Climbing the Mighty Gloucester Tree
The next day we packed up our campsite in the southwestern Australian logging city of Pemberton in order to move on to our next destination. While packing up my wife and I witnessed a number of people actually stuck in the caravan park due to heavy rain that fell that night that turned the caravan park into a mud hole. It was raining so hard that night my wife was worried the stream we were camped by would over flow, but fortunately it did not. A guy with a four wheel drive vehicle with a wench was using it to pull people out of mud holes that they were trapped in. I was actually able to drive out of the mud hole with my campervan without any assistance to the surprise of those around me. Heck I surprised myself, to tell the truth.
Once safely out of the caravan park we headed for the last sight we wanted to see in the Pemberton area, the Gloucester Tree. This single tree ended up being the most memorable thing we did in the Pemberton area. The Gloucester Tree is located in Gloucester National Park which is less than a five minute drive outside of Pemberton. The national park has a number of hiking trails that skirt the low hills and allows visitor to walk through the protected groves of massive karri trees. However, the undisputed highlight of the park is with out a doubt, the Gloucester Tree:
This tree is used by the forest rangers as a fire look out. The karri trees are to big for regular fire look outs to be made. So instead the forest rangers put pegs into the side of the largest karri trees and climbed up the trees to use them as fire look outs. The Gloucester Tree is one of these look outs that is open to the public to climb up on. The picture below was from the museum in Pemberton of one of the first of these early fire look outs:
Notice the man standing on the top of the tree. A word of advice, before climbing this tree, make sure you are not scared of heights. My wife is scared of heights so she stayed in the campervan while I went to climb up the tree. As an added bonus, during the short walk to the tree, I was able to see a number of beautiful birds:
The various, colorful birds are something I really enjoy about living in Australia:
It was drizzling again when I approached the tree. A number of people were sitting on the benches near the tree watching others climb up the tree. Make sure you wear good shoes because the wet weather does cause the pegs to be slippery. You need as much traction as you can get on the pegs when you are climbing up the tree:
It seems a bit scary when standing at the bottom of the tree and looking straight up, but once you get going up the tree it gets less and less scary. It took me about 15 minutes to climb up the tree and this was the view from the top of the Pemberton area:
The trees don’t seem so big when viewed from the top of the forest canopy, but just take one look down and you realize how high up you are:
You need only be of moderate fitness level to climb up the tree because I had to pass a woman who was extremely exhausted about halfway up and decided to go back down. Passing on the this tree is not easy, so if you go up make sure you are in good enough shape to get to the top. However, overall the experience was definitley well worth it and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting southwestern Australia. The only thing I could have lived without was the rain but after four days of on off rain I was quickly becoming acclimated to the wet weather of this beautiful area of Australia.
Next Posting: Cape Leeuwin
Prior Posting: Exploring the Logging Past of Pemberton
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