|Spring growth in the rainforest|
This is a cautionary tale. Not every bushwalking trip is an outstanding success. I am telling you about some of my ‘fails’ because it will give you some idea about what to expect once you go off the main road, 'behind the scenery' as it were, and some of the things you should and shouldn’t do.
The day started out well enough. I’d come across an excellent website detailing some of the lesser known waterfalls and, with the promise of good weather for the next few days, I headed South, my original plan being to take it easy on the first day and do one of the longer walks on the second day.
By the time I arrived in Geeveston however, jumping off point for the Hartz National Park, the weather forecast had changed. Now a thunderstorm was predicted for the following day which meant I should probably do the longer walk today while the weather was good. I also heard from a friend who’d never done any bushwalking before that she would like to join me in the morning, another reason to save the short walks until then.
Lesson 1. Things change - Watch the weather
It was past three thirty by the time I reached Hastings Caves, 44 km further down the road. Speaking to the Park Rangers there I found out that the road leading to Adamson's Falls mentioned in my guide book (NB there is no publication date on this book, though it was only bought last year) was in very poor condition and no longer suitable for two wheel drive vehicles. Although there was another way into this, time now being of the essence, she thought that with the van's higher wheel base, I might just make it. I also have extra tough tyres. I thought I would just drive a little way and see how bad it was, but you know how it is - once on the road, there was no turning around or back. Parks also close the gate to the Caves at 4 so I wouldn’t have been able to get out. Be aware too that you need a parks pass to get in here.
|Mosses, ferns and fairy gardens|
Lesson 2. Things change - Get local knowledge
Boggy, deeply rutted , with the sides falling away in some places, there was nowhere to go but onward and upward until at last I made it to the T-junction described on their map and continued on to the start of the track. The guide book said this was a two hour walk, though the ranger, to her credit, warned me that it now takes longer because of fallen trees, washouts and general deterioration of the track. The last signal I got on my phone was 3.46, so technically I should be able to make it there and back.
|Nature lays out the green carpet - where it isn't boggy or full of cutty rushes|
Lesson 3 Be prepared to change plans - there is no shame in abandoning a mission
I got as far as being able to hear the falls before the birds began their evensong - always a signal that there'd only be an hour or so before dusk. It was so - o -o tempting to continue but darkness comes early in the rainforest and there were some difficult and slippery patches like the bit where you have to claw your way up a creek that I had no wish to tackle in the dark, not even with my super excellent head lamp. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. She who walks and runs away, lives to walk another day.
Not that the walk was without its rewards. It was lovely to be in the rainforest. Nature had laid out her green carpet, where it wasn’t boggy or covered in cutty rushes . No snakes. Not even a leech, usually a regular companion of rainforest walks, and I saw and heard what were probably Lyrebirds – they looked like half -sized black turkeys in the trees, though I thought they were only supposed to be ground dwellers. The sound was like those New Year whistles - definitely one of the strangest sounds I have ever heard in the bush, though lyrebirds are excellent mimics. I came out covered in mud with cutty rush cuts on my arms. They are like nasty little paper cuts and sting dreadfully. It's another reason to wear a long sleeved shirt, even when it's hot.
|Fine examples of cutty rushes. They grow six to eight feet high here and like to trip you up|
Then I'm back in the van, winding my way down through the mysterious maze of forestry roads, very few of which were on the map from Parks. Some were signed if you stopped and looked behind the bushes and I avoided those which indicated that there might be a gate somewhere. I am sure that several of these would offer an easier route to this walk, but it would be best to consult Forestry about them first, because I doubt they are on many maps.
Travelling slowly to avoid potholes and fearful of hitting log trucks in full tilt or wildlife, since it was now on dusk, I watched my fuel gauge drop alarmingly from three quarters to a quarter. This would not be a good place to run out. I still had no signal and could already see myself starving to death on some lonely road waiting for the RACT to find me. I was glad that I had the EPIRB though sincerely hoped I would not need it. Eventually I made it to the Main Road and was very pleased to see the lights of Dover. It was such a relief to be driving on a smooth road again without everything falling out of the cupboards. I didn't stop till I was safely back in Geeveston where I was to meet my friend in the morning.
Lesson 4. Drive to the conditions
There is something weird about the roads down here. The speed limit says 100 and there are ice and snow warnings, but with all the twists and turns, I’m lucky to be clocking 60. It must be aspirational. I doubt that even locals who know the road would be doing much better. There is lots of roadkill, though I'm sure that when you can take your eyes off the road for a moment, it is a very picturesque drive in daylight - all boats and bays, old orchards, little apple stands, cottages and farm buildings. I look forward to doing it again soon when I have another bite at Adamson's Falls.
Lesson 5. Don't rely on technology
Finally there is a signal at Geeveston, but my phone battery is now dead flat. I plug it into the computer to charge it, but the computer won't even turn on. I hope all that shaking, rattling and rolling hasn't caused any permanent damage. I consequently miss the message from my friend saying she would meet me at Arve Falls, not at the bakery in Geeveston, which means a long delay in the morning until we find each other again.
Talking to a member of Birdlife Australia at the Taroona Seaside Festival today, I was able to confirm that the bird above was a lyrebird and yes, they do nest in trees at night!