|You could say that's what I am in it for - the mosses, the ferns and the fungi - waterfalls are a bonus!|
Since we are lucky enough to have both forest and mountain on our doorstep,
there are a number small waterfalls which invite exploration and a chance to
enjoy a bit of fresh air without straying far from home.
|Silver Falls- not huge but reliable and easy walking, just a stone's throw from the CBD|
One of the easiest waterfalls to get to and among the most rewarding is Silver Falls at
Ferntree, just after the summit turnoff to Mt. Wellington. The hard part is
trying to find a parking spot near this popular family picnic area. The track starts opposite
the Ferntree Tavern which has excellent maps for day walks, though not as
detailed as those from the Lands Department. Don't park there though unless you are planning to eat or drink there later. The thirty minute walk follows the
upper end of the Pipeline track which once provided the city water supply.
Since it is quite wide and largely level this is a good track if you want to
bring strollers, bikes and or children. As well as pretty ferns and cascades along the way,
there are also seats and shelter in case the weather changes. It does happen on the mountain. There is nearly always a
good flow of water over the falls.
|O'Grady's Falls are in a little grotto and can be reached by several tracks|
There are several ways to get to O’Grady’s Falls but it's also quite an
easy walk -read fairly flat, if you start from the Bracken Lane Fire Trail which crosses behind the houses on the right side of the Pinnacle Road, just after Pillinger Drive. Turn left at this Fire Trail and continue until you reach the junction with O'Grady's Falls track . Turn left again when you reach Woods track and then take the first right. This takes about 40 minutes and is generally
well signed except for the last track junction. Turning left here takes you back to the Pinnacle Road and crossing it leads to
bushranger Rocky Whelan’s Cave. If feeling more energetic, there are a number of other possible routes such as starting from the Springs (that's the big parking area near the top of the Pinnacle Road where the old hotel used to be) via Woods Track or from Shoobridge Bend via The Betts Vale Track which could include the short detour to the Octopus Tree. As you may have guessed from this, the mountain is riddled with tracks and this is where the map comes in. Except for the Springs however, parking near all these places is very limited.
|Nature flexes her muscles - The Octopus Tree|
|A glimpse of Rocky Whelan's hideout. Rocky Whelan was one of our nastier bush rangers|
Returning now from the Pinnacle Road, turn left off Huon Road into
Strickland Avenue. Just after you turn into it there’s a big bend and a grassed
area. Once again it may be hard to park here if there are already other cars.
Then walk towards the creek and follow it upwards a short distance. Tucked into
the crook of the hill is a lush ferny gully with a small waterfall. These are
Strickland Falls. There is no real track here, just sometimes muddy footpads
which involve a bit of climbing and scrambling. The falls aren’t particularly
high either, but I like the fairy garden aspect. If you don’t want to go back the way
you have come or want a longer walk, then take the path that rises upwards on
the right to join a Fire Trail running across the side of the hill. Eventually
you will see a track running downhill off to the right that will take you back to
Strickland Avenue and a bit of an uphill walk back to the carpark. Another trail
appears to leads downhill from the road on the opposite side of the creek but this track is now on Private Property and closed off at the delightfully named Turnip Fields end, several bends down from the present one. If it's any consolation this route is mostly dry sclerophyll country and not as pretty as the upper section.
|Pretty little Strickland Falls are really a series of moss bedecked cascades|
My next favourite are the Myrtle Gully Falls though it’s
probably best to see them after a bit more rain. To get there continue winding down
Strickland Avenue until just before the marvelously Gothic Cascade Brewery and
turn left into Old Farm Road. Follow that to the end, watching out for other
vehicles as it’s narrow and has some blind corners. There’s a parking area at
the end from which several tracks fan out in different directions. Walk around
the gate and stay on the unsealed part of Old Farm Road until you see the sign
leading off to the south west saying Myrtle Gully Track. The falls are just
a short distance along where you cross a little bridge. One hundred metres
further on is Secret Falls, a narrow waterfall also best seen after more
rain. Neither of these falls is marked, so we
happily continued on over delightful riffles and bridges, still expecting a bigger waterfall.
Myrtle Gully Falls -Taken with Gordon's iphone
The track notes on the various websites did say
that the falls were only 15 minutes from the top of Old Farm Road, but when we
finally arrived at the start of the track, the falls were not mentioned and signage for
Myrtle Gully Track said 2 hours return.
Don’t be misled. The falls are right at the beginning, though apart from the
fact that it was all uphill, we did enjoy our much longer walk.
|Another weird and wonderful fungus - this one is about the size and shape of a rose and has what looks like honey oozing from it and no, didn't taste it|
|... and a fabulous glimpse of the Organ Pipes as we reach 571 metres|
There are two larger waterfalls here too. The first, Wellington Falls
is a 19km walk and takes at least 5 hours when starting from Neika. Starting from the Springs involves a medium
to hard walk, especially if going over the scree slopes. The other, New Town Falls
is best approached
from the New Town end, lest you miss them like I did the first time. Even when I
did find them, it was quite a mission (4 hours return – difficult, steep and
slippery in places) and they had very little water in them, so these are best left to more serious bushwalkers or at least until after a good rain. While they are impressive by their sheer size, I find the countryside around the smaller falls much more appealing.
|Journey's end - from here on it's all down hill|