October 2023 - Day 2 - Liffey Falls

On the second walking day of our October mini-break, the Westbury Womblers headed towards the delightful Liffey Valley. We passed by Oura Oura, the reserve created by Bob Brown and Bush Heritage Australia. This reserve contains his old cottage, which was the scene of many campaign meetings for battles to preserve Tasmanian wilderness areas.

Along some pretty and winding gravel roads, we found the quiet and natural little campground in the Liffey River Reserve. This area was first protected in 1991 when Bob Brown went out on a limb financially to buy it to protect it against intended logging. With the support of a sympathetic bank manager and some generous supporters, Liffey became the first Reserve for a new conservation organisation, the Australian Bush Heritage Fund, now Bush Heritage Australia. In 2013 the Liffey River and Coalmine Creek Reserves were included in a 170,000 hectare expansion of the 1.4 million hectare Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Access from this lower end of the trail offers an 8km (return) walk (3 hours) through the rainforest. There is a shorter option available from a carpark area above the falls (2km return, 45 minutes walking). There was no phone signal in the valley, but Lyn managed to record our walk:

We gathered and set off along the trail to Liffey Falls, once again in good weather (so lucky!).
The track to Liffey Falls was delightful, well made and maintained, and followed the course of the Liffey River for most of the way.
The riparian rainforest was lush and glowing in the sunlight that filtered through the canopy. The treeferns were huge and rampant.
Kat found some more orchids.
The Falls were stunning.
After checking out the upper cascades, we decided to spread out on the rocks below the lower cascades to enjoy our snacks/lunches.
We were all blown away by this beautiful patch of rainforest, and there was much talk of coming back again. Perhaps to take part in a volunteer working bee, for example to eradicate the influx of foxgloves which has followed a recent bridge re-build on the track.

A light rain started just as we emerged from the trail, so we hustled into our cars and headed back to Westbury. Having missed our morning coffee, it was time to re-caffeinate at the Western Tiers Distillery. Some of us also sampled their alcoholic product.

Next on the list was an exhibition of local artists in the Westbury Council chambers.
Several of us visited over the afternoon, and Lyn actually bouoght a painting that took her fancy.

Some of us also wombled on the Westbury common or village green, a lovely English style park with huge European trees and historic homes dotted around the edges. There is lots of history here in Westbury.
For our last dinner here, we visited the Westbury Hotel for some standard pub fare and lots more conversation. It was just a short stroll there and back.

As per our group's tradition, our last morning together featured a huge cookup of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, bacon and toast. Yummo, and thanks to the chefs once again!

We rolled into our various vehicles and started wending our way to home or to our next destinations. What a fabulous weekend of beautiful forests, enjoyable walks, cultural treats, and of course - great friendship and company.

October 2023 - Day 1 - Westmorland Falls, Alum Cliffs, Montana Falls

This year our October mini-break was in the NorthWest, organised by Kat, with Caroline and Lyn assisting with walk ideas. We were again very lucky with the weather, it was perfect for walking - dry, sunny and cool. Basing ourselves in the historic village of Westbury, we scheduled three walks for the Friday and one for the Saturday. The intrepid crew this weekend, aka the Westbury Womblers, were Kat, Philip, Caroline, Warren, Bob, Angie, Summa, Di, Lyn, Gary, Rachel and Adam. We were also joined on the Saturday by Lee.

Our accommodation in Westbury was the Gingerbread Cottages, a group of cottages co-located on a quiet corner, connected internally by gardens and driveways at the rear (the sheltered sunnyside). This was very useful for our group, as we could extend into as many cottages as we needed, and could easily move with privacy from house to house. Most of the cottages were original Georgian brick buildings made comfortable enough for modern expectations and full of charm. Summa was also permitted to plug in her motorhome, so she was very happy too.

We arrived through the afternoon of the Thursday, and that night most of us tried the local Turkish kebab takeaways for dinner, very nice. Friday morning, we set off at 9am, and en route managed to find coffee at the Chudleigh General Store. The owners are enthusiastically preserving this quaint old village store and are working to create a community hub here for Chudleigh.
Fortified with caffeine, we drove through quiet dairy country to the edge of the Western Tiers, to find the Westmorland Falls track. This track, located in the Mole Creek Karst National Park) is 3km (return) and rated as 2 hours (return). Here are some notes on the walk. As you can see, we measured it as 3.4km, and the walk took us about 40 minutes each way.
The track was very pleasant, nicely made and wandering through lush temperate rainforest, with tall eucalypts and stands of large treeferns (Dicksonia antarctica). It heads generally south west with a few short steep sections and several sections of stone steps. The mosses, ferns and colourful fungi were vibrant in the filtered light. There were a few muddy patches so those of us who had changed into walking boots were glad we had.
Kat was getting her eye in for the delicate Tasmanian orchids, and captured some lovely photos in each of the rainforest trails this weekend.
Emerging from the trail, we loaded back into our cars and headed for Mole Creek. Near here is the start of the trail to the Alum Cliffs, which is also known by the local Pallittorre tribe as tulampanga or red ochre hill.
This area became the meeting point for many Tasmanian Indigenous tribes, who would source the valuable red ochre from the cliffs here for their ceremonies. For them it was a sacred celebration place.
This walk is 1.6km (return) and rated as 40 minutes (return). Here the bush was pretty dry, with she-oaks and native cherries. At the top of the hill is a large sculpture - the three arms represent the three significant paths along which the aboriginal tribes would walk. There is a gentle decline to a viewing platform overlooking the Mersey River and the spectacular Alum Cliffs Gorge. We had our lunches here, enjoying the excellent view and thinking about future walks we might take in the area.
Next we drove to the start of the Montana Falls trail, accessed from Leonards Rd. These falls are located on Western Creek, and the 1.8km track (return), through a eucalypt, banksia and blackwood forest, is rated as suitable for most ages and 45 minutes return.
The short trail brings you to a solid rushing waterfall. It is quite loud, so it must be interesting staying at the Falls River Luxury Accommodation which is perched just above.
It was time for afternoon tea, so next stop was Georgie's Cafe at 41 Degree South Tasmania. This place is peaceful and refreshing, a good place to pick up sustainably raised trout and ginseng products. The tasting platters were very good value and went down well with a beer, a cider or a cup of tea. Some of us inspected the pond where the freshwater trout were jumping, and the breeding tanks where they were going in circles.
Tonight was our night to "eat in", and we had each brought our contributions. Our generous cooks Kat, Lyn, Caroline and Angie produced a huge feast for us.
There were three chickens, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato, braised cabbage and broccoli. Then there was dessert: apple crumble with ice cream and cream.
It was a wonderful effort, considering the challenges of cooking in a strange kitchen with an unfamiliar oven. We retired to bed contented, with full stomachs.

September 2023 - Milles Track

We had excellent Spring weather for this walk along the Milles Track on kunanyi/Mt Wellington - it was warm, sunny and calm.  it was a group of ten today:  Di, Kat, Philip, Caroline, Warren, Ruth, Keith, Bob, Gerwyn and Wayne.  

We met at The Springs, some of us parking in the overflow carpark there, some up at the upper carpark, which is where the group gathered and set off from at 10am.  This is a very accessible walk for Hobartians and is pretty familiar for some of us, but we hadn't been here for a while.  This is a previous report on the walk, from 2012!!

Here's a map of what some of today's group walked:

The walkers, minus photographer Kat

After the initial steep climb up stone steps to the start point of the trails, the Milles track is fairly flat for the first hour or so.  

Initial smooth section

The track was dry and well-groomed to start with and gradually became a little muddy, with pretty mountain streams crossing the trail at several points.  After about half an hour of walking the trail became very rocky and from there on we had to watch every footstep to make sure no ankles were twisted.  

The bush was beautiful, the birds were noisy, and the occasional view down over the river reminded us of how high up we were.

Richea dracophylla

Looking south

View of Cathedral Rock

We passed the track to Snake Plains on the left, and continued on.  After about an hour of walking we came to this place (with some handy logs to sit on) which would be a good spot to stop for snacks or lunch. Stopping here would make this an easy two hour walk.

A good spot for lunch

But we had adventurous souls in the group who were determined to get closer to the Disappearing Tarn, so we continued along the trail.  The track became increasingly made up of large rocks which demanded continuous careful rock-hopping.  After about another half hour, with the rocky trail descending and the Tarn still some way off, several of us decided to call it quits, stop and enjoy our snacks early.  

The hardier souls continued on for another half hour and located the turnoff to the Tarn near the beginning of the Potato Fields.

The turnoff to the Disappearing Tarn

Ruth and Keith confirmed that the Tarn was dry

When the two groups rejoined, we all headed back, retracing our steps along the trail.

Back at The Springs most of us enjoyed coffee and snacks from the Lost Freight Cafe.  And rested.  We had taken about 3 hours 45 mins for the walk.  Some of us had walked 7km, the majority had walked about 8.2km, very impressive we reckon for so much rockhopping.  

August 2023 - Freycinet Weekend

Our August getaway weekend, destination Freycinet, was organised by Lyn. We were last here in 2018, when we conquered Mt Amos:  Our Walk a Month: June 2018 - Mt Amos and Wineglass Bay.

We had a few people drop out for various reasons, so in the end our jolly group was Lyn, Di, Kat, Philip, Bob, Fin, Gerwyn and Wayne. The weather forecast was not very promising - cool, with showers.

Day 1 - Friday 
Four carloads headed to Coles Bay. Now with two EVs in the fleet, Di and Kat took turns charging at the rapid charger in Swansea on the way up (and on the way back).  It's a good opportunity to have a coffee or a snack while waiting. Artifakt Cafe and Gallery is our new favourite cafe in Swansea - good food, friendly service and quality artworks to tempt the tourists.

Bob, Lyn, Wayne and Gerwyn were the first arrivals at Freycinet, meeting at Cape Tourville at 2pm.   They had time for a few short walks before checking into our accommodation.  First there was the excellent short walk to the Lighthouse. 

Cape Tourville Lighthouse - Bob

 There are spectacular views up and down the coast. 

Just a short way back along the Cape Tourville Rd is sweet little Sleepy Bay, down quite a few steps to a secluded beach with strange rock formations.

Arriving at our short stay rental, The Loft, we were blown away by the generous living areas and the huge windows framing a great view of The Hazards.

Our first dinner was at the Freycinet Lodge, relaxed eating with a good range of wines and seafood.  

Day 2 - Saturday
We were well prepared for our main walk of the weekend - the Wineglass Bay-Hazards-Beach Loop - which we took clockwise this time.  The track is 11km long, takes about 5 hours. The weather was a nice surprise for us - cool but sunny and clear.  Perfect walking weather!  And it was great not to be in the heavy day tripper traffic of the summer season, we almost had the place to ourselves.

Looking forward to a good day on the trail

Well made tracks

There is a new one way circuit at the world famous Wineglass Bay Lookout, nicely done.

We love this place

Then it was down the 1000 steps to the perfect Wineglass Bay, where Lyn was inspired to take a swim and we saw dolphins at play.   We had our morning snacks as we admired the view and quietly counted our blessings.
Shags on rocks - Bob

Dolphins in the Bay - Kat

Then we headed over the isthmus to Hazards Beach.  The bush here is a haven for birdlife.

Arriving at Hazards Beach - Kat
Looking south - Bob

Looking north - Kat

Proper lunch on Hazards Beach - Lyn

Silver Gull, in triplicate - Fin

After 5 hours of walking we were ready to relax and enjoy the wealth of drinks and nibbles we had brought to our holiday house.   Tonight Kat and Lyn coordinated a large group meal.  But we couldn't get the cooktop working!  Someone had activated a childproof lock (we learned later), and we couldn't locate any instructions on how to deal with it.  In the end we called for help from the cottages' support team and a man arrived to fix it in seconds.

The clever cooks had meanwhile managed to salvage our dinner by cooking the lamb, chicken and vegies (and dessert) via the oven and barbecue grill and burner plate.  So we had a terrific meal, with lots of leftovers.  

After dinner Wayne and Gerwyn said their goodbyes as they had to leave the next day.

Day 3 - Sunday
This morning we had our traditional group breakfast - a massive pile of eggs, bacon, mushrooms and toast.    

Then five of us headed off to Friendly Beaches (Fin was on the sick list today).   We did a two car shuffle to get the best value out of the beach walk, walking 3 kilometres from the main parking area to the parking area at the southern end of the public road.

What a beautiful spot

Pacific gulls and Pied Oystercatcher

The view from the lookout

On the way back to Coles Bay, Lyn, Di and Bob dropped into Edge of the Bay resort.  It has great access to the water line and fab views of The Hazards.  An option for a future visit.

Lyn and Di weren't finished, they walked the recently extended shared walk/cycle path from Coles Bay to the Hazards trails hub.   This trail is now 5km long and is a lovely offroad path.  Another option for a future visit - cycle to the walks.

Thanks to Kat for picking us up for the return leg, we were a bit tired by now.

Sunset on The Hazards for our last evening

Then the cooks pulled together a hearty ragout of leftovers and we enjoyed a photo show of our trip and even had a bit of a dance party!

Day 4 - Homewards
The morning offered overcast damp weather, just in time for our departure.  How lucky we had been with the weather for our fab weekend of walks and friendship.  We all set off for the drive homewards or for our next destination.