Get in touch with your inner zen on the Gloucester Route Walk
Need to know info
Where: Gloucester National Park, Pemberton
Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Cost: $12 national park entry fee
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes and whole lot of chill.
Why do this
There is something magical about Western Australia’s Karri forests. This might sound kind of cheesy but when I’m amongst these towering trees, a sense of calm washes over me.
For me, this peaceful feeling was the highlight of the Gloucester Route Walk, well for most of it anyway.
The Gloucester Tree
I say most of the walk because we began our adventure by scaling the Gloucester Tree, one of Pemberton’s famous climbing trees. Once used a fire lookout, this giant tree has been fitted with metal pegs which you can use to climb up 61m to reach a viewing platform. There’s no safety net between you and the ground, so I admit that ‘sense of calm’ disappeared as soon as I started climbing. Luckily I was accompanied by my braver friends who egged me on, and I’m glad they did because the views from the top make the heart-racing climb completely worthwhile. My tip is to stop mid-climb and look down to the forest below. From this point you can truly appreciate the sheer height of the Karri trees, but this is probably not a good idea if you’re afraid of heights!
Once we had conquered the Gloucester Tree climb, we headed straight to the trail. It only takes a few metres of walking before you’re immersed in the lush and tranquil greenery of the forest. The trail begins by crossing paths with the Bibbulmun Track, meandering up and down gentle slopes, taking you past giant moss-covered Karris and across a bitumen road towards a wooden bridge over Lefroy Brook.
This bridge was just one of the several wonderful creek crossings you’ll find along the Gloucester Route. Hidden in gullies deep in the forest, these bridges make a perfect spot to chill out and soak up the forest sounds. Seriously, if you do explore this route, take a minute to close your eyes and just listen – with tweeting birds and babbling creek noises it sounds like you’ve stumbled into a recording of a relaxation tape. (On that note, we visited this trail during winter. During summer, the creeks will most likely be a lot drier and quieter.)
When you’re about the halfway through the trail, you’ll notice that the Karri forest thins and becomes dense Jarrah forest. Don’t worry, you haven’t taken a wrong turn! After a few hundred metres, you’ll return to the Karri forest for the final stretch of the walk. You’ll know you’re nearing the end when you cross my favourite bridge, which is little more than a plank of tall karri laid across several logs. Nineties kids can relive their Fern Gully fantasies as the tree ferns here give this part of the trail a distinct rainforest atmosphere.
A few metres on from this point, you’ll spot a sign that says “Berry Farm” that will lead you to the Lavender and Berry Farm cafe where you can get a post-hike coffee and scone. Though tempted by the thought of caffeine, we pushed on to complete the walk. (Just a note, when you’re almost nearing the end, you’ll see a sign for the Gloucester Route Loop that is pointing in the left back into the route you’ve just walked – ignore this and continue forward on the obvious trail back to the start point in the carpark.)
Upon finishing the hike, my walking buddies and I agreed that the Gloucester Route Walk was a beautiful and calming way to start our day. While it doesn’t have the river views of some of the other walks in the area, it’s a wonderful way to experience the Karri Forest. Being one of the less action-packed walks in Pemberton, you’re also less likely to encounter other walkers – we set off at 10:30am on a Saturday and we had the trail completely to ourselves. Plus, you can easily add some waterfall to your walk with a trip to the nearby Cascades, which are looking their best thanks to the recent winter rains.
Map & Directions
1. The Gloucester Route is located in the Gloucester National Park which is located on Burma Road, just 5 minutes drive from the Pemberton town centre.
Once you’ve paid your $12 park fee, you can enter and drive through to the carpark.
The Gloucester tree is hard to miss, just look for the giant tree surrounded by decking and signage.
To the right of the tree, you’ll spot some wooden signage for the 3 walk trails in the area. The Gloucester Route trail is well signposted, just follow the black Karri tree markers and you’re sure to find your way.