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Diary of a Wannbe Fungi Hunter - Last Chapter

Looks like the Wilmot Bakery has been closed for a while

Day 5 - My car holds together. There are no further leaks. Wet clothes occupy every available curtain rail and the backs of seats. I am on my last set of dry clothes. Steam rises when I put the heater on to stop the windscreen from fogging up. I pull out the gumboots. I am not putting those wet walking boots on again. The gumboots prove to be a good choice. The first part of the walk goes through a creek. Once past that, there’s a lot of fallen timber which I have to climb over, under or around, but otherwise the track is fairly clear until I get to the upper falls. It rains on and off and I find a few fungi. There used to be seven waterfalls here. Since the dam was built there are only two and a half. The locals say it’s not a patch on what it was before, but I am not disappointed. 

Lower Forth Falls

There are powerful cascades and riffles all along the river. After the upper fall some markers take you down to the river but then peter out. It used to be a circuit track, but after a bit of bush bashing I still can’t see a way to go further and am forced to retrace my steps. There should be a sign saying “The End.” I have walked a lot longer than the suggested time and I am glad I picked up a few tips like the Spider Jump from watching Australian Ninja Warrior while I was sick. In this part, there’s a spot on the river where you have to climb over some slippery rocks. It still drizzles on and off and my photos aren’t much - people are getting better photos with their iPhones, but there is some satisfaction in (a) having actually found the falls and (b) having gotten back in one piece. Blue wrens dart around the van while I have breakfast.

A glimpse of the Upper falls from high on a ridge
There are still a few fungi about here

Clavulinopsis Sulcata I presume

No idea

Not too far away, there are some other falls I once saw years ago. I feel I had better look at them now as I am unlikely to be back this way for quite a while, if at all. There is a sort of urgency now. Things change.  I doubt that I could walk ten Km with a pack on these days, much less 16.7 uphill, like I had to on the Overland Track, and that was a struggle then. Other things change too. Witness the demise of Wes Beckett Reserve and Milkshake Hills. It’s obvious too, that the people who knew and cared about these falls are no longer around. The access used be through a tearoom which has long since closed, (not the bakery in the top picture). Even if it goes the other way –i.e.  more people, then there’ll be more regulations, higher fees and higher prices, as has happened on the Overland Track.  Do it now, whatever it is.

Still seeing stars -Earthstars still wink at me -saw some at Ridgley too

The ten Km of gravel into Lemonthyme Lodge is much longer than I remember it. So is the walk. These falls are on private property and it’s polite to ask first. It’s wonderfully secluded – no sign of logging here – there’s still that sense of eternity, and the people are friendly too. They give me track notes and offer me the use of their clothes dryer and their wifi. I still get no signal, but my phone leaps into life and I am able to send a text. These are magnificent waterfalls if you don't mind a two hour walk - 3 for me, and a bit of mud. The good news is that it's all downhill on the way back. There are different people on now in the Chalet and they are getting ready to serve evening meals. I don’t want to wear out my welcome, but would kill for the hot breakfast menu. I settle for a huge double shot mug of coffee and then hit the road.

 Champagne Falls

  Bridal Veil Falls - you can walk behind these. It's only another ten minutes, but the thought of yet another uphill climb - even a small one, defeats me

It’s been another three waterfall day, none of them easy, and I am looking forward to the rest stop at O’Neill’s Creek on the other side of the gulch from Cethana where I stayed once before. This too is now a paying event. -It’s not much – only $5, but all I have left is a $50 note and there’s a $250 fine if you don’t pay.  There’s no one else here from whom to get change and $50 seems too much to pay for the use of a toilet and somewhere to pull over.

I am almost at the highway now. There are signs for B & B’s and Caravan Parks, but I resent paying for a double too, when that’s all I need. It would be different if I was travelling with a romantic partner. I end up driving all the way home. For some reason I am hanging out for a pie. Junk food is one of my secret vices when I travel and usually the only option, but this time I haven’t encountered a single country bakery – not even at Perth or Campbell Town which are still on the highway. I stop at Coonara,  boil the billy, fill the thermos, have a Cuppa Soup and the last of the bagels I bought in Smithon. Then I shut my eyes for a while - a power nap. This too has become a “Day Use Only” area. It also says there are surveillance cameras operating at all times, so I dare not stay too long. Only the thought of my nice warm bed and unmetered hot water, keeps me going through the night. The only point of light on the road, apart from the blaze of lights from passing trucks, is Mood Food at Kempton, 55 Km from Hobart, which is open 24 hours. I fill up again and buy not one, but two pies. They are lukewarm. It’s been a long day.

So, why would any sensible person want to do this? I have been asking myself the same question, on some days more than others. The answer lies partly in the thrill of discovering something I haven't seen before. This little piece below, which I encountered in a 1998 "Backpacker " Magazine, might sum up the rest.

This is from an ad for Air Mada pro hiking Shoes. Must remember to take the Bloodbank some newer magazines! Airmada is now the name of a company that makes drones!