Best things to do in Pemberton, Western Australia

I love it when you stumble upon completely out of the ordinary things. Travel is just as much about the unexpected surprises as it is the bucket list items.

We had one of those moments driving through the Karri forest of Pemberton in Western Australia, 3.5 hours south of Perth and 2.5 hours south-west of Margaret River.

Pemberton, Western Australia

We were sitting in the back of a 4WD vehicle with Pemberton Discovery Tours. Savannah and Kalyra giggled like mad beside me as we bumped along a rugged dirt road through the Warren National Park, bucking back and forth like a prized rodeo rider.

Giant karri, marri and jarrah trees towered over us on the side of the road.

Pemberton, Western Australia

Karri forests are found only in the South West corner of Western Australia and the Pemberton region is one of the best places to experience some of the tallest trees in the world.

We stopped for awhile to walk along the road and feel a deeper connection to them. They definitely called me to hug them.

Karri forest in Pemberton, Western Australia

Graeme, the owner of Pemberton Discovery Tours and our guide was very knowledgeable and passionate about the area and shared many stories about the history and flora and fauna of the region.

After some time driving through this magnificent forest that was leading us to the ocean, it parted to reveal a giant area of shifting sand dunes.

They form a ten-kilometre-long body of sand being blown inland, swallowing the forest at a rate of about 4 metres each year.

Pemberton, Western Australia

The Yeagarup Sand Dunes are the largest land-locked mobile dune system in the southern hemisphere and a sight to stumble upon.

It is protected so there was no sand boarding fun, but we had plenty of fun running up and down the dunes with the kids.

Pemberton, Western Australia
Pemberton, Western Australia
Pemberton, Western Australia

We then piled back into the 4wd and cruised across the sand dunes to the ocean.

The views as we hit the peak of the least dune over the ocean was wild and rugged. A different ocean perspective to what we’d experienced on the West coast of the state in the Margaret River region.

Pemberton, Western Australia
Pemberton, Western Australia

We jumped out of the car for awhile on a wild deserted beach where the Warren River gently enters the sea.

This area is part of the D’Entrecasteaux National Park, a huge, wild and largely inaccessible national park protects almost the entire coastline between Augusta and Walpole and the hinterland dunes and forests 10 – 20km inland.

Pemberton, Western Australia
Pemberton, Western Australia

You can only get here with your own 4WD or on a tour with Pemberton Discovery tours. If you are doing it yourself, you need the confidence to drive through deep sand.

Pemberton, Western Australia

Graeme has tag-along tours and had to help guide a crew drive up and over the sand dunes as the driver wasn’t skilled enough to do it.

Half-day Pemberton Discovery tour

This is a great family owned tour company to see the forest, the sand dunes, and the ocean in these difficult parts to get to. Tours last four hours and include morning tea.

Thanks to Graeme for hosting us as a guest on his tour!

Other things to do in Pemberton

Pemberton is a cute historic timber town in a valley surrounded by the karri forests of the Gloucester National Park.

There is plenty to do in the area: scenic drives, 4WD adventures, gourmet food and wine, trout fishing, hikes and just enjoying the fresh forest air.

It’s 3.5 hours drive from Perth and after spending five months along the stunning West Australian coastline, it was awesome to head inland a bit

Karri Forest Explorer Drive

Pemberton, Western Australia

The Karri Forest Explorer Drive is an 85km circuit that starts just outside of Pemberton and winds through some of the south-west’s most magnificent karri forest.

Explore it at your own pace.

Stop for a picnic at Big Brook Dam, see Beedelup Falls from the suspension bridge, go bushwalking, or fishing, or just sit and take in nature. (We attempted to see the falls, but there was little water running!)

Pemberton, Western Australia

Pemberton Mountain bike park

Pemberton Mountain bike park is right near the swimming pool in town. It’s a very short walk or bike ride from the Pemberton Caravan Park. There are 17 kilometres of single track, a jump and pump track.

We took on one of the beginner tracks with the girls. Kalyra loved it and begged for us to do it again and again.

Pemberton, Western Australia

Although there were a couple of sharp turns, and bumps it was a pretty easy track to navigate. At the end of it, we went to the small jump park area to take on some of the bigger mounds of dirt.

The Big Brook Dam

Big Brook Dam, Pemberton, Western Australia

The locals favourite swimming hole to cool off in. The dam was built in 1986 to supplement the Pemberton town and Trout Hatchery water supply.

Craig took the kids their for a dip and a play on the sandy beach area, and there’s also a 4km walking and cycling trail that follows the shore.

Hidden River Winery

Pemberton, Western Australia

On the way to the Big Brook Dam is the Hidden River Winery. There are plenty of vineyards in the Pemberton region, but this is the only one we visited. And we were impressed.

There’s a covered sitting area on an elevated deck with pretty views over a small dam and karri forest and farmland

The quinoa salad I had made my top 10 list of best meals in Australia (I’m still yet to write that post!) It was sensational and perfect with a bottle of unwooded chardonnay.

Hidden River’s varieties include Chardonnay, Shiraz and Merlot. There is a small cellar door for tasting.

  • Open Weds – Sun, 10am – 4pm

Climb the giant fire trees

If you are fearless and have nerves of steel (unlike Craig) and really steady feet, climb one of the infamous fire lookout trees.

The Gloucester Tree, Bicentennial Tree and Diamond Tree have reo-bars spiralling up their trunks, the tallest standing 75 metres off the ground. I can’t believe in a country dominated by rules and regulations, that climbing these trees is even allowed?!

Pemberton, Western Australia

There are no safety features in place at all and the gaps between each rung are huge.

I was tempted to climb to the top for incredible views over the canopy, but I only managed to reach a few rungs up before the realisation of what I was doing hit me and I chickened out.

I knew if I kept going, I was likely going to freeze and then be completely screwed.

I totally loved watching the fearless ones climb up, but not when my own children attempted.

“Get down from there right now!”

Kalyra went further up than any of us. My heart races just thinking of it.

Pemberton, Western Australia

If you’re brave enough then do it, because it will make a pretty awesome story.

Pemberton Accommodation

The Pemberton Caravan Park is right in the centre of town and is on the edge of the mountain and next door to the Mountain Bike Park. It’s very serene with campsites right near the stream. We stayed in an ensuite cabin, which was a little too cramped. I think I would have preferred to camp.

Pemberton, Western Australia

There are plenty of bush camping sites within the area. Warren River Campsites are located via Heartbreak Trail off Old Vasse Rd and approximately 17km from the centre of Pemberton. These campsites are relatively new and have pit toilets and fire pits in season. Camping fees do apply.

Pemberton Discovery tours also offer a glamping experience in the Warren National Park.

Related articles

Plan Your Trip to Pemberton

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Have you been to Pemberton? Share any of your tips in the comments.

17 thoughts on “Best things to do in Pemberton, Western Australia”

  1. Thanks Caz & Craig (and fairy princesses who make the BEST models!!!) for letting others know about our tours! It was an absolute pleasure having you onboard and showing you our (aka everyones) ‘backyard’!

    The wildflowers at the moment are stunning – so make an extra attraction to the tour and a huge reason to visit the region in spring.

    We hope to see you back down this way – or maybe somewhere else across the globe!

    Happy travels!!!

  2. Now this is something I have never heard of our seen before. Four hours and you got to see a beautiful forest, sand dunes, and an ocean? That’s so much in one four hour period. Great article!

  3. Beautiful round up of the stunning Southern forests area! Looks like you all had loads of fun with Pemberton Discovery Tours – they definitely know their stuff and can tell you amazing things about the wildlife, flora and show you the best spots to explore in the area.

  4. Whoa! This is why I really want to go to Australia! I love Melbourne and Sydney, and now, Pemberton! I was just marveled about those huge trees. I’m excited with the view at the top of it. But since I’m acrophobic, I don’t know :D. And the part where you enjoyed the dunes, that was fun! Just scrolling through your pictures. I must start saving and live my Australia dreams. 🙂

  5. Pemberton is a favourite of mine; Yeagarup is great for a break, and nothing beats the incredible trees down that way. I’ve always wondered how the fire trees still remain open today, given how easily someone could badly hurt themselves!

    It looks like the Warren River was flowing out into the ocean when you visited? A lot of people cross that in their 4WD, and there have been plenty of people who’ve lost their vehicles, or gotten extremely badly bogged!

    Thanks for another great post!

  6. Hi Caz, just had a read through your info on the south west as I’m taking my brother around who’s from London. It was very interesting and helpful. Keep up the good work.
    Cheers
    Veraine

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