Lake St Clair National Park
Directions - Located two and a half hours north west of Hobart, to reach Lake St Clair take Brooker Highway north and follow the signs for New Norfolk. Cross the River Derwent at New Norfolk and then follow the Lyall Highway north west all the way to Derwent Bridge. Turn onto Lake St Clair Road and follow this all the way to the car park for the Lake St Clair Lodge. The walk trails all start from the same location a short distance west of the lodge.
The Hike - With a nice arrival gift at Lake St Clair of snow and the subsequent winter wonderland, we rose on our second day there to find a lot of the snow now all but gone. It was still very cold as we made our way to breakfast at the lodge for our morning planning session and catch-up with Candy and Hal. With Lake St Clair home to a variety of walks that start at the lodge, we all agreed that the Larmairremener Tableti cultural walk would be a good morning activity before we broke off and did other things (Candy and Hal would be kayaking and I would be completing another hike).
This was a walk I was very interested in completing as I'm fascinated by how the first nations people lived and thrived in areas like this before they were forcibly removed from their lands. With everyone content after a warm breakfast and dressed in appropriate hiking gear, we made our way back to the lodge to begin the walk. Like all the other trails in the area, it utilises the vehicle track leading towards Watersmeet and the Hugel River. I would end up walking this this stretch of track a fair few times over the course of our stay and it was fun to see it in several different iterations thanks to the changing weather conditions. Today the bulk of the snow had melted and it was looking much more normal but still quite pretty. The forest along here is pretty varied with an open section with large trees at the start, slowly progressing into a thicker undergrowth and some nice looking Sassafras as you get nearer to Watersmeet. There are plenty of fallen logs that have been cut where they have fallen over the track and a few of them were still clinging to snow. Arriving at Watersmeet, instead of crossing the bridge, we would be following the orange signs for the walk and heading on the south side of the river.
From here until the track looped back and re-joined the main track would be a whole new experience and I was looking forward to seeing seeing some more terrain plus learning about what life was like for the Larmairremener People (there is different spelling for most indigenous words depending on the source, which is why the trail name differs from the Traditional Custodians I have listed at the top). Walking along the Hugel River, this section has some fantastic beech and myrtle trees that make it feel like a fairy-tale forest. Boardwalk through here helps protect the fragile forest floor and is a good platform for searching for different fungi, lichen and mosses that thrive in the damp conditions along here. After passing the bridge that takes you on the Shadow Lake Circuit, the track begins to climb into the dry sclerophyll forest and things feel very different. Feeling like some of the walking you get in WA, there was still a lot to enjoy through here as we all walked along at our own pace. We all gathered at the first interpretive sign and while providing some information about the native flora and its use, it was more tied up into the present day experiences of local artists visiting Lake St Clair.
Meandering through the forest at a different pace, occasionally I would catch up to everyone before finding something that would catch my eye and photographing that. There was plenty of detail along the trail as it gently worked its way through the terrain with lots of Banksia, berries, fungi, lichen and moss to keep me interested. The scenery would change every now and then as you left the open forest with its big trees and dipped down into a thicket of smaller plants that thrive in the wetter parts of the landscape. Arriving at the second interpretive panel, this was a sombre story about the Big River Nation being forced from their lands in early colonial days. The more you learn about colonialism and the horrors of what was done worldwide, the less you are surprised about these kinds of stories but the impact is still as powerful. I do enjoy that while the scenery is pleasant, it doesn't distract you from turning this into a gentle and reflective walk if that's what you choose. On my own at the back, I was taking it slow to both reflect and photograph the scenery but occasionally I would catch up to Caris and she would point out a fungi or Banksia flower.
Descending down from the highest point of the walk, this was an enjoyable section filled with many ferns and some girthy trees. With some patches of snow sticking around for now, it was a nice call back to the Platypus Bay walk we did the previous day and provided some nice photos (I love the green and white colouring of snow on ferns). Arriving at the last interpretive panel, this one was more what I was hoping for when I found out about this walk with information about how the first nations people here used fire to shape and look after the landscape. This marked the first of a few patches of buttongrass that we would encounter as the track made its way back to join the Watersmeet Track. Hoping to see a wombat or two, I was aware that this wasn't very likely but one can dream. Caris and I caught up to Candy and Hal as they had taken a seat on a fallen log that was just off track. We all agreed that this was a lovely experience and a well put together walk. We reached the Watersmeet Track once again and made our way back to the lodge. Caris was happy to spend the afternoon reading while I had a quick turnaround before heading out on the 15km Shadow Lake Circuit.