Walpole is a quiet town west of Albany with a huge variety of fishing, plenty of wildlife and some amazing scenery to see. It is a very popular little place, and one of my favourite places to camp.
Walpole is located on two inlets which join to the ocean. The water flows back and forth and creates an environment where fishing is plentiful, regardless of how much you know and what gear you have. There are plenty of different birds to watch including kookaburras and pelicans. The town is only small, but it offers everything you need to have a comfortable stay. The great thing about this town is that even when the weather is poor you can still relax outdoors with plenty of protection. Much of Walpole is covered in scrub and huge trees, making it a great place to camp.
How do you get to Walpole?
If you are leaving from Perth, the easiest way to get to Walpole is to drive down the new Forest Highway to Bunbury. From there, you jump onto the South West Highway. This goes through Donnybrook, Manjimup and then Walpole. In total this takes around 4 hours, depending on whether you are towing a boat or not.
What can you do at Walpole?
Walpole has a vast range of recreational activities ranging from fishing through to boating, golf, hiking and bush walking. In terms of what there is to see, Walpole has it all. There are beautiful beaches through to huge inlets, massive cliffs and islands; you won’t be short of anything to look at!
The town of Walpole
Walpole isn’t a huge town. However, it does have two fuel stations (with Diesel, Petrol and LPG), an IGA (and another grocery store in the petrol station), a bakery, a few cafes, a small industrial area and a hardware store. You won’t have a problem getting most things and the prices are not too bad either. However, take what you can down to avoid having to go into town at all. There are plenty of places that sell bait too, and fresh bait works best on the Bream! I must recommend visiting the tourist information centre to see what you can do around the town – there are so many options!
Accommodation options at Walpole
Walpole accommodation ranges from bed in breakfasts through to caravan parks, hotels, cottages and chalets. The two main Caravan Parks are Rest Point and Coalmine Beach. Both are on different inlets although not that far apart! Both caravan parks are only metres from the inlet and they are well kept. You can stay in some of the more luxurious accommodation options or just stay in a tent, depending on your budget and priorities!
Coalmine Caravan Park in Walpole:
Coalmine Caravan Park is found on the bank of the Nornalup Inlet. To get to the Caravan Park, you drive through Walpole and turn right a few kilometres out. This takes you towards the Nornalup Inlet. Coalmine Caravan Park is quite large, with plenty of toilets, showers and cooking facilities. The campsites are mostly under small trees, giving you plenty of protection. The facilities are cleaned regularly, and in terms of a Caravan Park you won’t find anything to complain about. I haven’t stayed at Rest Point Caravan Park (although it appears to be more popular) but did thoroughly enjoy my stay at Coalmine.
Fishing at Walpole
A large percentage of people visiting Walpole do so for the fishing. Even on a day where the weather is terrible you can fish in the inlet and catch Black Bream, Herring, Skippy, Whiting, Flathead, Pink Snapper, Tailor and a variety of other fish. The most commonly caught fish in the inlet is Black Bream, which are a lot of fun to catch on light tackle. Most people use 6 – 8 pound line and catch plenty. I found that the Bream prefer prawns over anything else, but if they are hungry they will eat anything.
Apparently the big ones are caught using mullie heads (and they grow to around 60cm). Lures work very well for flathead, herring and bream so ensure you throw a few in. Something that I thoroughly enjoyed was that you could catch Bream in the most unattractive places. Even in 50 cm of water, only metres out from the beach you can easily catch Bream and flathead, making it a prime location to take your kids fishing.
You don’t need a boat to fish in Walpole, but they certainly open your options up quite a bit. You will find plenty of friendly stingrays in the inlet, but do your best to leave them alone! If you can get out to the mouth of the inlet (where the ocean meets the inlet) you can catch a massive variety of bigger fish. Skippy Rock is just near there, where you are bound to catch plenty of Bream (and occasionally a skippy; how ironic!)
If you have a kayak, take it down! You can catch some great fish from these without having to paddle too far out. In fact, the stand up boards are popular for those fishing and we even saw people rowing a small boat around and getting a good feed. I had a lot of fun fishing for Bream in the inlet – it really is something different to the everyday beach fishing that I am used to!
Spearfishing at Walpole
As the Inlets are a Marine Zone, you are only allowed to Spearfish in the ocean. There is some impressive reefs around the point, and around the islands where fish are plentiful. However, you want to be experienced and have a decent boat before you attempt this.
Water Skiing at Walpole
Both Inlets, and the rivers that branch out of the inlets are part of a Marine Zone. This means that skiing is not permitted at all. The ranger is regularly patrolling the area, so expect a fine if you are found skiing.
Fishing Competitions at Walpole
Due to the great fishing Walpole offers, competitions are regularly held. Even when they are not being held you will see the professional freshwater boats out and about. The competitions make the town of Walpole quite busy, with plenty of boats and activity. There is plenty of action to watch and some thumper fish are caught each time.
Boat Ramps at Walpole
The two boat ramps are located next to the Caravan Parks. Both are easy to launch at, but can become very busy at peak times. A lot of people leave their boats pulled up on the beach, or anchored out a little bit overnight. This saves having to retrieve and launch them so often.
Boating at Walpole
If you have a boat, your options just got a lot wider in Walpole. The most common boats seen at Walpole are dinghies that range from 10 – 16 ft. These are perfect for fishing in the inlet, and to be honest you really don’t need anything bigger. However, there are plenty of bigger boats seen too, which head out of the inlet and into the ocean for the bigger catches. Something to be very careful of in the inlet is the depth. There are plenty of rocks around (especially near the boat ramps) and if you don’t have your motor trimmed correctly expect to do some serious damage. Even in the middle of the inlet it can be very shallow – keep a watchful eye on the water and your echo sounder and take it slowly!
If you have a boat over 16 foot you shouldn’t have an issue getting out into the ocean on a decent day. However, if the weather is rough you need to be very careful. There is a specific path that you need to take, and in rough weather even the big boats have a hard time getting through. It is all about watching the waves and timing it perfectly. There have been some nasty accidents of boats getting out into the ocean, so if you aren’t confident then don’t head out!
What should I take to Walpole?
This depends on what you want to do. The weather can be quite cold, so make sure you have plenty of warm clothes. Take a camera, fishing gear, camping gear (if required) and have a great time.
Walpole is a great place to spend a weekend, a week, or a month. It really is quite different to a large amount of WA, which is great. Not many people know of this great place, but it does get very busy on long weekends, Christmas and Easter. I had an absolute blast at Walpole earlier this year, and I guarantee you will too.