Last Updated on December 4, 2020 by worldoftravelswithkids
Walpole Western Australia is a tiny village on the South Coast surrounded by forest and ocean, truly in the middle of the wilderness. Walpole WA is the ideal destination for a nature-based holiday and we thoroughly love it for its clean air and isolation. I also have to admit there is a lot of magic here, just thinking of the “Valley of the Giants” gives me the sense that there is something special !
Surrounding the town, the Walpole Wilderness Area is a vast, pristine region of karri, jarrah and tingle forests, rivers and inlets, and deserted rugged coastline. We’re lucky to have friends in the area, and have been coming to this stunning spot for over 30 years of holidays. Without a doubt Walpole WA is a place for people who are into nature, as there is bucketfuls of fresh air and beauty.
Close to the famous Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, Walpole WA offers the perfect base to explore the surrounding national parks including the incredible Walpole Nornalup National Park, which surrounds the beautiful Walpole Nornalup Inlet Marine Park.
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Why take our advice on Walpole WA?
We’ve visited Walpole WA many, many times. I’d estimate we’ve taken at least one family holiday a year here for about 15 years. Many of these sites we have visited two or three times. We truly love Walpole Western Australia and are passionate about sharing our secrets of the best places to visit.
Things To Do In Walpole Western Australia
Walpole Wilderness Discovery Centre
The Walpole Wilderness was created in 2004, and highlights an enormous, natural and rugged landscape which embraces some amazing old growth forest, including the jarrah and karri trees. The massive tingle trees only grow around Walpole WA, and are highlighted at the Valley of the Giants. In addition to the amazing forests, there are peaceful, pristine rivers and breathtaking beaches of white sand and turquoise water.
The Walpole Wilderness is truly huge – it includes 363 000 hectares of national parks, nature reserves and forest conservation areas, and includes seven national parks. In addition, the Walpole wilderness surrounds the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park.
When the Walpole Wilderness was created, money was invested to teach people about this unique ecosystem and environment and the Walpole Wilderness Discovery Centre was the result. It features three different sites – Swarbrick Art Loop in the Swarbrick forest, Mount Frankland lookout and the famous Walpole Tree Top Walk.
The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk
The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk is one of Western Australia’s iconic places, and with good reason. Not only does it feature the fascinating Red tingle tree,s it offers an exceptional walk through massive trees on an upside down suspension bridge that moves! For more our Complete Guide to the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk contains info found no where else on the web!
Also, if you are wondering about Walpole accommodations, check out our post “Best Places To Stay Near the Valley Of The Giants Tree Top Walks”.
Sometimes described as the Walpole Tree Top Walk, this is a “must do” item around Walpole WA.
Swarbrick Art Loop
Once a site of a forest protest camp, Swarbrick Forest was ultimately logged. However, the battle for the forest is recognized here with a collection of interesting art exhibits which provide you with a different perspective on the forest. We all enjoyed the the 500m easy loop walk, which is wheelchair accessible so perfect for prams and little legs. While it may not have been the intention of the artist, this place is seriously fun for kids!
Mt Frankland National Park
Keep heading out on the Mt Frankland road from Swarbrick Art Loop and and you will see the tantalising granite peak of Mount Frankland (411 meters) through the trees. There are two walks at Mt Frankland, and both are recommended for spectacular views of the Walpole Wilderness.
The easier is the Wilderness View lookout where you can look out onto forest as far as the eye can see. Just 600m from the carpark, take your prams and feel totally insignificant in the middle of the forest.
The much more difficult walk is the Summit Trail – which is mostly straight up! However, the climb is worth it! On a clear day, you can see the Porongurup and Stirling ranges in the east and the Southern Ocean to the south. Its 1.2 kilometers and over 300 steps! Our legs definitely felt it the next day! Be aware that there is a signficant section of ladders which are difficult if you don’t like heights. Our children did this at approximately age 4.
WOW Wilderness EcoCruise
One of Walpole’s most popular attractions is a WOW Wilderness EcoCruise (WOW stands for Wild over Walpole). Centred on the showmanship of the boat captain Gary Muir, this is an entertaining, informative and extremely enjoyable around the Walpole-Nornalup Inlet.
A trip with Gary is never boring, as he delivers a fast-paced, informative, funny, and entertaining presentation of local history blended with chemistry, lessons on boats or animals, as well a a walk to the beach. Gary’s family was one of the first Europeans to settle in the area and you return after a couple of hours feeling that you’ve become more connected to Walpole.
When we discuss Walpole WA weather below, we’ll share that it rains a lot in this part of the world… however, on the Nornalup Inlet on a sunny day, the water colours are magnificent, from green to azure to deep blues. The optional walk over the hill to a secluded beach is well with the 30 minute round trip and the reward on return to the boat is a slice or two of Tingle cake. Yum!
Not only is Gary Muir passionate and knowledgeable, he has the unique ability to cater to all tastes, so he talks to the kids on their level and they just love his stories!
The Parrot Jungle Bird and Reptile Park – Denmark Dinosaur World
Based half way between Denmark and Walpole, the Parrot Jungle Bird Park is something that should be on many family travellers and animal lover’s list! There is daily reptile handling at 11am and 2pm and reviewers say that it’s great as you get to spend a bit of time with the reptiles. Even if snakes are not your cup of tea, then this is a great place to see birds, animals and even a few kangaroos
If you have a little Dana the Dino Hunter, then that will be an extra reason to stop… – the brochure says “see the only T-Rex in Australia”
Located on Bandit Road, 27km to Walpole, and 40km to Denmark, very close to the Bow Bridge Roadhouse
Scenic Drives in Walpole Western Australia
One of the best things to do in Walpole WA is the Hilltop Road Giant Tingle Tree Scenic Drive. First off you stop at the Hilltop Lookout which has wonderful views out across the Nornalup Inlet, right through to the ocean. Then, you can continue onto one of Walpole’s best Walks at the Giant Tingle Tree. If you are short of time, you can then take the one way road back to the South Coast Highway near Nornalup. We continued onto Circular Pool, which also includes a short walk.
If you are looking what to do in Walpole, definitely do this short walk of less than 500m. We continued onto Circular Pool from the Giant Tingle Tree and were rewarded with roaring river views. Keep an eye on little kids as they can access the river if they don’t stay on the path.
A taste of the Valley of the Giants Trail
Last time we were in the Walpole Nornalup Visitor Centre we picked up a foodies trail guide; which shows a beautiful drive visiting places like the Valley of the Giants Olives and Wines, and the Tingles Bakehouse.
If you are travelling towards Denmark, be sure to get the Denmark WA Farm Gate Trail guide, and if travelling towards Manjimup be on the lookout for the Southern Forests Wine Trail Map.
Walpole Walks that you should do
Doing a short bush walk should be high on your list of things to do in Walpole WA.
Truly, Walpole is a mecca for forest walks, bushwalks, and short hikes. In addition, the famous Bibbulmun Track, a long distance walking track that extends from Perth to Albany runs through this area. Our video gives you an idea of a stunning short walk in the area, from Sandy Beach to Rest Point.
For older kids, ask at the Walpole Nornalup Visitor Centre for some excellent local walks, for example, Mt Clare to Walpole, Hilltop Lookout back to Walpole or the longer Conspicuous Cliff to Peaceful Bay. For short, easy walks our top choices follow. These are all suitable for small children.
Giant Tingle Tree
The Giant Tingle Tree short hike is high on the list of Walpole attractions, and is a great way to see the Red Tingle Trees without the entry fee and touristy atmosphere at the Walpole Tree Top Walk. An easy 800m walk leads you to a large, old tingle tree that has been hollowed out by fire over many years. There are toilets and picnic tables amongst the trees and we enjoyed a most pleasurable morning tea after our walk.
Mt Clare Walk
Another gorgeous walk in the Walpole Nornalup National Park 2.4 km gentle uphill walk through massive Giant Tingle Trees was a perfect bush escape during our last visit, with plenty of brightly colored wildflowers.
Horseyard Hill Walk
This is a particularly charming easy walk, located on the outskirts of Walpole’s main shopping area. At just over 2km, it is a circular walk first heading through some wet marshland, before up through some spectacular karri forest. There is a meandering feel to the trail, and also an excellent set of signs that really captured my kids imagination. This is a fantastic place to see wildflowers in Walpole (especially if you are staying in town) and we’ve enjoyed this walk on several occasions.
Another notable walk in the Walpole area is the Walpole Heritage trail – it follows around the edge of the Walpole Inlet offering very pretty views of the paperbark forests. You can either follow the Bibbulmun Track section of the Trail or follow the Heritage Trail around town. We stumbled on the Heritage Trail, so for more information we recommend you visit the cute Walpole Visitor Centre located in Pioneer Park.
Sandy Beach to Walpole Inlet walk
Sandy Beach is a protected little beach on the Walpole Nornalup Inlet not far from rest point. Often sheltered from the wind, its also a safe place for kids to swim (actually it’s so shallow they can really only paddle!) and build sandcastles. There is an interesting walk trail around the edge of the Inlet over to the Rest Point Caravan Park. In wildflower season this is particularly full of colour and the fact that the Caravan has a bouncy pillow is a great incentive for the kids to do the walk!
One of the closest walks to Walpole town, and especially close to Coalmine Beach Caravan Park is the walk around the Knolls. This is a fun criss-cross collection of walk trails through a gorgeous patch of Karri forest. Especially in wildflower season this is a wonderful place to see a wide range of south west Wildflowers easily. In total this short walk in Walpole is about 2km, and very easy terrain, perfect for small children.
Waterfalls in Walpole WA
Also in Mount Frankland National Park is the delightful Fernhook Falls. If visiting as a day trip from Walpole, it is best visited before or after a visit to Mount Frankland’s granite peak, and has excellent facilities for a BBQ picnic. Camping in Walpole is also an amazing experience, and Fernhook Falls has one of the best bush campgrounds. (More about this below!)
Fernhook Falls is a gorgeous forest stop if you are looking to get a dose of fresh air. The Falls themselves are not tall, and only run in the middle of winter, and even then randomly run over a range of rocks… down to the tranquil Rowell’s pool. They are still very pretty and a must see stop in the South West of Western Australia. Not only are they beautiful, but the sound of these falls is incredible – they ROAR!
There is a short loop walkway that gives great views of Fernhook Falls, and also a large picnic shelter and barbeques if you would like to have lunch. A large part of it is possible to push a pram, which is a relief when you have got an active toddler in the group.
If you are travelling from Manjimup or Perth to Walpole then you can make a detour to Fernhook Falls – turn-off is about 83km south of Manjimup, or 33km past Shannon River. If travelling north towards perth it is 35km north-west of Walpole.
We love that the RAC included our Instagram pic of Fernhook Falls in their roundup of the 10 best Waterfalls in Western Australia.
Beaches & Swimming
Peaceful Bay WA
As the name sounds, is an extremely beautiful, sheltered bay which is popular for swimming. Kids love jumping from the rocks and the white sand is to die for. Be prepared for the chilling Antarctic waters when you first get in though! Our complete guide on Peaceful Bay WA gives you all the information you need to plan your visit.
Nornalup Inlet is an enclosed area of water, is generally a few degrees warmer than the ocean. It is also very shallow – perfect for young children. Two sites near to Walpole town are Coalmine Beach and Sandy Beach (near Rest Point Caravan Park). Nornalup Inlet is also the focal point of the Walpole Nornalup Inlets Marine Park and a place of stunning scenery.
In a coastline full of spectacular beaches, Conspicuous Cliff is definitely one of our favourites. It is easily accessible b 2WD, located about 20minutes drive from Walpole.
There are a couple of options for things to do – both of them are steep! There is about a 300m walk down to the beach and my kids just love to run and play on this white sand beach with the amazing waves. The other option is to climb up on the limestone cliffs, for which the site is named, and sit at the windswept lookout. Here, during late winter and spring you can watch out for whales.
Located in the D’entrecasteaux National Park, 20minutes from Walpole on the way towards Manjimup, Mandalay Beach makes a great option if you are travelling from Walpole to Perth and want to get some fresh air before you get going. (You need to turn off the main highway at Crystal Springs, 13km from Walpole)
The beach is named after Walpole’s very own shipwreck, the wreck of the Mandalay. This Norwegian ship beached on this remote beach with no loss of life in 1911, so now over 100 years ago. Every ten years or so, the sand on the beach moves and the shipwreck is visible. We were so excited when we were visiting Walpole and heard we could and see the shipwreck.
Mandalay Beach has a boardwalk making access to the beach easy, and has stunning views to Chatham Island.
This is a dangerous beach, with many rips, and it is not recommended to swim here under any circumstances, even if you are a strong swimmer.
Nornalup River & Nornalup Playground
If it’s a hot day and the wind is blowing hard on the coast, then our favourite place for a swim is the Frankland River at Nornalup. We go at the boat launching area as its shallow for the kids to walk in. Sometimes swimming in fresh water is a lot more fun than the ocean, so take some floaties (noodles or boogie boards) and hang out on the river at Nornalup. With the magnificent trees reflected in the water and the peaceful surroundings you won’t regret your choice. After swimming we normally fire up the BBQ in the nearby park and have something to eat while the kids play in the playground.
Wildflowers in Walpole
The Walpole Wildflowers really burst into bloom in early September, depending on the season. One of our favourite things about wildflower viewing in Walpole is that it is possible by just visiting the normal attractions… and finding the forest a riot of colors, with dominant purples from the Hovea, yellow from the karri wattle, red from the chorilaena and white from the Clematis.
If you would like to see Wildflowers in Walpole, all the places we have listed under Walpole walks will provide you a chance to see them. Our personal favourites are the Mt Clare Walk, and the Giant Tingle Tree Walk.
We recommend calling the Walpole Nornalup Visitor Centre before your visit to find out where the Walpole Wildflowers hotspots are at the time of your visit!
There are a wide range of picnic spots all around Walpole; we will leave you to discover your own special place.
One of the lesser known spots that we love is the Channels site, which is located close to Coalmine Beach and on the Knolls. There are great barbecue faclities here, a number of well spread out picnic tables and truly sensational views. Whenever we have visited there has been no one else there!
Where to eat in Walpole WA
NornaBar in Nornalup
David and Victoria are long term residents of Nornalup, and are renowned for their amazing hospitality and fine food. Their latest restaurant is the delicious Nornabar which is a must place to stop at if you are staying around Walpole, WA or even if you are travelling through.
The Nornbar offers contemporary from contemporary Australian cuisine, local produce such as Marron and wines, to Sri Lankan curries presented by their Sri Lankan chefs who serve up fresh and tasty dishes, like curries ,fried rice, pickles and spiced chutneys.
If you’re after something more Australian, those are available options as well. Cosy, casual and good for kids, this is the best option for foodies either for lunch or dinner.
Tingles Bake House
This is the closest food to the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, and offers extremely tasty pies and sausage rolls. They also have a lovely selection of cakes, including the Estonian Honey cake, our favourite.
This is not a standard bakery presenting warmed up pies and a range of food. It is a specialist bakery offering homemade, lovingly presented food. It is priced according to this; keep this in mind if you are feeding a family.
The Bake house has pretty little gardens which my children love to play in, and they also enjoy looking at the gorgeous treasures at the adjacent Bead Shop.
Mal & Barb’s Flaming Hot Takeaways
These long term locals serve up some delicious food at their Flaming Hot Takeaways. Their fish n chips are always very tasty (and absolutely massive serves) while the kids love their pizzas. The owners are very friendly and while they have a massive menu, they are also accommodating and will try to be helpful to cater to your dietary requirements.
We always get Mal & Barbs whenever we are visiting Walpole and if you ask a local, they will always say it’s the best place in town!
Top Deck Cafe
Top Deck Café is Walpole’s longest running restaurant and the locals love to visit here. It is cute and cosy and a great place to spend some time on a cold winter’s day. At first you don’t notice Top Deck, as it is tucked away upstairs between the IGA store and the nearby Petrichor Gallery. They have a solid menu, featuring lots of yummy dishes like my favourite the Spinach and Fetta pie, Focaccias, or Fish n Chips. The meals are nicely presented with chips and salad and the coffee yummy. We think that Top Deck café is good value for money.
On nice days, you can sit out on their balcony and watch the happenings on the main street of Walpole!
Just opened, we had a chance to visit the Banksia Café on the last school holidays. It was the middle of winter so we enjoyed a warm bowl of chips and a focaccia. Their servings looked generous and people happy. They also have a big veranda which will be great in summer. The locals tell me it’s a dead heat as to whether Banksia Café or Top Deck serve the best coffee in town.
Shopping in Walpole WA
Walpole certainly doesn’t have the wide variety of attractions in nearby trendy Denmark, but it’s a lot more low key and relaxed.
Walpole Nornalup Visitor Centre
One of the saddest things about the rise of online information is that people don’t visit the Visitor Centres as much anymore. The Walpole Nornalup Visitor Centre, housed in a replica settlers shack in the aptly name Pioneer Park provides lots of local information about what to do and see!!! This is what Visitor Centres are all about; manned by friendly volunteer locals they have a lot of ideas about what is best to do. If nothing else makes sure you get the brochures offered by Tourism Western Australia, they have amazing information!
Monthly Summer Market
There is a monthly Saturday market in summer with lots of interesting (and not too expensive) things to buy including fabulous beanies upcycled kids shirts.
Do you know what Petrichor means? I didn’t. It is the smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long dry weather.
In Walpole, the Petrichor of the karri forest and particularly the karri wattle is sublime, and we were delighted to learn this beautiful word and visit this gallery which often celebrates the local environment.
On our last few visits to Walpole WA, Petrichor Gallery has had some lovely exhibitions from local artists. The presentation and quality of the art was first class and we plan to drop in anytime we are in Walpole to see what they have on display. In addition to supporting local artists, Petrichor also has a beautiful gift shop.
Walpole Maker’s Collective and Marron Shop
The people of Walpole and surrounding districts are incredibly talented, and come together with a Collective where they feature their work. After a hiatus for Covid times we understand that they are opening in new and better premises in the shop next to Banksia Café. Also for sale at the Marron shop are Western Australian marron. If you are staying at one of Walpole’s self-contained accommodation options you can take some fresh marron home to cook! Are you game?
What are Western Australian marron?
Marron are a large freshwater crayfish endemic (that means native to) the south west of Western Australia, and when I was a child fishing for Marron in the rivers of the South West an annual tradition. Now, they are farmed commercially; and if you are very lucky you might even see a bright blue marron. Apparently these electric blue marron are the same species as their brown and black friends, it is just a genetic mutation.
If you are keen to try cooking marron, you might be interested to first know what they taste like. Though they resemble a large crayfish, they don’t taste like one… apparently tasting more like frogs legs than a crayfish! Who knew?
Walpole Accommodations – Best Places To Stay in Walpole WA
Walpole is a very small town, with a supermarket, pharmacy or fuel station (and a couple of restaurants. this is our full list of Best places to stay near the Tree Top Walk.
Also, Check out this list of Walpole Accommodation.
If you are looking for Walpole Camping suggestions, we have included our thoughts in the page Walpole WA Accommodation.
Rest Point, Walpole WA
Walpole WA practical considerations
The next fuel is 110km away at Manjimjup or in Denmark; and tends to be more expensive than other places.
There is a well stocked IGA where you can get all the groceries you need at prices that are comparable with local towns.
Keep in mind both fuel stations can close early on the weekends, especially in winter.
While this might not be what you are used to, we rather like it that there are still places in the world that close and allow their staff to have a rest.
Other Walpole Attractions
For trips in the future, we have our eyes on the following around Walpole.
- Canoeing to Monastery Landing
- Doing a full day hike on the Bibbulmun Track
We’ve traveled with Lonely Planet for over 20 years! For unbiased and detailed advice, they are our trusted guide book. Even in this digital age, you can’t go past them for maps and info on the go. Take a look below at our favorite Western Australia guidebooks. They are great for planning your trip.
Getting to and from Walpole WA
If you are travelling from Perth to Walpole WA, allow 5 hours of driving if you follow the South West Highway to Bunbury, then Manjimup and Walpole. However, there are a lot of great things to do along the way, see Great Stops For Kids On A South West Australia Road Trip
If you are planning to do a road trip, you may travel via Busselton or Margaret River.
Busselton to Walpole: 3 hours
Margaret River to Walpole: 3 hours
If you are travelling from Walpole to Denmark WA, it takes about 55 minutes if you travelling directly. However, the Walpole to Denmark can be a very enjoyable road trip, we recommend stopping at both the Valley of the Giants and Peaceful Bay en route. Just 13km from Denmark is the world famous Greens Pool in William Bay National Park and well worth a visit, just one of many things to do in Denmark WA.
Alternatively if you are travelling from either Esperance, Bremer Bay or Albany, these are rule of thumb driving times.
Denmark WA to Walpole: 55 minutes
Albany to Walpole: 1.5 hours
Esperance to Walpole 6.5 hours
Sandy Beach, on the Nornalup Inlet
Things to do in Walpole Western Australia – our verdict.
For such a tiny town, there are certainly many Walpole attractions to keep your attention. Of course at the top of the list is the Walpole Tree Top Walk, otherwise known as the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Let’s not forget though the other amazing forests in the area, including the Giant Tingle Tree or the wilderness at Mt. Frankland. Yes, the Walpole wilderness is an attraction in its own right! And last but not least the spectacular coastline around Walpole WA definitely merits a few outings at least. We hope you have enjoyed our comprehensive guide to Walpole Western Australia!
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