Bush fires near the caravan park in Peaceful Bay

There were bush fires near the caravan park in Peaceful Bay, on the night that we had decided to stay. The caravan park had been a  welcome sight after a long day of sightseeing and walking. We didn’t drive all that far (roughly 300 kilometres) but the sense of relief when we arrived at the caravan park was strong.

Cape to Cape track
Start / End of the Cape to Cape track
Cape to Cape track
Adrian, walked the Cape to Cape track

We had visited Cape Leeuwin in the morning, what a beautiful place but did not do the tour. We did however, speak to  Adrian who had just finished the Cape to Cape walking track, which follows the coastline for 150 kilometres.

He was waiting to be picked up, and was finishing re-packing his knapsack when we met him. He  had wanted to walk along the coastline, on this track, for as long as he could remember and had taken leave from his job. His day job involved farming activities in the region.

You can find out more about the Cape to Cape track walk in south west of Western Australia at this website:

http://www.capetocapetrack.com.au/

We continued our trip towards Pemberton when we came across the only rainforest area outside of the tropics at Walpole. This area receives a phenomenal amount of rain each year and the forest has a total size of 1200 acres. In this forest there is a rather large tree called: The Tingle Tree, and this is the only place in Australia that it is found.

 

The Tingle Tree

We had successfully completed the Tree Top walk at Walpole, whilst not that long certainly takes your breath away. The continual swaying of the walking platform (by design) and the impressive view of the skyline and Tingle trees, left us quite breathless (from the view and the walk!). Whilst our fitness does need to improve, as we both struggled today, the feeling of being in the treetops is one which you do really need to experience in person, to appreciate.

Tingle Tree
Bushfire Damage To Tingle Tree

The tree top walk is nestled amongst hundreds of Tingle trees about 15 minutes out of Walpole in Western Australia. These trees can grow to 75 metres in height and up to a girth of 20 metres. They are magnificent trees but quite delicate for such a large tree. The root system is quite shallow, perhaps only as deep as 6 metres and do not spread too wide.

This is the only place in Australia where these trees grow. The area receives a massive amount of rain every year, akin to a rain forest in the tropics. The surrounding areas receive far less than 30% of the rain that this forest receives. Surprisingly, I thought, was the day we were there it was as dry as the Nullarbor, so it must rain hard when it does come down.

The Largest red tingle currently is Giant Tingle Tree in the Valley of Giants, which we unfortunately did not go and see, mainly because we had worn ourselves out with the driving and the walking. It seems a shame that we did not see the largest of the Tingle trees, it just gives me an excuse to come back another day!

The building of the tree top walk

The actual structure which allows us to walk so high up was finished in 1996 and credit to the builders must be given. This forest is so delicate in nature that no heavy machinery was used to erect the pieces. They used hydraulic lifters to raise the spans and then manoeuvred them into place with pulleys and ropes.

End of the walk
End of the walk

The design of the walk is quite involved, as they did not want to damage any foliage but also wanted to provide a memorable walk for visitors. A part of that desire involved building the “walk” so that it swayed in unison with the trees. I believe they succeeded, but I definitely would not walk over it when it is very windy.

Unfortunately, one fellow fell from the bridge during it’s construction and there is a plaque on the bridge to remember him.

One more thing about the Tingle Tree. The gap in the trunk (picture to the right) is caused by bush fires which burn up the inside of the tree, leaving the trunk of the tree on the outside in tact.

Travelling with a cat

As we were travelling with a cat, there were a lot of places we could not visit, this made this drive long and uneventful, except for the Tree Top walk. We left the cat in the car for this adventure, in fact it stayed in the car most of the time.

It is unfortunate that we are unable to take our pets into National Parks but that is a measure taken to reduce the impact of feral animals (ie non-native) and we accept this rule.

My next trip will be without an animal of any kind, then I will be able to visit a lot more of these National Park treasures.

 

Bush fires near the Caravan Park in Peaceful Bay

Back to the bush fires, we had arrived rather late in the day, allowing us just enough time to set up our camp site before darkness fell.

We found a site which was away from other people, and a short 400 metre walk to the amenities, perfect.

Once dinner and dishes were done, we walked to the showers to freshen up and on our return we noticed the sky was becoming a little “pink”.

We spoke to one of the locals who was finishing up his nightly duties before calling it a night. He seemed oblivious to the dangers of the fire, and his comment was to the effect that the fire was far enough away not to cause concern.

Peaceful Bay Emergency
Peaceful Bay Emergency gathering point

By the time we arrived back at our camp site, the gale force wind had changed directions and the fire was heading straight towards Peaceful Bay. The whole sky was now quite red. We packed up, and left!

On our way out, we noticed that others had already left, and some were still there packing up. None of the locals left, they just couldn’t believe the fire was that close.

Another place that I will be going back to see, as it is such a beautiful location that it deserves a second visit. I believe that the “resort” in Peaceful Bay was severely damaged but the caravan park was untouched. I still didn’t want to put myself in such a dangerous place.

If the Tingle Tree or any other piece of information in this post captures your imagination feel free to drop a comment in the box below. I will reply as soon as possible, thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

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