Walpole is a small community of about 300 people located about 120km west of Albany on the south coast of Western Australia.
The town was originally established in the early 1930’s as a group settlement for farmers, with timber milling developing soon after, the region is most famous for the Giant Red and Yellow Tingle Trees, many over 400 years old.
The reason for my visit was the arrival of radio in Walpole. Yes, Walpole was a radio blackspot, that meant most people could not actually hear any radio stations in the town. Thanks to a grant from the South West Development Commission, the local shire council was able to fund the establishment of a transmission facility to rebroadcast Local Radio, Radio National and a commercial service. Unlike the other two, we actually came to town to celebrate this! About 120 people (out of the town’s population of around 300) came to celebrate with us, which was fabulous.
It also gave me the opportunity to do some sight-seeing. It’s the most beautiful part of Western Australia I’ve seen so far. This morning, we went on a wilderness tour along the Walpole River which feeds into Walpole Inlet which in turn flows into the larger, Nornalup Inlet before flowing through the mouth and into the Southern Ocean. The Walpole Inlet is a great favourite area for fishing and canoeing. The Deep River (the most pristine river in Australia) feeds directly into the Nornalup River. The tour was fantastic, with a great guide, culminating in a walk through heathland to the Southern Ocean.
I also paid a visit to Walpole’s most important tourist attraction, located about 20km away. The Valley of the Giants has long been one of the area’s most popular tourist destinations. This famous area, now part of Walpole-Nornalup National Park, gets its name from the large red tingle trees that are found there. It is the easternmost occurrence of this forest type, which is only found within 15 kilometres of Walpole. The boardwalk meanders around and sometimes through the old trees. It is a peaceful experience with quiet spots to sit and reflect on the special nature of the tingle forest. As well as giving visitors a different perspective on the shapes, sounds and movement of the forest, the boardwalk is designed to protect the tingle trees from the damaging impact of large numbers of visitors. It is thought that before this measure was taken, some trees were in rapid decline as a result of compaction of the soil around their root systems caused by vehicles and humans.
On undertaking the walk, I was almost lost for word. In addition to the sheer beauty of the trees, there is the added factor of a swaying structure. At times I felt a little scared, but never really petrified! It was a heart-stopping moment… quite literally… as someone I know had a mini-heart attack doing the walk. If you’re at all scared of heights, avoid the walk as you will feel scared… but if you’re not, it’s one of life’s great moments that should not be avoided.