About a 4 and a half hour drive south of Perth, Denmark is one of the oldest and most stunning towns in WA. On the banks of the Denmark River and surrounded by forest, it's a favourite with those seeking a tree change. We recently spent a weekend there with the kids, and this is what we got up to.
Tree Top Walk
About half an hour south of Denmark, in what is officially Walpole, the tree top walk is the most well known tourist attraction in the area. A huge walkway has been built among the tree tops, which at its highest point, is 40 metres high.
One thing to know about the walkway is that it’s designed to move a lot, which was a little disconcerting for the kids at first. But once they got past that, they really enjoyed being among the beautiful tingle trees, some of which are hundreds of years old.
After the tree top walk, we went for a wander around the Ancient Empire, a series of boardwalks that wind around (and sometimes through) the giant tingle trees, which allowed us to get up close and inspect these giants from the inside.
By far one of the most beautiful beaches in the Great Southern (and the state), Greens Pool lies on the edge of William Bay National Park. On the day we went, it could not have looked more perfect, with its sparkling, calm turquoise waters and pristine white sand.
But, be warned, even though it looks inviting, the southern ocean is freezing at any time of year! This didn’t seem to bother the kids too much though, and they had fun swimming out to the rocks to jump off.
Right next to Greens Pool is elephant rocks, so named because the huge boulders look like a herd of elephants silently standing in the pristine waters of the bay.
Even though you have to use your imagination a bit to see them as elephants, it was still great fun exploring between the rocks, investigating inside the crevasses and dipping our toes in the freezing water.
Pentland Alpaca Farm
Just down Scotsdale Road, the Pentland Alpaca Farm was fun for both the kids and the big kids. We were all given a feed bag of pellets on the way in and told to follow the instructions on the signs to indicate which animals to offer them to. The goats and alpacas ate out of our hands and were surprisingly gentle.
And we even got the alpacas to pose for a few selfies.
And the kangaroos got in on the selfie action too…
Unfortunately the koalas weren’t quite so accommodating (apparently they sleep for about 20 hours a day), but we still got to pat them while they snoozed on their branches.
There were also heaps of other animals, including rabbits, emus, horses, cows, chickens, ferrets and even some foxes (which won the award for stinkiest animal!)
Forest Hill Vineyard
This family owned boutique winery about 10 minutes from Denmark is set on a stunning property, with huge green rolling lawns for the kids to run around on. There’s also a small creek running through the grounds, and the kids had a great time exploring while we tried some wines at the cellar door.
The cellar door itself is beautifully rustic, with stone floors, re-used timber and low lighting. But the stars of the show are the wines. We were lucky enough to have the owner’s son conduct our wine tasting, and he was knowledgeable and friendly and clearly knew his product. He also explained the proud history of the vineyard, which dates back to 1965.
We loved the white wines in particular and left with several bottles (only some of which actually made it back home after the weekend). We have also heard brilliant reviews of the onsite restaurant, Pepper & Salt, and will definitely be back to try the food for ourselves.
Boston Brewery & Willoughby Park winery
This is a great place to take younger kids, as there’s a huge outdoor play area right next to the tables, so you can have a drink in peace while you watch the kids on the play equipment.
The brewery has a really laid back feel, and several people even brought their dogs along. The food was surprisingly delicious and I was quite thrilled to see they actually catered for vegetarians (usually I’m just relegated to pizza – which also looked really good by the way).
Willoughby Park Wines is also onsite, and I did the quickest wine tasting in history, after being sold on the first wine I tried, a Sav Blanc that perfectly complemented my meal.
Ravens is right on the main street overlooking the river, so we sent the kids over to kick the football while we had a coffee in peace.
Unfortunately they returned before we’d managed to scoff down our unbelievably delicious chocolate and raspberry brownie, which just meant we had to buy more!
We stayed at a private rental about a five minute drive out of town called Hillview Chalet, which we found on stayz.com.au. We absolutely loved this property, which had a loft bedroom upstairs for the kids, a wonderful pot belly stove, full kitchen and the piece de resistance – an outdoor spa set into the balcony.
We spent a great deal of time in that spa, red wine in hand, the kids bringing us cheese and crackers (OK, that last part didn’t happen, but we can always live in hope). The cottage also had a fully enclosed decking, and we chose to eat outside most nights. Just a note though, there is a dam right next to the house which may mean it’s not suitable for toddlers, but it was absolutely perfect for us.
After spending only a weekend in Denmark, it's easy to see why so many people break free from the city life and move here, for both a tree change and a sea change, all in the one amazing place. It really made us consider doing the same one day!
For more info, see: www.denmark.com.au