With a total of 24 national parks, a large proportion of Australia's South West’s beautiful landscapes and natural attractions are protected, which means they’re also the best places to observe native flora and fauna.
To help preserve these unique natural environments, please stay on the walk trails and take all rubbish away with you. When you are travelling through remote areas, advise the local park ranger, check information about track closures, and always pay close attention to road and weather conditions when driving.
The national parks are all managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) and a variety of facilities have been provided for visitors. In some areas, park passes are required to visit a national park. These can be purchased online from DPaW or at DPaW offices and some visitor centres. For up to date information on park fees, download the brochure here.
Below is our pick of the top national parks and forests to explore. Further information and advice about visiting our national parks can be found at the Explore Parks WA website.
Stirling Range National Park
Home to one of Western Australia’s highest peaks (Bluff Knoll) and standing 1,095 metres above sea level, this park is a hot spot for biodiversity. The towering peak is heightened by the beauty of over 1500 wildflower species (87 endemic) that flower during spring. The prominent peaks of the Stirling Range stretch for 65kms from east to west. Experienced rock climbers and abseil enthusiasts can take advantage of awesome climbs (permit required) and there are enjoyable walking trails to suit all abilities. The range is one of few places in Western Australia where snow occasionally falls on its highest peak and it is renowned for its unusual and sometimes spectacular cloud formations.
Porongurup National park
The Porongurup Range rises from the landscape like an island surrounded by a sea of giant Karri trees. The Range is over 1.1 million years old, making it one of the oldest ranges in the world. It’s 12 kilometres long, 670 metres high and formed from solid granite. A 1.5km walk trail leads you through spectacular forests on your way to the Granite Skywalk. Enjoy the breathtaking, panoramic views from the 38 metre, upper and lower lookouts atop Castle Rock, just 15 minutes from Mount Barker. The park also attracts rock climbers and bird watchers and is considered a mecca for botanists, wildflower enthusiasts and photographers with its unique flora (over 700 native species) and prolific bird life.
Fitzgerald River National Park
UNESCO recognised as an international biosphere reserve, this park has more than 1,800 beautiful and unique species of flowering plants as well as lichens, mosses and fungi. During winter, visit Point Ann where southern right whales arrive each year from July to November to calve. Point Ann is one of only two places in Australia where Southern Right whales come to calve during their migration. This whale nursery is 65kms east of Bremer Bay and it’s not unusual to see up to 40 whales at a time. The park is also home to 22 species of mammals, 200 bird species, 41 species of reptiles and 12 species of frogs.
D’Entrecasteaux National Park
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 best way to experience panoramic views is to take the Summit Walk Trail at Mt Chudalup. It’s a 187 metre climb to the granite monolith at the top, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over the wetlands, forests and coast of D’Entrecasteaux National Park.
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk
Located between Walpole and Denmark, a 600 metre walkway rises 40 metres above the forest floor and provides a breathtaking experience as you walk through the tree’s canopy, with a bird’s eye view of the forest. Down below, a boardwalk trail takes visitors through a grove of veteran tingle trees called the Ancient Empire.
Mt Frankland summit, near Walpole, offers endless views of the surrounding forests. Follow the Summit Walk or take the ‘round the rock’ trail at the base of the granite outcrop. The Wilderness View is a spectacular raised walkway offering universal access to the panoramic views. It is also a popular spot to abseil the 150 metre drop (permit required).
Tuart Forest National Park
Situated seven kilometres east of Busselton, the Tuart Forest National Park is part of the only remaining natural tuart forest in the entire world. The trees in this section of the forest are estimated to be 300-400 years old. Enjoy the peaceful forest setting by walking its many trails or using the picnic areas.
Wellington National Park
Flowing rivers, leisurely bush walking and ample picnic spots await in Wellington National Park, just two hours south of Perth. The central point is the Wellington Dam, which is surrounded by jarrah, marri and blackbutt forests. Over 300 species of wildflowers bloom in the park during Spring. Canoeing and watersports at Honeymoon Pool and Potters Gorge are also popular.
Boranup Karri Forest
This isolated forest of karri trees offers one of the most beautiful drive trails in the region. The trees, which are the third tallest species in the world, tower over you and partially block out the sun, creating a beautiful mottled light in the understory. It’s the only stand of karri forest along the stretch of coast between the capes and is a regrowth forest, just over 100 years old.
Karri Forest Explorer
The Karri Forest Explorer near Pemberton is an 86-kilometre self-guided drive through some of the region’s most magnificent karri forest. There’s trail-side information to guide you through the forest, including a dedicated tourist radio station (tune in to 100FM). The trail takes in the beautiful Beedelup Falls and Warren National Park Heartbreak Trail, in the heart of old-growth Karri forest, as well as Big Brook Dam – perfect for swimming, trout fishing or a barbecue on a warm day. Please note that you need a National Park Pass to enter some national parks within this region – head to the local post office or visitor centre to find out more.
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.
The 61 metre high Gloucester Tree near Pemberton was 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. The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree in the Warren National Park is the highest of the three trees at 75 metres high. In Manjimup stands the Diamond Tree, which is still occasionally used as a fire lookout.
The Golden Valley Tree Park
The heritage listed Golden Valley Tree Park (Western Australia’s largest Arboretum Park) holds a unique collection of interesting trees from all over the world. With 60 hectares of walking and discovery trails, the park is a great place for a picnic or stroll, particularly in autumn when the leaves are changing colour.