Walpole is situated on the Walpole Inlet, in the Shire of Manjimup, on the South coast of Western Australia. It is about 4 hours away from Perth and 1 hour away from Albany.
It is an incredible part of the world with so many unique features to boggle your mind. The Walpole Inlet is a smaller inlet attached by a narrow passage of water to the larger Nornalup Inlet which feeds out directly to the Southern Ocean.
All of that sparkling blue water, surrounded by swathes of National Park create some incredible environments for you to explore.
There is heaps to do in the region. I would suggest at least five days to see the best of the area, however if you were pushed you could do it in three. If you had more time, a full week would be even better.
To help you get down to the business of enjoying the area, I have created this article with 10 suggestions for amazing things to occupy you while visiting the area.
The Giant Tingle Tree
The area surrounding Walpole is known as the Valley of the Giants. It is here you can find the huge Red Tingle trees that are only found in this part of the world.
I love that they have called it the ‘Valley of the Giants’. It seems to imbue the trees with personality. For me it conjures up an image of ancient giants that used to rule the world.
Before we even got out of the car we were exclaiming at the size of the trees as we drove past them. All three of us were calling out, ‘Çheck out the size of that one’, or ‘Look at how huge that one is!’.
Our first stop was the 800 metre loop walk to check out the Giant Tingle Tree. This walk is completely free so if you didn’t want to pay for the tree top walk this is a great alternative. This short walk takes you to the largest eucalyptus tree in the world. It is huge and has to be seen to be believed.
It was cold and rainy on the day we went and I just loved the extra layer of atmosphere that added to our walk. We could smell the rainy forest, and the light mist of rain seemed to change the colour of green.
There were several information boards located throughout this walk which provided you with all sorts of information about the forest and the tingle trees. This area was once a part of Gondwana land and is largely unchanged from how it existed many millions of years ago. Let your imagination grab hold of that piece of information and run wild with it.
The Treetop Walk
The treetop walk is the number 1 attraction in the area. It is located a short distance away from the Giant Tingle Tree within the Walpole-Nornalup National Park.
There is an entry fee of $21.50 per adult and $12.50 for each child over 6 years of age. There is also a family pass option.
For the entry fee, you can do the treetop walk as many times as you like. We arrived early and completed one lap of the walk before hordes of people arrived. (Aim to get there when it opens if you can, it was definitely a much more pleasant experience with fewer people).
The suspension bridges are made to sway. Apparently, this gives you a greater feeling of what it feels like to be amongst the branches of the giant trees. I don’t think I was the only one who felt like it distracted me from being in the moment amongst the treetops as I fought my natural instinct to be afraid. This fear was heightened as more and more people entered the walk. There were signs on the bridge limiting the number of people to 20 people per section, however this did not seem to be policed at all.
I felt much more able to enjoy the area when I was back at ground level. If you want to skip the Treetop Walk there is a free Valley of the Giants walk which is at ground level. I could have sat with Grandmother Tingle for hours. I am sure that she would have started telling me the tingle secrets if I sat still with her for long enough!
Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks
Located right next to each other within William Bay National Park, Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks have been on my wishlist for ages.
You know how sometimes things don’t quite live up to your expectations? Well, that was our experience on the day we went. It was the day after a mega cold snap. It was overcast, cold and windy with occasional showers. I had rolled my ankle a couple of weeks prior and it was aching and making it difficult for me to walk on the unsteady sand and rocks. We still enjoyed it and could appreciate it’s beauty, but I just know it could have been a better experience on another day.
Greens Pool was still beautiful but almost nobody was in the water. It was far too cold. A small group of 4 teenagers stripped down to their bathers and ran into the water squealing. I overheard one saying to the others, ‘We will regret it if we don’t do it!’ I certainly didn’t regret not going in the water. It was freezing and I thought they were completely crazy!
Elephant Rocks is a short walk away from Greens Pool via stairs and a walking track, or over the giant granite rock that straddles the two areas of the National Park.
I have seen countless photos of spectacular glassy blue water spotted with giant granite boulders that look just like elephants. On the day we went, in the freezing cold and wind, my imagination could only just make out elephants in the rocks. It was high tide and the water was up at the ‘secret entrance’, between two huge rocks. Sorry, too cold to take our shoes off and roll the pants up to go through!
I would love to return at the height of summer to really get the most out of it.
Enjoy the Local Produce
If you are not a WA local, your chances of trying Marron anywhere else in the world are pretty slim. A freshwater shellfish, Marron is only found in the South West corner of Western Australia.
There is a Marron shop on the main street in town in Walpole. Here you can buy a live Marron to take home and have a go at cooking this local delicacy yourself. Be aware that if you buy it, you will also have to kill it.
Getting information on how to cook the Marron from the guy at the shop was like pulling teeth, but I found out the information I needed and confirmed it with google later. When we got home I put the Marron in the freezer to anaesthetise it, then cut it in half (sorry little fella), cleaned it out and put it on the barbeque with some garlic butter. Rick and Em both refused to try any so I had to eat the whole thing myself.
There are a number of wineries in the area as well. We set off down an unsealed track to try Moombaki Wines and Rick was happy with a tasting and a warming bottle of Red. We also purchased a bag full of heritage variety apples which we enjoyed over the next few days. They were light and crisp and only a tiny bit sweet.
I also heard good reports of Bartholomews Meadery while we were there, but we never got to try it ourselves.
Visit a Local Market
The local markets are one Sunday a month held from November through to April. They had a great range of stalls with really interesting, quirky and useful objects for sale.
There were a range of food stalls and a small stage with a local live act performing which made for a great atmosphere. We had just eaten breakfast when we arrived, so didn’t need any food. There was a curry stall which smelled absolutely amazing. Even though I wasn’t hungry, it had me salivating.
Em had a go on the jumping castles for $5. There were 2 there so she could go from one to the other. The guy running it, told us that the kids were welcome to come back for a second jump after a look around the markets without having to pay again.
Wow. What a beautiful and wild place. When we visited, the sun broke through the clouds and illuminated the beach in all its glory. There was a little creek trickling through the dunes, alongside the boardwalk and viewing platform, onto the open beach.
Em could not resist the temptation and splashed around in the fresh water enjoying the brief sunshine. She chased the seagulls away who were using the freshwater for a drink and a wash.
It was wild and windy, and the surf was pounding against the shore. A few people were fishing for salmon nearby and as the Bilbbulman track passes right by, there were lots of walkers taking a break and enjoying the rugged landscape.
Apparently, it is also a great spot for Whale watching at the right time of year.
Walk a section of the Bilbbulman Track
The Bilbbulman track criss-crosses whole sections of the Walpole region. We encountered many walkers at various times and at various locations. The track passes right through town and along the Walpole inlet, past Coalmine beach, through the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, past the Giant Tingle Tree and the tree top walk and heads back down to the coast near Nornalup.
It would be an incredible way to see the region. It is 126km from Walpole to Denmark, but there are plenty of smaller walks that you can do in a day or even a few hours.
To complete this section of the Bilbbulman track is one of my dreams and I was cursing my sprained ankle. However, the tiny bits that we did of the walk only made me want to return to the area to complete more another time. For more information check out the section guide here.
Visit the Walpole- Nornalup Inlet
There is so much incredible intricate coastline to explore in this tiny little section. Take the scenic drive around Knoll Drive and stop at the various lookouts to learn a little more about the area. Knoll Drive is a one way loop that runs for five kilometers between the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets. It’s scenic lookouts have some incredible views overlooking the inlets and we enjoyed a few little walks out to the lookouts.
You could also spend a few hours exploring Coalmine Beach. We stayed at the Coalmine Beach Caravan Park so we found it easy to head over to the beach to explore. As it is sheltered by the inlet it is perfect for swimming, beach walking and kayaking. There is also a boat ramp nearby.
We tried to talk Em out of this one, but she was adamant that she wanted to do it. We paid the $14 per adult and $7 per child to enter and timed our visit for the reptile handling at 11am.
We spent about an hour here in total. Em held a bobtail lizard and a parrot. Rick also held a snake. I had the very important job of taking photos so managed to avoid all reptile handling.
There were a bunch of dinosaur models scattered around the room, a couple of which also moved mechanically. All the dinosaurs were from around China, which makes me think that the owners managed to buy them all for cheap from overseas to turn into a tourist attraction. It would have been nice if it was a bit more relevant to the actual area but from a kid’s point of view – who cares! Dinosaurs!
In the garden outside, there was a sectioned off area that housed a few kangaroos that you could hand feed. Watch out for the kangaroo ticks, we did see a couple of them. There were also a bunch of aviaries with a variety of birds from Australia and around the world.
We returned here a couple of times. It was a charming bakery in a garden setting located on the South Coast Highway. Obviously family run with a focus on quality products. The first time I just got a coffee. However, the pies and cakes looking amazing and I couldn’t resist a return trip to try them both and they didn’t disappoint.
It had a beautiful garden with heaps of apple trees, a lovely grassed area and big bench tables and a winding little path through their garden. We loved the food and the setting and found the location very convenient as we drove up and down the highway to explore.
Where to Stay in Walpole
There are so many options for places to stay in Walpole. As we have our own camp set up we chose to camp at one of the Caravan Parks in the area. We were not disappointed with Coalmine Beach Caravan Park. It was a very central location and a beautifully maintained park. It had campsites as well as a variety of cabins which looked neat and clean from the outside.
There are even more options if you widen your search to include the Denmark region which is only an extra 30 minutes away.
When is the Best Time to Go
The region has something to offer at any time of year, however it does get very cold in winter. If you are planning a winter trip, I would ditch the campsite and get a little cabin with a fireplace like this one.
We were there over Easter and it was packed with families. We still enjoyed our time, there is something magical about being amongst trees after rain.
Next time we return I would like to go in Summer so that I can enjoy the full glory that the coastline has to offer.
How to Get There
Walpole is located directly on the South Coast Highway so once you are on this arterial it is easy to find. There are some great things to see if you are traveling between Walpole and Perth.