Travel & Touring | WA Things To Do

By: Tatum Stafford

In a town best known for its karri, marri and jarrah forests, it’s no surprise there are plenty of remarkable natural attractions to explore in Pemberton.

But throw in an old picture theatre-turned-hotel, a few forest-lined swimming holes and a menu of local gourmet produce and you’ll soon realise there is much more to Pemberton than first meets the eye. Here are 11 interesting things to do on your next visit.

RELATED: Ultimate guide to Pemberton »

1. Hit the trails in Pemberton Mountain Bike Park

The Pemberton Mountain Bike Park is located in the heart of the Southern Forests region and has a range of trails suitable for riders of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced.

The network of purpose-built trails, which vary in length and difficulty, wind through towering karri and tarrah forests and feature jumps, drops, berms and other technical features to challenge riders.

The park also features a Skills Loop that, a relatively flat trail that introduces new riders to a range of obstacles such as bridges, log rolls, tree pinches and rollers.

You'll find the trailhead is at the Pemberton Pool on Swimming Pool Road in Pemberton.

2. Join a beach and forest eco tour

With more than 40 years of combined experience, Graeme and Toni Dearle of Pemberton Discovery Tours are some of the region’s most knowledgeable tour guides. Their half-day Beach & Forest Eco Adventure tour through the Southern Forests is the perfect sampler of the region’s incredible scenery.

Seasonal tour highlights include orchid and wildflower-spotting, secret forest trails, birdwatching along the coastline, indulging in a few goodies from the local bakery, a secluded beach visit and fishing in the Warren River.

The tour also visits the land-locked Yeagarup Dunes, a mobile sand system that edges up to four metres towards inland forest each year. For non-four-wheel drivers, the tour is a great way to explore areas of Pemberton that are inaccessible in smaller cars.

RELATED: 5 fun forest adventures in Pemberton »

3. Visit a 75-metre-tall karri tree

At a towering 75m, the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree is one of the world's tallest climbing trees and was once used as a fire lookout. Climbers would use the metal pegs that protrude from the trunk forming a spiral ladder to climb to the top. Although the tree is currently not open for climbing, you can still visit the site, located in old-growth karri forest within Warren National Park, then take one of the Park's many walk trails.

Person climbing tree

4. Fish for rainbow trout at a farm

Located on the edge of the Warren National Park, the Old Vasse Trout and Marron Farm is a must-visit for keen anglers because of its trout-filled lake. Operating with a ‘catch and keep’ mindset, the lake caters for beginners to more experienced fishers. Once you’ve reeled a few in, there are plenty of shady spots across the picturesque property to unwind at.

Casual fishing prices start at $10 per person (with rod hire an additional $5 each), and you’ll need to pay per kilogram of fish you catch to take home. If you’d rather a more bespoke fly-fishing experience, half-day lessons start at $50.

5. Take a dip in a forest-lined pool

Constructed in the 1920s for families of local timber workers, the historic Pemberton Pool is one of the busiest spots in town on a hot day. It’s well worth a visit (even if not for a swim) because of the towering karri trees that line the edge of the water and provide a stunning backdrop. There’s plenty of space to have a picnic or barbeque, and live music pop-up events are common in summer months.

Pemberton is fortunate to have not one, but two swimming holes open to the public. Located a few kilometres out of town, the Big Brook Dam is complete with picnic tables, bird hides, a walking and cycling trail and a sandy white shoreline. The water here is quite cold year-round, but swimming is popular – just be sure to monitor DPAW’s website for water quality updates before your visit.

6. Indulge in sweet treats at a lavender and berry farm

If you’re travelling with restless kids (or adults with a sweet tooth), a stop at the Pemberton Lavender & Berry Farm is a must. Serving up berry pancakes, nine flavours of homemade ice cream, scones, tea and coffee, the farm is set on a picturesque property decked out with picnic tables and a kids’ playground.

The farm gift shop is a highlight, fully stocked with lavender-scented candles and berry jams. There are also a few cute farm animals to interact with, including alpacas (which can be hand-fed during your visit), ducks and sheep. The farm is open 9:30am to 4pm, Thursday to Sunday.

7. Hop aboard a river cruise

The Donnelly River passes through jarrah forest, paperbark trees and wetlands. Hop on a daily Donnelly River Cruise to admire the region's diversity from the water. Host Peter has plenty of knowledge about the area's geology, flora and fauna, and is also known for his delicious homemade muffins which you can dig into for morning tea.

At the mouth of the river, you'll have the chance to disembark and stroll along soft white beaches that are virtually isolated, except for a few locals trying their hand at beach fishing.

8. Stroll alongside Beedelup Falls

Nestled within the Greater Beedelup National Park, the towering Beedelup Falls are a series of rocky cascades best viewed in full flow after winter rains. To see them up close, hop on a walk trail from RAC Karri Valley Resort. It’ll lead you across a suspension bridge over Beedelup Brook to reach a lookout with spectacular views of the falls and the resort in the distance.

For a more challenging walk, opt for the 4.5km Beedelup Falls Loop. This moderately difficult trail weaves through karri forest, the Walk-Through-Tree and RAC Karri Valley Resort, and also makes a stop at Waterfall Dam, the peaceful lake into which the falls empty.

9. Taste Australia's very first truffle liqueur

Though truffle-infused liqueurs are commonplace in France and Italy, Australia’s very first truffle liqueur was officially launched at Manjimup’s iconic Truffle Kerfuffle festival in 2018. The liqueur is produced by Mountford Winery in collaboration with Pottinger Truffles, a nearby truffle farm renowned for its premium harvest, and was specially crafted to ease first-timers into the sharp aroma and taste of black truffles. Pop in at Mountford’s cellar door, open daily from 10am to 4pm, for a tasting.

10. Tackle the Karri Forest Explorer Drive

As this list suggests, there are an overwhelming number of natural attractions in and around this region. Luckily, the 86km Karri Forest Explorer Drive is a convenient way to tick off Pemberton’s ‘greatest hits’. The scenic trail starts just outside of the town centre, and stops off at the Big Brook Dam, Gloucester Tree, the suspension bridge near Beedelup Falls, with plenty of trail entry points when you need to stretch your legs. Tune in to 88FM during the drive for additional information about the region.

11. Paddle down Warren River

Depending on the time of year you visit, a paddle down the Warren River could be tranquil and flat, or an adventurous white-water raft ride. Winding through Manjimup and Pemberton, the Warren begins in thick karri forest before expanding out into open woodland and a few vegetated sand dunes.

You can access the river via the canoe launch steps at Drafty’s Campsite or Warren Campground. As there are granite outcrops, snags and other intrusions along the way, prior canoeing or kayaking experience is advised.

Need a place to stay in Pemberton?

RAC Karri Valley Resort offers cosy lake or forest view rooms for a relaxing holiday amongst the trees. If you'd prefer to get closer to nature, stay at the resort's brand new campground, with state-of-the-art amenities for campers. RAC members get exclusive discounts.*

Find out more

*Terms and conditions apply. RAC member discount not applicable on already discounted rates. Discounts available on direct bookings only made online or via phone. Visit our Parks & Resorts website for more information.

Image credit: Frances Andrijich. Last updated: August 2021