Directions - Located a short walk from the centre of Strahan, follow the Esplanade as it heads east around Risby Cove and turn into the Peoples Park. There is plenty of parking and the trail head is located at the end of the driveway.
The Hike - With Strahan being the next destination on our road trip, we enjoyed a drawn out drive from Lake St Clair after visiting four trails along the Lyell Highway. Arriving in this small but important west coast town, we had a bit of a drive around before checking into our accommodation at Risby Cove. With some dodgy weather forecast over the next couple of days and some time before our dinner plans, I decided that I had time to check out one more trail for the day.
Luckily the start of the Hogarth Falls Track was a brief 100m walk from Risby Cove so with my tripod and camera in hand, I told Caris I'd be back in an hour and departed. I had a good laugh when I arrived at the "Peoples Park" because it sounds like the Peoples Palace in Romania and I hope the residents of Strahan didn't suffer food shortages and blackouts while it was constructed. As you enter it becomes apparent that the entire wealth of a country was not sunk into this folly of a project and it is truly a park for the people (although I believe that applies to most parks). The start of the trail is found at the end of the road leading to the car park and it looked promising from the start. While the park is full of grassed areas, wooden buildings and gazebos, the Hogarth Falls Track takes you right into a thick forest full of ferns, fungi and fun times. The fairly wide trail allows you to see a good distance up ahead for most of the walk and I imagined that it just kept going into the wilderness of South West Tassie (which if you zoom out on the map is a real possibility).
Following the edge of Botanical Creek, there are many spots along the walk where you can get a good view of the shallow creek and what a sight it is. The different varieties of ferns that are found through here are spectacular and it makes the walk feel very dense when you combine that with the thick canopy above. At one of the first opportunities to get close to the creek, I was amazed at the deep tannin stained colour of the water. This is not unusual given the water flows from deep within the forest but it's always cool to see, especially when contrasted against the bright green of the ferns lining the edge of the creek. I had good fun switching between photographing the creek at various points and the forest ahead as it takes you deeper into the wild. That feeling of wild was occasionally interrupted as it was a popular walk this afternoon and I passed several groups heading back to the car park. Given I didn't have my backpack with me, I looked a bit silly with my camera attached to the bulky tripod but all folded up and not being used.
This actually came in handy when I spotted fungi on the side of the trail as the late afternoon light was not terribly great. It meant I could plonk the tripod down and use it as a steady base for close up photos (almost like it's meant to be used this way). Switching between enjoying the details of the forest and checking out the various little side trips to the creek, I was aware that the lighting would only be getting worse and I probably needed to get to the waterfall in better time than I was making. Up until this point the track had been a fairly wide and muddy affair but it soon changed into something I'd not seen before, a wooden boardwalk with Astroturf running down the middle. Given this is a popular dog friendly trail I kind of see the thinking here as normal boardwalk requires chicken wire over the top for extra grip in the wet conditions and that would cause a problem for the pads of most dogs. It does look a bit odd at start because all fake grass gives off that vibe and it made me think of being on a golf course but you get used to it. Right before reaching the climb up to the waterfall, there is a nice wide section of the creek that looks amazing with all the mossy logs both overhanging and sitting in the water. Figuring I could return on the way back, I pressed on to the falls and this final section was really enjoyable as the track changed from being super wide to a narrower path.
Arriving at the falls, there is a sign alerting you to their existence but the sight of rushing water kind of gives it away. There is a staircase leading down to a rocky platform in front of the falls where you can get some excellent views of this small but not too small waterfall. I was lucky to have the place to myself for a brief moment so took the opportunity to setup my tripod and get my ND filters out. Unfortunately the spray from the cascading water was playing havoc with my filters and over the course of getting my long exposure photos they would be covered in mist. There wasn't much I could do about it so cleaned them after every shot and did what I could to try and protect them. In the end it didn't really matter as soon I was joined by wave after wave of people coming down the stairs and I felt bad blocking the best vantage point or asking them to wait thirty seconds at a time for my shutter to open and close. With so many people coming and going, I abandoned my long exposure attempts and just enjoyed the stunning scenery up and down the creek. It's a pretty magical spot here and there are plenty of features to enjoy including a fallen log that looks cool when surrounded by the cappuccino froth that collects at its base. With dinner plans that evening, I decided to head back and enjoyed breathing in the sights, sounds and smells of the forest as I walked back in the fading light.