The tuart forest once stretched from Sabine River in the south to 300 km north of Perth along a narrow coastal strip of limestone based sand.
It is estimated that before European settlement there was over 111,000 hectares of tuart forest. This remnant section of forest now covers just 2049 Ha.
Early colonists made heavy use of this area for farming and living space so over time the forest was greatly reduced in size. In 1918 the Forests Act was passed
and this enabled land between the Ludlow and Capel Rivers to be re-purchased from private land owners. The original 1385 ha was later increased by 1500 ha
and the last large remnant of the forest as we see it today, was taken from this original area.
The open nature of forest under storey, made the area popular for grazing and this has continued to be used as a way of fire control.
Tuart trees can exceed 10 metres in girth and 30 metres in height and seem to prefer areas bordered by swamp land.
The trees were logged and in 1920 the Forests Department operated a sawmill at Wonnerup Beach. The timer from tuart trees is very dense and was used in the
construction of wagon wheels, propeller shafts, telegraph poles and decking for ships. The first mill, though troubled by fresh water shortages, operated for 10
years and a second mill operated at Ludlow from 1955. Operations were a bit spasmodic but continued until 1974.
Tuarts are not an easy tree to propagate as their flowering cycle is five years long. It took around 40 years of study to work out how to successfully regenerate
tuart trees. The key to this process was having large enough cleared areas in the forest and using fire to generate ash beds into which seedlings could be planted.
Stock must be kept away from these areas until the trees are large enough to survive.
There has been pressure for commercial exploitation of the land the tuarts grow on as it is rich in mineral sands but fortunately, so far, the temptation to use the
area in this manner has been resisted.
414 species of flowering plant including 38 species of orchid have been found in the tuart woodland. Although the last major stand of tuart trees are located at
Ludlow near Busselton, there are other tuart trees at Yanchep, Bold Park, King's Park, Neerabup
In 1987 the forest near Ludlow area was declared a National Park. The name tuart is an anglicised version of the Aboriginal word 'tooart'.
Things to do: Bushwalking, bird watching, picnics, 1.5 kilometre night time possum trail starting at Layman picnic site. Visit Wonnerup house that opens daily from
noon to 4pm.
NPW Website for more information
Best time to visit: