WOW Wilderness History

Cruises have been operating on the wilderness waters of Walpole for over 100 years.  The French lawyer Pierre Bellanger of Nornalup Park Homestead, Fabian philosopher  Frank Skinner Thomson of Tinglewood Lodge and famous boat builder Tom Swarbrick of Rest Point all operated their own tours on the wilderness waterway of Walpole Nornalup National Park.

Stockman and horse trainer Robert Forest Muir had lost his horses to the first world war and his son Ron, devastated that none of the horses were to return, bought a 1918 Dodge.  Not many people had a car then and he started tours to Walpole to do the Swarbrick’s boat cruise and stay at the old stockman’s camp, The Peppermints. The tradition continued when in 1994 a family partnership, WOW Wilderness EcoCruises, was set up between the son of Ron, Ross Muir and his wife Marion and their son Gary Muir.  WOW primarily operate a daily guided journey into the heart of the Walpole Nornalup National Park in the south west of Western Australia. The tour incorporates a boat cruise and an interpretive experience into the Nuyts Wilderness Area with the WOW Team. 

 Walpole Nornalup National Park is one of the oldest parks in Western Australia. Before this vesting, the land had been managed by the legendary stockmen who had annually brought their stock to the coast for grazing since 1850.  Ross and Gary are descendants  of these original South Coast stockmen.  Eight generations of Muirs have now been part of this magnificent area.    

Prior to WOW, Gary was an Officer with the Department of Conservation and Land Management for over twelve years. This included five years as the Recreation, Tourism and Interpretation Officer in Walpole. In this capacity, he was seconded as Project Leader for the planning of the Valley of the GIANTS and Tree Top Walk Development.  

Gary won the Inaugural Australian National EcoGuide Award in 2002 and the Western Australian FACET Golden Guide at the State Tourism Awards in 2003. He has also twice been a finalist in the GSDC Medal for Excellence in Natural Resource Management in 2008 and 2011.  In 2014 was awarded the Medal and $12000 towards his projects in Environmental Education and Biodiversity Research at a ceremony in Albany by the Hon Terry Redmond MLA.  Gary was also a finalist in the United Nations Association of Australia Environmental Biodiversity Award in 2012. 

Ross and Marion have been involved for years in  tourism, originally running Muirs’ Tours, daily four wheel drive expeditions into the Walpole Nornalup National Park.  Ross has been president of the Walpole Nornalup Tourism Association and Marion is an active Volunteer  of the Walpole Visitors Centre. Both are dedicated to providing quality service and experiences for visitors to Walpole.

The WOW Team's role is to provide an enjoyable science based experience that generates understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the environment for a wide range of visitors. WOW also designs exclusive interpretive tours for various specialist groups. This includes aged, disabled, students and international visitors.

WOW Wilderness EcoCruises are recognised nationally as an enthusiastic and entertaining interpretation of science, nature and culture. The Muir family's history and a dedication to the area are central features in WOW's interpretation.