Coordinates: S34°58′44″S 116°43′4E
Walpole is a small settlement situated 432km south-east of Perth and 119km west of Albany. The 2006 census recorded its population as 321. The town takes its name from the nearby 100ha Walpole Inlet, which was in turn named after the Walpole River, discovered in 1831 by Captain Thomas Bannister and named by Governor James Stirling for Captain W Walpole, with whom he had served aboard HMS Warspite in 1808.
Strong winds and the apparent lack of strong anchorage, dissuaded many early seafarers from exploring the area. Later reports by sealers and whalers which contradicted this viewpoint brought William Preston and his party to officially explore the Walpole-Nornalup area in 1831. In 1845 a group on Englishmen led by Dr Henry Landor settled on the Deep River. They planned to graze cattle and horses as well as catch and salt fish for export, but the venture failed within a year and the men went their separate ways.
The first permanent European settlers to the area were Pierre Bellanger and his family in 1909. They travelled aboard the Grace Darling from Albany to take up 4,000 acres of land beside the Frankland River. Due to its proximity to the river and wetlands, Walpole attracts considerable numbers of tiger snakes. Early settlers mentioned uncomfortably large numbers of these highly venomous and aggressive reptiles, particularly during spring and early summer. The following year an English family, the Thompsons, settled at Deep River and a large chunk of land was reserved for a national park, which subsequently became a popular holiday destination.
The railway reached nearby Nornalup in 1929 and the Walpole townsite gazetted in 1933, after the Nornalup Land Settlement Scheme opened up agricultural land in 1930. The newly-gazetted township was originally called Nornalup, as it was thought Walpole was already being used for a town in Tasmania. This caused confusion with the railway terminus 13km to the east, so after the Post Office advised there was no Walpole in Tasmania the town reverted to its original name in 1934.
The Walpole area is home to the giant red tingle and karri trees which once dominated the southern forests. The giant tingle tree near Hilltop Road is more than 450 years old and its base measures 24m in circumference. A main local tourist attraction is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, located in the 18,000ha Walpole/Nornalup National Park. It includes a 600m long walkway which rises 40m above the forest floor, providing breathtaking bird’s eye view of the forest. Walpole has a range of services including a general store, supermarket, bakery, hotel/pub, telecentre and caravan park.
For further information phone the Walpole Visitor Centre on 9840 1111 - www.walpole.com.au.