Roaming Down Under

Circular Pool

A tranquil forest pool fed by foamy rapids near Walpole

The name suggests a round body of water ... but Circular Pool near Walpole is more than that. A long section of whitewater river flows into it, with cascades, smaller pools, and swirling patterns formed from the natural foam. All set to a scenic backdrop of native forest. It is on the local list of things to see, and rightly so.

Circular Pool, Western Australia

Circular Pool

Even the drive to get there is pleasant. It starts about 3km east of Walpole, where a gravel road leaves the main highway and heads steadily uphill, passing a couple of other attractions on the way to Circular Pool. First is the Hilltop Lookout - a small gap through the trees providing a view over the Walpole inlets. A little further on is the Giant Tingle Tree - some impressive examples of unique trees found nowhere else, with a short walk trail to enjoy them.

The gravel road here is one way traffic, and continues around a big loop back towards the North Walpole road. Circular Pool is about ten minutes beyond the giant tingle trees.

From the Circular Pool car park there is a toilet on the left, and on the right a short path to a viewing platform with distant views of the cascades. Between them, two pathways descend to a lookout: a direct route with steps, and another which zig-zags across it to provide the less mobile with a step-free route. This lookout reveals a closer and better view of the Frankland River cascading over its rocky bed on a frothy journey towards the Circular Pool ... but the destination is not visible from here.

Circular Pool, Western Australia

Frankland River cascades

After the first lookout, the path continues downwards - more steeply and with steps at the bottom - towards Circular Pool and more viewing platforms. The placid pool is a striking contrast to the cascades flowing into it. Here the natural foam thins out and forms artistic arrangements thanks to the slow rotation of the pool.

The water slows to a trickle in summer, but after rain in winter and spring the cascades can be impressive, both visually and in the refreshing watery soundscape that soothes the ears. Scrambling down to the rocks for a closer look can be enticing - and the minor paths worn through the vegetation show that many do.

A couple of small warnings. Firstly, if straying from the paths, care should be taken on the damp rocks as they can be slippery - common sense, really. Secondly, time can fly quickly if you get carried away taking photos.

On several winter visits I've leisurely rock-hopped my way down the river, trying what felt like every possible viewpoint in search of good photos. I perched on rocks with a tripod for water-blurring shots, and moved around for regular video pans. Then I strapped a GoPro camera to the end of a trekking pole for some near-water videos. And how could I resist a time lapse video or two to capture the swirling foam in the pool at the end?

Circular Pool, Western Australia

Each time, a couple of hours passed. That's one of the things I like about nature photography: if you take it seriously, it can make you linger for extended periods in some lovely relaxing places. Time passes, and you get to better appreciate the environment and notice more details - especially if you have to hang around waiting for time lapse videos to be captured.

Circular Pool is a fantastic spot for such lingering. The cascades, still water and forest provide varied settings and much scope for wandering around ... all good for mental health.

The return to Walpole is along a road which passes farm land and heads west towards the North Walpole road. This road is two-way and could also be used to get to Circular Pool, but the one way track passing the lookout and tingle trees is a more scenic approach. It sets the scene for what is a charming piece of southern WA.

Circular Pool, Western Australia


This footage follows the water as it cascades from near the car park down to the stillness of Circular Pool. The final bit is a time-lapse showing the very slow swirling of the foam on the surface of Circular Pool.