We have recently updated our website.

If you spot something that is out of place or you experience problems please use our contact form to let us know.

Help us by Joining, Volunteering or Donate

Walpole Wilderness Experience

Hamish Gibson, of WFB Cape to Cape Explorer Tours, has sent us this account of walking the Track in the Walpole-Nornalup Conservation Park, famous for its towering karri and tingle trees. The park is part of the larger Walpole Wilderness Area that was established in 2004.

As I listen to the red-tailed cockatoo’s ‘karack!’ call high in the canopy, green against the azure sky, a grey fantail flirts dangerously, almost hitting me in the face, showing the forest’s awareness of my presence. The petrichor accentuates the smell of peppermint leaf between my fingers, awakening my senses like an espresso. I hear the rustle of one of the forest’s marsupials, a beautiful quenda. Stepping into such a landscape for the first-time bombards us with different shapes, colours, textures, sounds, smells and tastes. It feels as if the land is inviting us to be part of its story, asking us to dive a little deeper to discover its secrets. It’s a rare privilege in this fast-paced existence to feel the primordial force that this wilderness represents—a reminder of our own need for biophilic relationships, a world away from Covid dominated conversations and the busy dynamic of modern life.

Walking the Bibbulmun Track in the Walpole-Nornalup Conservation Park is a perfect place to observe the intricacy of interconnections in the natural environment and escape from the pressures of our working and family lives.

Much of the flora and some of the fauna originated on the vast supercontinent of Gondwanaland. As the continents of South America, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica split apart so too did the distinct but related plant groups. Geologically speaking the separation occurred a relatively short time ago, approximately 50 million years. Since then, the stability of the region has led to the further diversification of plant species and the development of a myriad of symbiotic relationships between, plants, fungi, mammals, and birds. When we immerse ourselves in an environment as isolated as the Southwest corner of Western Australia and the Greater Southern region we really are stepping back in time, to an island within an island, bordered by the ocean to the west and south, and desert to the east and north.

Perhaps like me you’ve been hanging out for a change of pace, a chance to take in some new scenery and find yourself a comfy cabin or secluded campsite nestled in nature. So, a hike with friends or on your own, winding through massive stands of eucalypts, or meandering through wattle and banksia country towards the spectacular coastal vistas, might be just what the doctor ordered. I am fortunate enough to work as a forest guide for Bibbulmun Explorer Tours that offers that very experience. We are based at Coalmine Beach, within walking distance of the Walpole township. Here the Caravan Park is meticulously kept by Phil and Cathy, providing a range of accommodation options from two-bedroom self-contained cottages and safari style eco-tents to roomy powered sites for caravans and tucked away corners for vans, camper trailers and tents. A stone’s throw away from the inlet, it is an ideal location in which to unwind.

The region is rich in European and indigenous history. The best way to learn about its cultural and biological diversity is to step aboard a WOW tour with Gary Muir who takes you on a journey reminiscent of a romantic scientific voyage, moving from the micro view of the botanical grim reapers, Heartleaf poison and Dieback bacteria to the macro perspective of anthropogenic factors impacting climate change. Delivering a rich silk tapestry of precise nomenclature, cheeky wit and humour and quizzing guests with infinite amounts of information, Gary and his crew use photographs and props to provide interesting facts and explanations from multiple scientific disciplines, unique historical stories and occasional dissertations and translations in a foreign language. Stimulating even the most curious minds, Gary imparts an intimate sense of place with countless insights about the Walpole region, where five generations of his family have grown up in a place they love dearly,

So, what’s stopping you from experiencing this magical place? Maybe the logistics of organising accommodation, meals and transport to and from the sections of track or feeling you’ll be roughing it in order to get the hiking job done? Think again. Our crew, along with the extended team in Walpole, take care of every detail, down to sourcing beautiful local produce including wine, cheese and preserves as well as a visit to a local restaurant, the Nornabar. All manner of dietary requirements for breakfast, lunch, dinner and track snacks are fully catered for and hikers of all ages and a wide range of abilities are encouraged to participate.

The Bibbulmun Explorer Tour is the opportunity you’ve been looking for to reconnect with nature, flip the script and do something that truly nourishes the mind, body and soul. So, no excuses, get your hiking gear ready and we’ll see you in the green room.

Your trusted forest guide, on behalf of the Bibbulmun Explorer team,

Hamish Gibson.