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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Australia 2014: The Wild Marshlands of the Tuart Forest

The Last of the Tuarts

As the sun headed towards the horizon, we made the best use of the daylight hours to stop at the delightful Tuart Forest National Park. The Roaming Down Under website provides this interesting history about the Ludlow Tuart Forest:


Once upon a time, the main road between Bunbury and Busselton in Western Australia passed right through the Ludlow Tuart Forest. The railway did too, so anyone in WA who ever went "down south" knew what a tuart tree looked like. You couldn't miss them, the way they grew almost to the edge of the bitumen.

Times have changed. The railway is long gone, and a busy bypass takes traffic quickly around the edge of the forest. To see the tuart trees means diverting onto the overlooked old road ... but it's well worth the detour for anyone with an appreciation of Australia's unique trees.

Tuart trees are native only to the coastal plain between Busselton and Jurien in the south west of Western Australia. They grow up to 40m high, live up to 500 years, and their stately grey trunks form an open forest different to others in the state. As with WA's other tall forests, most have been cut down since Europeans settlement, leaving Ludlow Tuart Forest as the only surviving tuart forest anywhere.
Headed to the Tuart Forest National Park.

Cheesy & Creamy

Just before we got to the national park, we decided to stop at the Old Cheddar Cheese Factory, located just a stone's throw away. We were truly delighted by the variety of cheese as well as how yummy they tasted!  
Lovely cheese at unbeatable prices!
All smiles!

Into the Wild

Back on the trail, we were at once delighted to get back into nature. Both Z and E were quick to disembark and head off into the forest. 
4yo Z at the start of the walking trail.
Look carefully! Can you spot the Rainbow Lorikeet?
Kangaroos in the wild! What's more fun than chasing them around?!
Kangaroos at rest.
Wildflowers galore. Our boys spent many moments just enjoying them as they were. 
On the mangrove boardwalk.
Sundown in the mangrove...
Walking past he wild grasses.
One happy little 2yo.

The Malbup Bird Hide

As we headed towards the edge of the forest, we noticed a quaint little straw hut nestled in the trees. There seemed to be no one in sight. Who could possibly own a lovely little hut in such glorious surrounds? We did so much want to get to the water's edge, but the hut and its all-encompassing straw fence was in the way. Getting curiouser and curiouser, we knocked on the outside of the hut; and gently pushed the down open when there was no response. It was only then that we realised we had found a lookout point for bird lovers to watch the small feathered creatures up close. We had stumbled into our first bird hide! 

The lovely bird hide prior to our approach.
Illustrations of all the birds that come to the hide.
Our little 4yo posing inside the bird hide.
Like son, like mummy!
While the 2yo sits on Daddy's lap to follow the action.
Mesmerised at being so close to the marshland birds.
The view from the bird hide. Quite a lovely marshland scenescape.

The serenity of the surroundings brought a deep sense of peace to all of us. It was special just being
there at sundown to enjoy the land in all its splendour.
The woodland creatures are not afraid to come near; especially since all of us are hidden inside the hut.
We stayed for a good half-hour or so, watching the sun slowly making its way down the horizon.
One could truly sit for hours and enjoy the beauty found here, at the site of the world's last remaining tuart forest.
Enjoying the marshland view as the colour slowly drained from the scenescape.
Twilight is nigh.
This photo was particularly haunting. It seemed to symbolise the hope of the day still shining on the marshland...
It was with a deep sense of serenity moderated with a tinge of sadness that we departed from the bird hide. The guide books were right. The Tuart Forest National Park is truly a site to behold; and those who choose to make a detour here will be rewarded. As for us, we were already thinking that we would come back here one day - to experience the deep tranquility that can only be derived from a complete immersion in nature!

Next: An a-mazing time in Yallingup.

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