|Looking over Pemberton
Attractive town surrounded by karri, jarrah and marri forests.
Located 333 km south of Perth, Pemberton is a one-time timber town set amidst rolling hills and surrounded by forests of magnificent karri, jarrah and marri trees. Like Manjimup, Pemberton's main attractions focus on the timber industry. There is the giant Gloucester Tree, an old timber carrying railway line, a museum which focuses on the timber industry and a number of pleasant drives through the forests which surround the town. As timber has declined in importance the town has increasingly become a tourist destination (130,000 people visited the local visitor's centre last year) and, like so much of the rest of Australia, some people have sought their fortune by planting vineyards.
The local obsession with timber is neatly established in Thomas Wood's book Cobbers which describes Pemberton in the 1930s as a town where "Karri lives there. King Karri they called him, and smile shyly. Why? Karri is king in the bush. What else has a claim against a giant two hundred feet high, slim and straight and graceful, whose bark is watered silk? And nearly every one in Pemberton is in the Royal service. They talk karri as other men talk sheep or fruit or gold; you must fall in with their mood or be an outcast."
The first European to settle near Pemberton was Edward Brockman, the son of one of the original Swan River Colony settlers, who arrived in the area in 1861. Brockman decided that the area was ideal for raising and breeding horses. With his wife, Capel Bussell (the daughter of John Bussell - the original settler in the Busselton area), he managed to establish a successful business in the area.
In spite of Brockman's claims to be the first European settler in the area the town was named after Pemberton Walcott who arrived in the area in 1862 and departed two years later.
Settlement throughout the nineteenth century was slow. The village was founded in 1911 and proclaimed a town the following year. It wasn't until a sawmill was established in 1913, with an order to supply half a million railway sleepers for the TransAustralian Railway, that the town took began to grow. Today the mill is one of the biggest in Western Australia. Located in the main street it can be inspected. Make inquiries at the Tourist Bureau.
The town's population was given a boost in 1921 with the establishment of the Group Settlement Scheme. Although it was not successful many of the settlers stayed on in the district. The government, refusing to learn from the failure of the first Group Settlement Scheme, attempted a second settlement of the area with returned soldiers after World War II. This second settlement was no more successful. Attempts to grow tobacco proved unsuccessful.
Things to see:
|Gloucester Tree with its lookout for fire watching
The town's most popular tourist attraction is the huge Gloucester Tree with its fire lookout teetering 64 m above the ground and its hair-raising 153 rung ladder to the top. It is claimed that the view from the top is magnificent but, if there is a wind blowing, the experience of swaying from side to side is apparently less than comforting.
A Forests Department notice explains the origins of these lookout trees. "In the late 1930s the Forests Department began to establish a network of lookouts so that forest fires could be rapidly detected. In contrast with the northern forest areas the gentle undulating country and very tall trees of the southern forest offered a few vantage points for fire lookouts. To build towers high enough to see over the forest would have been too expensive. An alternative was a cabin built high enough in one of the taller trees. The first Karri fire lookout tower, called Big Tree, was constructed to the west of Manjimup in 1938. By 1952 eight tree towers had been constructed".
The Gloucester tree was prepared for use as a lookout in 1946. During the construction of the lookout cabin the Duke of Gloucester visited the site and the tree was named after him.
Other attractions in the area include fishing and the trout farm, the Pemberton to Northcliffe Railway, the Beedelup Falls and the karri tree which can be walked through, the Pioneer Museum and the Brockman Saw Pits.
Pemberton to Northcliffe Railway
The Pemberton to Northcliffe Railway, which was completed in the early 1930s, runs a small tram through the local forests. This is strictly a scenic journey with the railway crossing rivers and passing areas which, in season, are ablaze with wildflowers. It is worth remembering that when it was built the railway from Pemberton to Northcliffe was the most expensive in Western Australia costing about £20 000 a mile as it cut its way around hills and across bridges. The journey, which runs daily, takes 4 hours and tickets and timetables are available from the PembertonNorthcliffe Tourist Bureau - (08) 9776 1322.
The area around Pemberton is noted both for its rainbow trout which have been introduced (over 1 million are released into the local rivers annually) and its marron, a species of freshwater crayfish which is the third largest in the world. Details about fishing in the area can be obtained from the Tourist Bureau. King Trout Farm, 7 km south of Pemberton, is a popular attraction. King Trout Farm, which is open from 9.30 a.m. - 5.30 p.m. offers the opportunity to catch your own rainbow trout. Contact (08) 9776 1352 for details.
Pemberton Discovery Tours operate 4WD tours through the Yeagarup Dunes to the mouth of the Warren River. Contact (08) 9776 0484 for more information.
Beedelup National Park
To the west of the town is the Beedelup National Park with the Beedelup Falls, a rocky cascade which is particularly dramatic after rain, and the Walk Through Tree, a 75 m, 400 year old karri which has a hole which visitors can walk through. The hole took ten hours to cut by chain saw.
15 km south of the town on the PembertonNorthcliffe Road is the Brockman sawpit which was first used in 1865 and still has the equipment required for sawing logs with one man standing on top and two men sawing from below. It has been restored so that visitors can get some idea of how difficult it must have been to saw the giant karri logs in the mid-nineteenth century.
Tourist Bureau and Pioneer Timber Museum
The Tourist Bureau, located in Brockman Street, is housed in a building which dates back to 1912. Apart from providing information for visitors to the district (The excellent booklet Pemberton & Northcliffe Holiday Guide is a handy guide to the attractions in the area) the building also houses the town's Pioneer Timber Museum has an extensive display of memorabilia and photographs from the town's early timber days.
The Department of Land Administration has produced an excellent map titled Southern Forests which identifies all the major attractions in the area as well as providing town maps of Manjimup, Pemberton, Bridgetown and Nannup.