Standing in front of a giant tree in the forests around Pemberton is very impressive and you will suddenly feel very small. Eight years ago, we have been around Pemberton in the south-west of Australia the first time. It was an unforgettable experience to climb one of the giant trees. The view from the platform, which is 75 meters above the ground and above the tree top, is breathtaking. The ascent over the iron bars is not for the faint-hearted or people with fear of heights. Last time, I did climb the giant tree and made it to the platform. But will I be able to do the ascent this time? Should I take the risk again?
Sure, of course! Another adventure is calling and I’m already excited. We are standing in front of the giant Dave Evans Bicentennial tree and look up along the thick trunk into the tree.
The giant trees in the forests near Pemberton
A total of eight trees were equipped with a viewing platform and were used as fire lookout towers between 1937 and 1952. The fire lookout towers were used to spot bushfires in the surrounding forests until 1972. After that, aircrafts have been used for this purpose. Today, there are three trees in the Pemberton forests in the south-west of Australia that are open to the public and can be climbed.
Climbing one of the giant trees at Pemberton is not for everyone
The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree is huge and it is one of the three giant trees that can be climbed. However, this tree was not used as a fire lookout tower. It was pegged in 1988 as part of the bicentennial celebrations in Australia.
Iron pegs were hammered into the trunk to form a ladder. This ladder spirals up into a metal cage that sits on top of the tree. There is no safety net and a wrong step on one of the iron bars could end in a disaster.
Before I start the strenuous ascent I change thongs for stable trekking shoes and lace them well. It is not recommended to carry a backpack but I would definitely have my camera with me. So I buckle my backpack as tight as possible.
At the base of the tree the iron bars are very wide, and since the ground is just below me, it feels safe and trustworthy. But that changes very quickly, with every iron bar I climb about half a meter. With every step, the view into the forest also changes, as the iron bars wind around the tree. The first steps I take are slow and easy and I feel a bit uncertain. I always try to hold on with at least one hand and have as good a stand with my feet as possible.
Soon I find a regular rhythm and have climbed around the giant tree for the first time. I am already a few meters above the ground. I feel very good and the height does not give me any problems so far. I get on smoothly and enjoy the view into the green bush which changes with every step.
At about one third of the height of the giant tree there is a platform at 25 meters. The view from this platform is already quite impressive. On the platform I take a short rest and wait for a few others that are on their descent. Since I feel very good I decide to continue climbing.
After 165 iron bars I reach the upper platform in the tree top at about 65 meters. I am very glad to have half-stable ground under my feet again. Because the higher I climbed, the narrower the iron bars became and after a while it was very strenuous to stand on the iron bars.
However, I am still not quite at the highest point. Once in the metal cage there are still more steps to take. Over normal ladders I can climb to the highest platform at a breathtaking 75 meters above ground. Phew, that was quite exhausting. The view is amazing and the climb has definitely paid off.
I am all alone on the top platform and enjoy the fantastic view over the tree tops. Forests as far as the eye can see. Since it has rained a lot lately, the forest is very healthy and the leaves very green.
At some point I have to start the ascent back down over the four ladders and the 165 iron bars. Honestly, I’m already looking forward to have safe ground under my feet again. Up here on 75 meters I feel very vulnerable and the platform weighs back and forth with every gust of wind.
The four ladders in the metal cage are very easy to handle. I feel relatively safe with the next floor only a few meters below me. But now I stand on the lowest platform of the construction and through the small hatch in the platform I now have to climb onto the iron bars again.
The first step is known to be the most difficult and I can confirm that once more. Descending from the safe platform to the iron bars is not easy. Inevitably I have to look down and 65 meters are very high. On the ground I can see Reni who seems to have shrunk to the size of a pinhead and we are still separate by 165 iron bars.
Slowly, I descend onto the top iron bar. I crawl through the hatch and slowly and steadily descend over the iron bars towards the ground. Luckily, there are no other climbers and I do not have to pass others on the iron bars.
Relatively quick I reach the middle platform again, relax briefly and then continue descending to the forest floor. I reach solid ground again and I’m glad to have safely made the descent from the giant tree. Back on safe grounds, lunch is already waiting for me. What a good life.
Tips for climbing the giant trees
Climbing the giant trees is definitely not for everyone. Whoever suffers from fear of heights should better not tackle the ascent. Good shoes are highly recommended and all the equipment you take with you should be tight on your body.
Attractions in the surroundings of Pemberton
Climbing the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree
The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree is the highest tree that can be climbed. This tree was pegged in 1988 as part of the bicentennial celebrations in Australia. The 165 iron pegs and four steel ladders lead to a platform at breathtaking 75 meters over ground. The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree is located in Warren National Park, south of Pemberton.
Climbing the Gloucester Fire Tree
The Gloucester Tree is the second highest tree that can be climbed. This tree was chosen as a fire lookout tower in 1947 and fitted with pegs. The 153 iron pegs of Gloucester Tree lead to a platform at a dizzying 61 meters high. The Gloucester Tree is located in Gloucester National Park just outside of Pemberton.
Climbing the Diamond Tree
The Diamond Tree is the third of the giant trees which can be climbed. This tree was chosen as a fire lookout tower in 1941 and provided with a wooden lookout platform. Over 130 iron bars you can climb to a height of 51 meters. The Diamond Tree is located 10 km south of Manjimup in Diamond Forest, north of Pemberton.
The Valley of the Giants in Walpole-Nornalup National Park
The 600 meter long Treetop Walk has been built In the Valley of the Giants between huge Tingle trees. This elevated walkway runs through the tree tops of the giant trees at an altitude of up to 40 meters above ground and great views in the tree tops of the forest are guaranteed.
The Ancient Empire Walk in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park
The Ancient Empire Walk is just a few hundred meters away from the Treetop Walk. This trail passes through an old stock of giant Red Tingle Trees (Eucalyptus Jacksonii). Many of the trees have a hollow trunk and through this one we can even walk through.
Do you suffer from fear of heights or would you like to climb a huge tree? Or have you ever climbed a giant tree before? Write us a comment with your experiences.