Whyte River Track
Directions - Starting in the small hamlet of Corinna, located three and a half hours west of Launceston, there is only one unsealed road in and out. Once you're in Corinna then head towards the cabins located up the hill and follow the road past the old engine, solar panels and towards the undercover area. The trail starts opposite the undercover area, between two of the cabins.
The Hike - With a couple of nights in Corinna under our belt, I was really starting to enjoy this secluded and wild part of Tasmania. Unfortunately we only had one full day left to enjoy the excellent surroundings and with so many hikes left to do, I had to maximise the opportunities I had. With a river cruise along the Pieman booked in for the middle part of the day (see the end of this post for details and photos), I decided to get up early and tackle the stunning and conveniently located Whyte River Track before we departed.
Having had such a wonderful time the previous day exploring Philosopher Falls near Waratah and then the Savage River Walk starting in Corinna, I was keen to head the other way from the Tarkine Hotel to see what was what. At only 3.5km in length, this is a trail I could get in before our scheduled boat trip provided I didn't go along at a snails pace (which is something I really like doing). On a chilly autumn morning in the Tarkine, I awoke around 7am and had a spot of breakfast with everyone before gathering up my camera and heading out to start the trail. Luckily it was only a very short walk from our cabin to the start of the loop (50m at a guess) and it's funny how little fanfare there is about such a lovely walk. If it wasn't for the small white sign, you could be forgiven in thinking this was an access path to the back of someone's cabin but thankfully it is so much more. Starting just after 8am and having low cloud hanging around presented some issues as the light dropped off significantly once I entered the forest.
A small price to pay for such a beautiful, enclosed trail but I'd have to keep my hand steady in order to get the shots blur-free. Right after stepping into the shroud of the forest, you are transported into another world and one I was becoming increasingly fond of. Coming from WA where the place is constantly burnt and the canopies of our forests becoming increasingly bare, it was a welcome change to enjoy a place that has effectively been left to its own devices for a long time. Like the Savage River Walk, this trail has an overgrown yet orderly feel to it with large, moss covered trees mixed in with fallen logs providing suitable habitat for the various fungi that call this area home. Over my time in Tasmania it had become a great privilege to slow down and photograph every moist and colourful fungi that I came across and this trail would provide a similar experience. This isn't a very hilly trail so I could afford to doddle along, appreciating the quality of the scenery and spending a bit of time getting the shots I wanted. With so much to photograph, I had to remind myself that I was meant to be on a boat at 9:30am so couldn't do this the whole hike.
It did take a lot of self-restraint not to photograph everything but this first stretch heading towards the river was super pretty with plenty of variety. While the fungi were amazing, I was more intrigued by the vast array of ferns that dotted the edge of the trail and beyond. They have such a wonderful texture to them with one of my favourites being the Hard-Water Fern, a deep and glossy green that looks fantastic when presented in great numbers. The wild feeling was slightly interrupted with the presence of some boardwalk but this was only brief and an information board pointed out the nearby Huon Pine that had somehow escaped the mass removal since colonial times. Continuing along, over dense tree roots and ducking under overhanging branches, the density of the forest started to increase. Loving every minute, I came across one of the highlights of this first section with a small creek providing a wonderful colour contrast thanks to the dark brown tannins and the green of the moss. Feeling like I was in the middle of nowhere and not a few hundred metres from where I woke up this morning, I snapped away and crouched down for a few moments to really appreciate where I was.
The stunning scenery didn't stop there as around the corner I was presented with a small rock wall that was covered in this wet, green flora that didn't look very solid at all. Hiding behind the greenery was a dark rock that provided a platform for the fern like plants to grow. It had rained a little overnight and the whole thing was dripping water, creating a cool effect as the limited light hit the tiny water droplets. Boardwalk helped you navigate this section as there wasn't much room against the rocky wall and the dip down towards a creek below to walk along. There were snippets of bare rock lining the trail and this was something different as the Tasmanian rainforests are so full of decaying matter that most of the time the only rocks you see are in the creek beds. Starting to head downhill, this marked the beginning of the curtains of mossy vines that I'll remember this walk for. Hanging like a sheet draped from various branches and trees, the green and gold netting looks amazing when it catches the light. Providing another element that makes you feel enclosed, it was mesmerising to walk past as I made my way down to the first of the river views.