Denmark: 54km (34 miles) W of Albany; Walpole: 120km (75 miles) W of Albany

These two towns, strung out along the South Coast Highway, both lay claim to the magnificent Valley of the Giants, which stands between them. The rolling forested countryside has green paddocks and vineyards where cleared, with a number of rivers slicing down to coastal inlets. The area is made for slow touring, with winding roads, frequent vistas, and a succession of wineries, craft outlets, cafes, restaurants -- and friendly open people.

Denmark sits on the Denmark River, just above where the paperbark-tree-lined river runs into the broad Wilson Inlet. It's a compact, busy little place with all the essential services. The inlet is an ideal spot for quiet fishing, sailing, and canoeing. Two significant tourist drives loop away into the hills north and west of the town. Mt. Shadforth Drive is the shorter, while Scotsdale Road has a greater variety of interesting places to visit.

Walpole is a much smaller and quieter place, hemmed in by national parks on all sides, much of it designated the Walpole Wilderness. It's a pleasant little spot, with a few accommodation and eating options. The adjacent waterways are one of the highlights of this area.

The jewel in the crown, however, is the Valley of the Giants, some 15km (9 miles) east of Walpole. This area has never been logged and the trees are simply magnificent, mostly a mix of towering karri and red tingle. Looping through the upper branches is the elevated walkway of the Treetop Walk, while a boardwalk at ground level leads through the Ancient Empire.

There are several roads that lead down to bays and beaches along the coast, such as rightly named Peaceful Bay and the granite-boulder-decorated beaches of Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks. Like everywhere in this region, they are quiet, uncrowded places, except during the Christmas holidays and summer long weekends.

The Bibbulmun Track weaves its slow and scenic way through the entire area. If you really want to get away from it all, this is the way to do it.