Organic Gardens and Parks
Visitors are able to experience firsthand, an interesting mix of biodynamic, organic and permaculture practices set amongst the beautiful landscapes of the Blackwood River Valley. Many of the sites are linked to other concepts such as food, wine, farm stay, wellbeing, education, spirituality and community. While some of the gardens are free, others may ask for a small donation or a reasonable fee for a guided tour. While visiting find out what makes each place unique, like the handmade mud brick house, Berkshire pigs fed on chestnuts or the wonderful bug hotel aptly named ‘Bug-ingham Palace’. The trail also includes the heritage listed Golden Valley Tree Park (Western Australia’s largest Arboretum Park) which holds a unique collection of interesting trees from all over the world. See www.organicgardentrail.com. Image below: The Golden Valley Tree Park annual Spring Picnic (October 15 2016).
Trails for Hiking, Cycling and Art Lovers
The region is full of walking trails including the Bibbulmun track, that pass through some of the region's most beautiful areas, especially in Spring with the wildflowers in bloom. Purpose built cycling trails through some beautiful terrain are accessible from towns throughout the region. The Munda Biddi Trail is a world-class, nature-based off-road cycling experience which winds through unspoilt river valleys and magnificent forests. Check www.trailswa.com.au for a full list of walking and cycling trails and to download their app.
There are two art trails in the region making the most of the beautiful scenery. Understory – Art and Nature in Northcliffe features artworks along a 1.2km walk trail through pristine native forest. The Swarbrick Art Trail, near Walpole is located among some of the oldest trees in Australia, specifically old growth karri trees. The Holberry Sculpture Walk in Nannup features West Australian sculpture artists through Holberry House garden, there are also many other open gardens in the area.
A series of fire lookouts were constructed during the 1930s and 1940s at the top of some very tall Karri trees surrounding Pemberton and Manjimup. These lookouts were a way of spotting fires in the tall Karri forest. Today you can still climb three of these lookout trees and take in 360 degree views from the top. Pictured below is the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree, the tallest of the three standing at 75 metres. Learn more about the trees at pembertonvisitor.com.au.
Rich Heritage and History
Learn the history and stories of the region at locations including the Manjimup Timber and Heritage Park which provides an insight into the logging heritage of Manjimup and surrounds and an adventure park for the kids. The Greenbushes Heritage Park includes historical aspects of the tin mining industry and a replica mine shaft. Check out the history of Nannup along the Heritage Trail or see a collection of original items used by the Northcliffe Group Settlers more than 80 years ago at the Northcliffe Pioneer Museum. You can also visit Bridgetown, the only heritage listed town in the South West.
Endless National Parks
The many national parks in the region provide the perfect place for camping, walks, picnics or just getting back to nature. Visit the majestic limestone cliffs of Point D’Entrecasteaux at Windy Harbour, or explore one of the many 4WD tracks through to the coast. The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk in Walpole provides a breath taking experience as you walk through the tree’s canopy. Mt Frankland summit, near Walpole, offers endless views of the surrounding forests from the newly developed lookout pictured below by Michael Hemmings). Explore the Walpole Wilderness Area, encompassing 13 national parks, stunning coastline and river systems.
See where Jasper Jones was filmed
Visit Pemberton, the setting of the film, Jasper Jones, based on the best-selling novel, to be released next year. While there make sure you ask a local about their experience of meeting the cast such as Hugo Weaving and Toni Collette. You might even meet an extra from the film. The premier screening and In Conversation events are taking place in the South West region late August as part of the CinefestOz festival, home to Australia's richest film prize.