Karri Tree

The karri tree, which grows in the forests of South-West Western Australia, is the third tallest tree in Australia and one of the tallest species in the world, reaching heights of ninety metres.

The karri tree, found in the forests of South-West Western Australia

The karri trees grow in the highest rainfall part of the south-west of Western Australia in loam soils, where they sometimes coexist with jarrah and marri trees.

Most of the karri forests are found between Nannup and Denmark, but there are isolated pockets found elsewhere in South West WA, including the Boranup forest between Margaret River and Augusta, the Porongurups east of Mount Barker and on Mount Manypeaks east of Albany.

Exploring the Karri Forests:

Read a whole lot more about the karri trees and the fantastic area where they grow on the Karri Forests page. It has lots of tips for exploring the region.

How to Recognise a Karri Tree

View of karri trees in the mist

The karri tree has a tall, very straight trunk that doesn’t separate into branches until high up towards the top of the tree.

Its branches are graceful and angular and for most of the year, the bark is pale grey. Around the start of Winter, the pale grey bark is shed, revealing shades of golden orange and salmon pink for a few months.

Being up close to these huge trees is an awe-inspiring experience. The forest canopy feels impossibly high – like the ceiling of a cathedral.

They have a shape that is quite distinctive and easy to recognise from far away. Their tall trunks and angular branches stand out starkly pale against the surrounding dark green foliage. The leaves in the canopy appear bunched together in a way that reminds many people of a broccoli, or cartoon clouds.


Famous Karri Trees

There are a few karri trees out of the many millions that stand out from the crowd as well-known landmarks and tourist attractions. You’ll be sure to end up visiting some of them in your travels through Australia’s south west.

Western Australia’s Fire Lookout Trees

Climbing the Diamond Tree, a Fire Lookout Karri Tree in South West WA

That’s me climbing the Diamond Tree, one of the three fire lookout trees that travellers can climb.

From about the 30’s to the 60’s, some of the tallest trees in the karri forests were used as fire lookouts. Metal rungs were pegged into the tree trunks, to form a ladder spiralling up to a treehouse cabin high up in the canopy. Two of the original fire lookout trees can still be climbed:

  • The Gloucester Tree, just a few kilometres out of Pemberton – the most famous karri tree of all
  • The Diamond Tree, between Manjimup and Pemberton along the South West Highway

There is also the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree in the Warren National Park, the tallest karri tree you can climb. It was turned into a climbing tree in 1988 in celebration of Australia’s Bicentennary, so is not one of the original fire lookout trees.

The Boorara Tree between Northcliffe and Windy Harbour marks one end of a particularly good short bushwalk you can do, but is off-limits for climbing.

Other Well-known Karri Trees

This karri tree is one of the 4 Aces near Manjimup

My sister next to one of the 4 Aces near Manjimup

An oval-shaped person-sized hole was sawn through the trunk of one particular karri tree in the Beedelup National Park for no other reason than so that people can walk through it! It is now known as the Walk-Through Karri Tree.

The Tree-In-The-Rock grows out of a rock (or at least that’s what it looks like). It’s located in the Porongurups, about 100m along a walktrail from the picnic area that shares its name.

The Marianne North Tree is found in the Warren National Park. It has a large burl on its trunk and got its name for being the subject for a painting by 19th century English artist Marianne North.

The Four Aces are four huge karris standing evenly spaced in a row amidst the forest near One Tree Bridge, between Manjimup and Nannup.

Pemberton Karri Tree Silhouettes at Sunset

Pemberton karri tree silhouettes as sunset. Thanks to Tourism WA for this image.

Last Updated: 15th December, 2014.

First posted on 12th October, 2013 by Bonny.

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About the Author

Bonny

Bonny Wells, the founder and writer/photographer for Wild Western Australia, was born and grew up in Perth. As much as she loves travelling elsewhere in Australia and around the world, she is always happy to come home to Perth and never gets tired of exploring the towns, beaches, forests and outback of Western Australia. Follow her on Google+.