The Walpole Nornalup National Park incorporates the now, world famous, tree top walk that opened on August 6th 1996.
The idea for the walk came from a similar idea in Malaysia and initial discussion of the idea started in the early 1990s. A competition was held to find a design that provided
for the needs of visitors while being as low impact on the environment as possible.
40 entries from around the world were received and the final design consisted of 6 sixty metre spans that are 40 metres above the ground at their highest point. The spans
arrived on site in pre-fabricated sections (constructed in Fremantle) that were bolted together on site and hoisted into position.
The incline of the spans was kept to a minimum and the walkway is accessible by wheelchairs. If you do not fancy doing the Tree Top Walk, there is a ground based walk known
as Ancient Empires.
The National Park stretches along the rugged southern coast and is 355km from Perth.
There is much more to the park than just the Tree Top Walk. You will find a whale watching platform at Conspicuous Beach or you can picnic at Mount Clare.
Other places of interest include the John Rate Lookout, Isle Road picnic site, The Channels, Coalmine Beach, Sandy Beach, Monastery landing and Circular Pool.
Much of the plant life in the Tingle forest is unique to the South West and the origins of some species can be traced back over 65 million years.
The huge trees found in the area include red tingle, yellow tingle, karri and marri. Red tingle can be easily identified by the large buttressed roots and
its rough fibrous bark. The trees can reach a height of 75 metres and may live for over 400 years.
The forests are home to many animals including the brush-tailed phascogale, quokka, quenda, brush-tailed possum, mardo, pygmy possum, honey possum,
chuditch, brush wallaby, ring-tailed possum, southern forest bat, motorbike frog, slender tree frog and bush rat.
Bird species include white-tailed black-cockatoo, western rosella, red winged fairy-wren, black-faced cuckoo-shrike, golden whistler, white breasted robin,
scarlet robin, spotted pardalote, white-browed scrub wren, ringneck parrot, red-eared firetail finch, purple-crowned lorikeet, cuckoo shrike, owlet nightjar and more.
The Shannon, Mt. Frankland and Walpole-Nornalup parks were combined to create the Walpolw Wilderness. This is bordered by the D'Entrecasteaux Park
and has created a massive conservation reserve in the south west.
Over 1500 species of flowering plants have been identified in this area and is particularly rich in the number of orchid species.
In 1841 William Nairne Clark explored the area and wrote of the river:
"The sail up was truly delightful. The river actually appeared to be embossomed amongst lofty wooded hills, with tall eucalypt trees close to the water's edge,
and crowning summits of these high hills thus casting a deep gloom over the water and making the scenery the most romantic I ever witnessed in the other quarters
of the globe."
The first Europeans to sight the area may have been those aboard the Dutch East India ship Gulden Zeepaert in 1627. They were followed by French and British
explorers and Captain George Vancouver aboard the
Discovery made a closer inspection of the coast in 1791.
Initially Europenas saw the coast as unappealing but this view was to change by the time Nairne Clark visited and started exploring by foot.
Narine's enthusiam played a large part in opening up new land in the south west.
Despite this, the first permanent settlers (the Bellanger family) did not take up land in the area until 1910. They arrived aboard the Grace Darling
in March and used small boats to travel further up the Frankland river with their tools and supplies.
Initially they lived in tents and huts until a homestead was completed in 1914.
The Minister for Lands (James Mitchell) visited the area and stayed with the Bellinger family who had opened up their home as a guesthouse. Mitchell toured the area
and was so impressed by the beauty of the river that he immediately decided to set aside 370 hectares as an 'A' class conservation reserve. It was named Nornalup
National Park and this was later expanded to become the Walpole-Nornalupo National Park that we know today.
James Mitchell wanted to create a flourishing agricultiral community and established the Group settlement scheme. Unfortunately,
the scheme, although well intentioned, was poorly run and resourced but it did pave the way for later, more successful settlement.
Tom Swarbrick became the first part-time ranger in the park in 1927. At this time tourism was starting to become important in the area and more guesthouses were opened up.
In 1930 a group of unelployed married men were moved from Perth to establish a settlement on the bank of the Walpole Inlet. Initially named
Nornalup, the settlement's name changed to Walpole in 1934.
In 1937 a huge bush fire swept the area and many settlers lost everything. Many gave up and returned to Perth but others stayed on and rebuilt.
The first full-time ranger (Lionel Gunson) was appointed in the 1950s and in 1972 the park expanded from just 385 hectares to 15,865 hectares. In 2002 the area increased again
to 19,000 hectares. Just 2 years later the creation of the Walpole Wilderness protected a whopping 363,000 hectares.
Best time to visit:
NPW Website for more information