Celebrate autumn with a forest adventure down south - and then recover in style at a luxurious retreat surrounded by trees.
The Margaret River Region isn’t just gorgeous white beaches and vineyards - there are some of the country’s most beautiful forests to explore too. Head to the Ludlow State forest on the edge of the Tuart forest and you’ll find challenges high up the treetops while in the Boranup forest, you’ll go back in time and discover the area’s prehistoric past.
Ludlow forest (Corner of Tuart Drive and Ludlow North Road)
Busselton. Call 0439 827 926 or visit forestadventures.com.au
There are probably more amusing things than a 40-something helmet-wearing woman clinging to a green hoop suspended in midair to see in a pristine south west forest, but I’m struggling to think what that may be.Yes, that helmet-wearing, uncoordinated 40-something woman was me, and to be fair, I hadn’t done anything even vaguely this energetic for years. But there I am, stuck midway across one of the tortuous obstacles at Forest Adventures, a new attraction for adrenaline hunters right in the middle of the Tuart forest.
My daughter Daisy and her friend Chloe had climbed, mountain-goat-like, through these early obstacles as if they’d been born in the Pyrannees. I, however, failed at the third challenge and had to be rescued by Ricard, the very easy on the eye French climbing expert behind the 100 or so obstacles spread out over the forest.
It’s a brilliant concept, appealing to anybody who’s always fancied themselves as an SAS recruit or stuntperson.
The premise is terrifyingly simple; arrange increasingly difficult tree-high ropes, wires and obstacles across the forest, hook up some willing participants and watch as they slide, wobble and jump their way around the course.
Everybody is shown the ropes - literally - when they embark on their two-hour adventure and it’s made very clear that safety comes first. You’re shown how to use the climbing equipment so that no matter how high you eventually manage to go around the course, the furthest you’ll ever fall is about 15cm. To make things even more interesting, with each level (there are six in total), the challenges not only stretch your strength and ability to balance, they’ll make you smile too (or shake in your boots depending on your bravery levels). By the time you get to level three, you’ll be riding a BMW across a track suspended 20 metres in the air. Sounds impossible? Well, Daisy and Chloe did it with aplomb.
You’ll zip wire your way from one giant tree to another, stand on a skateboard and careen across the sky and by the time - or rather if - you reach the final stage, you’ll be required to shimmy up one of the tallest trees in the forest and eventually abseil down another giant. That’s when Daisy’s courage eventually left her and she, like her mother, required rescuing.
It’s all in a day’s work though for the friendly, entirely relaxed and accomplished professionals who keep an eye on all of their Forest Adventurers.
As for me, I’m perfectly happy to cheer on my brave duo from the forest floor - and marvel in the beauty of this natural playground.
Eco Adventures Margaret River
Cnr Caves Rd and Vlam Rd, Boranup WA 6286, call 9780 5911 or visit ecoadventuresmargaretriver.com.au
Quad bikes and environmental sensitivity are rarely mentioned in the same sentence but Gary Ingram of Eco Adventures wants that to change. He’s the brains behind a world-first innovation that’s turned the standard fuel-powered quad bike into an electric-powered, silent, green-sensitive mode of transport that, in this case, will take you into the Boranup karri forest.
Your EcoBike is a quad bike for the 21st century – retooled to “float” across the park trails for a unique adventure that blends the beauty of natural exploration with cutting-edge technology.
Each bike is equipped with an iPad mini that Gary uses to bring highlights such as the fossils of long-extinct megafauna to life in your hand. It’s a fun Jurassic Park twist to top off a truly memorable experience.
If you have any doubt about the “eco” side of things, consider this: these reimagined quad bikes run on a bit less than $2 worth of electricity for a charge that will last about 100 kilometres of driving distance.
Gary’s a font of knowledge (he’s an ex-documentary film maker) and takes great pleasure in explaining the more arcane factoids about the forest during the two-hour trip. Highly recommended.
The Lodge, Forest Rise
231 Yelverton Road, Yelverton, call 08 9755 7110 or visit forestrise.com.au
If you’d like to continue the eco-friendly theme when you’ve exhausted yourself during all these adventures, without compromising on luxury levels, then make tracks to Forest Rise’s Lodge just off Yelverton Road.
The Lodge itself is simply gorgeous, and the resort as a whole has been eco-certified since 2003 as an ecotourism operator. Water for instance is sourced naturally from springs and filtered by UV and the team take information-sharing seriously about the flora and fauna which surround the resort. You’ll leave more informed about the animals and plants with whom we share a space. Even the toiletries and other products in the Lodge are carefully chosen to be Western Australian and in context to the resort’s environmental, local/fair trade approach to business.
Designed to meet your every need, from a beautifully appointed gourmet kitchen to so much living space you could fit most people’s entire home into the living room, The Lodge is very special indeed.
It sleeps up to eight people with two ‘wings’ - one with the master suite, ensuite spa bath and shower and separate library/TV room, while at the other end, you’ll find three newly renovated ensuite bedrooms.
Outside don’t be surprised to share your warming spa with a curious kangaroo looking on from the paddock. If you love to listen to music while you relax, then the sound system is hooked up to play outdoors too. In a word - sensational.