Another thing WA does really well is public libraries. So many seem to have had recent upgrades, and are very user friendly. with great study/writing areas, desks and handy power points. And like all libraries, wonderful friendly staff! When it was too wet to do much else, I spent a couple of afternoons in the Margaret River Library, doing some writing. The other thing most little WA towns seem to have, are Community Resource Centres, which give people without computers assistance and access to the internet, among other things. Just by the by.
A winemaker gave us a good tip for a road trip (the least he could do after convincing us to buy his wine) and we set off for the deep southwest along an alternate route to the main highways. Several alternate routes – we found some lovely walking trails as well.
…are the trees. This is where we really began to understand what all the fuss is about. Margaret River region had beautiful forest areas, but we weren’t prepared for what was awaiting us further south. Lex thinks I’ve totally lost it because I keep taking photos of trees through the windscreen, but every time you round a corner, there’s another amazing frame! Blame my 40 odd years living in the Top End, where a 15 metre tree is eye-catching. (and as I keep telling Lex, there is always “command>delete”)
This was a trail through an old timber getting camp, allowed to regenerate many years ago. It was a good education about just how long it takes for the giants to grow. The wildlife was interesting. This was Banksia Pseudoechidna, we believe…
Gloucester National Park, via Manjimup and Pemberton, was a terrific introduction to trees, real ones. My neck is kinked from looking upwards. The Gloucester Tree is 53 metres tall, and like all the “climbing trees” was a fire-spotting lookout from the 1930s. The forest service people were contemplating building observation towers for fire spotters, when someone had the bright idea of actually using a tall tree, instead of chopping some down to build a tower…
The tallest (known) of the trees is the Bicentennial tree, where the viewing platform sits above 60 metres – the height of the Sydney Opera House (but no advertising on this tree). The others are very close – the Gloucester’s platform at 53m, and the Diamond Tree at about 50m. They’re all Karri trees, and thought to be over 400 years old. Karris are known to grow to over 80 metres but none exist now – that they know of. It’s a big forest.
We pitched our tent deep in the forest in the Warren National Park, right beside the river. No one around, just us and the trees. We spent about 4 hours driving and stopping along a ring road through the forest, which is a wonderful experience because it’s all one way. Makes for very relaxed driving when you’re not looking out for someone racing around the corner at you. Packed up a very wet tent in the morning (but it kept us dry all night) and headed across to the Shannon and the Great Forest Drive, about 70 km through more magnificent trees. Finally learned the difference between Karri, Marri and Jarrah, and how to tell them apart.