Giant Tingle Tree Walk
Start - Off Hilltop Rd
Length - 1km (Loop)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Single Track, Pavement
Vertical Climb - Fairly Flat
Time - 30 mins
Signed - Yes
Date Hiked - 26th September 2020
Best Time - All Year Round
Directions - From the centre of Walpole head east on South Coast Highway. Look for the signs for the Giant Tingle and turn left onto Hilltop Rd (one way). Follow this up the hill to the car park for the Giant Tingle Tree.
The Hike - Enjoying a day exploring the sights and sounds around Walpole, I finished up at Fernhook Falls and thought I'd head back into town to grab some supplies for the evening. With still plenty of light left in the day and the predicted storms not yet here, I figured that a return trip to the Giant Tingle Tree wasn't a bad idea. I was first here in 2016 for a family holiday and again in 2019 when I walked through on a Walpole to Denmark section of the Bibbulmun Track but wanted to return and get a refresh of photos for this page. I stopped at the Hilltop Lookout on the drive up the hill where a cleared stretch of the forest provides a frame for staring out towards the Nornalup Inlet and further to the Southern Ocean. It's a pretty cool spot to stand and admire the landscapes below.
Arriving at the car park, there were a few cars there enjoying the stormy afternoon and I was hoping to get some clear photos of the titular Giant Tingle. The Tingle Forest that grow around Walpole are only found here and the three varieties of Tingle are well known for their impressive girth, rather than their height. One of the easiest ways to immerse yourself under these giants of the forest without doing a long section of the Bibbulmun Track is to come here and wander around on the 1km loop. From the information gazebo you can head in either direction but with a large group of what looked like slow movers faffing about near the start, I ducked off to the left to try and beat them to the Giant Tingle. Heading down the hill, immediately you are surrounded by the gnarly trunks of the Tingles and it feels like another world. This was my first visit in the height of spring and there were some wildflowers showing their face including Old Man's Beard, Fan Flowers and the classic of the southern forests, the Purple Hovea.
I was having fun exploring the edges of the path and spotting all the different fungi thriving in the rotting wood deposited on the floor of the forest. A nice little touch along this trail are the QR codes that you can scan and find out more information about various plant species, geological forces or history of the area. I like this addition as most of the time traditional information boards can be bulky and degrade over time so these little markers are a low key way of educating without being too intrusive. There are a few benches located around the loop and I paused to take a photo of one particular spot where I stopped to enjoy the forest and have some lunch on my last visit. This first section leading to the main event is a nice warm-up but really, most people come for the Giant Tingle and I understand why. Reaching the boardwalk section that has been built to protect the fragile root systems of the Tingle trees, it nice to walk through the trunks of the younger varieties (that are still over 100 years old).
I mentioned in my Bibbulmun post that this place kind of feels like a zoo with the Tingles on display but in the end it's not like they are going to get up and move so it's a little bit different. The big ticket item is the Giant Tingle, a very large and girthy example that has had it's heartwood burnt out a long time ago (perhaps the devastating fires of 1937 that ranged from Walpole to Denmark). This example is upward of 400 years old based on it's size and it's a privilege to stand underneath it and just marvel at the size of this behemoth. What is still left standing allows you to walk under and stare up in awe plus enjoy the character of the wood as it twists around at the base. Luckily I had the whole place to myself and could photograph to my heart's content from all different angles. I spotted a couple of different fungi growing nearby, one on one of the wooden posts and another growing out of a fallen log. I heard a group coming so decided to move on and give them the space to enjoy the Giant Tingle without some weirdo hanging around.
With the main show over, I headed back up the hill to the start but this wasn't the end of the enjoyable walking. The real delight through here is just slowing down, breathing it all in and taking the time to have a look around. The young but large Tingles are prevalent throughout this section and it's great to see the next generation coming through that one day might be the size of the Giant Tingle. There are a few spots where fallen trees and old trees provide good foundations for the fungi and I had good fun getting low and photographing them all. As I approached the end of the trail I heard some rumbles of thunder in the distance and the smell of rain was on the air. It was a great way to finish, made even better by the final stretch where the forest really opens up and you see all the giants of the forest lined up in one shot. Add in a chance encounter with a Western Rosella that came to say hello and this was a lovely, moody walk through some of the best forests WA has to offer. I still had one hike I wanted to get done before setting up camp and hoped the storm was just a little way off.
Final Thoughts - Walpole is a haven for tourists in the summer months with the town's population exploding as holiday makers try and escape the heat along with enjoying this little slice of paradise on the south coast.
With plenty of these short and easy experiences around the town including Circular Pool, Mount Frankland, Valley of the Giants, Mount Burnett and Swarbrick, it's a great way to get out in nature and explore the unique forests.
The Tingles are amazing to see up close and it's one of those experiences that you can only really do justice to by seeing it in person.
Personally I love this area more in winter and spring time as the fungi and wildflowers are at their peak but given the cooler climate, this can also be very enjoyable in summer and autumn.
Get out there and experience it!
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