The next day we witnessed the devastation of recent fires in the region, particularly in the D’Entrecasteaux National Park. At first our road leaving camp was green on one side whilst the other side was charred and devastated. Amazingly, it was not barren though, and typical of much of the bush here, fire plays a huge part in the natural cycles. Though the fires had torn through huge areas of forests in recent weeks, and we even witnessed many trunks still smouldering and smoking, with the rains of recent days the grass trees were all flowering, and new growth was already appearing from the trunks of many eucalypt trees.
We took time to visit two local icons, the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree and the Gloucester Tree, two of three giants in the forests that you can climb in the Warren National Park. Not for the faint hearted, the Bicentennial Tree was “pegged” in 1988 and has 165 steel spikes hammered into the trunk in a spiral up the tree to a height of 75 metres. With no safety harness, climbing is not recommended in wet or windy conditions, or for those who fear heights. With combination of all three how could I refuse? Firstly though, we had to beckon the kids down, who were already fearlessly climbing up towards the first platform. Despite the rain the views above the canopy were fabulous, with the exception of the vertical one down. Descent was interesting as with each step backwards you get a good view to the ground between each spike! Happy to have survived the challenge I then watched as a man calmly ascended in bare feet. The Gloucester Tree was very similar, not quite as tall, but a single climb to the viewing platform, and an easier climb due to less of a spiral making it more ladder-like.
Halfway up the first tree, much to Xavier’s delight I found a stick insect that obligingly took the fall to the ground where Xavier pounced on it for close examination. Another great day in these majestic rainforests of the south western region of West Australia.