26 May 2013 - Kermandie Falls

We had a great rollup for this walk, in part because it is not well known and it was a new walk for all of us. We tried out the traditional Kermandie River Road access.  There is another access option described which comes in via Riawunna Rd, which is shorter and easier but apparently is often blocked due to forestry operations.

There were eleven of us:  me, Robert, Bob, Wayne, Austin, Sophie, Caroline, Warren, Julie, Kat and Philip.   Two cars left from our house, and we met the third car at the Kermandie River Road turnoff from the highway below Geeveston.   We proceeded in a convoy from there, because the various route instructions we had dug up were pretty confusing and contradictory.  Indeed we did find that recent forestry roadworks have changed the roadways in this area a lot, but Bob managed to interpret the instructions and get us to our destination, and I've put some clear directions here. 

About 2 km along, there was a signed turnoff (to Hartz Walking Track) up to the left off the farmed river flats, but after that, the signage was non-existent.  After about another 2km of slow going along a rather rough, narrow unsealed winding road, and avoiding two possible turnoffs to the left (to Haulage Rd and to "L"), we reached a small car park. It was lucky we didn't encounter any traffic, because options for passing were scant.

We started walking at about 10.30am. The track heads down the hill here to the left, actually a fire trail which starts with a rock hop through a creek.  After a few hundred metres, there was a left pointing sign to Kermandie Falls and Hartz Mountain Track.  We were lucky to see it as it was heavily obscured by the bushes!  So we headed left up a slope and quickly came upon a well built forestry road which comes off Hermons Rd.  It would be tempting to come in on Hermons Rd, but apparently this also is sometimes locked due to forestry operations.  Also there is no apparent parking spot here.  Looking to the right, there was a solid bridge.

Just before the bridge, heading up to the left, was the track.  The sign had been nicked.  Was someone looking for firewood or something?
Where the sign used to be

Patting ourselves on the back for our successful sleuthing efforts, we set off on the trail. Just on the left Bob found a water tap - this track has all mod cons!

The first half hour of this walk is pleasant, with thick leaf fall underfoot, beautiful mossy trees and rainforest plants.   Do not cross the river, keep going along on the left side of the river. The Kermandie River burbles along prettily on the right, and there are some reasonable spots on the bank for a picnic.

After this the track heads further uphill from the river and deteriorates somewhat.  It has clearly had little attention for years.  There are many treefalls which have been there for some time, and a large treeslide which is fairly recent.

There is a lot of scrambling over large logs, finding footholds on slippery branches,  and several boggy patches.  Without the regular tape flags along the track we would have got quite lost.

Gaiters and sound walking boots are essential, and walking poles highly recommended.  A number of leeches found our warm bodies, and several found their mark.

On the positive side, the rainforest vegetation is lovely and we noticed quite a range of interesting fungi.  There were several tall trees to gape at.  Kat and Robert heard a strange mechanical birdcall, which we later identified as the Superb Lyrebird.  After an hour of steady upstream progress, we reached the junction with the track coming in from Riawunna Rd.

From here it was another 20 minutes to the Falls, which we reached at 12.20pm.

The spectacular Falls are located in a steep rugged valley which apparently is hardly ever in direct sunshine.  A massive pileup of huge logs just down from the Falls is testament to the river's ferocity in flood.

There was a slight drizzle all the time we were at the Falls, which made gathering around our shared picnic lunch quite difficult.  There were only soggy logs and slippery rocks to sit on, and we were envious of Kat and Philip's little foam mats to sit on (great idea!).  There was almost no flat space under the treeferns to spread our goodies, but we managed with the help of Bob's blanket and by passing plates around.  It was quite a feast, as most of us had over-catered.

Half an hour later, as the cold started to seep into us, we packed up and headed back along the track.

We made faster progress on the homeward stretch, getting back in just an hour and a half, at 2.30pm.  After a final leech check, we drove into Geeveston looking for a coffeeshop.   We were surprised to find that the coffeeshop we had in mind was now for sale(!), and the little place across the road was closed.  As plan B we headed to Franklin to the Petty Sessions cafe.   Thankfully this was open, and we found good coffee and tea, and good service. 
Total actual walking time:  3.5 hours.
The injury score:  5 leech attacks, one wasp nest attack on Robert, two mud slides by Caroline.
Track quality rating:  Poor.
Signage rating:  Poor.
Value for effort: Low.
The company:  Great.