Tarraleah Falls

Start - End of Oldina Road, Tarraleah

Length - 3.1km (Return)

Grade - Green

Terrain - Single Track, Vehicle Track

Vertical Climb - 143m

Time - 1 Hour

Signed - Occasional Wooden Sign

Date Hiked - 10th April 2021

Best Time - Spring to Autumn

Traditional Custodians - Lairmairrener People

Directions - Located just under two hours west of Hobart, take the Brooker Hwy 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 Tarraleah. Turn onto Oldina Drive when you see the sign for The Lodge and follow it all the way to the end where you can park opposite Tarraleah Estate. The start of the walk is a bit hard to find but cross over the large hydro pipes where the gate is and there will be a Tarraleah Falls sign as you enter the forest.

The Hike - With a three hour drive between Lake Pedder and Lake St Clair to get through today, I had planned a couple of stops along the way to stretch the legs and add more trails to an already loaded itinerary. Having stopped at the Creepy Crawly Nature Trail in the morning, we popped into the Possum Shed Café at Westerway for a much needed hot chocolate before turning off and heading north towards Lake St Clair. The weather was starting to turn and with a cold snap coming in, the rain and freezing winds were just the start of what we'd experience later in the day. 

Leaving Westerway and heading north felt pretty special as this meant exploring areas of Tassie I'd not yet visited. The Mount Field and Lake Pedder area felt familiar with this being my second trip out here since 2018 but from now on it would be new scenery as we made our way towards the wild west coast. The winding highway leading towards Lake St Clair was anything but wild with open farmland, lakes and the occasional section of forest. There are a number of hydro dams up in this part of Tassie but they lack the grandeur of being surrounded by mountains and wilderness. As we made our way towards Tarraleah, I hadn't really researched this one in great detail so was relying on some kind of roadside sign pointing me in the right direction. Even Tarraleah wasn't well signed as the small settlement isn't on the main highway. After descending down and reaching the Tungatinah Power Station at the bottom of the hill, I realised I'd probably missed where I was meant to be going. We backtracked up the hill and when I got reception again, located the rough starting point near Tarraleah Estate. With rain starting to fall again, Caris elected to stay in the car as I went about finding where the track actually started. After checking out the lookout that provides some views down the hill and the large pipes feeding the hydro station below, I couldn't see an obvious path over the pipes.

 

Eventually I realised the gates on the road were there for cars only and pedestrian access is allowed into the forest. A wooden sign for Tarraleah Falls put a smile on my face and I was soon on a vehicle track heading into the forest for a there and back adventure towards the falls, also known as Wilson Falls. With the gloomy conditions and dry sclerophyll forest, this hike did not feel like Tasmania and for some reason I felt like I was in Victoria. Weird vibes aside, the start takes you near the edge of the hill leading down into the Nive River Valley with the hills on the other side visible through the gloom. Given how straight and thin most of the forest looks through here, I wouldn't be surprised if this is regrowth forest from maybe 30-40 years ago. It's still pleasant walking as you pass under the remains of an old wooden walkway. It is no longer safe to go on and my research didn't uncover what it was used for given this isn't a popular walk that would warrant a forest walkway. It does provide a feature to photograph and it has a spooky feel to it thanks to the broken and decaying look. From here the walk gets much better as you enter a world filled with giant ferns, old trees and plenty of fungi. 

Now on single track as you head down the hill towards the falls, this felt more like Tassie with the large ferns providing a wash of green all around. For a track that doesn't get many visitors, it's pretty well maintained and there was never a point where I thought it was overgrown or confusing. In the rush to get my gear together in the rain I had forgotten a spare battery and I quickly discovered that the one already in the camera was not going to last the whole time with the way I shoot (i.e. lots of photos). Being efficient with what I wanted to photograph, I was hoping to have enough juice to get in a few long exposure shots of the falls and anything on the return journey would be a bonus. Trying not to worry about battery life, I enjoyed the walk down the hill, admiring the different flora and impressive giants of the forest. Always on the lookout for fungi, I had some good finds early on with a lot of wet, decaying matter providing the perfect environment for all kinds of weird and wonderful varieties. With a mass of old trees and extensive root systems, it was good fun exploring all the nooks and crannies for new fungi. 

 

Reaching the falls, there is a large wooden platform overlooking the valley below with a metal fence stopping anyone from falling over the edge. This kind of put a dent in my plans as I had only brought my small travel style tripod on this hike that bends and contorts to grip to any space. Having to make do, I tried to secure it to the metal fencing and carefully handled my ND filters for the long exposure shots. Not helping matters was the rain that had started so keeping filters dry was pretty hard and in the end my shots weren't very good so I've just included a normal shot of the falls. The waterfall looked pretty nice but another website about this walk commented on how it's greatly reduced in water volume passing thanks to all the hydro infrastructure around. It's still a nice place and the views down Wilsons Creek Valley are a lovely mix of giant ferns and distant forest. With the rain getting in the way of my shots and Caris still waiting in the car, I headed back into the forest for the return journey back up the hill. Spotting plenty more fungi I didn't notice on the way back, it wasn't the quickest of journeys but that was fine by me (and Caris was happy listening to a podcast and reading all the internet on her phone). 

Final Thoughts - The journey along Lyalls Highway between Hobart and Lake St Clair or the West Coast is a popular drive given it's really the only way to get out there so it's nice to have some places to stop and stretch your legs.

Tarraleah Falls may not be a destination or wow hike but it's still a very pleasant stroll through some nice forest to a good looking waterfall. 

If you can find the start then it's well worth a stop to check out this track.

Get out there and experience it!

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