|View from the top of Dry's Bluff on the Lakes Highway just before it plunges down to the placid farming country around Deloraine|
Apologies friends, for the lack of communication. I have ‘gone walkabout’ as the Aborigines were wont to do – that is, gone bush for a few days with no particular destination. I have been chasing wild waterfalls in places with no internet and I’ll tell you about some of those adventures shortly, if only as a warning to others.
My trip started pleasantly enough. With excellent weather and a road free of ice, I drove over the top of Tasmania via the Lakes Highway. This is the best time of year to look at waterfalls because after the winter rain there' ll be a good flow. Now we've also had a few sunny days so I'm hoping the tracks won't be too muddy. By the way, I should mention that despite the new tarmac there are still at least three axle – breaking, bone -shaking, tyre shredding cattle grids on the Lakes Highway, so do watch out for them.
Getting to Liffey Falls
On the way down the Lakes Highway (A5) there’s a marker about 29 km before you reach Deloraine saying Liffey Falls. This is one of the state’s most popular falls. If you have a small car you can usually get down this road – just check if it’s a hired car as the road is unmade and your insurance may not cover any damage. If there’s been recent rain, the road may also be muddy and boggy. Vans and caravans may not use it.
I didn’t know that last time and managed to get the van all
the way down and up, but only with a great deal of difficulty. Perhaps they’ve
only put that sign up since. My van isn’t big by comparison with some of the
juggernauts around and anything larger would never have made it around the
hairpin bends. If you are able to get down that way, there’s a lovely day use
only picnic area and the falls are only a 45-minute walk from there. The waterfall
itself is well worthwhile but don’t despair if you can’t reach it that way. There are several other ways to get there instead.
The most straightforward way, even if it looks longer is via the township of Liffey. Drive through and keep heading west (C513). This road only has a few kilometres of unmade road but it’s narrow and hilly, so drive slowly and keep a sharp look out. If you are travelling at dawn or dusk, be sure to look out for wildlife too which can derail you just as surely. After 7 km you come to a T -junction. Take the branch that leads straight over the bridge and shortly afterwards you’ll see the sharp left turn for the campground.
If you do insist on coming via the A5, ignore the various roads that say Liffey or Carrick, they are all steep, rough and narrow with many devious turnoffs. Even worse, you won’t get a signal here, so unless you download the maps and save them beforehand, you won’t have much idea where you are going. Instead drive north to Golden Valley (or South if coming from Deloraine), then drive to the junction which says Osmaston and Exton and take the RH fork. This is Bogan Road (C504). It too, is unsealed most of the way, but it’s relatively flat and not too rough. Eventually you’ll reach a junction where one way says Liffey (C513). Take the left fork. Just before you reach the bridge, there’s a sharp right turn saying Liffey Camping. That’s where you should be heading. There is ample parking for RVs and tents and it’s also where the track starts for the base of the falls. It takes 3 hours to walk to the main fall and back from here but there are other pleasant riffles and drops plus a rich wet sclerophyll forest. You do need a Parks Pass for this.
Waterfall Bagging for Beginners
Lovely as Liffey is, there are other waterfalls
that are easier to get to than this one, should you happen to be visiting Tasmania. Below is a list of short and easy walks which could be tackled by almost anyone. Wear stout shoes with grippy soles and take a
rain jacket, sunblock and a sunhat even for a short walk as the weather can be very changeable at this time of
year. Wear long pants and pull your socks up over the bottoms of the legs, so there’s less chance of being bitten by a leech – generally unpleasant rather than dangerous, but bites can become infected. Leeches love wet
places even more than we do and will wait nine years for a meal. Take a water bottle, a couple of muesli bars and a torch. Some tracks take a lot longer for some of us than rangers think they do and it gets dark early in the bush.
Some roads may still close due to ice and
snow. Check the weather forecast and make enquiries before you go and bring
warm clothes such as a beanie and a woollen jumper, just in case. In some locations water levels could rise suddenly. Don’t take risks, don’t over -extend yourself and leave yourself
plenty of time. That way, you can always come back and do it on another day. Go with a friend if you can as waterfalls can be slippery devils and they always seem to be in places where there's no signal.
Snakes will be waking from their winter sleep as the weather warms. Mostly they will try to get out of your way, but watch your step and don't startle them. Lastly, if doing more than a five-minute
ramble, I have found a trekking pole to be very useful. It takes the stress off
knees and hips and provides more balance and support, especially on uneven terrain. It may also stop you having a fall.
The following waterfalls are generally safe, easy to get to over sealed roads and don’t require a very long walk, but be aware though that tracks and roads can deteriorate and weather conditions will determine what you see. Some waterfalls are highly seasonal and during the millennial drought many were dry. This information is for interest only and no responsibility is accepted.
- Preston Falls, sometimes called Delaney’s Falls, are at Preston, 27 minutes south of Ulverstone on the Preston Road (B17). You will need to get out of your car and walk about 5 minutes to see an amazing waterfall (see above) but keep hold of small children.
- Guide Falls, at Ridgley is 19 minutes south of Burnie on the B18, a sealed road. This is quite an impressive fall over several levels with walking tracks and a lovely picnic area.
- Redwater Creek Falls, halfway between Latrobe and Sheffield in the Stoodley Arboretum. Discovered this cutie on this trip. When coming from Latrobe on the Sheffield Road turn right opposite a horse -riding trail and then take the first fork on the right. After about I km of gravel you come to the parking spot. Go through the gate and follow the easy well marked track along a former railway line for about 1.6 km. The last 10 metres involves a bit of a scramble to the waterfall. Though not huge, it’s in a pretty fern glade with seats and caves to explore. A great one for kids.
- Dip Falls, Mawbanna is a massive waterfall and has stairs that go all the way to the bottom. The turn off is 14 km past Rocky Cape on the A2 and before the turn -off to Stanley if you are heading north west. Turn onto Mawbanna Road C225 and continue for 27 km. Although these roads are sealed, they twist and turn and use a lot of fuel, so be sure to have enough for the return journey. There are no services once you leave the highway. No Dogs. Well signed.
- Montana Falls is another one discovered or should I say, rediscovered on this trip. We used to swim here many years ago when I lived in Deloraine. These are only 10 minutes South of the town and involve a short stretch of unmade road. Follow the Mole Creek Road (B12) West for 4.5 km and turn South onto Montana Road (C164). Just past the bridge, take the left turn into Leonards Road and you’ll arrive at Longridge Forest Reserve in 800m. The bush track is signed, marked and easy from here. While you can see the falls as soon as you reach the waterline, their breadth and full extent doesn't become apparent until you follow the path to the right along the water’s edge and scramble over a few rocks. While not exceptionally high, this fall is very powerful. You can hear it roar long before you get there. Keep your children close. I am especially delighted to be able to add this to the list as when I last came this way, the private landowner on the other side of the river expected payment for allowing me to view these falls.
- If going West on the A10, be sure to check out Nelson Falls, 27 minutes before Queenstown on the RHS if coming from Hobart. This 200 metre Nature Trail has good signage, easy walking and a toilet. A Parks Pass is required. In Strahan there’s a good track to Hogarth Falls -a small waterfall in the park on the south side of town. The track is about 2.5 km long and should take around 50 minutes return. Dogs are allowed on a leash.
- In the South, Silver Falls at Ferntree offers a nice little escape from the big bad city of Hobart. It's wide easy track is about 2 km long and is suitable for wheelchairs, bicycles and strollers. The track starts opposite the Tavern just past the Kunanyi/Mt. Wellington Summit turn -off on Huon Road and brings you to a delicate waterfall in a ferny glade. At the start of the track there are picnic tables, shelters and toilets. Parking can sometimes be difficult when it's busy unless you buy a meal or a coffee at the Tavern afterwards.
|Silver Falls just 18 minutes from the Hobart City Centre, offers a refreshing pause on a summer's day|
- Russell Falls at Mt. Field National Park, around 90 km West of Hobart, is a picture perfect waterfall and one of the easiest to access. The main fall is about 20m but there are several tiers above it too. The 1.2 km track is suitable for wheelchairs. A Parks Pass is required and no dogs are allowed. There are lovely picnic areas and a café here plus knowledgeable staff. There are a number of other walks and waterfalls here too, but these require a bit more agility and fitness. It’s a great place to camp overnight. It only costs $16 for an unpowered site and that way you will see many of our nocturnal animals too and perhaps even the glow worms.
- If unsealed roads don't bother you or you have a 4WD, then there are more possibilities such as Arve Falls, in the Hartz National Park. These falls are reached by a well -made 1 km track and are a lot more impressive than most photographs suggest. While the falls themselves aren't that big, you should see where they go. Hang onto your hat and your kids. They also require a Parks Pass. On your way there, do the five-minute walk to the viewing platform at Keogh’s Falls. Although you can’t get close to these falls, you do get see an amazing landscape and some of our few remaining stretches of temperate rainforest.
Craig Doumouras has more on his excellent Waterfalls of Tasmania website, though I don’t necessarily agree with his classifications. I would not want to send someone over that road* to Mathinna Falls, or even the one to Ralph's Falls for example, nor have I included Montezuma Falls. Although they are indeed spectacular and the walk along another former railway line is fairly easy, it takes at least 3 hours, which I would not necessarily recommend for beginners. Your best bet if you wanted to go to some of the lesser known falls is to make contact with a walking club or go with someone who knows them well.
Where to get information:
The Bureau of Meteorology affectionately known as BOM despite its attempt at a name change, gives daily bulletins about expected weather conditions including bushwalker alerts, sheep alerts, warnings about high winds and floods, fires and conditions on our waterways, along with a weekly weather forecast which can vary greatly in different parts of the state.
Police get daily reports from local councils about road closures
and the like in their area and this can be found on their website. It also has emergency phone numbers for other services which you might need such as the State Emergency Service if fallen trees are blocking the road or power lines are down or there's been an accident.
Check this site for the condition of campgrounds since many like Liffey are located on river banks
Or this one for the condition of tracks.
* It occurs to me that the potholes and rocks on some of these roads may be a deliberate ploy to get people to slow down - natural speed humps as it were. If they don't slow you down, at least the wildlife will hear you coming.
Happy Waterfall Bagging everyone and stay safe!