- Toilets Available
- Disabled Access
- No Pets Allowed
The Swarbrick Art Loop is a 0.5 km paved loop through huge mossy trees, with artworks aiming to increase public appreciation and awareness of our fast-vanishing biodiversity. A highlight is the 39 m stainless steel mirror embedded with messages and quotes – this ‘Wall of Reflection’ opens a conversation about the southern forests’ depletion and our role in protecting them.
Given its location, the Art Loop also becomes a memorial to the once mighty Swarbrick Block lost to bulldozers in 2000, despite a passionate defence mounted by campaigners who resorted to camping in the forests all through the cold, wet winter months, in a desperate attempt to prevent its’ destruction.
Swarbrick Art Loop commemorates these valiant efforts, as well as other impacts of our colonial history. However, the delicate promotion of the site as “designed to challenge your perception of wilderness”, demonstrates a timidity that misjudges the urgent need for a bolder truth-telling. It also underestimates the seismic shift in public attitudes, responding to the crisis of biodiversity loss.
In the 1990s and early 2000s the actions of the forest defenders in Swarbrick and elsewhere were met with animosity by communities whose livelihoods were dependent on the timber industry. Jess Beckerling, a key figure in the campaign acknowledges, “This was a particularly confrontational site, because it was so close to Walpole. And Walpole was still very much ideologically supportive of the timber industry at that stage”. However, the intervening years have been transformative. Jess notes, “These days, Walpole really celebrates the forests. The Walpole Wilderness Area is a massive draw card for tourists to this area. And the Walpole community is really behind the National Park and those wilderness areas. Things have really shifted down here and people see the value in having these areas protected”.
Story of the place
Listen to Jess Beckerling from WA Forest Alliance on the importance of protecting and restoring the karri, jarrah, marri, tuart and wandoo forests of south-western Australia, and the story of the Swarbrick Forest blockade.
LOCATION: South of Perth, 420 km (4.5 hrs). Swarbrick Art Trail is 8 km north of Walpole on the North Walpole Rd.
FACILITIES: Toilets. Wheelchair accessible trail.
RESPONSIBLE TOURISM: No dogs.
WHEN TO GO: All year.
WHERE TO EAT AND STAY: Walpole-Nornalup Visitors Centre