Creepy Crawly Nature Trail
Southwest National Park
Directions - Located about two hours west of Hobart, take the Brooker Hwy north and follow the signs for New Norfolk. Pass through the town and follow the signs for Westerway and then Mount Field National Park. Pass through Maydena and continue on Gordon River Road until you reach the turnoff for Scotts Peak Road. Follow this for 2km and the car park for the trail is on your left with the trail head on the opposite side of the road.
The Hike - With our three night stay at Lake Pedder having come to an end, the next stop on the Tasmanian road trip was the stunning Lake St Clair. After another warm and cosy breakfast at the lodge, we packed up our things and set about backtracking all the way past Mount Field and Westerway until we reached the route leading north and then west towards the finishing point of the famous Overland Track. With a leisurely three hour drive ahead of us, I suggested a couple of stops along the way to stretch the legs and experience some more trails.
The Creepy Crawly Nature Trail is only 30 minutes from Strathgordon on the road that leads down towards some of the more exciting hikes you can do in Tasmania, including the Mount Anne Circuit and the Western Arthurs Traverse. We would be on the complete opposite end of that spectrum with one of the easiest walks you can do in Tasmania but hopefully I'll return one day to tackle those adventures. Being only 300m long, the one hour return drive from Lake Pedder wasn't really worth it while we were staying there so it made more sense to visit on the way out. This turned out to be the perfect time as the weather was cold and wet so the forest and fungi would be looking a treat. Caris and I had really enjoyed our little forest walk at Lake Pedder so another opportunity to search for weird and wonderful fungi was a treat. Candy and Hal would be joining us for this one so with the cars parked up at the starting point, we all donned our wet weather gear and headed into the forest. From the outside the area doesn't look very interesting with the grey unsealed road and car park not providing a very appealing aesthetic but that all changes once you enter the small gap in the forest.
Immediately you are confronted with a lovely example of a Pandani that seems to be loving the extra light gained from being next to the clearing. From here it is a short gravel path leading towards the boardwalk and where the magic starts to happen. With the cloudy skies and recent rains, this was a lush paradise filled with many different shades of green. As always, I was busy photographing everything I could while the others meandered on ahead of me (or in Hal's case, powered on). Early on there is a very impressive moss covered tree that looks quite ancient and majestic. If you want to experience the stereotypical fairy-tale forest then this certain fits the bill with masses of mossy tree roots, fungi popping out of every corner and a closed in feeling that I absolutely adore. It didn't take long once we were on the boardwalk section to spot the first of many fungi with what could be flammulina velutipes and a small clumping of clavulinopsis sulcata (red coral variety).
Caris was once again ahead of me as a spotter and once I'd caught up to where she'd made a find, she quickly moved on while I did my thing. Being a short walk, there was no hurry so I took my time photographing each fungi as best I could given the low levels of light, with the flash occasionally having to be brought out in the darker corners of the forest. There were some fantastic finds to be had with a weird and wonderful collection of fungi all around. One of my favourites was the white mycena variety growing off the side of a tree just above eye level as the way it lit up from the low angle was a delight. It was hard to keep up with all the fungi Caris was pointing out given they existed on multiple levels in the undergrowth and hanging off various trees, limbs and logs. The boardwalk is nicely placed as you can never really see too far ahead thanks to curves and kinks built into it, adding to the closed in feeling of the walk. The boardwalk does eventually end with a roundabout that serves as a lookout into the forest complete with a tree growing out of the middle. The others had all passed me heading back towards the car with Hal still leading the charge.
Normally the return leg of a short walk like this would be over in a jiffy but with the main aim being fungi spotting, it provided an opportunity to see things that may have been hidden on the journey out. This definitely turned out to be the case with several new finds seen from angles that weren't possible on the way out unless you happened to look behind. Another favourite of mine from this walk was near the turnaround point with a Mauve Splitting Wax-Cap centred on a bed of green moss at eye level. It was lit up perfectly and the colours combined with the positioning made it look idyllic. Not wanting the walk to end, I slowed right up and kept searching for new fungi and details I may have missed on the first pass. Unfortunately the creepy crawlies were coming out to play but I was more than happy with the quality of the forest and the fungi on display. Towards the end I happened across a pink bell shaped flower with a water droplet running down it and was quick enough to get a photo before it fell off. I eventually reached the end with everyone escaping to the cars, keen to get out of the rain and off towards Westerway for a warm drink and morning tea.