Pretty Pemberton Attractions: Affordable Things to Do and See

The small town of Pemberton in the South-West of Australia has a population of just over 750 people and is one of the coldest places in Western Australia.  You’d wonder why anyone would want to visit let alone be looking for things to do in Pemberton WA with its farming land dating back to 1861.

Well, Pemberton also happens to sit on the doorstep of the stunning Karri Forests.  As a result, there are quite a number of Pemberton attractions and activities within this section of the Southern Forests region including climbing 71-metre tall trees, swimming in natural brooks, tasting local produce, and immersing yourself amongst the stunning natural beauty.

In this Article Learn About All the Things to Do Near Pemberton


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Lookout at Beedalup Falls near Pemberton Western Australia
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The Must-Do Things to Do in Pemberton

If you’re only here for a few days then what must you do and see in Pemberton.

The Trees

Once in Pemberton, you are literally engulfed in the tall native Karri trees, but it is the Pemberton tree climb that everyone really comes to experience. 

In the 1930’s eight Karri trees throughout the Gloucester and Warren National Parks were chosen as fire lookouts.  Steel pegs were hammered into the sides of the trees to create a ladder that rotates up against the side of each of these trees, at the top is a small cabin. 

Today three of the eight trees remain open for tourists to climb.  Gloucester Tree is 53m high, Dave Evens Bicentennial is 65 m and Diamond Tree is 52m. Gloucester Tree is 53m high and Dave Evens Bicentennial is 65, Diamond Tree which is 52m has recently been closed to climbing due to rot.

We check out Gloucester Tree – the more well known Pemberton tree.  A nominal fee of $15 per car is charged to enter the national park.  This entitles us to enter any of the national parks for the next two days.  The fee helps cover the costs of providing paved parking, toilets, picnic facilities and signage with tales of each attraction, like those of the fire lookouts at Gloucester Tree.  It is hard to imagine starting your workday by climbing a 50+ metre tree then looking across the treetops for fires all day long – I don’t want to even think about what happens when you need to go to the loo 🙂

Fortunately for those climbing the tree these days they only stay for a short time and have the privilege of writing their name in the visitor’s book.  At the base of Gloucester Tree, a sign details the conditions for climbing. Number one – you do so at your risk.  It also suggests not to climb if you have a fear of heights or a heart condition.  And only nine people are allowed on the top platform at any one time.

Those of us sitting on the wooden bench around the bottom of the tree let newcomers know how many are currently up the tree.  Everyone just waits patiently in line.

boy climbing up stake ladder of Gloucester Tree
Climbing Gloucester Tree near Pemberton

Whilst there is no age limit to climb I would be careful about taking young children up the tree.  The metal pegs are quite well spaced apart and if you miss your footing you could easily slip through the rails.  For those of us who don’t take the kids up, we all let them have a little go on the first few rungs and get a photo while everyone is waiting for the next group of nine to make their way up and back.

Looking to the top of platform of Gloucester Tree
The Gloucester Tree lookout

Top Trip Tip: Read the safety precautions before climbing and wear closed in shoes

Waterfalls

There are several Pemberton waterfalls in the area.

Cascades

If you’re looking for place to have a slightly intrepid hike but staying firmly on the ground the Cascades waterfalls can help.  These waterfalls located in the Gloucester National Park are more of a series of low-lying granite tables edging gently down a valley.  You can walk down a paved walkway amongst the trees to a large viewing platform

But if we’re after a little more adventure and continue along the dirt track.  As it is summer we are able to jump our way across the rocks between the softly flowing water, though there is a bridge if you want a safer route.

small waterfalls near Pemberton WA
The Cascades

Beedalup Falls

Where the kids can safely get a few thrills is at Beedalup Falls located in the Beedalup National Forest just a 20-minute drive.

There is an honour system to pay entry to the national park, but if like us you have paid at an earlier stop just leave your pass on the car dashboard.  Then start making your way down the 600m loop walk.  The first 150m of the walk is well paved through the thick forests of tall karri, marri and jarrah trees to a large viewing platform – this section is wheelchair friendly.  The silver steel semi-circular platform offers a scenic view over the large grey granite rocks.  It is summer, so Beedalup Brook only gently flows over the rocks down through the valley.

people standing at lookout over waterfall
Beedalup Falls

Leaving the platform, the downhill walk becomes a bit more dynamic as we make our way along the new timber boardwalk and steps with stainless steel railings.  The highlight for the kids is making their way across the wooden suspension wobbly bridge that holds a maximum of five people at a time.  Then it’s a steep climb back up 71 concrete and timber steps.

Back at the top, you can take a hike to the Karri Valley Resort about 4.5km located on the Lake Beedalup lakefront, this is where the Beedalup Falls runs into.  Reading some of the storyboards at the falls we learn that Karri Valley Resort was originally owned by farmers who damned Beedalup Brook for irrigation.  This farm has had a colourful history which includes the Orange People (Rajneeshees) making a previous owners holiday chalets into their headquarters during the mid-1980’s.  After quite a bit of controversy, they were moved on.  The area was then bought by another hotel company who added the motel units and for a time it was the place to be seen.  Sadly the complex wasn’t kept up to date, but in 2017 that all changed when the RAC Group bought the complex; it has since been fully revamped.

tables over looking dam with swimming pontoon and people canoeing
Karri Valley Resort
Learn about all the activities and the accommodations in the is

Since our first visit to Pemberton, we have returned twice more, staying at the RAC Karri Valley Resort.  During our stays here we hiked the 4.5km loop trail which takes you to the walk-through tree and along Lake Beedalup.

Boy climbing through a hole on the trunk of a view large tree.
Walk through tree

Top Trip Tip: Take water with you on the hike

Take a Swim

Lake Beedalup

You don’t have to be a guest staying at Karri valley resort to enjoy swimming in the lake.  Anyone can swim here and dive off the pontoon.  There are also row boats, kayaks and stand up paddle boards to hire.

kids playing on pontoon in the middle of Lake Beedalup surrounded by forest
Swimming and playing on Lake Beedalup

Big Brook Dam

Back on the Karri Valley Explorer Trail another place to cool off is at Big Brook Dam.  The dam built was in 1986 to supply water for the town of Pemberton.  It is located within Big Brook Forest, an area that was logged in the 1920’s.  It is a young forest that regenerated after a bushfire in the 1930’s.

Whilst the dam may provide water for the town, visitors are welcome to swim, canoe, fish and picnic at the dam.  It is quite a tranquil spot to stop for lunch, followed by a walk on the 3.4km paved path through the tall Karri trees and around the dam.

man and boy walking through forest of giant trees
The walking trail at Big Brook Dam

As there are not many places to swim in Pemberton on a hot day you’ll find quite a few down here enjoying the facilities that include, plenty of parking, picnic tables, gas BBQ’s, shelter and toilets with change rooms.

picnic tables and sandy beach at a Big Brook Dam, Pemberton WA
Big Brook Dam

Pemberton Pool

The other place to swim in Pemberton is Pemberton Pool.  It is a local swimming spot on Lefroy Brook just on the outskirts of town near the caravan park.

Fonty’s Pool

Another well-known historic place to swim is Fonty’s Pool.  It is located closer to the town of Manjimup and not along the Karri Forest Explorer Trail.  However, due to its popularity, I cannot leave it off the list. 

The pool was hand made by Italian immigrant Archimedes Fontanini who applied for the land after working in the local timber industry.  Over a number of years, the family cleared, dug and cemented the edges of the dam walls to create Fontys Pool.  In 1925 the pool officially opened to the public and has been an icon place to picnic and swim.

There is now a caravan park on site, but day visitors are welcome, entry is $3 per person.

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If you are planning on swimming don’t forget to

Pemberton Activities and Tours

To enjoy all the Pemberton sightseeing you really do need a car.  Another way to experience some of these sites is via a tramway tour, river cruise or a 4WD drive adventure.  All Pemberton tours require booking ahead.

The Pemberton Tramway

This half day takes you along the Pemberton Northcliffe line that was once used for logging.  Today the historic tram takes you through the forest for 10km to the Cascades.  En route, the guide provides plenty of entertaining commentaries.

Donnolley River Cruises

We really enjoyed this half-day tour that chugs down the Donnelly River to the mouth of the river on the Southern Ocean.  The boat captain is full of interesting tales about Pemberton and the local Southern Forests Region

donnelly river cruise boat at jetty
Donnelly River Cruise

Yeagarup Dunes

Thirty minutes from Pemberton landlocked in the Karri forest are the 10km long sand dunes that over time have been blown inland.  Start your visit at Yeagerup Lake and then 4WD across the top of the dunes to Warren beach. 

If you don’t have a 4WD vehicle you can still drive to the Yeagerup Lake on the unsealed road and park near the picnic tables.  Meander along the 30m boardwalk out to the lake and explore the dunes and possibly do some sandboarding.

If you don’t have a 4WD but would still like to drive over the dunes you can book a tour.

Top Trip Tip: If walking on the sand dunes keep watch for 4WD vehicles

Lake Jasper and Black Point

This is on my wish list.  When we did the Donnelly River Cruise our boat captain and guide showed us photos of Black Point with its striking horizontal pipe organ black basalt formation created from cooling lava.

If you have a 4WD you can access this location within D’Entrecasteaux National Park.  For the rest of us we will need to take a tour.

Pemberton Mountain Bike Park

However if you are looking for some things to do near Pemberton then the Pemberton Mountain Bike Park might be one of the more adventurous activities in Pemberton to try.

There are bikes to hire, or you can bring your own to explore 30km’s of single track, a jump and pump tracks.

Top Trip Tip: For all tours, you need to book in advance preferably before you arrive in Pemberton

Day Trips from Pemberton

Pemberton makes a great central place to base yourself to explore more of the Southern Forests region and discover more things to do around Pemberton.

Manjimup

Thirty-two kilometres north of Pemberton is the town of Manjimup.  It is quite a large town with supermarkets, street front stores and weekend food markets.  It is also where you will learn all the history of logging the old growth forests.

Start at the Visitors Centre and purchase tickets to the Power Up Electricity Museum.  The kids will absolutely love this museum with lots of things to wind and touch to make all the lights strung up across the ceilings light up.

man and boy looking at a wall of old house hold electrical appliances
Power Up Electricity Museum

Your ticket also gives you access to the State Timber Museum.  Located a short walk across the car park.  It is here that you will learn all about the forestry industry, including the machinery that was used back in the day and how they carted the logs from Manjimup to Busselton for the timber to be shipped around the world.

Then take time out, grab a coffee from the Park Manjimup Café inside the Visitors Centre and then wonder out into Manjimup Timber and Heritage Park.  Whilst young kids will love the timber castle playground, even you will want to climb to the top of the tower for sweeping views over the town and possibly even slip down the 17m high metal slide. 

A group of adults standing at the base of an extremely tall silver tube slide

Once you are feeling revived take a wander through the heritage buildings, get a glimpse of what life was like back in the day and marvel at the huge machinery that was used for logging.

COMING SOON: Learn all about the Magnificent Manjimup Attractions

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Northcliffe and D’Entrecasteaux National Park

You’ll find more history in the town of Northcliffe located 30km southwest of Pemberton.  The Pioneer Museum comprises of three historical buildings filled with eclectic collections including memorabilia, old appliances and the largest rock collection in Western Australia.

But the real highlight of Northcliffe is Understory Art and Nature Trail, a looped 1.2km bush walk filled with sculptures made from metal, recycled products, clay along with wood and stone carvings.  To enter purchase your tickets ($10/adult and $5/child) from the Northcliffe Visitors Centre.

metal sculptured arch at the beginning of boardwalk into the bush
Understory Art and Nature Trail

After exploring Northcliffe drive a further 30km D’Entrecasteaux National Park.  The road to Point D’Entrecasteaux and the nearby attractions is sealed.  We start at Salmon Beach, with its beautiful white sandy coastline against rugged cliffs.  At Tookalup we feel as though we are jutting out to sea.  Whilst we can look back at Salmon beach from this vantage point out on the new boardwalk and lookout; it is a prime position to keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and whales.  Our final stop is Point D’Entrecasteaux with its stunning limestone window.  You can park your car and hike to each of these locations or self-drive to all individually.  At Point D’Entrecasteaux you are required to pay the $15 national park entrance fee at the car park.

rocky limestone cliff forming a window looking out to the sea
Point D’Entrecasteaux

Before you make your way all the way back to Pemberton, stop halfway en route at Mt Chudulup to take in the views all the way to the sea and across the Yeagarup Dunes.

Top Trip Tip: If you haven’t packed a picnic make sure you buy food from the Northcliffe General Store before heading on as there are no shops at Windy Harbour or the national park.

COMMING SOON: Plan your day trip to Northcliffe and Point D’Entrecasteaux

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Valley of the Giants

It is well worth taking the 140km drive south of Pemberton through the winding tree lined Southwest Highway to the Valley of the Giants, home to the giant red Tingle trees.  You can explore this unique section of the world by taking the tree top walk and/or enjoy a stroll along the ancient forest floor. 

The Tree Top Walkway in the Valley of the Giants WA
Walking along the Tree Top Walk

The tree top walk allows you to slowly make your way up the steel walkway so that you are 40m high up in the tops of the trees and are able to walk amongst the tips of the swaying branches. 

Whereas along the free Ancient Forest Floor Walk the timber boardwalk takes you literally through the tree trunks to marvel at their sheer girth and the all the forest flora.

Plan your day with our guide on the 

You can purchase tickets for the treetop walk at the gift shop ($21/adult and child $10.50).

Top Trip Tip: When planning your day trip check the weather forecast to ensure you get the best out of your day

Eat Local

If you are looking for where to eat in Pemberton town centre, then you will find a few small local eateries.

  • Pub
  • Fish and chips
  • Pizza
  • Café
  • Bakery

But during the day you will find far more interesting Pemberton places to visit with local produce to sample if you head just out of town.

Wineries and Distilleries

Whilst there are a few eateries in Pemberton town, if you go further afield you will find a bit more variety. We pass about six wineries with restaurants during our self-drive tour following the Karri Forest Explorer trail, not to mention some gourmet food producers.

Southern Forests Chocolates

A new chocolate factory that we stumbled upon by chance along the Karri Forest Explorer Trail is well worth popping in to.  The factory use to be a distillery run by the owners father-in-law, but with the downturn in her travel industry business the owner started importing white, milk, caramel and 55% dark chocolate from Belgium and 75% dark chocolate from Ecuador.

The owner then turned her love of creating flavoured bars and chocolate coated nuts into her new venture Southern Forests Chocolates.  You are able to try all the grades of chocolate to determine your favourite before selecting some delicious goodies to purchase.

Out favourite was the raspberry dark chocolate bar.

Fridge filled with a trays of chocolate flavoured nuts
Southern Forests Chocolate

Pemberton Honey

Along the trail we also turn off at the sign for Pemberton Honey.  It is a long winding dirt road through the trees before arriving at the farm gate.

Unfortunately, there are no tastings available.  Just a self-serve, honour system farm gate stall.

two white shelves filled with jars of different flavoured honey
Pemberton Honey

Lavender and Berry Farm

We also indulge in a decadent morning tea at the Lavender and Berry Farm. Although I am a little disappointed that there are no tastings of the jams.  However, we enjoy a very pretty outlook whilst eating some pancakes and scones with homemade jams.  A small playground and some farm animals are out the back to keep the littlies amused so you can sit back and relax with your cuppa.

pretty garden with flowers overlooking dam
The Lavender and Berry Farm

Forest Fresh Marron

Marrons are small crustacean like a small lobster, that live in dams.  At Forest Fresh Marron the staff are happy to show through the factory before you choose your marron to take away and cook, or they can cook it for you for an extra $8.

Berry Sweet

On your way back from Manjimup on Channybearup Road is the Berry Sweet farm.  Knock on the door and you can collect a tray (already picked) of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries (depending on the season).

We buy a tray of strawberries for $12.50.  Let me tell you they are the largest juiciest sweetest strawberries – ever!

large tray of big red strawaberries
Fresh strawberries

Top Trip Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for other buyers’ direct roadside stalls – they all vary depending on the season

Plan Your Visit to Pemberton, Western Australia

As you can see there are so many things to do around Pemberton – it’s not just about the trees, but the stunning scenery that is nestled with the forests and the local produce that is created on those farms that were cleared so many years before.

If you are considering Pemberton for a trip here are some useful details on the location, tourism websites, and options on where to stay.

Pemberton History

This region was originally occupied by Noongar Aboriginal tribe known as Pibelmun – Wadandi, they knew the area as Wandergarup, which in their language meant ‘plenty of water.

It wasn’t until 1861 when Edward Brockman, his brother-in-law and uncle Pemberton Walcott first set off on an expedition to explore the area in search of good grazing grounds for horses.  It was Brockman who suggested the town be called Pemberton after his uncle.  All three settled in the area, creating farms and stations.

In 1913, the government noticed the massive Karri forests in the South-West of Australia.  The lumber would be used to help build the growing city of Perth.  One shudders to think how much of the beautiful Karri forests were cut down before a more modern 2003 government stepped in to stop the logging of old growth forests.  Whilst today logging still continues, it is done so in a controlled environment with plantations of Tasmania, Blue Gums, Pine and Karri Trees.

Location

Pemberton is approximately three and a half to four hours drive from Perth.  It is also accessible from the Margaret River Region via the Vasse Highway or from Albany and Walpole via the South Coast Highway that becomes the South West Highway.  Making it a great location for a short getaway or part of a larger trip around South Western Australia.

map of Pemberton and surrounds with markers for each Pemberton attractions
To find the location of all the Pemberton attractions and activities mentioned use this Interactive Pemberton Map

You will need a car to get around in this area. 

If you hire a car and have children, don’t forget to hire car seats*. If you have young children you may even want to consider hiring more baby paraphernalia. Check out Hire for Baby HQ* for all their products.

Where to Stay

If you are looking for cheap places to stay in Pemberton, I would suggest starting by looking at the Pemberton Caravan Park.  Remember camping in the national forests is generally not allowed, however if you refer to the Karri Forest Explore brochure (link below) you will find locations for free camping.

Pemberton farm stays are everywhere.  I never thought a farm stay would be the thing for me, but our stay at Diamond Forest Farmstay Cottages near Pemberton completely changed my view.

view across paddock with horse to dam lined by gum trees
Diamond Forest Farmstay Cottages
Discover why I am now a fan of farmstays

At the top end of the market is the revamped RAC Karri Valley Resort where we have stayed twice because we love it so much.

view through tall tree trunks to blue lake
View from a Karri Valley Resort chalet
Learn why we love

Once you’ve found your accommodation you’re all set to explore the beautiful Southern Forests Region that includes Pemberton.

Weather

On average the weather in Pemberton is a couple of degrees cooler than Perth.  The following is a rough guide of what to expect, refer to the Bureau of Meteorology for the latest 7-day forecast.

  • In Summer (Dec-Feb) expect average temperatures in the mid 20°C but they can go up to mid 30°C, the rainfall is usually low
  • Through Autumn (Mar-May) temperatures average in the low 20°C
  • During Winter is get wet and cold with high rainfall and temperatures averaging mid teens
  • In Spring (Sept-Nov) it warms slightly to high teens or low 20°C as it rains a little less each month.

What to Pack for Pemberton

Taking into consideration all the things to do in Pemberton and the weather I would highly recommend you include the following in your packing list.

For summer:

  • Closed in hiking shoes
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Swimming costume
  • Shorts and Tshirts
  • A jumper and long pants (the nights can be cool)

For winter

  • Extra shoes – possibly Wellington Boots as well
  • Raincoat
  • Umbrella
  • Thick warm jackets
  • Beanie and scarf
Complete your packing with this

More Information

The official tourism websites for Pemberton and the Southern Forests Region are:

Top Trip Tip: As much of this region is national park, remember dogs are not allowed in the parks

You may like to read a West Australian travel guide* for more information.  We use Book Depository* to buy books or you may like to try Audible* to listen to the book as you drive to your destination.

Check out all our Western Australian articles including these articles and more comping soon on the Southern Forests Region

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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, along with a lifetime of varied travel exploits.
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