We departed Fonty’s Pool on a very warm morning, without a final swim. Our heading was south east, back towards the coast, to see some even bigger trees than the Diamond Tree. We packed up Pilgrim and were on the road by 1000, this time with dad at the helm. As we cruised he highway of forest, I checked destination campsite possibilities. We had no definite end in mind, just an idea of Walpole or Denmark, depending on what we stopped to visit along the way. I selected two for consideration later.
We had about a two hour drive, mainly downhill, heading back towards the ocean, through acres of trees. Every now and again, a patch of farmland would appear, but largely we were surrounded by trees. Gradually, the coast came in sight, then we were again passing through small towns, and finally the sign for the treetop walk hove into sight. We sped through Walpole, passing Coalmine Bay Camp Ground, and coming to the Valley of the Giants Discovery Centre. This part of the coast is undulating, with areas of farmland, interspersed with deep valleys of ancient forest. In this region, the Tingle is the dominant tree species, a type of eucalypt that grows very tall, with great buttress roots.
We parked at the Discovrey Centre and entered the suspended walkway that slowly took you skyward towards the canopy. It was a brilliant structure, designed to have the least possible impact on the ground, so as not to disturb the trees, but it swayed unnervingly, though it never felt unsafe. Slowly we ascended past the great trunks, until we wee among the canopy, looking down on birds flying between the trees. It was awesome, and impossible to photograph in any way that would show the splendour of these great trees. Eventually, we made our way back to ground level, and went on the related walk, this time at ground level, through so every old forest. Incredibly old trees inhabited this part of the forest, including. Grandma Timgle, a 400 year old tree with a gnarled face in the trunk, and Kimg Tingle, a majestic, tall tree. We also saw many “walk through” trees, where the trunk had been eaten away by fungi or fire and you could actually walk through the resulting space.
It was a delightful place to visit, very quiet, lots of birdsong, and simply awe inspiring with the ancient trees all around. We finished our visit with an ice cream, and booking the Coalmine Beach camp ground, which we headed back to via Walpole IGA to buy the next BBQ dinner!
We arrived at the camp ground around 1500, and settled in to a lovely bushland site, with a fire pit next door. Of course the challenge was to seek out enough wood to have a fire, so Pete and I headed to the beach to check for wood and see if a swim was viable. Walpole lies on the banks of a large lagoon with a very narrow entrance to the sea, and out camp ground was on the beach of this massive lagoon. It was a very shallow beach, so the water was very warm, and Pete and I had a quick dip in knee high water, as it would have taken Too long to wade out to deep water! After this, we found some wood which we ferried back to camp to pep for the fire.
We started checking out plans for the last few days of our trip, wanting to ensure we did not do too much driving all in one go. We also wanted to ensur we had somewhere to stay for the last night after dropping off the van and before flying home to Sydney. As mum and dad got back from their walk when we were discussing all our options, we all decided to do a big drive tomorrow, so we could have 2 nights in our last stop. This would also allow us to have a relaxing day for Pete’s birthday on Sunday. Finally, we booked a hotel near the airport, so on Monday we could drop the van, head the hotel and be ready to go to the airport on Tuesday. This was about the most planning we had done all trip!
It was time for sundowners by now, so poured drinks, got the fire started and well under way, before the first wave of thunder and rain came through. The fire prevailed, we cooked and ate dinner, and retired again to the fire for tea after clearing up, and finally headed to bed, leaving the fire to weather the storms as they passed through in the night. After the usual session of ceiling thumping as we murdered all the wild life that accompanied us to bed, silence prevailed apart from the odd rumble of thunder… or was that a snore?