Heritage listed, Golden Valley Tree Park, a 60 hectare landscaped arboretum, featuring lush rolling hills of trees from all over the globe and autumn-coloured leafy paths, could be in my home country, Wales. However, I was about 2kms south of Balingup in the 30 Hectare World Collections section of this State Government owned park. The beautiful blue sky and the warm autumn sun assured me that this was the south west of Australia.
I visit this park most years to enjoy the world class views as I walk one, two or all three of the marked walking trails.
The shortest of the trails, which is an estimated 10 minutes circular stroll, is the Sequoia Short Walk. One of the highlights for me on this trail was the Golden Ash Tree, whose autumn beacon of aureate foliage magnetised me, not only from a distance but beneath her generous canopy.
Just over half way round this walk, is a duck pond surrounding a USA Swamp Cypress, one of the few deciduous conifers on our planet, transitioning from green to rusty red oranges, while all around dry falling leaves leisurely drifted towards the moist banks of the pond. Also in evidence were the trail's namesakes, the not so giant Giant Sequoias that only really reach their growth potential in California.
Where the trail reaches full circle near the toilet facilities, young, elegant, Japanese White Birch, largely disrobed of their autumn yellow leaves, looked frail in comparison to the evergreens and the trees that were established in the 1980s.
If you are to enjoy this walk in all of its autumn glory, be sure to give yourself more than the estimated 10 minutes. On this visit to the Park, I also enjoyed the Oak Grove Walk, which is classified as a moderately easy walk of 45 minutes.
Early into the walk, I spied autumn leaves at different stages of colour change, imprisoned in spindly baskets of hospitable grasses.
In the Oak Grove, I was surprised to learn from one of the many informative signs, that there are 30 species of oak planted in the park. But, what stood out to me was the prolific stock of acorns scattered beneath the parent trees.
As the landscape gently inclines, two wooden benches appear strategically placed to enjoy the glorious hues of the park. This is a spot near the top of the world; a place to sit in mindfulness. As I took my pew, small butterflies or moths were disturbed at my feet. I closed my eyes and heard the thud of an acorn as it made its autumn journey to the fertile earth beneath.
My eyes were closed momentarily when I was interrupted by the sound of screeching. I quickly found the source of the cacophony as my eyes scanned the valley: a flock of more than 50 Black Cockatoos loudly announcing their arrival. They cast a shadow across the distant trees like a large net, then out of sight, but still in hearing distance, they lingered.
Walking onwards, leaves fell before me, adding to the already autumn-hued, crunchy carpet in the avenue of Chinese Pistachio trees.
As I continued towards the car park, some trees displayed their autumn palette of colours and beneath other trees more carpets had been recently laid. It was about 3:00 p.m and the air was beginning to feel crisp and cool; another sign that the summer had finally yielded to the autumn air.