Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wielangta Walks

Wielangta Rain Forest Walk
In recent times I've discovered I'm a shocking 'Western Tasmania Snob'.  Growing up on the Cradle Coast meant the western wilderness was my backyard.  From my earliest memories family hikes featured rivers raging through deep gorges, soaring dolerite crags piercing the sky, plunging waterfalls and moss-lined ferny gullies.  I really struggled to imagine any appeal in the dry eastern half of the island.

A colleague, Bert Spinks - Storyteller extraordinaire, recently tapped into this feeling with a Myrtle Forests post in the Field Guide to Falling in Love in Tasmania.  The following paragraph struck a distinctive chord:
Sant sees Tasmania as a “skewed island, all that mountainous weather-burdened weight in west!” And it is true: don’t let the historic bickering between the towns in the north and south fool you: the division of this island is vertical. There is the difficult transylvanian west, with its “straining forests”, facing towards the worst weather and absorbing it, reprieving the “sheltered east, with its vineyards and holidays”.
Give me transylvania any day!

Lucky for me (given I now work mostly in the east) I've discovered pockets of the east which mirror the west.  The significantly drier east coast is never completely dry as this year's floods can attest.  Sheltered nooks and fern-filled gullies harbour pockets of my beloved myrtle, sassafrass and moss.

Today took me along the Wielangta Road.  I remember this area being part of some legal wrangling over the meaning of "protection".  (The law has since been changed so "protection" means whatever the government of the day wants it to mean.)  My western-prejudice caused me to pay little attention.  I now see what the fuss was about.

In the west I've always enjoyed exploring the plethora of abandoned rail and tramway corridors through seemingly impossible terrain.  The main lifeline for the long-deserted Wielangta township in south-east Tasmania was a tramway out to the coast at Rheban.  A section of this makes for a liesurely stroll along the SandSpit River mid-way between Copping and Orford.  Man ferns galore and mossy patches of blackwood and sassafras made me feel quite at home.

While in the area we checked out the Three Thumbs Lookout (must return to do the walk sometime) and the Marion Bay Lookout.  The viewscapes have been lovingly enabled by strategically cutting down any trees which may block the view.  You don't see that in a National Park!  (Please understand my irony here - I am NOT a fan of chainsaw-enhanced lookouts.)

The highlight of my day was the seemingly abandoned Rain Forest Walk at Robertsons Bridge.  The recent (2012?) bridge reconstruction appears to have wiped out the start and end of the track.  From the southern side of the river on the upstream side of the road, follow the gutter down between the bridge embankment and a small natural cliff.  A boardwalk can be found among the man ferns close to the river.  Follow this upstream to the point where a footbridge has been washed away.

Soon after crossing the river (which only flows strongly after heavy rain) the boardwalk swings back towards the road.  At this point, while the man ferns were lovely, I was a little disappointed at the brevity of the walk.  However, a treat was in store!

En route back to the road they well-constructed board walk skirts along an impressive rock overhang.  Giant trees have fallen (the natural way) from the slopes above making a formidable sight as the track passes beneath.  The path emerges somewhat unceremoniously at the roadside between clumps of cutting grass.

Apart from the missing footbridge and obscured track ends, the boardwalk is in good shape and well worth a visit.  Please go there!

Sassafras trees at Wielangta Rain Forest Walk

Wielangta Rain Forest Walk

Sandspit River

View* from Three Thumbs Picnic Area over Sping Bay (*chainsaw enhanced)

Spring Beach and Quarry Point

Great Sun Orchid (Thelymitra aristata)
Perhaps the tallest grass tree flower I've ever seen (Xanthorrhoea australis)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tas Trekker for taking the time to encourage others to see this place.