WARREN NATIONAL PARK
BIG TREES and big adventure await those who visit Warren National Park, located 15km from Pemberton, inland from the southwest coastline of WA and around three hours’ drive from Perth. The ‘big trees’ are, of course, WA’S famous karri trees. These massive eucalypts grow straight, tall and true up to a height of 90m. Interestingly, early settlers used some of these tall trees as lookout points for spotting bushfires. Visitors to the park can actually climb up three of them, following a route via metal pegs that were hammered into the trees, before reaching the top and being rewarded with all-encompassing views over the surrounding national park landscape. It’s not for those adverse to heights, but it’s an amazing experience if you’re up for a bit of a challenge.
The most popular touring route through the 3130-hectare national park is the Heartbreak Trail, so named due to the hardship experienced by those who cut the track into the rugged, rocky terrain (created to aid in bushfire fighting). visitors get the benefit of all that toil, as the one-way 12km drive is steep (and can be slippery in wet conditions), but is a cracker, dropping down to the Warren River (some great stopovers along this section are beside the rapids of Heartbreak Crossing) before ascending the other side through more karri-dense forests. You can also link into a longer journey, dubbed the Karri Forest Explorer, an 86km route that winds its way through other areas of karri forest outside the park.
Camping in the park revolves around two sites (fees apply), both of which are located off Maidens Bush Trail. Draftys Campground has 22 sites and a cool camp kitchen that houses gas barbecues and other cooking facilities, as well as excellent lookout decks from which you can check out the Warren River. Warren Campground, a smaller six-site location (some sites are riverside, others are a bit farther back in the bush), has wood barbecues (you have to supply your own firewood) and is slightly more isolated and remote. For keen paddlers (canoe or kayak) Warren Campground also offers a put-in point to the river of the same name, with more lookout platforms above the launch site.
The national park is a fantastic destination for waterborne adventures, with three canoe put-in points dotted along the Warren River. Along with the aforementioned Warren Campground (and its stairs right down to the water), you can access the river at Maiden Bush and Blackbutt and then get down to the fun task of exploring the park via the river. The Warren River is a Grade 2 waterway, meaning it has some small rapids dotted along its length, so you will need some previous paddling experience.
Bushwalkers are also well catered for at Warren NP. The 10.5km Warren River Loop includes plenty of hills as you pass dense karri forest on your way through the Warren River Valley, and the rapids at Heartbreak Crossing make a nice food stop, as does Warren Lookout.
Mountain bikers can ride the vehicular tracks in the park or, if you’re a bit keener, the nearby (free) Pemberton Forest MTB tracks will keep you entertained for a day, with its mix of beginner through to more testing tracks. For anglers, the park is a bit of a goldmine, with trout the catch of choice – or you may get lucky and snare a marron (freshwater crayfish or yabbie).
Warren National Park is a park with plenty of big stuff in it, from the huge karri trees to the many opportunities for outdoor activities and off-road touring. Even though packing all that gear – bikes, canoe, fishing gear and camping equipment – can be a painful task, the effort here would be well worth your while.