Friday, November 18, 2005

The Valley of the Giants

On our way to Pemberton we stopped in the Valley of the Giants. The entrance to the 'Valley of the Giants' is 14kms east of Walpole and 3kms from Nornalup, in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. A pleasant 5km drive meanders through the forest to the Tree Top Walk.

The unique red tingle trees found here can reach a height of 70 meters while their heavily buttressed girth can attain a circumference of 20 meters at ground level. Hence the name 'Giants'.

40 Meters High
Explore the tingle forest at different levels. The exhilarating Tree Top Walk commences from a jetty at the start of a gully. Sixty meter long steel trusses, supported by steel pylons, weave though the crowns of the trees to give the visitor a truly birds-eye view. After reaching a height of 40 meters above the ground, gradually[ descend to complete the 600 meter loop back at ground level.

The Tree Top Walk is disabled accessible with assistance, and the structure is constructed to a gradient of 1 in 12 to cater for wheel-chairs with assistance. A wheel chair is available on site for visitors to use, although wheel-chairs probably couldn't turn around in the middle of the trusses and would have to go to the platforms above the pylons to turn around. The walk is one way only anyway.

Gary Milner
There is also a meandering boardwalk which takes visitors through a grove of veteran tingle trees called the 'Ancient Empire'. This walk will show some of the unique shapes of these giant trees close at hand. You can actually walk through the hollowed out butt of one tree, and into the hollowed trunk of several others.

We finished driving to Pemberton and stayed the night there in the one and only campground. In the morning we went to see the Gloucester Tree, one of the highest fire lookout trees in the world. They were charging $9 per car so we joined the Frenchmen in their van to save a little money.

Can This Be Safe?
153 rungs spiral dizzily to the viewing platform 60m above. Saying 153 rungs doesn't really describe it very well though. The rungs are actually three foot sections of inch thick re-bar drilled into the trunk of the tree. There are additional safety bars behind you as you are climbing, but they would only help you if you lost you grip with you hands and not your feet as well.

I found it completely incredible that they would allow the public to climb it at all. At the bottom there is a sign that I wish I would have gotten a good picture of that said something to the effect of “Extreme danger, others have been injured, if you have any doubt about safely climbing do not attempt” along with a list of eight or nine rules of which my party broke 3 or 4.

In the parking lot there was a small flock of parrots eating and I got a good set of pictures of them. Then Alex got some bread out of his van and the birds landed right on him. We all got some of the birds to land on us, with up to five at a time. A few even landed on people who didn't have any bread to give them. Tracie did it too even though she doesn't really like birds.


Jon said...

I don't think I have ever seen the words "heavily buttressed girth" all together like that before. It made me snicker. ;-)

The Sequoia National Forest in California was awe inspiring, so I can imagine this was. The walkways up the trees seems pretty cool although incredibly dangerous.

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