We plucked another trip out of our Australian 4WD Guide for a tour of Tasmania’s northeastern rainforests. The trip started in Scottsdale on the A3 highway and then teed off along the logging roads through Springfield and some of the forests managed by the huge Gunns timber conglomerate that controls most of the logging in the state. It was actually a little sad to see some of the forests through Springfield and Diddleum, massive swaths of forest cut clear to the ground as far as the eye can see. That said, we did pass through some fantastic old growth forest on our way south through the mountains: beautiful undergrowth filled with massive Australian Tree Ferns and towering eucalypts in the canopy.
Our trail took us through Upper Blessington and onto Ben Lomond National Park, one of two ski resorts in Tasmania. Ben Lomond was completely shrouded in fog when we ventured up the mountain, the dirt road made its way through some striking craggy peaks and along the perilous Jacob’s Ladder, a series of switchbacks climbing through 4500 feet on the way to the peak of Ben Lomond. I had the Youngs wait at the bottom in their vehicle and managed to get a few shots of them making their way through the switchbacks. Jacob’s Ladder is the only way to access the ski resort inside the National Park, I’d hate to be driving it when there’s snow and ice all over the ground! We could hardly see a vehicle’s length in front of us at the Ben Lomond ski resort so turned around and made our way back down, unfortunate as there are a number of hikes through the high country of the National Park. We stopped off at one of the Ben Lomond huts for lunch and had the chance to get up close and personal with an Echidna on the side of the road on our way out of the park, great to get one so close, they’re usually too quick to disappear into the undergrowth for good photos…
From Ben Lomond it was northeast to Upper Esk and along the forest roads skirting the South Esk River to a camping spot locally known as Griffin Park (S41°27.935’ E147°51.234’). Griffin Park is basically a clearing alongside the banks of the South Esk River, a very picturesque, middle-of-nowhere location that we had to ourselves except for another couple of campers a few hundred meters down the river. The felled pine forests surrounding the river were a good source of wood for a nice campfire and I spent a few hours trying to tempt some of the plethora of trout we saw feeding on insects in the nearby river (no luck again…). A fantastic spot to finish up a great day of driving through Ben Lomond and some of the surrounding rainforests. Well, fantastic except for the fact that I got bitten by a leech, the incision from which didn’t stop bleeding for a couple of hours, and then stung in the forehead by a bee whilst fishing in the South Esk River! We were inundated with wildlife during the evening at Griffin Park, Lisa and Carol went for a late night walk with torches (flashlights) and ran into almost ten Spotted-Tail Quolls surrounding our camp. There were also a bunch of Pademelons and Brushtail Possums about, who needs zoos?!
Our second day of the tour really was the highlight. We left Griffin Park and wound our way along the South Esk for a few kilometers to the country settlement of Mathinna, where we veered north toward Evercreech Forest Reserve. Evercreech was an amazing place, a pocket of untouched, old-growth rainforest with some absolutely beautiful cascades and forests to walk through. We hiked along the creek winding through the reserve to Evercreech Falls, and then along a trail through the White Knights, a small collection of the tallest Eucalyptus trees on the planet. There’s only a handful of them left, such gigantic trees… Such a lush little pocket of forest, we were all checking our legs for leeches throughout our walks, I found a total of three on my legs, the little buggers found their way through my jeans and socks! If we’re ever in the area again I think we’ll make a point to stay in Evercreech Forest Reserve for the night, awesome campsites alongside the creek and a great little wooden hut with a wood stove for the colder nights.
From Evercreech we continued through the forest back roads up toward Ringarooma, into some of the picturesque pasture lands around Alberton and onto Mount Victoria Forest Reserve. We hunted around on the side of the road for an abandoned mine shaft at one point, locating it after a bit of a hunt through the forest, unfortunately it was all barred up so we couldn’t hunt for the glowworms that supposedly inhabit the 60 meter long shaft. Mount Victoria Forest Reserve is home to the majestic Ralphs Falls, a ribbon of water cascading down sheer cliffs with an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. This panoramic below captures roughly 220° of the view from the lookout next to Ralphs Falls. Amazing!
Saint Columba Falls were the last falls on our route. They’re Tasmania’s largest waterfalls and are a massively powerful torrent of water. A short drive from Saint Columba Falls and we were back on the paved roads, our 4WD tour finished up with a stop at the famous Pub In The Paddock and Pyengana Dairy Company (more of our 4WD trips need to finish off with beer and cheese!). The Pub In The Paddock is quite an eclectic operation, some of the wall hangings (see below) were quite a hoot. The pub has a resident pig named Priscilla who lives in a paddock just outside the bar, the owner sells a special beer brewed especially for the pig that tourists can buy for $2 a pop. Andi Biaggi, you would have loved the Pub In The Paddock! Halls Falls was the last point on our 4WD route, but we actually visited them on our way into Launceston a few days earlier, another beautiful cascade in the rainforest, so green and picturesque. After the end of our 4WD trip we spent the night on the coast at Lagoon Beach and then headed inland toward Hobart to Mount Field National Park and the famous Russell Falls.
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