WAR­REN NA­TIONAL PARK

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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.

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