There are giants in the forests of southern Western Australia and they’re not difficult to find. You only have to look up!
Red tingle trees, unique to an area of 6000 square hectares within the Walpole Wilderness region, grow to a height of 75 metres and a girth of 20 metres. These ancient trees can be up to 400 years old; their ancestors were here in the time of Gondwana, 65 million years ago. At the Wilderness Discovery Centre in the Valley of the Giants near Walpole there are two ways to see these goliaths of the forest.
The Ancient Empire walk tracks across the forest floor through bright green patches of sword grass past burled, red tree trunks with massive blackened hollows. These hollows are formed over time by fire and insect attack and give each tree a distinctive appearance. Some are large enough to walk through. The walkways have been designed so that visitors can get up close to the trees and the undergrowth on the forest floor while the trees are protected from receiving too much attention.
If your neck tires from looking up, try looking down for a change – from the Tree Top Walk. A 600 metre steel walkway, suspended between massive pylons resembling the native tassel flower, rises to a height of 40 metres above the floor of the forest.
The walkway is designed to sway gently to enhance the feeling of walking in the forest canopy. Even on a slightly windy day, with the breeze blowing through the branches and unseen birds calling to each other, it’s like you are part of the forest. Away in the distance are the blue-tinged ranges of Mt Frankland South National Park while much closer the tops of the tingle trees are still another 20 metres or more above you.
Stop for a moment and close your eyes. Listen to the birds and the wind in the leaves. The giants of Gondwana are calling.
Our visit to the Tree Top Walk and the Valley of the Giants was hosted by the Walpole Discovery Centre.