The entrance to Frog’s Hollow is marked by a terrifying hand-painted sign, but to enter the Hollow you must cross an abandoned railway track and follow a path that leads you into the underworld. And, as I found out on a recent visit, the labyrinth that is Frog’s Hollow is one creepy place.
You’ll find Frog’s Hollow opposite the Preston Valley Store, on the Boyup Brook Road 20 kilometres east of Donnybrook in Western Australia. Ask for directions at the store. They’ll be happy to point you in the right direction, and even sell you a frog. The world-famous tourist destination of Gnomesville is 10 kilometres north, so they’ll be happy to sell you a gnome as well.
Paths covered in damp leaf litter snake through a gloomy maze that winds through tall islands of earth topped with marri and jarrah. Their overstory prevents sunlight from getting through. Between them nestle grass trees and wattle. The smell of soil and decomposing humus fills the air, as does the buzz of mosquitos.
As my eyes adjusted, dotted here and there, frogs appeared. Nestled in branches, resting on mounds, peering from the undergrowth, arranged in tableaus, driving little cars and sitting on tables are frogs: concrete frogs, spoon frogs, crumbled frogs.
As I wandered something felt excitingly sinister here, reminding me of The Blair Witch Project. Compelled to walk on regardless, the paths invited me deeper. But did I want to go deeper? I wanted to leave. But deeper I went, quivering in anticipation at every turn.
As the story goes, a local, Arthur, had a surplus of ornamental garden frogs and suggested he and the store owners create a place to rival Gnomesville. It would be good for tourism, and the shop could then sell frogs as well as gnomes.
Whereas Gnomesville abounds with the gaiety of thousands of brightly coloured gnomes arranged in manicured lines and groups, Frog’s Hollow is green and gloomy. Gnomesville elicits a charming undercurrent of unease, but Frog’s Hollow screams run for your life.
Frog’s Hollow is everything Gnomesville is not, and I thoroughly recommend you visit, but make sure you bring mosquito repellent and a friend to hold your hand.