Start - Junee Rd
Length - 1km (Return)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Single Track
Vertical Climb - 27m
Time - 30 minutes
Signed - Yes
Date Hiked - 31st October 2018
Best Time - All Year Round
Traditional Custodians - Lairmairrener People
Directions - Located 1.5hrs west of Hobart, take the Brooker Hwy north out of the city and follow the signs for New Norfolk. Pass through the town and continue on towards Mount Field NP. Drive past Mount Field NP until you reach Maydena. Turn right onto Junee Rd and follow this all the way to the car park (well signed).
The Hike - With a fantastic trail day exploring Duckhole Lake and Adamsons Falls, it was time to depart the Huon Valley for my next destination. I had chosen another rustic AirBnB to the west of Hobart as a base to explore Mount Field National Park and surrounds but with it only being a two hour drive away I thought it was best to get some hiking in before I checked in. Wanting to save some of the longer and more fanciful tracks of Mount Field for the following few days I decided on a couple of small walks that were on my radar for this area. After enjoying a coffee and a look around in the historic town of Franklin I headed on through Hobart, picking up supplies for the final leg of my trip. The drive out from Hobart is very pretty with rolling hills, narrow roads and lovely farmland taking you all the way to the wilder parts near Mount Field National Park.
I reached Maydena and turned off onto Junee Rd where eventually the gravel road takes you up the hills and to the start point for the hike. You can't miss the car park and soon I was standing at the information board ready to begin the walk. As it's only 1km return journey I left the bag in the car and just carried my camera. With the sun shining brightly I was kind of hoping the weather would change to be slightly cloudier given the rainforest never looks its best in the contrasting conditions that come with the daytime light. The start of the walk is through fairly open forest with a few ferns dotting the undergrowth. A rather impressive moss covered fallen log sits in front of a hill full of white coloured Sassafras that really catches your eye. As you reach your first glimpse of the Junee River the track becomes thicker with vegetation and you almost have to peel the fern frons away from your face to pass through.
Unlike most other rivers in Tasmania that are stained brown with the tanins of the fallen leaves, the Junee River here is very clear. The reason for this is because the river is fed by the Junee-Florentine karst system of this area that contain the two deepest caves in Australia. The water is filtered through the underground system of limestone caves and comes out as either a clear or slightly blue colour. While not a big river at this stage, it is more of a pleasant stream flowing through the rainforest and has a very refreshing feel to it thanks to the clear water. As you wind along the path next to the river you are treated to thicker rainforest and a lot more ferns (the information board lists six main types). Reaching the end of the track you are presented with a vibrant set of rapids and a wooden platform where you can view inside of Junee Cave.
While you can't see much inside it, this area is still very impressive with towering rainforest and the echo of the water rushing off the cave walls. While it would be fun if the platform extended into the cave itself, I can see why they didn't as it would provide much easier access and people might potentially wander further than they should. Entry into the cave should only be done by experienced cavers with all the proper breathing equipment (the water in there is 6.5C!!!). After enjoying the cave for a while I eventually headed back to the car, stopping every now and then to see if I could spot a platypus in the river (no luck). As I reached the car park the clouds started to drift over so I rushed to get my tripod and filters so I could get some better photos of the track and river. With some much better snaps in the bag I was a happy camper as I really wanted to show the beauty of this place, even if some may scoff at the short track distance.
Final Thoughts - A hike I liked so much I did it twice in one day!!! Junee Cave is a great insight into the geology of the area and a nice addition to a day at Mount Field NP if you have the time.
The quality of the rainforest is excellent and the finishing point provides a nice variation from the plethora of waterfalls in the area (first world problems).
While not a long hike, it makes up for this by being a quality trail and one that can be enjoyed by more people (kids will love exploring the river).
If you're in the area then make sure to include this in your itinerary.
Get out there and experience it!
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