On Sunday 5th September 2021 Kristy and I went for lunch with Paul, as it’s Father’s Day is celebrated at the first Sunday of September in Australia. We had luck that the pub wasn’t completely booked out, as we first wanted to go somewhere else, but didn’t had any chance to get a place. After lunch we had a short stroll around town and the Waratah Falls. Paul told us that Waratah was famous for its Mount Bischoff Mine, where mainly tin was mined. The banks of the river next to the Waratah Falls were solely occupied by ore processing huts. We had a walk along the top and then to the base of the waterfall, where you still can see concrete remnants of its former usage.

Waratah Falls
Mount Bischoff Mine from the top
Waratah Falls from its base

Afterwards we headed out of town and walked along the Arthur River to the Philosopher Falls. The path follows (or literally) steps into the former aqueduct to the Magnet Mine. The former Magnet Mine was just a few kilometres West of Waratah, but because of its rugged terrain access wasn’t easy at all. A 16km steam tram was built from Waratah for just 4km as the crow flies. And back in the day, this was the only supply for the mine. Nowadays, you can access the mine site via a 4WD gravel road, which starts opposite to the Whyte Hills lookout. Paul told me about his hiking experiences in this area some 40 years ago. He said, that the bush is so think, that you basically walk along its branches, sometimes 4-6 above ground. If you slip away, you might never be seen again. You could continue along the former water race all the way to the former mine site, but the track deteriorates quickly after the Philosopher Falls. The Philosopher Falls in itself are a big drop of the Arthur river down its gorge, and surrounded by thick bush. Even just a short walk from the highway, you’re already in the wild Tassie forest.

First you follow the aqueduct…
…before stepping on top of it…
…and then finally walking within the former aqueduct.
Philosopher Falls

On the way back, we made a brief stop at the spring of the Arthur River. It’s basically behind a small dam. The site wasn’t very impressive. On the way back we made a short detour to Talbots Lagoon. This man made lagoon is deep inside forest plantations, and shortly before you reach it, the forestry gravel roads a blocked off with a gate. Nevertheless, Talbot lagoon is accessible to the public (by foot or bike), and seems to be a great fishing spot. On the way to Talbot lagoon you not only cross Hellyer River the Emu railway at Guildford. Guildford was the major junction in the heydays and provided rail access to Waratah. Nowadays Guildford was slighted, and only a siding remains.

Talbot Lagoon

The day before Kristy and I went to Launceston. And as the weather was nice we decided to do another “Great Walk” to Tamar Island. Well, this one was quite a disappointment, and the worst Great Walk we ever did. Yes, the Tamar is just a muddy estuary, and that’s what you’ll see along the boardwalk to Tamar Island. A line of ships were deliberately sunk between the Western Banks and the island in order to alter the current in the main branch. You might get a glimpse to the rusty shipwrecks, and wonder what this actually is.

Muddy Tamar along the boardwalk of Tamar Island

Guide Falls

On Sunday 29th August 2021 we made a short excursion to the Guide Falls just outside Ridgley, south of Burnie. The weather was a bit rainy and misty, but therefore plenty of water was in the Guide River. It’s only a short stroll from the car park to the viewing platforms. We first had a look from the top, and then went on to the base of the waterfall before following the walking track down along the river to the lower car park. We went back along the same track, and then made a short cut through the meadow.

Guide Falls from the Top…
…and the misty base.
Guide River from the lower car park

On the drive back, we made a bit of a detour via the back roads. Hence, we took the Guide Road and the Oonah Road to the South-West before hitting the Murchinson Highway. We also briefly stopped at the Douglas Rd after the Cam Falls. We took the Murchinson Highway back to Burnie – the “City of Makers” (each town has their own stupid slogan here in Tassie). Well, there’s no longer much to make in Burnie. Most of the factories closed down, and the “city” seems to be still in constant decline. Though it’s the main cargo harbour for Tasmania, as all the goods from the mainland arrive here. And as such the railway is still open from here eastwards. We had a walk around the new Tasmanian University campus in Burnie. And the railway around the campus and the stadium to the West is no longer in use, and already got halfway ripped out.

Burnie Port with Breakwater (on the left)
Tasmanian University has direct rail connection…without having a station. Thus, you need to build an even larger car park just next to it
The tracks just get in the way…therefore, just rip them out behind the stadium

Marakoopa Cave

On Sunday 8th August 2021 we decided to visit the Marakoopa Cave near Mole Creek. You can only access the caves on a guided tour. So Kristy talked to the visitor centre of the PWST in the morning and booked for us a tour in the afternoon. As it’s a bit of a drive to get there, due to winding roads, we also decided to take our time and do a bit of a scenic drive to get there. Thus, we drove up along the Forth River. Instead of going directly to Sheffield, we decided to take the back road and pass through “Nowhere Else” (yes, that’s a village in Tasmania), followed by “Promised Land”. From here you get a decent view of Mount Roland. After reaching Cethana we turned briefly eastwards before heading up the mountain on Olivers Road. We had a quick stop at Round Mountain Lookout way above the Forth river and the Cethana Dam. We could clearly see Cethana Road heading towards Moina, before turning into Cradle Mountain road.

Closeup view of Mount Roland from Promised Land
Round Mountain Lookout towards Black Bluff

We then followed Olivers Road for a bit, before turning into Old Gads Hill Road. This is a gravel road heading down to Liena. In Liena we crossed the Mersey river. In doing so, we also passed by the King Solomon Caves. But those caves are typical closed during winter, due to too much water, which can get dangerous. Also the Marakoopa Caves had been closed for few days before our visit. In the end we were again running short in time. So we just jumped into the visitor centre to collect our tickets, and then walked quickly to the entrance. Just to realise that the tour before us was still ongoing, and we’re actually not in a hurry.

Huge cathedral like cave, with thousands of stalactites and stalagmites
On the floor some cascades are growing, as the water is calm inside those ponds
That massive stalagmite is about 2m tall, and is protected behind glass…did you noticed the branched off? (That’s because the stalactite above also grew and changed the position from where the droplets fall – from my recollection)

The tour lasts for about 1h, and the guide was very nice and competent in explaining the details. Also the cave was nicely illuminated with a well made paths including steps in the middle. There are different stalagmites and stalactites formations throughout the cave, which had been formed over thousands of years. To protect them, there were railings installed, but also one stalagmite in particular, was even hidden behind some glass, so you can’t just break off a branch. It would take millennia until this is regrown again.

Thin and long stalactites hanging like straws from the ceiling high up
Some massive formations appearing like big leaves made of limestone
Beautiful variety of different formations

As she explained some stalactites are actually hollow in the middle (I forgot about the explanation why). But because of that, very long and thin straw-type stalactites are actually able to grow from the ceiling. If they would be solid, they couldn’t grow so long, and would break off at some point due to their own weight (yes, in this instance it’s because of their weight, and not their mass). Also some of those stalactites have a purple/pink colour. This is caused by some kind of bacteria, which grows on them (if I remember correctly).

The Stalactites are hollow in the centre
Pink Stalactites
The small creek after flowing through the cave

After the cave visit we drove to the Mole Creek Brewery. It’s a fancy craft beer thing. I think we were looking for some food, but all we got was just some beverages. I think I wanted to have a coffee, but that’s impossible in Tasmania at this time of the day. Kristy also said there’s a nearby “Arch” to visit, and asked about this in the pub. But they didn’t had any clue. Well, after some more online research, we found out it’s not an Arch but a Cliff 🤦‍♂️😅, and it’s called Alum Cliffs. I mean fair enough, it started with “A”. Thus, after the pub we drove to the lookout, which is basically just behind Mole Creek on a gravel road. At Alum Cliffs the Mersey river dug itself deep into the rocks and makes a 90° bend. We got there in late afternoon, just to catch the last rays of sun from above the mountain. On the way home we took again all possible the back roads during dusk (I mean as usual, when else do you want drive there). Thus, via the Bengeo Road (where we only got the turnoff after a sharp break), Dunorlan Road and Dynams Bridge Road, we finally got onto the Lower Beulah Rd, which had good, big potholes. That’s exactly what you want to have at the end of the day. Shortly before Sheffield we also finally drove through Paradise, finishing the trilogy at the same day, after having been in Nowhere Else, and Promised Land in the morning.

Alum Cliffs

Delaneys and Preston Falls

After the weather cleared on Sunday 1st August 2021 we drove to the Delaneys Falls south of Ulverstone. It’s only a short stroll from the car park to the lookout platform. Due to the recent rain the water was freely flowing over this 25m drop. It’s much more impressive in winter than during the dry summer months. After enjoying the mist for a while we walked along the river to the (much smaller) Preston Falls. Due to the high river levels, this was a bit of a wet and muddy affair, for a much smaller waterfall. The Preston Fall is not as high as the Delaneys, and as such not really impressive. On the way back we took the back roads along South Preston Road (to the south), back along Castra Road (to the north) and finally Kindred Road, in order to enjoy all those small farms along the way which enjoy their lives on their own block of land. But the general public should still pay for their electricity connection, so they can live “off the grid”.

Delaneys Falls
Preston Creek
Preston Falls

Hiking Mount Gnomon and Mount Dial

The weather on Sunday 25th July 2021 wasn’t too good either. There was still quite some rain in the morning. So we opted for a short walk in the afternoon, after the rain was supposed to stop. We arrived at the Ferndene Car Park at about 15:30 o’clock and then started to walk the Ferndene Track. It just stopped raining when we started walking, but all the plants were still wet. The Ferndene track goes up to Mount Dial with an elevation gain of about 350m. Shortly before the summit you reach the track along the ridge line. Kristy had been to Mount Dial before, so she went straight towards Mount Gnomon along the ridge. I did the detour and arrived at the summit of Mount Dial shortly before 17:00 o’clock. I only had a quick look around as the sun came out, but you also could see that it was already low and sunset would be approaching quickly.

Lush rainforest along the Ferndene track
The sun just came out on top of Mount Dial
While the clouds were still hanging low on the other side

So, I headed along the ridge line, just to catch up with Kristy shortly before Mount Gnomon. You could either go via the summit, or take a slightly easier route a bit lower. Kristy opted for the latter, as she also had been to Mount Gnomon before. Thus, I had a quick look around. There were still come clouds hanging around, but they also opened up intermittently. I could see Ulverstone to the North and Mount Duncan to the South. We met again, where both paths met. After maybe another 15min we finally arrived at the car park at the end of Ironcliffe Road, just in time before it got dark. We got out of the forest and hit the meadows after a few kilometres, and followed the gravel road back to our car in the darkness. It was a nice and easy Sunday afternoon walk of about 10.8 km, just right after the rain.

Ulverstone to the North…
…and Mount Duncan to the South…
…from the summit of Mount Gnomon
Greenhouses of the Berry Farm to the West behind Riana
GPX track