100 Year Forest
Directions - From the centre of Pemberton, head east along Vasse Highway, taking a left turn after 2.2km onto Pemberton Road North. Follow this for 7.1km until you reach a left turn for Smiths Road where a small 100 Year Forest sign is located. Drive down the unsealed Smiths Road for 2.3km until you reach the left turn for entry road for the 100 Year Forest. Continue down this road for 700m until you reach the car park and gazebo for the trail.
The Hike - Sometimes all it takes is a sign. Not a lifechanging metaphorical sign but just a plain old metal sign on the side of the road. Back in March of 2022, I was on a holiday with my partner in Pemberton and as we were driving along Vasse Highway, I noticed a pretty innoxious road sign pointing off the highway towards a place called 100 Year Forest. We didn't visit on that trip but I kept a mental note that next time I was in the area, I would investigate. With my plans already changed for this day of a spring 2022 road trip, I thought I would check out this 100 Year Forest on my way back from the Four Aces Walk.
After looking at the Explore Parks WA website, I knew there was a small walk trail there, so there was at least something to do while I was there. Turning off the highway at the aforementioned sign, I was soon on the gravel roads leading to the start point. Parking up in front of the gazebo, the weather had turned into a light sprinkle, my favourite kind of weather when walking through a forest. With a name like 100 Year Forest, there has to be a story behind it and the gazebo tells the history of this site. There isn't much to it, the area was cleared for a wheat farm, the flour mill that was built on Lefroy Brook wouldn't work at the time of year it was needed, so the mill was abandoned. The farm was sold in 1875, soon after that a bushfire came through and the cleared land was given a hand in regenerating. Forest officers found this patch of land in 1916 and since then it has been left to grow (although I'm assuming like every other forest in WA it has been logged at some point). Given it was regenerated in 1875, it's actually close to being the 150 Year Forest, so a renaming might be in order. To explore the forest, there is a 1.1km loop trail aptly named the Wheat Field Loop.
Excited to explore the area, I left the gazebo and headed off in an anti-clockwise direction through the Karri Forest. The differing size of the trunks indicates that a lot of the trees are much younger than 147 years old, possibly due to logging or fires in-between then (or both). It felt like most other Karri Forests in the South West and as I continued along, it was apparent that the trail had been cleared by machine in the recent past. There were a good amount of wildflowers around ranging from Native Wisteria, Tree Hovea, Prickly Moses, Morning Iris, Karri Hazel, Hibbertia, Water Bush and Old Mans Beard. The trail isn't the most exciting with just a wide vehicle track but the majesty of the Karri Forest in places is more than enough to make up for that. With the overcast conditions and a light drizzle, this was perfect forest meditation walking. Soaking it all in as best I could, I was a bit sad when I rounded the final corner and could see the gazebo once again. While not a long walk, it provides another place to experience the Karri Forest near Pemberton, which is no bad thing.
Final Thoughts – Pemberton provides a good variety of trails to explore, along with being a trail town for the Bibbulmun Track and Munda Biddi.
Having something small like this as an extra little trail is a bonus and to be honest, I think there could be a dozen more like this all around the area given the fantastic forests that exist here.
If you're looking for a short walk close to town where you can meander through the Karri Forest then check out the 100 Year Forest (or 150 Year Forest as it will soon be).
Get out there and experience it!!!
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