The Google Maps route that leads WA tourists into the forest

If you’re planning to visit the Valley of Giants treetop walk in Western Australia’s Great Southern region, your intention is likely to walk atop the forest, not end up in your humble sedan accidentally off-roading through it.

But for the 140,000 people who travel to the tourist attraction each year, many are finding their satellite navigation is leading them astray.

Parks and Wildlife regional officer Bron Anderson cottoned on to the wayward route in 2020 when visitors to the treetop walk began telling tour guides they had got lost heading to the attraction after Google Maps directed them down a dirt track.

If you are visiting the Valley of the Giants from Denmark and you have your vehicle navigation on and don’t turn right onto Valley of the Giants Road at Bow Bridge, most navigation systems will reroute to send you up one of several dirt tracks or gravel roads in the area, she said.

These roads don’t take you to the treetop walk and they’re also rough and steep and completely unsuitable for conventional vehicles, caravans, buses; the sort of things that visitors are usually driving.

It just leads into the forest.

Anderson erected ‘no access to the Treetop Walk’ signs at the start of the tracks, but then decided on a post that was more to the point.

People would see our no access sign and go, ‘No, but Google said go this way’, and they still went, she said.

When we put it up, we thought the people who do see this are hopefully going to find this amusing, and I think they are.

I think we can play with signs, I think we can have fun with them, we don’t have to be serious all the time.

Anderson said the department had tried to correct the navigational error, but with little success.

You can change it through Google, anyone can change it, so we have, but it keeps reverting, she said.

We try to tell people just to rely on our website but also, if you’re going to a major tourist attraction, use your common sense and if your vehicle navigation is telling you to turn up the dirt track, it’s probably not correct.

A photograph of the sign recently made its way onto Reddit, with the published commenting, ‘Good to see a sense of humour is still allowed’.

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