Jeff: Eye to Eye with the Giants. 15 January 2007; Western Australia
Early morning brought the surprise of a low flying helicopter filming over the camp site and surrounding area. I am hopeful of inclusion in some forth coming film or advert and being discovered as a future star or the berk running around with a camera.
Before leaving Denmark we had to obtain copies of completed tax forms and post the originals to Scotland. If we don't clear this up, we will pay tax on the rent obtained from our cottage and have to fight the tax office to get it back. Then off to find the Tourist Information Office where there should be a very special barometer. We learned the new tourist office had not been built yet and the barometer was unavailable; the info leaflets had been premature.
On our way west we called at a toffee factory. Most of the flavours are great, a few are good and the 'chilli' flavour was a bit too hot. This toffee is a real conversation stopper, when Sylvia wants me to shut up she gives me some toffee; I'm doing very well. We bought 10 flavours and will be able to have treats for some time. Our next visit was to Peaceful Bay where we thought we might return and stay the night but decided against this. On we travelled via a back road tourist route to visit the Valley of the Giants, arriving just before 12 noon.
Opened in 1996, this major tourist attraction replaces an earlier picnic site which was literally being destroyed. The number of visitors trampling around the picnic area reached 100,000 by 1989. As the big Red Tingle trees have relatively small root systems, and grow in shallow soils, a way had to be found for people to enjoy the forest without damaging it. The result is an elevated walkway known as the Tree Top Walk and the series of boardwalks that make up the Ancient Empire walk trail.
The Valley of the Giants is about 300 metres away from the original site where most of the tired old giants did not have tall trunks and crowns.
The construction of the Tree Top Walk consists of six sixty metre light weight bridge spans on seven pylons, reaching a maximum height of forty metres, over a small creek at the bottom of the valley. The spans were especially designed to sway slightly as you walk in order to create the sensation of being in the canopy of the forest. The see through steel decking reinforces this sensation of being high up in the forest canopy. The pylons are constructed from Austen steel, which oxidises and develops a rust colour that blends into the forest to give the impression of the walk being suspended in the air; and it does. It took Sylvia and I some time to work out how the walk way was being held up.
Care has been taken to make the Tree Top Walk as safe as possible. It is a one way loop of 600 metres and is suitable for assisted wheelchairs. The highest point is close to 40 metres above the ground. Maximum loads: 20 people per span and 10 people per circular platform at any one time.
To our surprise, when we arrived to pay our £3.50 each, right behind us was Jessie, Hayley and their English granny Julie whom we had said good bye to earlier this morning. We embarked on the walk together and what an experience it was. Despite the slowness of our walk it was impossible to take it all in, however on reaching the end we found we could either leave the walk area or go round again; so we did.
At the end of the second lap I said it would be a good idea to go a further 6 times and so make it a 1 dollar a trip experience. I was out voted so we move on to enjoy the Ancient Empire walk trail. The trees in the forest are mainly three types of Tingle of which the red is the largest and Kari which is the third largest in the world reaching a maximum height of 90 metres.
The Tree Top Walk provides you with a unique opportunity to explore the different levels of this remarkable forest. It takes you up above the understory and into the forest canopy, a view usually reserved for the birds that live at this level. It opened on 06 August 1996 and by its ninth anniversary in August 2005 it had attracted more than 1.8 million visitors.
We had seen lots of trees on our journey during the last few weeks but this was very impressive by any standards and no surprise to learn it is a multi award winning project. Again we said goodbye to Jessie, Hayley and Julie and I expect they will read this account on our blog site; we wish them all the best for their future.
This night we stayed at a caravan camp at Coal Miners beach. A popular site for many holidaying families but we was not impressed with our site and found it to be lacking in light due to too many trees. The beach area was very nice and we enjoyed our walk on the beach. Tomorrow we will seek out the biggest and oldest Red Tingle tree. I have a sneaky suspicion this will entail another drive in a forest where there will be many more of these massive trees.