This locals’ travel guide provides the best things to do in Walpole, WA, and tips on the weather, location, and where to stay.
Walpole is a small country town and makes an ideal place to stop on the way to Denmark or Albany. The drive takes about 45 minutes from Walpole to Denmark and one and a half hours from Walpole to Albany.
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The region contains nine conservation areas, collectively known as the Walpole Wilderness area. These are Walpole-Nornalup National Park, Mount Frankland National Park, Mount Frankland North National Park, Mount Frankland South National Park, Mount Lindesay National Park, Mount Roe National Park, William Bay National Park, Shannon National Park, and Valley of the Giants/Tree Top Walk.
Most people visit Walpole for the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. However, consider staying here for a couple of nights as the nature in this area is incredible. We love visiting Walpole; it’s picturesque, with plenty of walks and stunning beaches.
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Top 17 Things to do in Walpole
1. Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk
The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk is Walpole’s most popular tourist attraction, 19 km from the town centre along South Coast Highway in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park.
This architecturally designed 600m platform gradually climbs to nearly 40 m above the forest canopy. It is safe for children and constructed of steel trusses and pylons. The platform is fully accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. The platform does shake slightly, but it feels stable and completely safe.
The birds-eye view over the 400-year-old giant red tingle trees is impressive. Seeing them from this perspective and getting close to these majestic trees without damaging them is incredible. You’ll also see yellow tingles, karri trees, and marri trees.
The Tree Top Walk is open daily, apart from 25th December, from 9 am to 5 pm (tickets must be purchased by 4.15 pm.) Allow one hour for the Treetop Walk but two hours to combine with the Ancient Empire Walk trail.
The Treetop Walk costs A$21 per adult, A$10.50 for children aged 6-15, and a family pass (2+2) is A$52.50. Children under six years old are free of charge.
I recommend this attraction for supporting ecotourism and minimising the impact on these ancient trees. The tingle trees’ shallow root system can become compacted from people walking on them, so the Tree Top Walk allows visitors to view them without damaging the roots.
2. Ancient Empire Walk
If you don’t have the money for the Tree Top Walk, entry to the Ancient Empire Walk is free. It is part of the Valley of the Giants complex and can be completed independently or as part of the Tree Top Walk.
The easy, family-friendly 455 m trail takes you through the forest floor to marvel at the 400-year-old tingle trees with several lookout points along the way. The path is sealed with wooden boardwalks in places, but some steps are involved, so it is unsuitable for strollers, wheelchairs, or those with mobility issues.
Walking through the hollowed-out trunk of these living giants is an amazing experience that makes you realise just how tall they are. The hollowed-out trunk is a distinctive feature of the red tingle caused by fire, fungi, and insects. These eucalypts do not have a taproot but instead have a shallow root system that causes them to buttress, providing more stability. It also allows them to absorb more moisture and nutrients from the soil.
Most of the trees here are unique to the south-west of Western Australia. Some plants can be traced back to the supercontinent, Gondwana, when Australia was joined with Africa, India, Antarctica, and South America. Over 50 million years, Australia has experienced a significant climatic change. However, this part of WA has minor seasonal change, rainfall between 1000 & 1200mm, well-drained gravelly soil, low nutrient content, and hilly terrain. This combination has allowed species, such as relict spiders and snails from Gondwanan times, to survive in this forest.
The forest mainly consists of red tingle (Eucalyptus jacksonii), yellow tingle (E. guilfoylei), marri (Corymbia calophylla) and karri (E. diversicolor). The red tingle, with a base circumference of up to 20 m, is the largest buttressing eucalypt. It can only be found between the Deep River in the west, the Bow River to the east and within 10 km of the coast.
The beautiful, old gnarled Grandma Tingle is a highlight of the walk. Her wrinkles and “face” give her a human character; at around 400 years old, she is the forest’s matriarch. She used to be called The Gatekeeper, as though she was keeping watch over the forest.
Another beautiful example of the red tingle is the impressive King Tingle tree, so-called due to its majestic appearance. Unlike some of its neighbours, it grows straight and tall and hasn’t been burnt through. If you look carefully, you can see evidence of fire on its bark. King Tingle has a show of small white flowers every four years in summer (flowering cycles start after the tree is 30 years of age and can continue for its lifetime.)
Yellow tingles don’t buttress like the red tingle and grow to 35 m, compared to 75 m for the red. Karri trees mature up to 90 m with a long straight trunk. Marri trees are common in the south west and grow to 60 m. Their fibrous bark is brown-grey, and their trunks seep a dark red gum and are known for their honkey nuts, the food source of the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos.
The Ancient Empire Walk is open daily, except for 25th December, from 9 am to 5 pm.
Free guided walks are offered every day outside school holidays, subject to weather conditions. Daily times: 10.15 am, 11.30 am, and 2 pm.
The Ancient Empire Walk is one of the excellent free things to do in Walpole.
3. Giant Tingle Tree & Hill Top Lookout
The Giant Tingle Tree and Hill Top Lookout are accessed from Hilltop Road, off South Coast Highway. The one-way unsealed windy road is not suitable for caravans but ok for 2wd vehicles (check with your vehicle hire company, though).
The drive is lovely as you go through a forest of Red Tingle and Karri trees with wildflowers out in spring.
Hill Top Lookout is 2 km along Hilltop Road and is worth a quick stop for photos. The views over the Frankland River, Nornalup Inlet, Saddle Island, Goose Island, and the Southern Ocean are stunning.
A further 3 km along Hilltop Road, you arrive at the Giant Tingle Tree car park. From here, it’s an 800 m easy paved loop trail, although there are some stairs, so it is unsuitable for wheelchairs or prams. Take your time wandering through the forest, especially during spring when wildflowers are out. Look out for the QR codes along the side of the path, which require the South West Nature Guide App, to learn more about the area.
The highlight of the trail is, of course, the Giant Tingle, which is said to be the largest living girthed eucalypt in the world at 24 m. This Red Tingle has been hollowed out by fire but is still alive as the living and growing parts of the tree are located just below the outer bark. The boardwalk around the giant tree protects its fragile roots and allows you to get close to this majestic tree.
You can return the same way or continue the loop, which uses part of the Bibbulmun Track and then winds back to the car park.
Years ago (before we knew better), tourists would drive their cars through a particular tingle tree and take photos of their vehicle inside it. This, thankfully, has been banned as the old Tingle died due to damage to its roots.
4. Circular Pool Walk
Circular Pool is a 15-minute drive from Walpole town, in Walpole Nornalup National Park. The roads are unsealed but ok for 2wd vehicles (if allowed by your rental company). You can visit here after the Giant Tingle Tree and Hilltop Lookout.
From the car park, you have the choice of two paths – a gradually descending paved path that is suitable for wheelchairs and strollers and a path that has steps leading down to Circular Pool. Stop along the way at the lookouts for views over the pool and forest.
The top pool was initially known as Circular Pool, named after the current of the pools, which flow in circular motions. This can be seen clearly by the white foam, which looks like a huge cappuccino! It’s beautiful to see the froth cascading over the rocks in the Frankland River – the foam results from saponin, which comes from plants as they break down in the water. As the water tumbles over the rocks, it churns up the saponin, making a cappuccino effect. The river water here is dark due to the tannins from the native plants breaking down. Marron (which can be caught in season), freshwater Mussels, and Western Minnow inhabit these waters.
The top pool’s average depth is 5.5 m, and the bottom pool is 8.5 m.
The car park was built around 1964 by Lionel Gunson, the first National Park Ranger in Western Australia, and his friend Alf Passfield. Circular Pool was previously accessed via a fire break, and people would drive their cars down to the water’s edge. After a vehicle nearly rolled into the pool, Lionel decided to build a car park higher up.
Circular Pool is at its best during winter and early spring. It’s a lovely place for a picnic, walk, or canoe.
5. Conspicuous Cliffs
Conspicuous Cliffs are located east of Walpole. Travel east along South Coast Highway for 13 km and turn right onto Conspicuous Beach Road. This is a 7 km unsealed road, but it is ok for 2wd vehicles.
From the car park, it’s a fully accessible 200 m return walk to a picnic shelter and lookout.
A boardwalk and stairs lead down to Conspicuous Beach. A stream runs alongside the path, and the stairs finish close to the stream. This can be hard to cross after heavy rainfall in winter or early spring. However, the left side of the beach is easy to access.
The isolated beach is a must-visit with its soft, white squeaky sand and wild surf. However, I wouldn’t recommend swimming here as the waves are big and are known for rips. Surfers enjoy the large surf breaks here, though.
The view of the limestone cliffs, the granite headlands, and the unspoiled coastline is spectacular.
The uphill walk to the top lookouts is worth the effort and a highlight of our time in Walpole. There are benches to rest and another viewpoint about the halfway mark. Although the views here are wonderful, it’s nothing compared to the top. The walk provides views over the coastal heathland with swamp paperbarks and red flowering gum trees (they flower in summer).
The panoramic views over the Southern Ocean and the rugged coastline are magical from the top. It can be windy up there, so take appropriate clothing.
Conspicuous Cliffs are a popular whale-watching spot from July to September.
6. Peaceful Bay
Peaceful Bay is 30 km east of Walpole and can be combined with Conspicuous Cliffs. Nearby landowners once used the area as summer grazing for their cattle. It is now a quiet coastal holiday destination.
The sandy beach lies on the Great Southern Ocean and wraps around the headland. The limestone cliffs and big boulders give it plenty of character. The small jetty provides easy access for boat owners and is a good place to fish. Peaceful Bay has 4wd access and is popular with lots of four-wheel drives on the beach.
In summer, it’s an excellent snorkel site with plenty of marine life close to shore. The coastal bushland and dunes are alive with a carpet of wildflowers in spring.
7. Knoll Drive & Coalmine Beach
Knoll Drive is a 5 km one-way circular drive on the peninsula between the Walpole & Nornalup Inlets. It’s 3 km east of Walpole, then turn right onto Coalmine Beach Road. The Coalmine Beach Car Park is about 2 km along, just past the road to the Caravan Park. The car park is where the loop brings you back to.
Knoll Drive has views over Nornalup Inlet and takes you through the native forests of the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. Stop along the way at the lookouts or for a picnic. The Channels picnic area has views of the narrow channel that links the two inlets. There are barbecues here, too, and picnic shelters.
Coalmine Beach, named from the shallow seam of coal at the base of the cliffs, is a great beach for kids as the water is shallow and a boat-free zone.
8. Mandalay Beach
Mandalay Beach Road, 12 km west of Walpole
Named after the Norwegian barque Mandalay, wrecked there in 1911, this beautiful beach is popular with anglers. Expect to catch skippy, herring, and whiting any time of the year and salmon when they are running.
The views of the Southern Ocean and Chatham Island are beautiful.
Toilets are available.
Standard park entry fees apply for D’Entrecasteaux National Park.
9. Mount Clare Summit Trail
Mount Clare Car Park is located 8 km west of Walpole along South West Highway. Turn into Tinglewood Road and travel about 1 km along the gravel road.
The 2.4 km return walk is a moderate Grade 3 trail, which you should allow 1 to 1 1/2 hours to complete.
The short, gradual uphill walk takes you through magnificent tingle and karri forest. We had to climb over a few fallen trees, but the walk was pretty easy. There were lots of wildflowers, moss, fungi, and lichen, making the hike even prettier.
Look out for the teapot tingle along the way. Can you see how it got its name?
The granite outcrop summit offers stunning views of the bushland and the Southern Ocean on a clear day. It reminded me of the walks in England with all the leaf litter, not to mention it was raining 🙂
10. Sandy Beach
Sandy Beach is 4 km west of Walpole along South West Highway. You need to travel on gravel roads to get there.
As it is on the Nornalup Inlet, the bay is tranquil and perfect for swimming and canoeing. The narrow sandy beach and calm water make it an ideal swimming spot for families with young children. There is a toilet, although it’s a bush one.
There were quite a few flies around when we visited in early spring, despite hardly being anywhere else. I wonder if that was due to a huge dead fish on the beach, though!
A 1.5 km trail from Sandy Beach to Rest Point follows the inlet through the tingle and karri forest. We didn’t have time to do this one, unfortunately.
Entry to Walpole-Nornalup National Park is free.
11. Horseyard Hill Walk Trail, Pioneer Park
Horseyard Hill Walk Trail in Pioneer Park is a 2.5 km grade two loop walk, accessed near the Walpole-Nornalup Visitor Centre, that will take around 45 minutes to complete. The interpretive trail takes you through karri, marri, and yellow tingle forest and is illustrated by two local artists.
The walk is dog-friendly, but they must be kept on a lead, and the first 120 m is suitable for wheelchairs. The boardwalk takes you over Butler Creek to the loop trail.
12. Swarbrick Art Loop
Swarbrick Forest is one of three sites that make up the Walpole Wilderness Discovery Centre and is home to some of the state’s oldest karri trees.
The 500m loop walk features artworks, including ‘Wilderness Wall of Perceptions’, a 39m stainless steel wall with forest-related quotes. Take time to read the messages and reflect on what impact settlers had on the forest.
The site was chosen as this was where conservationists fought to preserve the Karri forests around Walpole.
It wasn’t a highlight for us, but have a look if you are passing.
13. Fernhook Falls & Rowell’s Pool
If you are visiting in winter or early spring, consider a visit to Fernhook Falls, located along the Deep River (one of the main tributaries of the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets) in Mount Frankland National Park.
The road is unsealed and corrugated and is unsuitable for most 2wd vehicles.
Depending on when you visit, you may see the froth like at Circular Pool, the result of saponin in the water. There are walk trails and boardwalks that provide nice views of the falls and forest. One track that leads to Fernhook Falls is universal, allowing access to wheelchairs and strollers. The boardwalk protects the vegetation around Rowell’s Pool.
Entry to Mount Frankland South National Park is free.
- Picnic table
14. John Rate Lookout
We popped to John Rate Lookout, although it was raining, and decided to take some photos. The views and the area would be gorgeous on a sunny day.
The lookout is named in honour of the first forester in the Walpole area. In the early 1950s, John Rate discovered a third tingle tree species, now known as the Rate’s tingle (E.brevistylis). Tragically, he was killed when a large karri limb fell on him.
15. WOW Wilderness Eco Cruise
This eco-tour departs daily at 10 am for a two and a half hour cruise through the waterways of Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park.
16. Munda Biddi Trail
Ride part of the 1000 km long Munda Biddi Mountain Bike Trail through spectacular forest with rivers, gorgeous inlets, granite peaks, stunning coastline and sandy beaches.
Kayaking in Walpole is a thrilling experience taking you through stunning natural landscapes. The Walpole-Nornalup Inlet, fed by the Frankland and Deep rivers, provides a serene and peaceful environment for kayaking enthusiasts to explore.
Paddle through the tannin-stained waters, surrounded by towering karri trees, banksias, and paperbarks. The calm waters of the inlet are perfect for beginners, while the more adventurous can venture further into the rivers and streams for a more challenging ride.
Accommodation in Walpole
Have you booked accommodation?
We use Booking.com for most accommodation bookings as they offer free cancellation on many properties and have a price match guarantee. We book through Stayz (part of VRBO) for private accommodation as we find it is often cheaper than Airbnb.
Tip: Accommodation gets booked quickly, especially during the WA school holidays. To avoid disappointment, book early.
Camping/ Caravan Park Accommodation
We stay at Coalmine Beach Holiday Park as it’s one of our favourite campsites. Our site was huge and had a fire pit we could use (bags of wood can be purchased from reception in season). Four campers’ kitchens had stoves/ovens, microwaves, toasters, kettles and fridge/freezers, seating, and barbecues. The amenities were spotless, and we never had to wait to use the showers.
It felt like bush camping (with kangaroos and birds around us) but with the luxury of having all the amenities.
Their glamping luxury tents were great value compared to some of the others in the south west. You can read our full review and see photos of the tents on this Coalmine Beach Holiday Park Review.
Rating: 9/10⭐️ with 216 reviews
Our choice of Walpole accommodation due to great value for money, clean amenities, kangaroos wandering around the grounds, and an excellent location.
Tinglewood Cabins are great if you want to stay in a chalet with a fully equipped kitchen and a fireplace.
For more options, see this guide on the best accommodation in Walpole.
Location & How to get to Walpole
Walpole is in Western Australia’s South West, 412 km from Perth.
International and domestic visitors will fly into Perth Airport. Find details about visas, prohibited items, currency, and safety in this Australia Travel Guide and tips on arriving into WA and other essential travel information in this Western Australia Travel Guide.
There are car hire booths at Perth Airport, but it’s best to pre-book your car rental.
To compare Australian car hire prices, Discover Cars is an award-winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are highly rated.
DriveNow is a good resource to compare campervan hire in Western Australia. It includes all the large companies like Britz, Maui, & Jucy as well as smaller ones.
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Walpole is a 5-hour drive from Perth, along State Route 2 and National Route 1.
TransWA runs buses to Albany that stop in Walpole. However, it’s hard to get around this region without a car.
Walpole Forecast & Weather
The hottest months are from January to March, where the average highs are 24/25 degrees.
The coldest months are from June to September. During this time, the temperature will be around 16/17, with a minimum of 9.
The most rain falls between May and August, with December to February being the driest months.
See the detailed 7-day forecast at the Bureau of Meteorology.
Brief history & Settlement of Walpole
I want to respectfully acknowledge the Nyoongar People, the Traditional Owners, and First People of these lands. I would like to pay my respect to the Elders past, present, and future, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture, and hopes of the Nyoongar People.
The Nyoongar People called this area “Nor-Nor-Up”, the place of the norne (black snake). This might explain how Nornalup got its name.
Captain Thomas Bannister discovered Walpole in 1831. Governor James Stirling named the river here in honour of Captain W Walpole.
The first European settlers to the area were Frenchman Pierre Bellanger, and his family, in 1909. This was followed the next year by an English family, the Thompsons.
Land was put aside for a National park in 1910, which started a small but thriving tourism industry.
Today Walpole is a little town servicing the surrounding rural areas where fishing, dairy, and beef are the main industries.
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What is the population of Walpole?
The current population is around 500.
How far is Walpole from Perth?
Along National Route 1, it is 411.4 km which will take about 4 hours and 30 minutes by car.
What region is Walpole in?
Walpole is in the South West region of Western Australia.
How far is Denmark from Walpole?
Denmark is 65.2 km from Walpole and would take about 45 minutes in a car.
Is there a supermarket in Walpole?
The IGA Walpole is in the town centre, opposite the Tourist Information. The shop is open 7 days a week but check times of opening here.
There’s also a fuel station and a liquor store here.
Where’s the best place to eat in Walpole?
By far the best food is from Mal and Barbs Flaming Hot Takeaways. The fish and chips are not only huge but are the best we’ve had in Australia. This comes with amazing and friendly service.
The Walpole Bakery has delicious sausage rolls too.
How old is the Giant Tingle Tree
The Giant Tingle Tree is believed to be over 400 years old.
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