|In the Stoodley Arboretum, apparently|
I stumbled onto the extensive Mountain Bike network in this area quite by accident. I was looking for the Redwater Creek Falls and found myself at a parking area in the Stoodley Arboretum, about 6 km down the Sheffield Road. Not that I had any idea that I was already in the Arboretum. Having read of its ornamental pond, I was expecting something like the Tasmanian Arboretum -a 66ha of landscaped Botanic Garden near Devonport with walkways, picnic grounds and even a kiosk. This didn’t seem to have any of these, but it did have some unusual trees.
Just call me Shredder
A sign pointing to the right of the Carpark said “Redwater Creek” so I assumed the waterfall must be somewhere down there. In no time I came upon a trail which led downhill and what an amazing track it was! It plunged first right and then left, with great mounds of dirt piled up or gouged out on its sides as it zigzagged down the hill. Thinking it was either very severe gully erosion or some way intended to prevent it, I persevered until I came to a sign saying “Gap Jump.” Here the track abruptly stopped at a couple of rocks with a big drop underneath. I decided it was more than my somewhat delicate bones could stand, so I walked very gingerly down the side.
It wasn’t until I had found my way all the way to
the top again, that I discovered that I had just walked the EWOKS Mountain
Bike Trail and that there were many others besides. They had names like Boiler Buster, High Voltage, Green Hornet and Devil’s Run. If EWOKS had been one of the easier ones, I hate
to think what the black ones were like. I was also glad that no mountain bikes had come down behind me.
Meanwhile, the zigzag track had at least led me to the creek. I followed it for a while but the track ended at a gate that said private property and there was no sign
of a waterfall. I did however, find a Forest Walk which eventually led back up to
the Carpark. This took about three times as long as the way down. By the time I got there, all the other vehicles had gone, including a large 4WD which had been blocking the view. Now I could see a small sign up on a tree to my left, saying "Redwater Creek Falls." It pointed straight ahead. Not knowing how far it was, it didn't seem like a good idea to go looking for it this late in the day, but at least I now knew where to come in the morning.
|Welcome to the Gap Jump |
|Part of the Forest Walk|
|The sign to the Falls is on the left. The much bigger sign to the creek is on the right|
Mountain bikers are especially well catered for in this region. This is an industry which seems to have quietly taken off around Australia, barely noticed by those not familiar with the sport. In this area alone there are over 100km of trails for different skill levels collectively called "Wild Mersey" because many of them follow the course of the river. There are trails which run from Devonport, through Railton and on to Sheffield. The 23.5 km return Railton -Sheffield Trail for example, which can be used by mountain bike riders, walkers, runners and horse riders can also be joined here. [Other Mountain bike trails can be found all over Tasmania including places such as Derby, Hobart, Georgetown and even Zeehan and Queenstown].
There several things to like about this.
The first is that these circuits, though not unattractive, aren’t being built on
prime conservation land. Those near Railton for example, make use of old Mining
and Forestry leases. The second is that nowhere was there any rubbish to be seen
– no tinnies, no ring things, not even a cigarette butt. I also think it is something which local families could enjoy too, not just visitors or serious Mountain Bike riders. You can get a bit of the flavour of it in the video below.
For more information you could contact Flow about Wild Mersey and some of their other courses. If coming from or flying into Hobart Tasmanian Mountain Bike Adventures offers bike hire, airport transfers,
accommodation and shuttles to your preferred location anywhere in the state. [It also organises Rock Climbing Trips].
I'm not affliliated with any of these companies nor have I experienced their services, but they would be a good starting point if you were planning a trip.
The Tasmanian Bikepacker’s Trail
For those even more masochistically inclined, there is also
the 480 km Tasmanian Bikepacker’s Trail which
extends from Devonport to Dover in the far South and can also be accessed from
here. It costs $100 for the key to the gates -you get $80 back when you return it, but from then on, apart from regular safety
checks, you are pretty much on your own unless you travel with a group or use one
of the guided options.
It can also look like this: Pardon the Language.
Bikepacking has really taken off around the world, with over 100,000 miles worth of trails available in countries from Scandinavia and Europe to South America, Asia and Africa, The USA and the Middle East and now also Australia and New Zealand.
The Tasmanian Trail is also open to Hikers and Horse riders though Hikers don't necessarily fare better. Listen to the podcasts of one hiker, Tim Savage here, admittedly in what was still the depths of winter here. Sometimes our winter lasts till January. Tim Savage is a very experienced hiker and runs the Australian Hiker website. His last podcast shortly after abandoning the trip, talks about things to consider before undertaking it.
It’s great to see people -powered tourism taking off which
could be virtually emission free once you step off the ferry. However, while I
greatly admire the grit, stamina and determination involved, I hesitate to
recommend this trail to mainstream travellers at this stage. There are other
more scenic and less arduous routes such
as the Cradle to Coast Track
behind Penguin or the Three Capes Track down South if you’ve already done or
missed out on the Overland Track or find it too busy or too tame. Contact the North West Walking Club for those
in the North of the state, if you'd like more information or assistance. [It's still possible to visit Cape Pillar and Cape Huay as day trips with only a Parks Pass].
For Horseriders, about the only thing I have found to
date, is this link, though no doubt like Bikepackers and Hikers, they have their own networks.