Back into the Southern Forests

Visiting Pemberton’s Climbing Trees and More

When my dear friend Denise arrived in Perth, our intention was to leave Dean to defend for himself and visit Wave Rock at Hyden.  Sadly though, the summer heat caused us to revise our plans and where else would we go, but into the cool forests of Western Australia’s south west.  I was more than happy to revisit the Karri Trees.

So leaving Dean and the heat of Rockingham behind, we took off, just Clare and Denise, pretending to be Thelma and Louise, minus the ’66 Thunderbird and all the ensuing mayhem.

As I said on Monday (See Photo of the Week), between 1937 and 1952, a network of eight fire lookout trees were built in the forests of Western Australia’s south west.

The trees selected were karri trees not only because of their size, but their extraordinarily straight trunks.  We planned on visiting the three that remain and are open to the public, each within an easy drive of the little township of Pemberton.

The Diamond Tree, built in 1939 is the smallest lookout tree at 51 metres (167.3 feet).  It was used as a fire lookout every summer between 1941 and 1973, and is still used by the Department of Environment & Conservation in support of aerial surveillance from time to time.  There are 130 climbing pegs spiralling up to the platform.

The Gloucester Tree, built in 1947 and is named after the then Governor-General of Australia, His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, who was visiting Pemberton as the lookout was being built.  Gloucester Tree is 61 metres (200 feet) and has 153 pegs.

The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree was named after a Pemberton local teacher and politician passionate about the karri trees and the surrounding areas.  It was pegged for climbing to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary in 1988 and is the tallest by far at 75 metres (247 feet) and has 165 pegs, but although it is built like a fire lookout tree, it has never been used as one and is a tourist attraction.

But I must clarify, these measurements are the height of the viewing platforms and not the height of the trees themselves which extend above the platforms.  They are especially impressive and a must to see when visiting this part of Australia.

Did we climb?  With no safety nets and no Dean, absolutely not!

I’m very confident that had Dean been there, he would have pushed me all the way up and then supported me all the way down, but I wasn’t prepared to attempt it on my own.  I was more than happy to leave the climbing to all the thrill-seekers that were there.

While visiting these magnificent trees, we also took our time to stop by a few other tourist spots: King Jarrah, a jarrah tree thought to be 500 years old, other areas of Warren National Park (where the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree is found) and Beedelup National Park where we visited Beedelup Falls (walking across a suspension bridge to do so), and then onto to the Walk Through Karri Tree.

There were also other inspiring places we stopped with other karri trees, equally as huge and majestic, that not only dwarfed us, but also make the car look like a toy.

A fallen jarrah tree completely blocking the road

Before long, we’d left the southern forests behind and headed towards the western coastline, detouring off Caves Road and taking the 13.4 kilometre drive (8.4 miles) along Boranup Road through and beneath the canopy of the Boranup Forest*.

Boranup Road through Boranup Forest
Boranup Road through Boranup Forest

We were driving beneath the forest canopy just after midday and it was 24°C (75.2°F), almost incomprehensible for the middle of summer.

Margaret River beckoned, but sadly accommodation didn’t, so the driving continued until we secured a room for the night, and although once again finding myself in Busselton was pleasant, stepping out of the car and into the near 40°C (104°F) heat was not.

A cool morning stroll along the Busselton Jetty, and a couple of stops at wineries on the way, and before we knew it, we were back where we started, ever so slightly exhausted yet thrilled to have taken the time to visit the southern forests and the majestic karri trees found there.

Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree
Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree – top platform 75 metres

* Yes, I’d been to Boranup Forest before (See The Trees of Boranup Forest), but Dean and I had not driven along Boranup Road because it is a heavily rutted unsealed road and at the time we’d been towing our mini home.

Author: Clare

Ever-expanding one star at a time, my cosmos is a galaxy of thoughts and creativity where you can find poetry, short stories, photography and so much more.

6 thoughts

  1. How fabulous, to spend some time visiting the Southern forests of beautiful tall trees with Clare. Thank you for spending the time on our mini escapade.
    As much as I would have liked to climb those majestic trees I just had to be content with going the first six or so steps. With so many people visiting the fire lookout trees you would have had to be careful of others crossing during a climb or decent, and that would have been a bit tricky.

    We saw one young woman climb one of the tree bare-foot, her boyfriend who suffered from Acrophobia stayed firmly on the ground watching in awe and fear for her safety. She alighted safely, no problem at all.

    As usual Clare you captured so many good photo opportunities. Well done! Catch up with you soon, keep posting those remarkable pictures from your travels and be safe.


    1. It was so great to have you here, if only for a short time.

      Still not convinced I would have climbed one of those trees even if Dean had been there.


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