Friday, September 16, 2011

Short Walks 2 - Ferntree and Mount Wellington

Intriguing entrance to Fern Glade walk
Wish I had known about some of these walks when my sister was here, but there you go. You can live in a place for years - decades even, and still not know what's just around the corner. Maybe next time.
Having really enjoyed seeing the tree ferns on Monday, I have been doing some more exploring under the Mountain. It's only around seven kilometres from town and one of the reasons why Hobart is such a beautiful city.
When visitors come to Hobart, one of the first things they do is drive straight up Mount Wellington to look at the view or play in the snow. Then they rush straight back down. This is a shame.

Even though most of the bush here looks impenetrable from the road, it is absolutely riddled with tracks. Many of these started out as functional access - firetrails, old logging tracks, old roads for carting ice from the western side of the mountain or to facilitate the creation of a water supply for the growing city of Hobart, but not a few are there simply for the sheer beauty of the scenery which they traverse. The Fern Glade Track is one of these.

Little glimpse inside - trust me, it looks much more beautiful than this.
I have yet to get one good picture inside a rainforest

The Fern Glade Track runs from a small parking area 50m above the turnoff to Mt. Wellington and ends up at the Springs, just below the summit. An elegant hotel where Hobart society once took its leisure used to stand here until it burned down in the devastating bushfires of 1967.
For the energetic many other tracks begin here - up to the Summit, The Organ Pipes or the Ice House Track or down towards the city and elsewhere, but I rather enjoyed the return walk through the forest on one of the other tracks. I made a small detour to Rocky Whelan's Cave (a bushranger who liked to hide out in these mountains in the 1850's). Then I came down via the Middle Track to the Silver Falls.

Bushranger Territory

Nice view! I appreciate his taste in real estate
Weather Warning


 One of the main tracks, Radford's Track is named after George Radford, aged 19, who died when a snow storm occurred during a race from the Post Office to the Pinnacle in 1901. His commemorative marker serves as a stern reminder to be prepared for all weather on Tasmania's mountains, including Mount Wellington, because it is very changeable. (See below) and don't forget the sunblock and sun hat either, because UV radiation is higher in the mountains and where there is little pollution.
I did have one unfortunate experience on this track - well, two really. A handful of mountain bikers thundered down, not once but twice and practically forced me off the road. It's legal. This is a mixed use track and a bit wider than most, but it did rather spoil the mood.It wasn't that they were being deliberately rude either, it was just the suddenness of their approach.


The Silver Falls can also be reached by a shorter, easier path (only about 20 minutes) that starts on the other side of the road from the Tavern. (Don't park there - there are signs saying "Patrons Only," unless you plan to eat or drink there). There isn't much other parking space in this area. It can however, also be reached by bus from Franklin Square. This track is very popular with families. Near the main road there is a pretty park with amenities, a picnic area and a playground. Although this track was put in for the creation of Hobart's water supply in 1861, it dates from an era when public works included landscaping and making an attractive place for the public to visit. The Mundaring Wier in WA stems from the same era and embodies the same sentiment, so there are seats, shelters and some very beautiful rhododendrons just coming into bloom.

Silver Falls are not far from the road

At the start of the Silver Falls track there are amenities, shelters and pretty gardens

When I see all this greenery, I immediately want to sell up and move here, but there is a price. It means a lot of rain and very little sun. You'd grow moss yourself within a couple of months. At this elevation it would be cold for much of the year too.  Sigh! I'll just have to appreciate it while the sun shines. To prove the point, it starts raining just as I reach the car. The good news is that it only last long enough for me to have my coffee. You do get rain in rainforests.

 




Thanks to the girl I met near Fern Glade who told me about this track - usually I have been too focussed on negotiating the bends on this road to notice that there was anything else here, and also to Richard who insisted on guiding me to the falls when I was heading in the wrong direction, even though he was carrying his baby daughter on his back and was getting texts from his wife saying that she was now in first stage labour and had a drip in her arm. Hope everything went brilliantly for all concerned.


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