Among the tallest trees in the world, karri trees grow over 80 meters (264 feet) tall and live in the southwest of Australia. A three hour drive south of Perth will bring you into the heart of a karri forest near Pemberton and to three massive trees that you can climb up at no charge. The most famous of the three, the Gloucester Tree has a platform 53 meters (175 feet) in the air that you climb to using metal stakes that were attached to the tree in 1947, although most if not all have luckily been replaced since then. The Diamond Tree and the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree are the other two of the trio, one being lower and one higher than the Gloucester Tree, and all three are free to climb.
If you’re heading south from Perth and intend to visit the three trees, the first one you’ll come across is the Diamond Tree. Just south of Manjimup on the south western highway, the Diamond Tree is signposted and right off the road. The tree is imposing, with a fire lookout still sitting 52 meters up near the top of the tree. While this is the lowest of the three, it is really impressive. This is the only tree of the three where the fire lookout cabin is still used from time to time.
The metal stakes in the tree are a good deal thicker than standard rebar and are spaced evenly up the tree as far as the eye can see. There’s a wire mesh that attaches to a higher row of metal stakes, making it harder to fall than it first appears. Between the metal stakes there is no safety net or barrier, so you will want to be sure footed while climbing! Obviously there is no harness, so there is some risk to climbing the tree, however if you can climb a ladder without fear then this is similar to that, just higher. Lastly, don’t expect any employees or rangers to be present, this is a free attraction and is not staffed. When you reach the half way point there is a platform to rest on and a warning sign that the easy part is over, the next portion is significantly steeper.
While the stretch from the platform to the top is steeper, it isn’t really harder than the first half. At the top you’ll find a platform you can look out from and see a locked hatch above that leads to the fire lookout cabin. When looking out you know how high you are, however the views out don’t particularly look like it since the other trees around you are the same height. There’s no real feeling of being high in the sky, but it is an enjoyable spot to rest and prepare yourself for the descent.
Off of Burma Road in Pemberton, the Gloucester Tree is the next logical stop to make. The famous tree’s platform is one meter higher than the Diamond Tree, and the site around it is much larger and busier. This tree is in a national park, so you’ll need to pay $12 to park, or have a national parks pass. Once inside the park the tree is the main attraction and near the parking lot.
While the Gloucester Tree and the Diamond Tree are very similar, we enjoyed the views and experience at the Gloucester Tree a bit more. Once at the top of the giant tree it is a bit easier to see down than at the Diamond Tree, which gives a feeling of being higher up.
The platform at the top is fully accessible here, however there is no fire cabin anymore as this tree isn’t used to watch for fires. There are a few walks in the area which are full of ferns growing, parrots squawking, and beautiful flowers blooming if you visit in spring.
The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree
15km from the Gloucester Tree, the biggest of the three lookouts is the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree. The extra 12 meters of height between the Gloucester Tree and the Bicentennial Tree makes a world of difference in the feeling of how high you are. 65 meters (214 feet) above ground without a harness is a pretty awesome feeling and is definitely the most exhilarating experience of the three trees.
The lookout itself is also more interesting than the other trees as it is three stories tall and gives great views in every direction. Clear views to the ground reinforce the high up feeling, and shouting down is fun since you can barely see who you’re talking to but can hear them just fine.
Once you descend the giant tree there are some short walks nearby that are worth checking out, again for the giant ferns, parrots, and karri trees.
Beedelup Falls and Walk-Through Tree
If you’re looking for more to see in the area you may check out Beedelup National Park, which is home to a walk-through tree. 13km west of the Bicentennial Tree, Beedelup National Park is mainly visited to see the beautiful Beedelup Falls, which is a great reason to stop by.
After checking out the falls a 4.5km loop through the forest leads out to a walk-through tree, which is a giant karri with a hole in it that you can walk through.
If you’re heading north to Perth after your visit, you may stop near the entrance to Karri Valley Resort as emus and kangaroos tend to gather in a field there.
If they aren’t there when you visit then try looking into the fields as you drive north since there can be quite a few around.