Yesterday, the gorgeous seaside views grew distant as we said goodbye to the South Coast and headed inland to experience the eucalypt forests of Western Australia. From our Airbnb in Albany, it took about an hour and a half to drive across some hilly farmland before we found ourselves on a winding road through Walpole-Nornalup National Park.
The park is home to a unique eucalypt tree that only grows in this part of the world: the red tingle. These hundred-year-old trees have thick trunks and reach up to 250 feet (75 m) high, which reminded me a little of Redwood or Sequoia National Park back home.
Unlike those US National Parks though, this one features a pathway that gets as close to these giants as possible — one that weaves you through the tree canopy itself!
The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk — Easy, but Intimidating
Look, as much as I like to travel, I’m still a fairly cautious adventurer, especially when it comes to heights. We’ve got quite a catalog of pictures now where I’m at the top of a lighthouse or near the edge of a cliff, but the behind-the-scenes view often involves a slow climb filled with my shaky warnings for us both to be careful.
When I saw pictures online of the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, it looked pretty sturdy with metal trusses that bring you face-to-face with the red tingles, karri trees, and native birds. I thought I’d be okay since it’s also a short walk at about ⅓ mile (600 m) and takes just 20 minutes or so to complete. But it’s not the distance that’ll get you — it’s the height.
At its tallest point, the tree top walk stretches 131 feet (40 m) from the forest floor to the sky. While Steven was mostly occupied filming the above YouTube video, I was often left to wonder just how well-made the walkway really was.
It didn’t help that a lady from the group ahead of us turned around almost instantly because she couldn’t handle it.
The whole walk has waist-tall guardrailing, but both it and the flooring is made of open grate, so you can’t help looking down all the time — not great for someone who gets a bit freaked out when she’s too far from solid ground.
I say “solid ground” here purposefully because while the metal walkway is well-made and sturdy, it’s also designed to literally bounce with each step you take and sway with every passing breeze. Cue the vertigo.
But once I reminded myself that lots of people — including children and the elderly — take the wheelchair-accessible tree top walk daily, I started to calm down a little.
As we walked around the track a few times, I was able to let go of some of my initial fears and began to enjoy the unique experience of being in a tree canopy. The light whooshing of wind, the rustling of the eucalypt leaves, and the distant birdsong helped — as weird as it might be to say this — ground me.
Besides, it’s not every day you get to see birds from above.
Other Stuff to Do in Walpole-Nornalup National Park
Thankfully, there are other, less scary, trails in the park as well. The Bibbulmun Track traces its way across the Walpole wilderness, and the Ancient Empire boardwalk takes you around — and even through — the giant tree trunks at the forest floor (sadly, it was closed when we visited).
I got pretty excited when I saw signs for the park’s quokkas. The quokka is a small marsupial known for its friendly disposition and the fact that it looks like it’s smiling all the time. The population in Walpole-Nornalup National Park is the only community of quokkas still on the mainland of Australia, but there aren’t many of them around. If you really want to see one, check out Rottnest Island near Perth (about 4 hours north of the park) instead!
Of course, the main attraction in the park is the Valley of Giants Tree Top Walk. While there’s no entry fee or parking permit required to visit the park, the tree top walk is a ticketed attraction. When we went, it cost $21 AUD per person (about $14 USD in February 2023 after currency conversion).
Walpole-Nornalup National Park isn’t a gigantic place you can get lost in for days, but the tree top walk was really cool, and I’m so glad we stopped here for a couple of hours on our way inland — even if it meant overcoming a little fear along the way.