in the Sky
For the first 50 years of forestry in Western Australia an early
warning system for bush fires depended on a network of lookout towers.
These towers were built about 40 km apart on prominent hills in the
forest, and were staffed continuously in summer. But the karri forest
posed a special problem. With few peaks, and giant trees towering 70-80
meters above the ground, the task of building a tower to overlook the
forest was formidable. Then, in 1937, young forester Don Steward (who
later became Conservator of Forests) suggested using the trees
themselves as lookout towers.
The first tower was built on a large marri tree at Alco near Nannup.
Eventually 13 towers, some of them built in trees, watched over the
only the Gloucester, the Diamond and the
Bicentennial tree towers remain. The modern 'towerman' is a pilot
high overhead, watching for smoke and reporting details of any forest
trails leave directly from the Gloucester Tree site. The Dukes was is
an easy 400 meter meander through the karri forest around the base of
the enormous fire lookout. The Karri Views 800 meter trail leads to the
edge of the valley, carved by the bubbling Eastbrook below. The
Gloucester route is a challenging hike of 10 km with quite steep and
difficult sections. The fourth trail is the Town Walk an easy 3 kms
into the township of Pemberton.
of this forest was logged in the early 1940's. There are areas where
smaller, vigorous, closely spaced karri trees grow among the larger
Pictured on the right hand side is a burl, where the grain of the tree
has grown in a deformed manner.
for more information regarding Fire Lookouts.