, Twenty-Eighter’s (parrots) wing their way through the tall woods and will, if you’re lucky land on your shoulder hoping for food.
Top 21 things to do in and around Pemberton
How about driving to Beedelup Falls? You could walk from Karri Valley Resort if you just happen to be staying there (it’s lovely), or do as we did and walk from the car park at the Beedelup National Park and access the falls via a short circuit of excellent boardwalk tracks.
What I love about Australia is the attention to detail that’s laid on for tourists – boardwalks, look out points and interesting information boards, all of which await you at Beedelup.
Below are some pictures from the information boards at Beedelup Falls. I think the ‘ranger’s notes’ really bring the place to life and you can imagine how this area felt and looked in days gone by.
You’ll also see the point from which the longer, tougher Bibbulman track veers off into the deep forest (shown in a picture above). The Bibbulman is a long distance hike stretching form Perth to Albany.
Don’t you love the Twenty-Eighter below, welcoming us to the falls?
Pemberton National Parks
In the National Parks the towering karri forests shade us from sunlight though and we are dwarfed beneath some of the tallest trees in Western Australia which are averaged to be more than 400 years old. It’s always a joy walking in amongst these ghostly giants with their smooth white barks and huge trunks completely dwarfing us mere humans.
There are three national parks surrounding Pemberton; Gloucester, Warren and Beedelup while close by is the D’Entrecasteaux and Shannon. Collectively they’re known as the Southern Forests.
From September to mid November the wild flowers will be at their zenith and you can expect to see orchids, kangaroo paws and banksias along with a multitude of other forest flowers – buy a small guide book at the Pemberton visitor’s centre.
On your road trip south
- In Bridgetown perhaps stop off at the Cidery and sample their selection of natural ciders and home made tarts, then enjoy a leisurely stroll along the river bank.
- Buy fresh apples in Donnybrook.
- Visit one of the wineries and buy yourself a nice bottle of red to enjoy by a log fire at night (we chose the Barbara from Barracas near Donnybrook, a deliciously fruity wine)
- Stop in at Balingup and have coffee and cake at one of the numerous cafes, then browse the quaint gift shops.
- South of Manjimup climb the Diamond Tree, in Pemberton climb The Gloucester Tree or Dave Evans Bicentennial tree – but remember if the wind is strong or it’s damp or rainy you shouldn’t climb them for safety reasons. They are high and you are very exposed.
The Dave Evans Bicentennial tree tower, above, was built in 1988 as part of the celebrations to commemorate 200 years of European settlement in Australia. There are wonderful views if you’re brave enough to climb its 75 metres – the first platform you can see in the picture above is a mere 25 metres up, and there are 130 climbing pegs and a cabin at the top. If you’re at the top in windy conditions expect a 1.5 metre sway in either direction – ewwww!
You can see for about 40 kilometres in every direction over forest and farmland and of course the view of the forest canopy is incredible. I haven’t yet had the nerve to climb this tree, although I’ve climbed the slightly shorter Gloucester Tree.
- Walk around Big Brook Dam 3.5km – or get your kayak out and canoe and perhaps swim in summertime. There are BBQ facilities, tables and toilets and a swimming beach.
- There’s an easy return walk along a paved path to the Gloucester Tree – 2km return, or just park in the car park and enjoy the multitude of birds. This is a great excursion to do with kids because the birds will often land on your shoulders and head.
- Cycling – road and mountain biking trails abound in Pemberton.
- There’s a lavendar and berry farm, there are eco tours and forest and dune walks, there’s the Pemberton Tramway that meanders over rivers and streams along a majestic route through the karri and marri forests.
- Stay at a farm chalet – various places offer hay rides and bottle feeding the animals.
- Drive a short distance to Northcliffe and discover the Southern Forest Arts “Understory” – a unique park with various artwork set on a short trail in amongst nature.
- Enjoy a leisurely cruise along the Donnelly River and meander along a 12km section of the river to the beach, and the Southern Ocean.
- Go walking, wobble across a supsension bridges, have a little adventure. There are more than 20 trails close to town.
More things to do in Pemberton
- I love going to Pembers for a weekend, but I’d be happy to stay for a week. Once you turn off the highway and drive into rolling green countryside, past wine farms and into the forests your soul starts to relax and slumber. It is so peaceful down here.
- There are several little restaurants in the town, and wine farms offering lunches outside the town.
- If you enjoy fish, you could try some fresh trout of marron from the fish farms around Pemberton.
- If you’re a fisherman you’ll enjoy fishing for marron, trout and perch all of which are found in Pemberton’s rivers and streams. The general open trout season starts on 1 September and ends on 30 April, although some rivers are open all year round. Check with the tourist centre of Fisheries Department.
- If you love camping – you’re in for a treat. The cool south west forest campsites are generally peaceful and often remote. You could choose from the popular Warren National Park which is close to town and situated on the Heartbreak Trail, or the Shannon National Park and the Big Brook Arboretum.
- Go 4 x 4 driving in the D’Entrecasteaux National Park. The park covers 118,000ha and most access is by 4 x 4 only – though play it safe and follow the tips from the local DEC office before you venture onto the sand in your vehicle.
Of course I could go on and on, but some things you need to discover for yourself. And you will. Pemberton’s like that.
The Pemberton Visitors Centre has a great selection of guide books and coffee table books about the region. You might find some of the following helpful, and most of the following are free:-
“A Guide to Western Australia’s Southern Forests’ is free from the Pemberton Visitors Centre and it has information about all the best places to visit, best seasons and details of the facilities at each place.
The Karri Forest Explorer – a guide to Pemberton’s National Parks
Fees and Charges – a Visitor’s Guide – entry and camping fees at the parks
Pemberton Wine Region Wineries and Vineyards Map – giving you a map guide to the vineyards and cellar doors
Bush Books – these are inexpensive informative field guides – wildlowers, birds, plants, trees – well worth buying to slip in your pocket for walks and drives.
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Until Next Time … Be Happy and tell us in the comments which place in the world is good for your soul?