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e Great Southern
boulders and finally made it to the ladder and
the fantastic vista which takes in Albany and the
Southern Ocean, and back through to the saw-
toothed ridges of the Stirlings. Worth every step.
For such an isolated place, the twin hamlets of
Walpole and Nornalup, have a fascinating social
history; locals who run the region's tours and
cafes, tell you tales of early settlers, sealers and
whalers, shipwrecks and an accidental shooting --
morning he was rowing up the Frankland River
when he saw a mist rise from the river. It hovered
to form a ceiling, which appeared to be supported
by columns made of the straight white trunks of
the karris. This scene was reflected in the water,
which was "...still, like a highly polished floor
and the birds began to sing". Pierre was so moved
by this sublime moment that he called the spot
"Although there are some wonderful iconic
attractions, like the Tree Top Walk and the Valley
of the Giants, what I think is unique about the
area, is that you can still experience that sense of
discovery, whether in a car, on the waterways, or
walking in the wilderness areas," says Gary Muir,
whose family first settled in the area in 1844.
The beautiful and inspiring tingle forests of
Walpole are an attraction every West Australian
simply must see.
But acrophobics beware. The Tree Top
Walk will really test your fear of heights and is
guaranteed to make your adrenaline surge. Not
only does the innovative structure soar to more
than 40m above the ground, but it also moves.
But it is a beautiful view. Despite my clammy
hands gripping the rails and a dry mouth making
it hard to speak, I find I can never quite resist the
urge to get up among the tops of the beautiful
But, I never linger too long, and always feel
much more at home when back on terra firma
and walking the boardwalks through the Ancient
Empire -- an adjoining grove of tall tingles,
hundreds of years old.
Did you know ...
• Brumbies, descended from Arabian horses
trained at Walpole by the Muir family for
service in WWI, can still be found in the area.
• More species of flowering plants can be
found in the Stirling Range than in the whole
of the United Kingdom, and 87 species occur
nowhere else on earth.
• Chester Pass Road, which runs between
the eastern and western peaks of the Stirling
Range, follows the path of an ancient riverbed.
• The warm Leeuwin Current, which flows
south along the west coast is pushed closer to
shore by the prevailing winds in winter and is
responsible for the temperate climate enjoyed
by the Great Southern.
all you have to do is ask!
The romantic tales are only upstaged by the
Nornalup inlet's wildlife, which include regulars
such as BB (broken beak) the pelican, Denis the
dugite, Luka the albino bull ray, and Sparrow and
Savage, a pair of loved-up oystercatchers, who
been together for 17 years.
My favourite story is the one about Walpole's
first settler, Pierre Bellanger, who was the first
European to experience a phenomenon that can
still be seen today. Apparently, on one still winter
CRUISY TIME: (Clockwise
from above) a houseboat on the
Walpole inlet; trees tower over
visitors in the Valley of Giants;
pelicans at Walpole contemplate
their next meal.
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