Exploring Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail, Walpole 2024

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Visiting Walpole? Don’t miss the Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail.

Surrounded by the typical bushland of the area, this path invites you to meet local wildlife, uncover historical secrets, and relish the peace of the great outdoors.

When we walked the trail in early February, the path was alive with birds, and we even spotted a juvenile snake. Yet, the most unforgettable moment was seeing a quokka.

Such a rare and delightful encounter truly showcases the trail’s vibrant ecosystem.

Wondering how you can increase your chances of wildlife sightings?

The key is to keep a gentle pace and stay as quiet as possible, allowing you to blend into the surroundings.

Coalmine-Campsite--Heritage-Trail-path-close-to-Walpole-town with sandy trail and trees either side
The Coalmine Heritage Trail path ©Lifejourney4two

This trail winds through diverse landscapes, offering glimpses into the local flora and fauna.

Interpretative signs dotted along the path provided a glimpse into the lives of early settlers, adding depth to our walk with stories of their survival and adaptation in the 1930s.

The trail suits anyone eager for a serene walk with a side of historical learning and immersion into Western Australia’s bushland.

Staying at the Coalmine Beach Caravan Park added to our experience, providing a peaceful place to unwind and connect with nature.

Information sign about the Trail at Coalmine Beach

Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail Map

Our interactive map shows the easy 6km return trail from the Walpole-Nornalup Visitor Centre at Pioneer Park, Walpole, to Coalmine Beach. 

In a Nutshell: Key Tips for the Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail

If you are in a hurry – here’s a condensed version of this article:

Quick Tips for Enjoying the Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail

  • Sun Protection: The trail is quite exposed. Don’t forget to bring a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Stay Hydrated: Having some water with you is a good idea, especially if it’s hot.
  • Navigation: Keep an eye out for trail markers. It’s easy to get distracted near the town centre sign (heading from Coalmine to the town). We ended up walking along the road rather than on the trail because we missed the sign pointing to the other side of the road.

Must-See Highlights

  • Wildlife Encounters: Keep your camera ready for quokkas, fairy wrens, and maybe even a baby dugite snake (from a safe distance!).
  • Floral Beauty: Don’t miss the vibrant swamp bottlebrush in summer or the orchids blooming between October and December.
  • Birdwatching: Bring your binoculars. This area is great for birdwatching, with many species visible along the path. Here’s a birdwatching guide around Walpole to help identify them.

What to Remember

  • Footwear: Wear comfortable walking shoes. The 6 km return trail is mostly easy to navigate but includes varied terrain.
  • Timing: If you’re keen on spotting quokkas, dawn and dusk are the best times, though you might be lucky during the day as we were.
  • Stay Alert: Australia’s wildlife is beautiful but can be dangerous. Always keep a safe distance, especially from snakes.

After the Walk

  • Visit the Walpole Nornalup Visitor Centre: It’s a great source of information and a nice way to start or finish your journey.
  • Relax at Coalmine Beach: Have a picnic, swim, or enjoy the scenery.

Where to Stay

Coalmine Beach Caravan Park: Either camp with your own caravan, camper, or tent or book a cabin or luxury tent.

View across grasst rees, bushes and trees
One of the many views along the Heritage Trail ©Lifejourney4two

The Heritage Trail and Its Wonders

This Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail section forms part of the extensive Bibbulmun Track, stretching 1000km from Kalamunda in the Perth Hills to Albany on the south coast of Western Australia. 

Bibbulum Track symbol on a post on the Coalmine Heriatge Trail
The Bibbulum Track Waugal symbol (rainbow serpent of the Aboriginal Dreaming ) on the Coalmine Heritage Trail ©Lifejourney4two

It is mainly flat and has a mixture of terrain, including pea gravel paths, boardwalks over Collier Creek and swamplands and paths through the forest.

Wooden Boardwalk over Collie Creek
Boardwalk on the trail over Collier Creek ©Lifejourney4two
Shelley walking along the Pea gravel path through trees
The path is mainly is mainly coated with pea gravel ©Lifejourney4two
Some sandy trails through trees
Part of the Coalmine Heritage Trail on sandy soil ©Lifejourney4two

The Route from the Visitor Centre to the Beach

The Heritage Trail, spanning 3 km (6 km return), can be started at either the Walpole Nornalup Visitor Centre or Coalmine Beach.

We were camping at Coalmine Beach, the perfect location to start the walk. The beach here, on the shore of the Nornalup Inlet, is shallow and great for swimming; there are also toilet and BBQ facilities. 

Coalmine Beach gets its name from a coal seam in the shoreline rocks. Fortunately, the coal proved to be of too low a grade for further exploration to go ahead. 

Coalmine Beach- long sandy stretch of shore along the Nornalup Inlet
Coalmine Beach on the Nornalup Inlet ©Lifejourney4two

At the other end of the trail is the Walpole Nornalup Visitor’s Centre. It’s a great stop where you can talk to a local about the area, pick up leaflets or browse for gifts. 

We also grabbed a free Keep Walpole litter-free pack that included a pair of BBQ tongs.  

Walpole and Nornalup Visitor Centre building
The Visitor Centre in the centre of Walpole

💡 Visitors Tip: In town, pop into the Golden Waffle Bakery – opposite the Walpole Visitor Centre. We have had so many delicious meat pies from here! The bakery isn’t glamourous – but take your coffee and pies across the road for a picnic in Pioneer Park.  

Living History

 Throughout the trail, boardwalk signs of what diary excerpts might have looked like from a young settler offer a glimpse into their daily lives and survival strategies.

These narratives enrich the walk, allowing you to step back in time and imagine life in the 1930s. You’ll learn about what they used as food and clothing and their building materials, such as how they used swordgrass to make nets and hunted quokkas for sport. 

Heritage-Trail-Quokka-sign-with a diary entry about how they were used as sport
Informational plaques line the route and offer a glimpse into what life was like for the early Walpole settlers

Wildlife and Flora on Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail 

The Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail is a testament to the rich tapestry of life that thrives here. 

Between its historical insights and natural wonders, the trail offers a multifaceted experience that appeals to history buffs, nature enthusiasts, and casual walkers alike.

Lars taking photos of the birds on the Heritage Trail
Lars capturing the birdlife along the way ©Lifejourney4two

Birdwatching Highlights and Tips

The trail offers plenty of opportunities for birdwatching. We came across many fairy-wrens, western rosellas, honey eaters and grey fantails.

For those interested, this link takes you to a birdwatching guide around Walpole with more insights into the feathered locals you might encounter.

Red winged Fairy Wren on the Heritage Trail
Red-winged Fairy Wren ©Lifejourney4two
Green rosella - parrot with mainly green feathers and red part above beak
Western rosella ©lifejourney4two
Heritage-Trail New Holland Honey Eater bird in the tree
Honey eater ©Lifejourney4two
a Grey Fantail seen on our heritage walk
Grey fantail ©Lifejourney4two

Quokka Sighting: A Rare Encounter

 A personal highlight along the trail for us, though, was our glimpse of a quokka, an experience as rare as it is unforgettable. It was rummaging around in the bushes right beside the path. 

The quokka, Lars, and I froze when we saw each other. It then suddenly ran across the path right in front of us and off into the safety of the bush. 

We’d heard that locals had seen quokkas here, but as they are nocturnal, most of these rare sightings had been at dawn and dusk. We saw this quokka around 11 am, so we were extremely fortunate. 

Such encounters are rare, but the presence of ‘runnels’ (quokka tunnels) along the trail hints at their hidden activity.

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 Unlike their Rottnest Island relatives, which have adapted to human presence and hang out with tourists for selfies, the mainland quokkas remain elusive.

They are struggling to thrive in the southern forests of WA, with habitat loss, bushfires and introduced predators, but conservationists are doing what they can.

On the walk, keep a look out for small tunnel shapes in the swordgrass – these are quokka ‘runnels’ ©Lifejourney4two

Unwelcome Surprises

Among the surprises, not all were pleasant, like our close encounter with a baby dugite, reminding us of the trail’s untamed nature. Fortunately, it vanished before we could react, leaving us with a story rather than a photo.

Such moments underscore the importance of staying alert and respecting the wildlife.

The Floral Splendour of Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail

Adding to the trail’s natural beauty, the vibrant blooms of the Beaufortia sparsa, commonly known as the swamp bottlebrush, were out in bloom, providing splashes of red along the path. 

The bright red flowers of the Swamp Bottlebrush
Swamp Bottlebrush adding a blush of colour to the Heritage Trail ©Lifejourney4two

If you visit between October and December, look for orchids that bloom along the path.

Accommodation at Coalmine Beach Caravan Park

Coalmine Beach Caravan Park, where Lars and I stayed on this Walpole trip, struck a balance between comfort and the great outdoors.

Fortunately, they had a special deal: pay for two nights and get the third free. This bargain was great for us, as we always travel on a budget. 

The campsite is well-maintained, with a spotless toilet, shower block, plenty of shade, and a fully-equipped kitchen. We camped, but you can also book a cabin or a luxury tent.

It’s the best campsite in Walpole and the perfect location to explore the area. 

One evening, a possum leapt onto our rooftop tent, kangaroos hopped around camp in the mornings and late afternoon, and a never-ending stream of fairy wrens flitted around our camp.

💡Travellers Tip: The camp is within Walpole Nornalup National Park, so you cannot stay with pets

Our car with tent on top surrounded by peppermint trees and camping equipment such as chairs, table and gas bottle in front of the car
Camping at Coalmine Beach Caravan Park ©Lifejourney4two

Other Things to Do When Visiting Walpole

While the Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail is worth taking, Walpole, one of our favourite places in the southwest of Western Australia, has much more to offer.

Here’s a quick guide to other attractions you shouldn’t miss:

  • Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk: Experience the breathtaking beauty of the forest from above. This world-renowned walkway takes you through the canopy of ancient tingle trees, offering a unique perspective on the region’s natural beauty.
  • Conspicuous Cliff: A scenic beach and walk with a whale lookout point.
  • The Giant Tingle Tree: Marvel at one of the largest living eucalyptus trees. This giant tingle tree is a testament to the ancient land you’re exploring and offers incredible photo opportunities.
  • Circular Pool: A serene spot perfect for a picnic or a quiet moment to enjoy nature. The circular motion of the water, created by the flow of the Frankland River, is mesmerizing and a perfect example of nature’s wonders.
  • WOW Walpole Wilderness eco-cruise: This is a one-of-a-kind tour! We went on this WOW tour after several of our friends recommended it. Definitely book this 2.5-hour tour – it’s a whirlwind of information presented by the most passionate and funny guide you’ll ever meet.
  • Knoll Scenic Drive: Don’t miss this scenic drive that offers panoramic views of the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park. It’s a great way to explore the area’s natural beauty at your own pace. For more insights, check out our post on the Knoll Scenic Drive.
  • Swarbrick Art Loop: This art trail showcases a series of outdoor installations that reflect the region’s natural and cultural heritage. It’s a thought-provoking journey through the forest, blending art with the environment.

Each of these attractions offers a unique way to experience the natural beauty and rich history of Walpole.

Whether you’re walking among the treetops or enjoying the tranquillity of Circular Pool, Walpole has something for every type of adventurer.

View of the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets from the shore with trees overhanging the fram of the photo and a narrow inlet seen in the distance
Views of the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets from the Channel Lookout on the Knoll Scenic Drive ©Lifejourney4two

Exploring Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail, Walpole … That’s a Wrap

Exploring the Coalmine Beach Heritage Trail offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Walpole’s natural and historical landscape.

Whether it’s the wildlife that catches your eye or the stories of the past that capture your imagination, the trail is a lovely stroll in Walpole.

We’re always eager to hear about your experiences on the trail. Did you glimpse a quokka, or perhaps something else caught your attention?

Share your stories with us; we’d love to hear them.

Ready to Plan Your Adventure?

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Happy trails, and we look forward to hearing about your adventures!

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Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

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