Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meander Falls

One overcast Saturday in August, I headed up to Meander Falls with a mate from Western Australia. My youngest son also tagged along on my back. Heavy rain the previous day had melted much of the snow on the plateau so we expected to be in for a treat. The falls did not disappoint.

Top half of Meander Falls

It was a cool over cast day but the clouds were above plateau hight so at least the falls would be visible. We followed the main track up from the end of the road near Huntsman's Hideaway, gradually climbing alongside the swollen river. At Staggs Creek, my mate asked about the Wood-Maynard Memorial Bridge. This gave me the opportunity to recall the tragic events which took place some 15 years earlier. I had another chance to tell the story when a question was posted on a local bushwalking forum recently. Follow this link to bushwalk-tasmania.com to learn more.
Even before reacing the falls, the wild raging cascades surrounded by the deep greens of the rainforest are a spectacular companion for much of the walk. At one particularly speccy rapid, we stopped for a hot chocolate and I inadvertantly entertained my companions by upending half of my mug's steaming contents down my shirt as I looked at my watch to check the time. In my defence, I'll say that most of my concentration was spent ensuring a certain 3 year old did not get too close to the rapidly flowing scenery.
Top half of the falls from the end of the track. Almost too much spray to get the camera out.

As we emerged from the forest, our objective loomed in sight and the roar was tremendous even with almost a kilometre to go. Just before the falls, some small creeks flow out from under rock scree beside the track. On this day, these small creeks were almost waist deep and charged fast flowing and icy snow-melt. We skirted the creeks by climbing over the boulders on the scree slope. Some of these were still icy and progress was slow so on the way back, my mate bravely declared we should just wade through the creek. "It's only 20 metres or so. How bad could it be?" Given most of my mate's recent walking had been in the Northern Territory, I think you can imagine the result of this icy plunge. Woo hoo, there was some high steppin' and hollerin'!!

The end of the track where the full extent of the falls can be appreciated was an anti-climax in a way. The mist from the falls completely enveloped the usual viewing spot so you couldn't see a thing. Driven by the 100 metre drop, the water surged through the air and seemed to penetrate every opening in our rain gear so it was a very quick stop. The photo below shows one very unimpressed TasTrekker Junior.At the end of the track with a very over-exposed and misty view of the lower falls.

On the way back, we picked up the Wood-Maynard Loop and followed it to Staggs Creek where the old crossing was flowing too strongly to be attempted. We went further upstream to where the old log crossing is still sturdy and reliable, complete with hand-wire. On this rarely visited alternative route, the stockyard at the end of the old road is a reminder of days gone by when the mountain cattle folk would drive herds up onto the plateau for summer grazing. It seems quite incongruous in this day of protection and world-heritage values. In a way, I'm glad there is still a bit of the Tasmanian 'Man from Snowy River' legend being kept alive in isolated pockets such as Lees Paddocks in the upper Mersey valley where descendents of the original cattlemen and women are still carrying on the tradition each summer.

Old high-level crossing over Staggs Creek.

A tree stump beside the Wood-Maynard memorial cairn gave us our last glimpse of the falls before we completed the loop and returned to the carpark.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow thats the fullest I've seen those falls! We usually trek in there as a summer get away, theres never that much water. Looks like the end of winter is ideal :)