Hartz Mountains National Park
Directions - Located just over an hour from Hobart, take the Huon Hwy south until you reach Geeveston and turn right onto Arve Rd. Follow the signs towards Tahune until you reach the turnoff for Hartz Rd. Take this road all the way to the car park for Arve Falls (located a short distance before the car park for Hartz Peak).
The Hike - With a lovely trip to Mount Misery in the morning my next destination was the Hartz Mountains National Park for a couple of hikes to complete what was shaping up to be a fantastic day of hiking. Before heading to the main hike up to Lake Esperance and Hartz Peak I wanted to check out the smaller trail leading down to Arve Falls. With a couple of nice waterfalls already under my belt in Snug Falls and Pelverata Falls, I was keen to check out another and whip out the tripod and filters for some long exposure shots. The issue I was having at Mount Misery with the sun being too bright (first world problems) would follow me here so I wasn't entirely hopeful of getting any decent shots on this hike but was happy to explore the trail.
Parking in the shadow of the Devils Backbone (I love the names in Tasmania) on Hartz Rd, I grabbed only my camera gear and located the start of the track. Starting out walking through the Snow Gum Woodlands, the track soon winds its way through the carpets of alpine vegetation with the moody peaks in the distance providing an interesting backdrop. With plenty of interesting detail to hold your attention, I stopped for a while just to scan my eyes over a small patch of the herbfield and marvel at the variety. Reaching the Arve River, more of a stream than the wide river it will become further down the mountain, there is a small bridge crossing and a rocky platform where you can enjoy the flowing water. At a calmer point along the river I spotted a fish and stopped once again to just watch it (also secretly hoping for a platypus to appear). Over the bridge is a series of interesting coloured rocks with whites, oranges and blacks forming these amazing patterns. I'm guessing it is some kind of lichen that causes it but whatever it is, the result is chaotically beautiful. A boardwalk section leads you to the final section where you'll be rewarded with sweeping views to the east of the Huon River Valley.
The falls are down below and a set of wooden stairs leads you to a small lookout where you can enjoy both the views and the falls from the same spot. Taking plenty of photos in the bright sunshine I figured I may as well try some long exposure shots while I was here. The lookout doesn't provide the best vantage point of the falls so I followed the rocks down to where I was a little closer and there was enough room for the tripod. With a much shorter time because of the brightness, I still managed a few half decent shots. Thinking to myself that I could always return after Hartz Peak, I packed up my gear and left the lookout area for a couple of tourists that had just arrived. On the way back I stopped off at the bridge for more long exposure shots because I was well ahead of schedule and if it was going to continue being this sunny then I wanted to experience Hartz Peak in as much of the afternoon light as possible. I arrived back at the car with a few shots on the memory card and a nice relaxing first experience in Hartz Mountain National Park. Now it was time to move on to the big one, Hartz Peak.
Final Thoughts - While it may only be a very short trail, it's good to have a bit of variety. With Hartz Mountains National Park being dominated by alpine tarns, rugged peaks and spectacular views on the main walks, having a small trip to some falls is a great addition.
While not everyone is going to be fit enough or have the right weather to attempt Hartz Peak (or Hartz Pass), this is a great way to experience the park and get a sample of the beauty. Combined with some of the smaller walk options leading from the Hartz Shelter, there is still plenty for the average tourist or family to explore.
Even if you're a seasoned hiker this is worth your time just for the views and the fun aspect of seeing the falls.
Get out there and experience it!
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