Valley of The Giants Tree Top Walk and Tingle Shelter

Client
Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM)

Status
Completed 1997

Location
Walpole, WA

Walpole-Nornalup National Park in Western Australia contains some of the most unique plant and animal life in the country, with many ancient species found nowhere else in Australia. Because of its unique landscape and wildlife, the park is a popular destination for tourists — but this popularity also poses a threat to the long-term preservation of the area.

The Treetop Walk, designed by With_Architecture Studio was created as a solution to this problem, one that would allow the continued enjoyment of the Valley of the Giants, while better preserving and protecting the area for future generations. Even during implementation, preservation was an important consideration for this project. Even the way that the construction phase was carried out minimised impacts on this ecologically sensitive area, with the designers opting for slower, but less invasive construction techniques.

The completed 600-meter-long walk is completely wheelchair accessible and consists of six bridges, each spanning 60 meters through the tingle tree canopy, rising into the treetops at heights of up to 40 meters. So lightweight are these steel bridges that they sway gently as you cross. Looking straight down, you can see the forest floor below your feet. All of this creates the sensation of being suspended in the air, as if you were part of the forest canopy.

Why see it? The unique biodiversity in the park, plus stunning views and vistas from the canopy of an ancient forest … what more could you ask for?

The Treetop Walk offers a unique and unforgettable experience to visitors and has been a huge success for the park. Opening to the public in August 1996, at a total cost of $1.8 AUD, by 2007 the walk had brought 2.2 million visitors to the park. The suspended bridges allow visitors to get up close and personal with the forest’s giant tingle trees and to see the landscape from an entirely new perspective while learning about Australia’s biodiversity. The Treetop Walk is a great example of how landscape architecture can use design to reconcile and balance the need for tourism with the need to preserve and protect nature. By treating these seemingly incompatible interests as an opportunity rather than a conflict, landscape architects are often able to successfully bridge these gaps and create effective solutions that protect both interests.

The design enables the two buildings (toilets and visitors centre) to be expanded, should this be required by future demands. The scale of the small buildings was exaggerated vertically and the addition of verandahs and covered decks helps the structure commands some visual presence among the mass of trees and dense undergrowth. All metal is stainless steel or galvanised to restrict rusting, all connectors are stainless steel. Roof water is captured and reused for toilet flushing and cleaning, and a high-grade sewerage filtering installation prevents contamination of the bushland.

Since its opening the treetop walk has been a resounding success, visited by millions of tourists and generating surplus income despite the modest entry fee.

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