Trowutta Caves State Reserve
Directions - Located half an hour south of Smithton on the Tarkine Drive, take Trowutta Road south and follow this until you reach Reids Road. Turn left and then an almost immediate right onto Reynolds Road, following the signs through the farmland until you reach the left turn for Gun Road. Follow this until you find a car park and Trowutta Arch sign just after entering the forest.
The Hike - The final walk of our day out in the Tarkine, Trowutta Arch was the one I was most looking forward to given the photos I had seen online. In an area filled with amazing fungi filled forest, the main touristy walks are mostly centred around the geological features of this part of Tasmania. Our previous stop had been at Lake Chisholm, a sinkhole that has been blocked to form a lake and we would continue the theme of interesting geology with a visit to this natural wonder.
Caused by the collapse of a cave, the exposed water filled sinkhole and rocky walls are something else and this was high on my list of places to visit while we were in the area. With Caris not wanting to partake in my planned four walk day, I ditched Milkshake Hills from the itinerary as a compromise and we drove from Lake Chisholm to Trowutta Arch with the renewed energy of this being the final adventure of the day. For most of the day we had been driving through open plains or heavily forested areas (with the logging well hidden from the tourists) so it was a bit sad when the forest started to transition to farmland and forestry plantations. It felt a bit less special and the drive into Trowutta Arch really highlights this. Turning off Reids Road that forms part of the Tarkine Drive loop, you drive between two large cow paddocks and it's not until you are right near the car park on Gun Road that you enter the forest once again. It seemed crazy to me that the stunning temperate rainforest we had been walking in would be cleared for livestock farming. Driving back to Hobart the following day, it became clear that the whole North West of Tasmania is one giant cow paddock.
We were here to enjoy the last walk of the day and with a couple of pleasant surprises already in the bag, I was hoping this would be another great little walk. Looking at the entrance to the walk filled me with confidence and knowing what the end looked like, I extrapolated that this was going to be another enjoyable experience. The trail was much more refined than the previous two walks with a wooden border and graded path clearly defining the way (and perhaps there to keep people from trampling their own lines through the forest. An early highlight that stopped us in our tracks was coming across an Anemone Stinkhorn (Aseroe rubra) that looked out of this world. Having not seen one throughout my travels in Tasmania over a few visits, I thought I'd stumbled across something really rare but looking through the Fungi Flip booklet we had purchased at Lake St Clair, apparently these types of fungi are quite common. With the low light levels thanks to the cloudy conditions and thick canopy, I took my time photographing this odd looking and bright red specimen as the "it's not a rare fungi) bubble hadn't been burst yet.
Buoyed on by the cool find, I was excited to see what else was up the path leading towards the main event. With the two previous walks at Lake Chisholm and Julius River providing a lush feel thanks to many ferns, lots of moss and thick trees, this trail seemed a bit dry and sparse. Adding to this was that the path kind of meandered through the middle of some open spaces, leaving you a bit disconnected. This is a minor gripe as the quality of the forest was much better than the cow paddocks we passed driving through. There were plenty of other fungi to attract our attention but getting a decent photo proved to be difficult in the low light. I managed to get a few of the more interesting species with minimal blur and there were sections of abundance with regards to quantity and variety. Having enjoyed the path leading down the hill, the beginnings of the cave system came into view and the lushness I was expecting was more apparent. With lots of large ferns providing a splash of vibrant green, this livened up the dull grey/brown colour of the rocky wall. Hoping to get the place fairly empty, there were a few groups exploring the area so I was happy to wait until they cleared before snapping away furiously.
It's an impressive place to be with the rockface having been eroded away over the aeons and the spider webs taking over. Feeling a lot like Shelob's Lair, I kept an eye out for giant man eating spiders while I descended down the steep section leading near the edge of the water. This is probably the most uninviting swimming pool I have ever seen with a thick green algae coating the surface and it seemed like it would be the last swim you'd ever take if you jumped in. With the bulk of the crowds starting to leave, I could photograph the place with minimal interruption and brightly coloured tourists. It's a pretty awe-inspiring place to be and I took the time to really take it all in without worrying about photos and other people. Getting the right angles can be difficult as it's a pretty compact and tall site but I managed to represent it fairly well (at least in my opinion) with the two money shots of looking across the green pool and the tree fern filled arch in the bag. While Caris and Candy headed back to the car, I had one last look around the almost deserted cavern section as this would be our last forest adventure of an action packed three week road trip. A stunning place and well worth the visit.