The South-west Forests
The South West of Western Australia once supported extensive forests of tall eucalypts and an under-storey of incredible biodiversity. Walking through the patchy and often threadbare remains of this forest we get an idea of what it would have been like, and some clues as to what happened to it. Many of the tracks that we follow are the remains of logging railways, constructed to haul the prized hardwood timber from the forest.
This map shows many of the forests and National parks of the south west.
The Jarrah-Marri Forest
The dry sclerophyll forest, mainly comprising of jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) and marri (Corymbia Calophylla) trees, extends from Gingin, north of Perth, right down almost to the south coast. Its western boundary follows the Darling Scarp, the Whicher Range and the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge to the south coast. To the east the forest fades to Marri and Wandoo woodlands as the annual rainfall decreases.
Argyle forest, between Boyanup and Donnybrook, was extensively logged by the Bunnings company in the first half of the twentieth century. Logging ceased almost 70 years ago and much of the forest has grown back, though itís still badly degraded in places. This is state forest and not a National Park; four wheel drive tracks abound and trees are still being felled for firewood. However, some interesting bushwalks, following old logging tracks, are still possible.
The magnificent Karri trees (Eucalyptus diversicolor) are found in the cooler and much higher rainfall areas of the southern forests, south of Nannup and Bridgetown, and along the inland regions of the south coast to Albany. Occurrences of Karri forest on the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge, south of Margaret River, and in the Porongurup Range, indicates that the karri forest once extended well beyond its present boundaries.
The Bibulmun Track crosses the Brockman Highway between Nannup and Bridgetown and enters the Karri forest. From here down to Pemberton it burrows through the dense forest. Much of it utilises the remains of an extensive network of old bush railways, constructed to haul the logs to the mills. Several day walks, through dense Karri forest, can be made from Donnelly River Village.
The walk along the Bibulmun track between Donnelly River village and Pemberton is also recommended. Itís a five day walk with four nights in the track huts. Youíll need to make some arrangements to have someone drop you off and pick you up at the start and finish of the walk.
Boranup Forest in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park is easily accessible, just 20 kilometres south of Margaret River. A 15 kilometre circular walk through the forest is described here.
The tall Tuart trees (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) occupied the sandy coastal plains between the Darling Scarp and the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately, our sprawling coastal towns have all but eliminated the Tuart forest and all that remains are the small patches of woodland that extend no more than a kilometre or so from the roadsides.
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