Once upon a time, the main road between Bunbury and Busselton in Western Australia passed right through the Ludlow Tuart Forest. The railway did too, so anyone in WA who ever went 'down south' knew what a tuart tree looked like. You couldn't miss them, the way they grew almost to the edge of the bitumen.
Times have changed. The railway is long gone, and a busy bypass takes traffic quickly around the edge of the forest. To see the tuart trees means diverting onto the overlooked old road ... but it's well worth the detour for anyone with an appreciation of Australia's unique trees.
Tuart trees are native only to the coastal plain between Busselton and Jurien in the south west of Western Australia. They grow up to 40m high, live up to 500 years, and their stately grey trunks form an open forest different to others in the state. As with WA's other tall forests, most have been cut down since Europeans settlement, leaving Ludlow Tuart Forest as the only surviving tuart forest anywhere.
Hiking in the forest is limited, with just a few roadside stopping places. But for anyone travelling between Bunbury and Busselton, the detour through the tuarts takes only minutes longer than following the traffic on the highway, and is a more scenic option - even if you don't stop, or aren't wild about trees. Tree-huggers will be rewarded with the sight of some majestic old trees you can't see anywhere else.
Tuart Forest National Park (WA Parks and Wildlife Service)