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If you’re looking to get back to nature this holiday break, why not head to the Southern Forests? While you probably know of the giant Karri and Tingle trees, the region offers plenty more to explore, like white sandy beaches, peaceful rivers and dramatic cliffs with incredible views. In fact, the Southern Forests are home to seven different national parks, which means you’ll have no shortage of things to see and do. Here are our five favourite short walks that will help you make the most of this beautiful area.

1. Ancient Empire, Valley of the Giants, Walpole

Time: 1-3 hours

Length: .45 km (Loop)

Difficulty: Grade 1

Driving distance from Perth: 450km (5 hours) south. (27km, 30 minutes, from Walpole)


No trip to the Southern Forests is complete without visiting Ancient Empire. This short trail weaves along the forest floor, taking you through 400-year old tingle trees - and by ‘through’ we actually mean you can step inside the trunks of these towering giants! The trail also features signage that tells the story of the Godwana Era and introduces you to one of the forest’s most popular veterans, Grandma Tingle. Ancient Empire is located in the Valley of the Giants, so while you’re there, you can also check out the famous Tree Top walk.

On the Ancient Empire trail by Tourism WA.

2. Understorey, Art in Nature, Northcliffe

Time: Less than 1 hour

Length: 1.2km (Loop)

Difficulty: Grade 1

Driving distance from Perth: 350km (4 hours) south. (In centre of Northcliffe, entry from visitor centre)


Understorey is Australia’s first purpose-built walk-trail that combines beautiful Karri forest with art. With its mix of sculpture, poetry, prose and music, the trail is designed to help visitors see the forest from a new perspective. Understorey is the sort of trail that you’ll want to explore slowly, making sure you don’t miss any of the fascinating details. The trail begins at the Northcliffe visitor centre and new artworks are added regularly, so there’s something new to discover with every visit.

Artwork at Understory, Northcliffe by Leon Ewing

3. The Warren Lookout Walk, Warren NP, Pemberton

Time: Less than 1 hour

Length: 2.4km (Loop)

Difficulty: Grade 3

Driving distance from Perth: 340km (3 hours 50 mins) south. (20km, 25mins from Pemberton)

There’s only one word to describe the view from the Warren Lookout - breathtaking. This 2.4km trail starts just beyond the Bicentennial Tree, leading you through some of Pemberton’s most beautiful old-growth forest. As you walk along, you’ll pass giant moss-covered Karri trees and most likely spot a few of the colourful lorikeets that live in the forest. Once you reach the lookout, you’ll be rewarded with a perfectly framed view of Warren River Valley. This trail forms part of the longer 10km Warren River Loop Walk, one of our Top Trails that offers even more beautiful river and forest scenery.

View from Warren Lookout by Bree Smolinski

4. Big Brook Dam, Pemberton

Time: 1-3 hours

Length: 4.2 km (Loop)

Difficulty: Grade 1

Driving distance from Perth: 340km (3 hours 50 mins) south. (6.4km, 10 mins from Pemberton)

Nature lovers young and old will love Big Brook Dam. Looping around the dam, the trail takes you along the edge of a beautiful, young Karri forest. Along the path, you’ll pass a number of fishing platforms and wooden huts with informational signage; here you can stop and enjoy the views and learn a thing or two about the local wildlife. The trail is sealed all of the way, which means you can enjoy the trail on foot, by bike or stroller or wheelchair. Big Brook Dam also has picnic tables, BBQs and sandy swimming beaches, so if you pack a lunch, you and the kids could easily spend a whole day here.

Big Brook Dam

5. Pupalong Loop Walk, D’Entrecasteaux NP

Time: Less than 1 hour

Length: .4 km (Loop)

Difficulty: Grade 1

Driving distance from Perth: 380km (4 hours 30 mins) south. (1¼ hours from Pemberton)

D’Entrecasteaux National Park is home to some of the South West’s most impressive natural scenery. And a drive to the Pupalong Loop Walk is an easy way to see a lot in a short time. Located right on the tip of Point D’Entrecasteaux, this walk gives you spectacular views of the rugged coastline and Southern Ocean. It also features interpretative signage, which tells the story of the Noongar custodians of the South West. Another bonus of the Pupalong Loop Walk is that it’s completely wheelchair friendly and accessible by 2WD, which means everyone can enjoy the incredible views.

Pt D'Entrecasteaux Lookout, DPaW

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