A drive through Boranup Forest
Pleasant forest drives in Western Australia are not limited to the southern forests region. The Margaret River region, known more for its wine and surf, also has a delightful gravel road winding its way through majestic karri forest.
The road is Boranup Drive, which starts from Caves Road just south of Lake Cave and re-joins Caves Road 11km further south, towards Augusta. If you're travelling along that part of Caves Road, then a detour up Boranup Drive can be used as a slightly-longer alternative to continuing on the bitumen.
The attraction of this drive is the forest it passes through, and the walks which can be accessed. Boranup forest consists mainly of regrowth karri - the whole area was logged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the explosion of life you see (up to 60 metres tall) is what has grown back since then. Karri is the third-tallest tree species in the world, and while the karri trees along Boranup Drive are not quite as tall or wide as the karri regrowth near Pemberton, they are still impressive.
In the middle section of the road lies a small open space which was once a picnic area - it's at the intersection of a narrow four-wheel-drive trail named Anchor Rd. The trail is signposted, but the sign is hard to spot (and only if heading north); look for an area of flat open space adjoining the road. The picnic table was removed long ago, and there are no facilities, but it still makes a great spot to park and enjoy some local bakery products while soaking up the forest ambience. Bird noise here can be delightfully cacophanous at times.
This old picnic area can also be the start of some pleasant walks. When the forest was being logged, narrow gauge tram tracks were laid to enable log removal. The routes of these long-gone tracks are now four-wheel-drive trails in varying stages of being overgrown, and they make excellent walking tracks. One way to enjoy them is just go for a wander and see where you end up, and Anchor Rd is a good candidate for this. Another option is to consult the book "Walking the capes" by Jane Scott for some maps and walk descriptions.
Boranup Drive is a firm gravel surface, suitable for conventional cars, although it can be bumpy due to corrugations, pot-holes and rocks. Expect your car to get a good shake-up! It is also narrow, so keep the speed down and be ready to move over and make room for oncoming vehicles. If you don't mind this sort of driving, Boranup Drive can be a scenic addition to a tour of the Margaret River region.
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