Southwest National Park
Directions - Located two hours south of Hobart, take the Southern Outlet and then Huon Hwy until you reach the signs for Darcy Link turnoff (watch for blue Duckhole Lake sign). Follow this until you reach Creekton Rd and turn left. The car park is about 1km down the road with the trail head on the opposite side to the car park.
The Hike - With a full day exploring Mount Misery and Hartz Peak, it was a relaxing night at my AirBnB before another day of exploring. For this day I had my sights set on the fringes of Southwest National Park and a couple of relatively gentle hikes through the beautiful temperate rainforest. First up on the agenda was one of the 60 Great Short Walks that Parks Tasmania has designated to certain hikes around the state. Carrying the special W symbol, these are usually a good indication of a pleasurable hiking experience so I was looking forward to Duckhole Lake given some of the pictures I'd found online.
Getting out to the start is a pleasant drive along the Huon River and through the towns that sit on its banks. Unfortunately this area has been devastated by the widespread bushfires of early 2019 that at the time of writing were still causing havoc in the surrounding forest. It is such a shame because the area around here is very beautiful and the forest is one of the biggest attractions to draw tourists here. After spotting the familiar blue signs from Huon Hwy for Duckhole Lake and Adamsons Falls, I turned off the tarmac and began the winding journey towards the start of Duckhole Lake. Parking the Outlander at the very unassuming start point I packed everything up and headed towards the information board. Most of the walk follows the route of an old 19th century sawmill tramway so there is little in the way of undulation, highlighted even more when you pass into the thick forest and catch sight of Creekton Rivulet flowing next to the track. The difference from the car park to the shroud of the forest is remarkable and opens you up into a world that you wouldn't think exists driving along the gravel forestry roads that weave through this area. A smattering of ferns line the path and with a very healthy canopy overhead, this feels exactly how a lush Tasmanian hike should feel.
The babbling of the rivulet running close by along with the rainforest scene instantly transports you from dull gravel road into a world of magic, greenery and wonder. I defy anyone to step into this walk and think "no, this is terrible and I don't want to be here". Knowing I was in for a very enjoyable walk from the very beginning I sauntered along the single track, taking many photos as I came across a new scene, bigger tree or larger series of impressive Man Ferns. Following the water course for the first section you are introduced to a few large examples of the Stringbark tree and a set of rapids that I made a mental note of for later as I had packed my tripod on this hike. Leaving the main creek, the track diverts off and travels deeper into the forest. Remnants of this place's history are on show as an old moss covered boiler plate does its best to blend into the undergrowth. Coming across a small bridge to make your way over another tributary, there is a sign saying that the load is one person only, odd considering how large the bridge is. Moving on I started my way on the gentle boardwalk section that will become home for the next kilometre.
Venturing deeper into the forest you stumble across some magnificently thick Stringbarks that must be hundreds of years old and thankfully were not touched by the sawmill workers that worked here in the 19th century. One fallen tree really provides a sense of scale as it angles down into the nearby stream and took a few shots combined into a panorama to get it in one shot. At this stage I wasn't making great pace but I had all day to enjoy two, possibly three hikes and with this fantastic scenery around me it was easy just to pause every now and then and realise I probably wouldn't be here any time soon so just enjoy it. Expecting to not see any wildlife on this walk (as is my usual expectation), I heard a very loud bird call that peaked my interest. The unique call of the Lyrebird was very loud and soon I located the source as two of the little scamps were just off the track and had come to say hello. Not native to Tasmania, the Lyrebird was introduced from Victoria in the 1930s and 40s after concerns for their survival on the mainland due to feral foxes. Since then they have slowly taken over the forests and although considered a pest, are not in plague proportions (an estimated 8000 are in the wild).
One of the two birds flew off pretty quickly but one stuck around long enough for me to capture its calls on my phone and take a few blurry photos with my camera. Excited with my Lyrebird encounter I moved on towards the turnaround point of the hike, Duckhole Lake. While much of the walk is through very open forest (the undergrowth, not the canopy), the final stretch is through a much denser tea tree forest. The track narrows up here and you are treated to a great variety of mosses and ferns that cling to anything that will provide a stable base or nutrients. A slightly wonky Sassafras provided a home to a fun collection and was a great photo opportunity. Stepping off the boardwalk and onto the damp track lined with beautiful ferns, there is one more bridge to cross before you are presented with the beauty of Duckhole Lake. Having seen pictures I knew what to expect but nothing really prepares you for wandering out of the thick forest to gaze out on a perfectly still lake with the rise of Adamsons Peak in the background.