Knoll Scenic Drive in Walpole: A Nature Lover’s Guide

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Thinking of taking on the Knoll Scenic Drive in Walpole

A word to the wise: keep an eye out for the local cockatoos. These cheeky characters have a habit of dropping huge marri nuts from the treetops, turning a peaceful walk into an unexpected version of nature’s own game of dodgeball.

White-tailed black cockatoo in the marri tree above us on Knoll Scenic Drive ©Lifejourney4two

Tucked away in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, Knoll Scenic Drive offers more than just scenic views. It’s a journey through a vibrant ecosystem where the serenity of the forest meets the beauty of the Walpole and Nornalup inlet.

Lars and I explored its nooks and crannies, gathering insights and tips to ensure your visit is memorable.

This post is your insider’s look at Knoll Scenic Drive. We’ve navigated the marri nut bombardment to bring you a guide that’s as informative and practical.

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 across the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets from the shoreline

What and Where is Knoll Drive?

Knoll Drive is a picturesque 4-kilometre circular route in the heart of the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. It’s only a stone’s throw away from the town centre of Walpole, Western Australia, so it’s easy to stop by for a look.

This unique drive weaves through a breathtaking landscape between the serene Walpole and Nornalup Inlets. Expect a blend of forest canopy views and expansive vistas over the inlets’ marine park.

An osprey flying above us as we walked along Knoll drive
We watched on as this Osprey perused the waters and then took a dive for its prey ©Lifejourney4two

You can find spots to pull over and soak in the views along the drive. Venture down to the water’s edge and enjoy a tranquil picnic among the ancient karri and marri trees.

The best way to explore Knoll Scenic Drive is on foot – but if you’re short on time – the five-minute circular drive is still worthwhile.

Pelican on Coalmine Beach ©lifejourney4two

Knoll Scenic Drive Walpole Map

The sign pictured below shows the Knoll Scenic Drive route. You can see the various trails crossing through the forest and the main stopping points that take you down to the water’s edge.

Knolls Walk Trail sign on the route

Getting to Knoll Scenic Drive

Take the South Coast Highway from Walpole before turning onto Coalmine Beach Road. The drive starts and ends at the main Coalmine Beach carpark. It’s only a few minute’s drive from the centre of town.

This one-way loop includes towering forest canopies of yellow tingle and karri that meet the gently lapping waters of the Walpole and Nornalup inlets.

Driving Route from Walpole Town to Knoll Drive

Knoll Scenic Drive Walpole route from town to start of drive

Knoll Scenic Drive Driving Route – One way (clockwise)

Knoll Scenic Drive circular route

The Essence of Knoll Drive: Unmissable Stops Along the Way

Knoll Drive is only a swift five-minute circular loop if you are driving. But its true beauty and allure lie in the stops along the way.

Whether you’re here for the photography, the wildlife, or a quiet moment with nature, there’s a spot along the drive calling your name.

Views across the Inlet

Here’s a guide to the key stops where you can pause, explore, and soak in the natural splendour.

1. Coalmine Beach Picnic Area

Coalmine Beach is a family-friendly spot with easy access to a peaceful beach. It’s perfect for a leisurely picnic. The calm waters of Nornalup Inlet provide a safe and shallow swimming area for children – or adults like me who worry about sharks!

Coalmine Beach shallow waters with woman paddling in the water
Coalmine Beach, Walpole ©Lifejourney4two

 Coalmine Beach’s name refers to the historical attempts to mine coal in the area. Luckily, the coal was found to be too low grade to justify development.

There are public toilets and BBQ facilities by the carpark here. 

View of Coalmine Beach from Knoll Drive ©Lifejourney4two

2. The Channels Lookout

The Channel Lookout derives its name from the view you get of the narrow channel linking the Walpole and Nornalup inlets.

This gorgeous spot is equipped with toilets, picnic shelters, and gas barbecues, making it ideal for an afternoon picnic surrounded by panoramic vistas.

Channels sign with images showing BBQ toilets disabled access
Channels Sign on Knoll Scenic Drive ©Lifejourney4two
Lookout from the Channels grass tree on left with view of water and bush
View across to the Channel between the inlets ©Lifejourney4two

3. Rocky Head and Bream Beach

Two secluded fishing spots are along the route, the perfect peaceful escape for anglers or those simply wishing to absorb the Walpole wonders.

Rocky Head offers rugged beauty, with many wooden steps leading to a rocky shoreline.

Rocky Head Fishing Spot Sign on Knoll Drive
Lars at Rocky Beach taking photos
Lars capturing the sunsetting at Rocky Beach ©Lifejourney4two

Bream Beach boasts a more accessible shoreline.  

Knoll-scenicDrive-Bream-Fishing-point sign
Bream Beach Fishing Spot sign on Knoll Drive
Views from the water's edge of snarley trees
Views at the water’s edge ©Lifejourney4two

4. Forest Trails

For those seeking a more adventurous detour, the forest trails between the loop allow for an intimate encounter with Walpole’s lush flora and fauna.

You might spot kangaroos at dusk or the vibrant plumage of the local blue fairy wrens flitting among the trees.

Forest trail that crosses the forest between Knoll Scenic Drive
Grass trees and swordgrass line the forest trail paths ©Lifejourney4two

Our Personal Trek Around Knoll Drive and The Forest Trails

Our first experience of this lovely circular drive, set around the Walpole inlet, was on foot.

We set off on foot from our camping site at Coalmine Beach and followed the road (clockwise) until we reached the first forest trail on the right.

It was the golden hour of late afternoon, between 5 pm and 6 pm– prime time for wildlife encounters.

True to expectation, we weren’t disappointed. A few kangaroos offered us a masterclass in bush bounding, while a cacophony of white-tailed black cockatoos were caught in the act, feasting on marri tree nuts.

White-Tailed Black Cockatoo – only found in the south-west of Western Australia and especially vulnerable to habitat loss ©Lifejourney4two

A word of caution: Wandering beneath the marri trees is fun and games until you hear the ominous thud of a marri seed hitting the ground.

These feathery bombers above don’t pick their targets, and a sudden introduction to a plummeting marri seed is not the kind of surprise anyone enjoys.

White tailed cockatoo flying above with blue sky and tree nearby
White-tailed black cockatoo flying above us ©Lifejourney4two
one of the marri seeds that were falling all around us as the cockatoos munched on them above causing them to drop - its a nut about the size of an egg
One of the marri nuts that fell all around us as the cockatoos munched on them above ©Lifejourney4two

The Channels: Our Favourite Spot

It’s easy to see why The Channels became our favourite spot.

With BBQ facilities, a toilet, a picnic area and a small beach, it’s the perfect setting for enjoying this Walpole Wilderness area. 

The views here are beautiful, with a serene panorama of the inlets. Just before sunset, we watched a pod of pelicans drift around in the Walpole-Nornalup inlet channel at the end of the peninsula.  

💡Local Tip: The forests are protected under the Walpole Wilderness Plan, which champions the protection of our Old-Growth Forests. If you want to learn more about the history of the Walpole forests and their conservation, you will enjoy visiting the Swarbrick Art Trail in North Walpole.

Lars taking photos on a log at Channels out over the water edge
At Channels on the Walpole Nornalup Inlet ©Lifejourney4two

Though not all creatures are easily seen, spotting wildlife was a highlight for us in Walpole. We were on the lookout for quokkas, having previously spotted one earlier in the day on the Coalmine  Beach Heritage Trail

Quokkas in Walpole are much shyer than those on Rottnest Island, where they’re known to mingle freely with visitors. However, they’re mainly nocturnal here on the mainland and keep their distance, making sightings rare.

Created image of a quokka wearing sunglasses and taking a selfie
AI created quokka – but not far off the type found at Rottnest 😜

We might not have seen a quokka this time, but we did witness an osprey diving for fish – a moment of raw nature in action.

Osprey with its catch near Coalmine Beach ©Lifejourney4two

The forests here, dominated by towering tingle, and the karri and marri forests, are impressive in their own right.

But red flowering gum trees added a splash of colour to the landscape, and the sight of blue fairy wrens darting about brought a lively contrast to the green backdrop.

Blue and brown small bird in the green sword grass
Blue Fairy Wren in the undergrowth at the Knoll ©Lifejourney4two

While the Knoll Drive offers an unforgettable journey through the heart of Walpole’s forests and inlets, the adventure doesn’t have to stop there.

For those eager to delve deeper into the region’s natural wonders, the WOW Wilderness Cruise in Walpole provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore Walpole’s pristine wilderness.

The world-famous tree-top walk in Walpole is another fabulous place to visit. Here you can walk among the tree-top canopies 40 metres off the ground. For those on a limited budget, the Ancient Empire Walk at ground level at the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk is free.

Pelicans in the channel waterways
Pelicans in the Walpole and Nornalup Inlet channel ©Lifejourney4two

Tips and Practicalities for Your Visit

  • Plan Your Stops: If you drive the Knoll scenic route, take your time at each stop.
  • BBQ and Toilet Facilities: Available at Coalmine Beach and The Channel
  • Prepare for Wildlife: Bring binoculars for birdwatching and a camera for those unforgettable moments.
  • Mind the Path: Stick to designated walking paths to preserve the delicate ecosystem. The main road is sealed, but if you go on the trails off the road, they are uneven and steep in parts.
  • No Pets ❌  : The Knoll Scenic Road and trails are in the Walpole Nornalup National Park, so you cannot drive or walk here with your pet. 
  • Parking: Ideal for cars; however, larger vehicles may need to park at Coalmine Beach and explore on foot.
  • Drive One Way ➡️:  This lovely drive is a one-way (clockwise) circular route that only takes about 5 minutes. 
  • Walking: Walking around the Knoll takes about an hour, but allow more time for stops
Walking time frame from Google Maps around Knoll scenic drive

Enjoying Walpole’s Scenic Drive … That’s a Wrap

As our journey around Knoll Drive comes to a close, we’re reminded of the simple pleasures that nature generously offers.

From dodging marri nuts to the thrill of spotting elusive wildlife, each moment spent in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park is a testament to the beauty and diversity of this corner of Western Australia.

Red flowering gum tree with lots of red spiky flowers
The beautiful red flowering gum in full bloom in our February visit ©Lifejourney4two

 While the quokkas may have been shy this time, the osprey’s dive and the vibrant bursts of colour from the flora have left us with unforgettable memories.

Walpole invites you to slow down, look closely, and appreciate the wonders around you, whether high in the treetops or fluttering amongst the underbrush.

So, pack your sense of adventure (and maybe a hat for those marri nuts) and see what stories you’ll bring home from Knoll Drive.

Here’s to the next adventure, where nature’s surprises are always just around the corner.

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These are the travel resources we recommend and use when planning our trips.

For a more thorough list visit our Travel Resources page here.

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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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