Feel like you’ve seen everything Western Australia has to offer? Jono doesn’t reckon you have – he explored six different day hikes in the South West and was blown away by what he found.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Noongar people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Hiking in WA’s South West

Known for the iconic long-distance Bibbulmun Trail and its striking natural beauty, there are plenty of incredible options for those seeking a hike in Australia’s South West.

Recognised as 1 of just 36 biodiversity hotspots globally, you’ll encounter a stunning array of local flora and fauna here that are only found in this region.

So whether it’s an elevated walk through the enchanting forests or a challenging hike over a section of over 1000km of coastline, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in this corner of Australia.

These are some of the hikes that you can’t miss during your time in the South West.

 

Bald Head hike

1. Coalmine Beach to the Giant Tingle Tree

Location: Walpole Wilderness area
Distance: 12.2km return
Duration: 3 hours
Difficulty: Intermediate

The Coalmine Beach to the Giant Tingle Tree Track is a 12km day walk that gives you a much shorter taste of the famous 1000km Bilbbulmun track. It’s your chance to come face-to-face with the Giant Tingle which, at a whopping 24m wide, is the largest girth of a living Eucalyptus tree in the world!

 

The Giant Tingle

 

The Giant Tingle tree is located just a few minutes from the car park. Standing in its cavernous hollow at the base of the tree while looking up into the canopy is simply mesmerising. The hollows at the base of the red tingles – Eucalyptus jacksonii trees – were created over time by fire, fungus, and insects, and are a real sight to see.

If you’re looking for a shorter hike, the 1km loop track showcases the tingle trees you came to see and is also a great option. The Hilltop Lookout is a little further down the trail and provides a window through the forest down to the Franklin River, Nornalup Inlet, and out to the Southern Ocean. From here, the trail snakes down to Coalmine Beach where we came across a local sign that made me chuckle, letting you know how far you are from the South and North Poles from Walpole!

Top tip! If you’re travelling with multiple cars, doing a car drop at Coalmine Beach before driving up to the car park lets you experience the hike downhill, without having to double back from where you came.

 

Don’t forget to enjoy the views before you head off!

2. Valley Of the Giants Tree Top Walk

Location: Walpole-Nornalup National Park
Distance: 600m
Duration: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Conquer your fear of heights as you wander along the towering Tree Top Walk 40m above the ground in the Valley of the Giants. The loop walk at the canopy level is accessible and provides an experience like no other.

This forest is home to towering ancient tingle trees, which give the forest its name. Red tingle trees have shallow root systems that lie just under the soil surface, collecting nutrients and moisture. The Tree Top walk was designed to protect the tree roots from future adverse impacts, while simultaneously providing a unique perspective of the forest.

Keeping visitor experience in mind, the design team took inspiration from the tassel flower (Leucopogon vericillatus) and sword grass (Lepidosperma effusum), both understorey plants of the tingle forest, when constructing the unique 600m suspended walkway.

It has transparent decking that sways ever so slightly as you step across, adding to the sensation of being fully immersed in the canopy of the forest. The designers even went so far as to use Austen steel, which when oxidised turns a colour that blends into the forest. Pretty neat!

 

Walking among the tree tops

3. The Ancient Empire Walk

Location: Walpole-Nornalup National Park
Distance: 540m
Duration: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

The Ancient Empire Walk opened up alongside the Treetop Walk in 1996 and is free to visit. It recently underwent an extensive redesign, converting what was once an out-and-back route into a fully accessible 540m loop along a newly-constructed boardwalk and trail. 

In contrast to its counterpart at the canopy level, this trail offers a chance to get up close and personal on the forest floor with the tingle trees, some of which have stood for over 400 years. Be sure to stop by and say hello to Grandma Tingle, whose protruding burls illustrate her life story and make her the most popular of the gnarled veterans in the forest. 

 

It’s time for a staring contest with a tree, let’s go!

 

Information signs along the trail follow the story of Gondwana and the Mesozoic era and provide insight into the local flora and fauna in the area. Much like the Giant Tingle Tree, there are several larger red tingles with hollows here that you can stand under and walk through.

For those eager to delve deeper into the secrets of the Valley of the Giants, join one of the free guided tours that depart the ticket office twice daily at 11am and 2pm.

 

The Ancient Empire Walk

4. Peaceful Bay Beach Walk

Location: Walpole Wilderness Area
Distance: 750m
Duration: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Peaceful Bay is known by the Noongar people as Kwallup, meaning ‘Place of Sand’, and there’s plenty of it here to enjoy.

As the Bibbulmun Track runs through this coastal bay, there are great hiking options heading either way from the beach. Embark on a journey to Point Irwin, taking in the rugged beauty of the South Coast, or opt for a leisurely stroll along this tranquil beach to the jetty on the eastern end.

If you’re travelling with a canine companion, the dog beach to the north of the boat ramp is a perfect place for you and your pup to stretch out your legs.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace

When you’re all hiked out, do yourself a favour and stop by Peaceful Bay Fish and Chips. They both catch and prepare local seafood so their menus change with the catch of the day. If you’ve timed it right, take your food to-go and wander down to the beach. Watching the sunset while you savour your fish and chips is the best way to end the day.

 

Peaceful Bay

5. Bald Head Hike

Location: Torndirrup National Park
Distance: 12.5km return
Duration: Full day
Difficulty: Hard

Set in Torndirrup National Park on the Flinders Peninsula, the challenging but rewarding Bald Head Hike offers some breathtaking coastal views for hikers along the way. You won’t want to miss this one on your trip to the South West.

The hike begins by heading over Isthmus Hill before opening up at the ridgeline, which is easily the highlight of the hike. It’s here that you’ll experience the jaw-dropping views of King George Sound on one side and the Southern Ocean on the other. If you’re tight on time, the juice is worth the squeeze for this shorter section of the hike.

 

Bold, bald, and beautiful

 

From here, the trail undulates through ever-changing ecosystems, ultimately leading out to Bald Head – an impressive granite dome descending to the ocean. In 2022, new boardwalks and steps were installed, preventing further erosion and stabilising the dunes on the trail. Be prepared for changing weather conditions and allow for plenty of time when taking on this hike.

The biodiversity here is amazing, and unlike any other headland I’ve hiked in Australia. The Aussie natives lining the trail during spring radiate every colour of the rainbow from lilac to burnt orange. We even spotted a couple of baby dugites, so watch your step along the trail. After your hike, Misery Beach is conveniently just down the road and is the perfect spot for a post-hike swim on a sunny day.

 

Bald Head hike

 

If you’re visiting between July and October, don’t forget to pack some binoculars to spot breaching whales on the water as they make their annual migration. Two lookout points towards the far side of the isthmus provide ample opportunity for a pit stop to gaze at the waves.

6. Monkey Rock Hike

Location: Mount Hallowell Reserve
Distance: 2km return
Duration: 1 hour
Difficulty: Medium to difficult

Winding through some breathtaking Karri and Marri forests, the Monkey Rock Hike on the outskirts of Denmark ascends to Monkey Rock – an impressive granite rock formation – offering sweeping views of the coastline out to the horizon.

 

Views from the Monkey Rock hike

 

Following the Bibbulmun Track markers from the car park, use the Dieback Cleaning Station to clean off your shoes before continuing. This plant disease caused by a root-rotting pathogen can have serious adverse effects on many native plant species, so play your part in protecting our forests by using it.

The trail steepens as you approach the summit. For the easiest access up to the lookout, stick to the trail until you hit the back of the granite rock. This’ll lead you to some steps further along, which make navigating the challenging sections here a little more comfortable.

As the forest opens up and reveals the vistas you came for, you’ll encounter views that are nothing short of spectacular. Take time to absorb the scenes across the Great Southern Ocean, with Williams Bay to the west, and the Nullaki Peninsula enclosing the Wilson Inlet to the east. This hike is also dog-friendly, making it perfect for travellers on the road with a pooch.

 

Great doggo day out guaranteed!

 

While we’re campers at heart, we couldn’t pass Willam Bay Cottages without staying a few nights. With a range of cute cottages scattered across over 100 acres of coastal bushland, this quant family-operated stay even has short trails leading down to what feels like a private beach on the property!

Essential Gear for Hiking in WA’s South West

  • Water
  • Sun protection (hat and sunscreen)
  • Hiking boots
  • First aid kit
  • Camera
  • Map or GPS

Want more advice on what to take? Check this out: Packing List for a Day Hike

 

Searching for whales on the Bald Head hiking trail

What are you waiting for?

Australia’s South West boasts a lineup of accessible hikes with varying lengths and levels of difficulty. It has incredible options for outdoor enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in nature.

Discover rich history, enjoy unique flora and fauna, and soak in the stunning scenery while you explore the canopy of a tingle forest or wander along the expansive coastline.

It’s time to lace up those hiking boots and venture out onto the trails because there’s something for everyone just three hours from Perth in the South West!

 

Australia’s South West: Come For the Coastlines Stay For the Trails, Jono Tan, WA, Peaceful Bay, white sand, clear water, walkers

Peaceful Bay

The author was a guest for this article so that they could try all of the experiences for themself. Check out our Editorial Standards for more info on how we approach these partnerships.