Saturday (a week x 2 ago) I made a decision that every weekend we would all go for a walk somewhere. Make it a family thing each week, rain, hail or shine. Usually I go off wandering on my own or with mates. Sometimes the family comes along although the kids get kind of frustrated and annoyed with me because apparently I stop too much. That’s usually only a real problem in fungi season and when I have my camera with me, okay so maybe it’s just not in fungi season because let’s be honest, there is ALWAYS something worth stopping for and looking at or photographing.
I decided to make a compromise though. I will still take my camera, but just the little one. No tripod or macro lenses. Just the little camera to take snaps on. I will still stop to look at things, although it won’t be a full sit down where I pull out the hand lens and a few books to try and identify a tiny speck of moss I might see. It’s a compromise that I am willing to make so the kids will come walking with me again.
I’m not good at just wandering and not thinking about everything around me though. So I found a new plan for short walks with the family. Before we left for New Town Falls I jumped onto the Natural values atlas and list map and downloaded myself some maps. Some vegetation maps. For those who have no idea what I am talking about, they are maps you get which outlines the types of forests or vegetation that are in an area.
They aren’t always accurate and are sometimes waaaay off, so as I wander along I can at least look around to see how accurate they are, at least along the paths anyway. Vegetation types are much easier to identify when you are moving. They don’t require you to stop and pull out field guides and what not. I also downloaded a species list from the NVA. That one is harder though because it makes me want to stop and crawl around on the ground looking for plants… compromise is hard sometimes. I left the species list in the car.
New Town falls are, as the name suggests, waterfalls, in New Town. Well I guess New Town, more Lenah Valley really. Actually to be specific they are in Wellington Park at the back of Lenah Valley. Technically I’m not sure if that is still classed as Lenah Valley at all. I could google it, but that would be boring.
The walk starts from the very end of Lenah Valley road. You can’t miss it. There is a little concrete bridgey thing to walk over and then you get to a junction with two choices. Right up the track or left up the fire trail. We went right up the track. Then you follow it. It climbs for a bit, not too steeply though. Charlie (7) did it fine. It’s a narrowish kind of track. Just big enough to be able to walk side by side, and relatively clear. You make your way up through some beautiful wet forest. I think this is the part where I express how lucky we are in Tasmania. That we have beautiful forests so close to civilisation and so accessible… Gorgeous big Eucalyptus obliqua and a pretty decent wet forest understory.
When you hit the Hobartians track junction you turn left. Walk some more and then get to the falls, passing a fire trail on your left which leads back down the hill. There is an offshoot track on the left just before you hit the falls which takes you to the lower tier, we never took that though. We passed some people on their way back and they said it was shitty, and that the top track was better, so we took their advice.
From the Hobartians track junction to the falls you go through a very different kind of forest. It’s more of a woodlands dominated by Eucalyptus tenuiramis (silver peppermint) with a few Eucalyptus viminalis (white gum) and Eucalyptus obliqua (stringy bark) scattered throughout. This one is pretty easy to spot and to tell the difference between other Eucalypts because of its greyish blue silver leaves and glaucous stems. Yeah, that was an awesome colour description right there! The silver peppermint is an endemic to Southern Tasmania (that means it is only found here). Grows mainly on Permian mudstone in dry and fire prone areas and is listed as a threatened native vegetation community. It is a brilliant little bit of woodland forest to walk through. Lots of big boulders along the way for the kids to climb on and sit and look out through the trees. Pretty rad to be honest.
There was very little water falling down the waterfall, it could probably be described as more of a dribble really. Apparently it is never really flowing super fast or big though. I guess it could be nice enough with a decent flow. I’m not really much of a waterfall chasing type person. Don’t get me wrong, I like them, they are nice, and they give you a destination to walk toward, but I’m not a die hard waterfall fan.
Up until this point it was pretty decent weather wise. Not too hot, not to cold, just goldilocks. Once we hit the falls, which was only after about 45 or 50 minutes, it started to look a bit different. The clouds had rolled in and it felt like it was about to rain. Which of course it did. Just a little drizzle at first, then it utterly pissed down… Of course I had raincoats, because I always go everywhere equipped for snow or a heat wave, no matter what the season.
By the time we got halfway back to the car all our trousers were soaked through and the track was already turning into a mini creek bed with the amount of washing down it. Charlie started to get a bit wary, he isn’t used to being caught out in downpours like that, and not while he is walking through a canopy covered track. Then the thunder clapped and he really did freak out. I guess if I was 7 and a massive clap of thunder shook overheard while we were in the bush I might freak out too. The freaking out didn’t last long once the thunder stopped. I think he trusted me that we weren’t going to die and would be back at the car in no time. Which we were.
Perfect track for a family walk. Not too hard, or too long. Plenty of shade, if you are like me and hate the sun. Would be cool, even on a hot day. Well cooler than places that are hotter anyway. The other good thing is that you don’t need to worry so much about the kids if they are little. There are no creeks or rivers they could fall and drown in (except near the waterfall of course), or steep bits they could tumble down. So you can really let them run off ahead and not worry too much.
We were going to go back down via the fire trails, although they looked a lot steeper, and with the rain it would probably have ended up not much fun. I don’t want to scare the kids off just yet. Slowly build them up to adventures and harder terrain… Maybe next time.
Important points to remember
Dogs are allowed on the track. Remember to keep them on a lead at all times and pick up their crap. Oh and don’t pick up the crap, put it in a bag and then leave the bag beside the track… Please don’t allow your dogs to go bounding through the bushland. Keep them on the track, along with yourself. Our natural areas are precious, and we need to ensure they are cared for and looked after to the best of our abilities. Take your rubbish out, leave the plants as you find them, leave the animals to be wild, but most importantly, enjoy it and appreciate the wonderful forests we have at our back doors.
Ramblr track and info
Ramblr is an app I use on my phone. It’s a gps app that tracks your walk and all the stuff that goes with it. It also logs any photos you take on the map, which is pretty cool. I generally use it to take photos of plants and things I see and then later go back to either ID, or remember what was there. Sometimes I am slack though….