Monday, March 27, 2017

Waterfall Bagging 2 - A disappoinment, then two beautiful falls



Once more into the Rainforest
Apart from an impromptu stop at the Mole Creek Market, where I spent most of my money, the next day proved to be rather disappointing.  I had managed to find someone who had not only heard of, but been to Sensation Gorge Falls, but apparently he had only succeeded by clinging onto bushes and hauling himself up a cliff face. Undeterred, I went along to the rangers’ office at nearby Maracoopa Cave. Though they went to great lengths to show me where the track began, they also warned me that the last time someone had come to cut the track, they had given up after encountering four snakes in the first few metres. 

Enthusiastic worker at the apple juice stand, Mole Creek Market

Ever hopeful, I soon I found myself at a dry scrubby creekbed beset with knee high grass.  Having a pathological fear of snakes, I was about to put my gumboots on, when it occurred to me that if there was no water in the creek, there was probably not going  to be a waterfall either.  As I drove away I recalled that only the day before while passing a very pretty road called Muddy Creek Road, I had lamented the fact that so many places had such uninspiring names. What for instance, did a name like Dismal Swamp, do for real estate values I wondered? It certainly didn't make me want to rush to see it. Sensation Gorge on the other hand, could well be a case of the opposite - great name, depressing place, but of course I hadn’t actually seen the gorge. I spent the rest of the day driving around aimlessly on a tangle of forestry roads looking for the upper entrance to a waterfall where we used to swim, but which was now owned by a trout and ginseng farm, and then headed for Meander, where I spent the night. 

Salmon and Ginseng Farm at the base of Montana Falls - the food was lovely and I bought salmon rillettes and some pots of ginseng honey, but couldn't quite bring myself to pay for the tour which would have allowed me to photograph the waterfall
Next morning in the Meander Forest Reserve, I especially avoided Meander Falls even though it is the main fall in this area and one of the highest in the state. I had once gone there with a group of Gung Ho Bushwalkers when I still lived in Deloraine. That ladies and gentlemen, is a six hour walk on a good day, but I also had my then two year old daughter in tow. Every time I managed to pant to the top of a rise carrying her on my back, the bushwalkers who had already waited (and rested) impatiently for some time, would say, “Right then,” and take off again.  Now I am sure those falls were spectacular, but all I could think of was getting back again. I only ever attempted to go with a Bushwalking Club on one other occasion, when my sons were small and the outcome was much the same.
Not only were the boys much too chirpy while serious birdwatching was in progress, but while we were waiting on a bridge for some other walkers to join us, my youngest son, who was playing Poo Sticks and running from one side of the bridge to the other, managed to do a perfect swallow dive right into the foaming water. Since it was the middle of winter in the highlands we were lucky we didn’t all die of hypothermia as quite a few of us were now wet to the skin and those that weren't had to sacrifice pullovers and jackets to those who were.  Going by all the tut –tutting, I am pretty sure we were universally hated. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I like to travel alone. Good to see though that Waterfalls of Tasmania has a new section on child friendly waterfalls!  Where were you when I needed you?


Wild berries - these might look tasty and may even be edible but the flavour and texture are like polystyrene


The rock formation that gives Split Rock Falls its name - there are many stunning features like this
Not having walked much for the last year or so, I thought I would start with the two and a half hour walk to Split Rock Falls which I hadn’t seen before, followed perhaps by Smoko Falls and possibly Chasm Falls, later in the day. It was however, all uphill, so progress was slow and while I didn’t check the time, I would say it took me closer to four hours.

Shower Cave Falls looked inviting
There was some very pretty country along the way however, and there were also some truly amazing rock formations – huge boulders and overhangs, some with water, some without and one unnamed waterfall above. I wasn’t sure whether one of them was Shower Cave Falls, but eventually there was a faded sign, so I knew there was another one to go. It was hot by now and after the long uphill slog I was very tempted to stand under it, but I could hear children bounding up the hill, so it was onwards and upwards again. Split Rock Falls was much higher than can be seen in the photograph with another high fall up above it too and both had a good flow of water going over them - then it was down, down, down again.


Worth the walk - Split Rock Falls, but by the time you get close enough to take a photo, you can no longer see the upper level which is even more spectacular
 If I thought the way back would be easy, I was mistaken. Places where I had had to climb hand over hand on the way up were even more daunting on the way back, but at last I was back at the suspension bridge which crosses the Meander River. When I came that morning there was no one else in the parking area, so I hadn't paid much attention to how I parked. Now it was chock -a -block with cars and a note was stuck on my car. “Nice Parking” or some such, with “Be more considerate next time.”  As with Liffey Falls, I would never have suspected that the place would be so busy, but I obviously wasn’t the only one pleased that the bridges were open again.

It was a different story at the Smoko Falls parking area, a couple of kilometres further on. There wasn’t a soul and it was now somewhat late in the day. Although I wasn't in bad shape, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tackle another waterfall on the same day, especially when the last one was described as moderate and this one was listed as hard. There was no point waiting around either, because rain had been forecast for the following day, so very reluctantly I turned for home. I do hope they will still be there next time I come. 

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