Guide to the WA Southern Forests Attractions

When I first thought of visiting the Southern Forests Region in Western Australia.  What sprung to mind was Gloucester Tree and the Valley of the Giants.  On our first trip to the Southern Forests I wondered how we were going to find enough things to do in the Southern Forests Region.  But I quickly learnt that there are so many diverse Southern Forests attractions.

Apart from the tall trees, there are scenic lookouts, groovey artworks by locals, family friendly playgrounds and museums, tours on ferries and historic trams and delicious food (there is a reason it is referred to as “the food bowl”).

Since that first road trip we have returned to the region and are now planning a third holiday – we have kinda fallen in love with this pocket of South Western Australia.  Join me as I share with you what to do in the Southern Forests Region of Western Australia.

In this Article on What to Do in the Southern Forests Discover:


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two people walking along a boardwalk at the valley of the Giants in the Southern Forests WA
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Things to Do in the Southern Forests WA

The Southern Forests Region is the inland forests section of Western Australia’s South West Region.

Manjimup Attractions

If you are driving from Perth the first town in the Southern Forests region you will reach is Manjimup

“named after the Noongar words “Manjin” (a broad-leafed edible reed) and “up” (meeting place, or place of)” Wikipeadia

The town was first settled in 1856 and a railway line completed in 1911.  The main industry of Manjimup is timber due to the towering Karri trees.  In more recent year’s dairy farms and fruit and vegetable farms have settled on parts where the forest has been cleared.  Today logging of old growth forests is banned.

Manjimup Heritage Park

When you reach Manjimup stop at the new Visitors Centre for guides and maps on things to do in Manjimup.  There is a lot of history to explore throughout the Manjimup Heritage Park.

Historic Hamlet

Learn more about the town history in Historic hamlet which includes the relocated heritage police station, lock up and school plus replica buildings.

Power Up Museum

Next door in the same building as the Visitors Centre is the Power Up Museum which showcases the history of electricity in Western Australia.  Entry is $14/adult and $8 child (includes entry to the State Timber Museum)

State Timber Museum

Just a little up the road is the State Timber Museum.  If you didn’t visit the Power Up Museum entry is $5/adult and $2/child.  This museum opened in 1977 and displays the logging history of Western Australia and the impact it has had on the local area.

Steam Museum and Rail Relics

If you are after some free Manjimup attractions visit the Steam Museum and Rail Relics.

Timber Adventure Playground

Continue to keep your costs down by spending time at the local adventure playground.

Built by locals the colourful playground will entertain big kids and small.  The littlies have a fun heritage castle to romp about, and big kids can climb the 17m metal tower offering views then slide back down and zip across the flying fox.  There are BBQ’s and picnic tables to enjoy your day.

Prepare for a fun day at the park with the

Fontys Pool

A place to cool off with some more history is Fontys Pool.  An acre in size Fontys Pool was hand built by the Fontanini family who owned the land for nearly 100 years.  In 2005 a new family bought the property, made improvements including fencing the pool and it is now open to all for $3/person (it is free if you are staying at the neighbouring caravan park).  It is closed for two months a year 1 July to 30 August.

Food Trail

Manjimup is now known as the food bowl with producers supplying avocados, strawberries, truffles, marron, chestnuts and so many more different fruit and vegetables depending on the season.  You can visit growers to purchase food from the farm gate or spend a morning at the farmers a market that operates on the first and third Saturday of the month in front of the Manjimup Visitor Centre.

Find Manjimup Accommodation*

Pemberton

Thirty kilometres south west of Manjimup is the small town of Pemberton.  What I really love about this place is that the things to do in Pemberton are free or really cheap.  The main attractions focus on the Pemberton forests of Karri trees.  The easiest way to explore all these places of interest is to follow the sign posted Karri Valley Explorer Trail you’ll only need to pay the national park entrance fee of $15/vehicle at Gloucester Tree, everything else is free.

  • Gloucester Tree
  • Bicentennial Tree
  • Big Brook Dam
  • The Cascades
  • Beedalup Falls
looking up at slow flowing Beedalup Waterfall and lookout
Beedalup Falls

Each of these locations offers hiking trails, paths and lookouts.  For a bit more adventure there are three Pemberton climbing trees:

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  • Gloucester Tree
  • Bicentennial Tree
  • Diamond Tree
people climbing Gloucester Tree in Pemberton
Gloucester Tree

Top Trip Tip: You need to be physically fit to climb the trees, there are warning signs as to who should and shouldn’t be climbing

You can swim at:

  • Big Brook Dam
  • Karri Valley Resort
  • Pemberton Pool at Lefroy Book
man paddling on Karri Valley Resort lake - Beedalup Lake
Beedalup Lake at Karri Valley Resort

For more adrenal try the Pemberton Mountain Bike Park – bike hire is available, but the park is free.  If you are after something more sedate, try the Pemberton Tramway Company for a half day tour through the forest past The Cascades or take a Donnelly River Cruise to the mouth of the Donnelly River on the Southern Ocean.  This scenic cruise is nice but what makes this tour special is the tour guide; he shares so much history and knowledge of the area, my 12-year-old son (and us) really enjoyed the half day tour.

River cruise boat moored at mouth of the Donnelly River to the Southern Ocean
Donnelly River Cruise to the Southern Ocean
Discover more about Pemberton and all the

We’ve stayed near Pemberton twice:

  1. Diamond Forest Cottages
  2. RAC Karri Valley Resort

Find More Pemberton Accommodations*

Northcliffe

A town that seems to have a little something for everyone and is on my wish list for the next summer holidays is Northcliffe located 31km south of Pemberton.

Northcliffe Pioneer Museum

Learn about the history and life of the early settlers in Northcliffe at the Northcliffe Pioneer Museum situated in the picnic grounds of Jubilee Park.  Wonder about historic building, farm machinery and see local family photos dating back to the 1920’s.  The museum is open daily from 10am-3pm enter by donation.

Point D’Entrecasteaux

One of the only parts of D’Entrecasteaux National Park accessible via 2WD is Point D’Entrecasteaux approximately 32km from Northcliffe.  There are three coastal walks available once you arrive. 

  1. The Pupalong Loop Trail is a short 400m walk providing insights into the local Noongar Aboriginal custodians of the land
  2. The Cliff Top Walk winds its way for 1.3km to Tookalup Lookout for stunning views over the Southern Ocean. 
  3. The Coastal Survivors Walk takes you along sand dunes and cliff tops for 2.8km to Windy Harbour passing by Cathedral Rock

Boorara Tree and Lane Poole Falls

Another place to go bushwalking is Lane Poole Falls.  Park your car at Boorara Tree 16km from Northcliffe.  Boorara Tree was once a fire lookout that had a cabin at the top of the tree.  Now there are picnic tables and interpretive boards.  Then hike along what was once a fire break for 2.5km through the Karri and Marri forests to Lane Poole Falls that flows in winter from the Canterbury River.

Yeagarup Sand Dunes

If you are looking for a bit more adventure the Yeagarup Sand Dunes are the largest land locked sand dune system in the southern hemisphere.  They rise above the surrounding karri forests and are moving inland by a rate of 4km pre year. 

The sand dunes are located 50km from Northcliffe and only 25km from Pemberton.  To reach the sand dunes drive to Yeagarup Lake (a section of this is on unsealed roads but accessible for 2WD).  If you have 4WD you can drive all the way to the sand dunes.  However, if you are in a 2WD vehicle park at the lake (sheltered picnic tables are available and you swim in the lake) and then hike to the dunes. 

Top Trip Tip: Take lots of water on any of these hikes, especially the dunes

Understory

For a completely different style of walk through the forest visit Understory a 1.2km loop through the forest with local artwork located just behind the Northcliffe Visitors Centre and Library.

Walpole

Just over an hour south of Pemberton and Northcliffe is the small town of Walpole situated on Nornalup Inlet.  While the town may be small there are still plenty of things to do in Walpole.  The winding foreshore of the inlet provides pockets of white sandy beaches and picnic grounds to enjoy the calm waters or fish from the jetty.

There are two caravan parks located right on the inlet if you are wanting to spend a few days enjoying the water.  Or choose a chalet or lodge stay in the forest.

Find Your Walpole Accommodation*

Mount Frankland South National Park

As you drive south into Walpole you will drive along winding highway through the state forest of Mount Frankland National Park home to giant Karri, Jarrah and Tingle trees.  Plan a day trip to the park to visit the Mount Frankland Wilderness Lookout about 30km from Walpole.  There are three walks to experience, two of which are wheelchair friendly, the third is very steep and requires climbing ladders.

Top Trip Tip: Wear sturdy walking or hiking shoes

Walpole Nornalup National Parks

Even closer to Walpole is the famous Valley of the Giants and the Tree Top Walk where you can walk amongst the giant Red Tingle Trees that are over 400 years old and whose origins date back to Gondwana Land.  The Tree Top Walk is open 9am-5pm, $21/adult and $10.50/child (prices correct March 2021).

boy walking through a giant tingle tree at Valley of the Giants in South WA
Valley of the Giants
Discover what to expect when you visit the

William Bay National Park

Just under an hour’s drive east along the coast is the stunning William Bay National Park. Pack a beach bag and enjoy Elephant Rocks and the ever so calm Greens Pool.  This national park is just outside of the town of Denmark home to lots of wineries, microbreweries and gourmet food producers.

people walking and sunbathing on large granite rocks at William Bay National Park
William Bay National Park
For a day trip alternative discover the

Denmark Dinosaur World

Located halfway between Walpole and Denmark is the theme park Denmark Dinosaur WorldPack a picnic or BBQ and spend the day checking out the dinosaur shed, bird enclosures and pat some animals or reptiles at the kangaroo yard.  The park is open 10-4pm, $14/adult and $7/child (prices correct March 2021).

More Southern Forests and Valleys Information

Location and Map

The Southern Forests and Valleys Region is the inland forest section of Western Australia’s South West.  To drive here from Perth, follow the Kwinana Freeway south onto John Forest Highway continue through to Bunbury.  Then turn down the South Western Highway drive through the pretty towns along the Blackwood Valley.

Top Trip Tip: Take time to stop at the fresh fruit vendors on the side of the road

Map of the route from Perth to Manjimup, Pemberton, Northcliffe and Walpole
Perth to Manjimup, Pemberton, Northcliffe and Walpole

Click this South West Forest tourism map to discover the location of all the attractions mentioned.

Where to Stay

Whilst there are no flashy hotels to stay, there are lots of other Southern Forest accommodation options.  You’ll find caravan parks, chalets, farm stays and rustic resorts.

We’ve stayed at:

Find More South Forest Accommodation Options*

What to Pack for the Southern Forests Region

As the Southern Forests Region is inland it can get quite cold even in summer.  So, ensure you include jumpers and warm clothing.  If it’s winter don’t forget your wet weather gear.

If you plan on doing any of the walks park sturdy walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen.

To enjoy the lakes, dams and nearby oceans don’t forget your swimming gear.

To ensure you don’t forget a thing use the ultimate holiday packing list.

If you are staying at any of the self-contained cottages or caravan parks use our self-catering holiday packing list and meal planner.

Finally prepare for your road trip with the family road trip packing list.

All our packing lists come with free downloadable PDFs

Click to Collect Yours and keep up to date with WA destination inspirations

More Information

There are a couple of official tourism websites:

To learn more about Western Australia national parks and trails:

Checkout all our articles on the Western Australia including these ones on things to do in the Southern Forests:

Or read one of these West Australian travel guides*.

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Sally-Ann
Hi, I'm a Perth born and raised travel tips blogger/writer with over 20 years of experience in airlines, hospitality and tourism. Whilst in my younger years I backpacked throughout Europe, these days I enjoy luxury family holidays to South East Asia or road-tripping about Western Australia with my partner and our son.
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