The Top Things to Do in Pemberton, Western Australia (and it’s CHEAP)

Pemberton is a small town located in South West Australia.  With a population of just over 750 people, you’d wonder why anyone visits one of the coldest places in Western Australia, let alone be looking for things to in Pemberton with its farming land dating back to 1861.

Well, in 1913, the government noticed the massive Karri forests.  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 Tasmanian Blue Gums, Pine and Karri Trees.

So why are we visiting Pemberton?  Well, it’s to explore these stunning Karri Forests and its surroundings.  There are quite a few other things to do and see in this section of the Southern Forests region from climbing 71-metre tall trees, swimming in natural brooks, tasting local produce and walking amongst the stunning natural beauty.

Attractions, activites and things to do in 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 there are some must do things and places to see in Pemberton.

The Trees

Once in Pemberton, you are literally engulfed in the tall native Karri trees, but it is the climbing trees 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 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.

We check out Gloucester Tree.  A nominal fee of $13 is charged to enter the national park.  This entitles us to enter into 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 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.

Climbing Gloucester Tree in Pemberton is one of the must do things to do in Pemberton

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.

See and read the stories of Gloucester Tree Lookout in Pemberton

The Gloucester Tree Lookout

Waterfalls

Beedalup Falls

Where the kids can safely get a few thrills is at Beedalup Falls located in the Beedalup National Forest.

There is an honour system to pay entry in 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.

Visit Beedalup Falls when in Pemberton

Beedalup Falls

Leaving the platform the downhill walk becomes a bit more dynamic as we make our way along the dirt trail, with rocky steps every so often and an old timber rail for balance.  The highlight for the kids is making their way across the wooden suspension bridge that holds a maximum of five people at a time.  Then it’s a steep climb back up 71 concrete steps.

Back at the top, you can take a hike to the Karri Valley Resort about 4.5km.  This is where the Beedalup Falls runs into.  Reading some of the storyboards at the falls we learn the Karri Valley Resort was originally owned by farmers who damned Beedlaup 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.  Sadly the complex wasn’t kept up to date, though this looks set to change.  The RAC Group have recently bought the complex and if our visit to the revamped RAC Cervantes Holiday Park is anything to go by it will become a wonderful place to stay.

Stopping by Karri Valley Resort outside Pemberton

Karri Valley Resort

Cascades

If you’re looking for another place to have another slightly intrepid hike 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.  Just like at Beedalup Falls you can walk down a paved walkway amongst the trees to a large viewing platform.

But 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 🙂

Visiting the Cascades waterfalls is a lovely attraction near Pemberton

The Cascades

Take a Swim

Big Brook Dam

Fortunately, we didn’t fall in at The Cascades.  A better and safer 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.

Walk around Big Brook Dam near Pemberton

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.

Big Brook Dam ourside Pemberton is a popular swimming hole and place to see.

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.

Tours

Seeing all these sites in Pemberton you really do need a car.  Another way to experience some of these sites is via a tramway tour or river cruise.  Both tours offer half day tours and require booking ahead.

  1. The Pemberton Tramway
  2. Donnolley River Cruises

Eat Local

In the townsite of Pemberton there are about three eateries but 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.

We don’t visit any wineries this trip but we do indulge in a decadent morning tea at the Lavender and Berry Farm.  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.  There is a small playground and some farm animals out the back to keep the littlies amused so you can sit back and relax with your cuppa.

A visit to the Lavender and Berry Farm is a nic thing to do in Pemberton

The Lavender and Berry Farm

More decadence can be found 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 $7.

Or half an hour away near Manjimup at the Truffle and Wine Company.

Top Trip Tips: Visiting Pemberton, Western Australia

As you can see there are so many things to do in 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.

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.

Websites

There are a number of useful tourism website to help you plan a trip to Pemberton:

If you would like more information on West Australian National Parks visit

Where to Stay

Flashy hotels are not something you’ll find in Pemberton, the accommodation available matches the regions natural beauty.  Pemberton farm stays are everywhere.  I never thought a farm stay would be the thing for me, but if you’d like to read my post on the Diamond Forest Cottages Farm Stay near Pemberton, then you’ll discover why they are worth checking out.  If not there is always the Pemberton Caravan Park or the not yet revamped Karri Valley Resort.

 

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

The must do things to see in Pembeton, Western Australia

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Sally-Ann
Hi, I'm a Perth born and bred travel tips blogger/writer with 20+ years experience in airlines, hospitality and tourism. I love sharing my travel lessons learned to help you plan for travel with my travel tips for trips. Please follow along to receive all my travel planning tips and destination inspirations.

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