If you are planning on hiking in Tasmania then you should visit Mount Field National Park.
Mount Field National Park offers stunning bush walks and impressive scenery within an hour of Hobart. There is something for everyone including the Russell Falls walk which is suitable for wheelchairs and prams.
The rush to beat the storm
The Tarn Shelf at Mount Field National Park had been highly recommended to us but came with repeated warnings that it could be difficult to navigate in poor weather. A storm had been predicted to hit later that day so we had been fairly certain we wouldn’t get far on the walk. We decided to check it out but would head back down the mountain before the weather turned bad.
We drove past the Visitors Centre and headed up Lake Dobson Road to the higher hiking trails. The 15km of gravel track was narrow but well-maintained.
Even if we hadn’t planned on hiking the higher trails it would still have been well worth taking the drive up the mountain. The road initially winds its way through lush rainforest with massive giant ferns bordering the sides. It then climbs about 1,000m in elevation towards the Lake Dobson car park and then gradually changes through a variety of different plant ecologies.
Tip: There are toilet facilities at the Lake Dobson car park.
We arrived at the Lake Dobson car park to find that vehicle access beyond that point was restricted, so we parked the car and walked along the edge of the lake on the Pandani Grove walk. From here we saw plenty of the Pandani plants after which the walk was named.
Tip: The Pandani Grove walk is a 1.5km circuit that is number 17 on the list of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.
The options were to turn left at the junction onto the Urquhart Track or continue on the Pandani Grove walk. Both options led out onto a steep 4WD track but the Urquhart Track exited slightly higher up the mountain so there was less of the steep 4WD track to climb.
Impressive hiking trails at Mount Field National Park
We came across a signpost directing us to take a right towards the start of the Snow Gum Track. We headed in that direction and passed several ski lodges for the Mt Mawson Ski Fields. They were perched on the edge of the mountain with stunning views of the valley below and would be such an idyllic yet remote location to stay.
The Snow Gum Track was an impressive hiking trail; it was wild and rocky and went through groves of beautiful gnarled Snow Gums and low flowering bushes. The landscape was so rugged and such a contrast to lower down the mountain.
Stunning views at Mount Field National Park
There were several rocky outcrops, made up of massive boulders that were most likely remnants from a landslide many years ago. The rocky outcrops provided a place to sit and admire the stunning views of Lake Seal, Platypus Tarn and the valley below.
I’m not a huge fan of heights so had reluctantly scrambled on all fours to get a peak at the view. The grey clouds had started rolling in over the edge of the Tarn Shelf and the wind was gusty. It was probably overly dramatic but at the time I had some concerns about getting blown over the edge.
My desire to photograph the view won out over my fear of heights and fear of getting caught out in a storm. John was far less concerned about heights and was happy to hop across the rocks and pose for a photo.
Our options were to keep going towards the Tarn Shelf or to head back down the mountain. With limited food and supplies we decided on the safe option of heading to lower ground. We will definitely be coming back to have a second attempt at the Tarn Shelf in clearer weather.
Three Falls Walk, Mount Field National Park
Our plan for the afternoon was to do the Three Falls Walk. The walk takes in Russell Falls, Horseshoe Falls and Lady Barron Falls as well as the Tall Trees Walk.
It started at the Mount Field National Park visitor’s centre and followed alongside the creek with lush ferns creating a border along the edge of the sealed path. The path was level and suitable for wheelchairs and prams.
With such easy access, Russell Falls was easily the busiest attraction in the park. It wasn’t difficult to see why this three-tiered waterfall was the most photographed waterfall in Tasmania.
We arrived to see a woman leaning heavily against the timber railing while her family took her photo. With a lot of help and along with much cheering she was assisted back into her wheelchair. It is lovely to know that such a beautiful place is accessible to all regardless of their physical capabilities.
The downside of having such a beautiful location with easy access was that there were lots of people on the viewing platform. However it didn’t take long for the crowds to clear and we made our way to the edge of the railing. I was keen to have a first attempt at photographing multi row panoramas and with the height and width of the falls it looked like the perfect location [see final results above].
Once we had finished taking photographs and admiring the view we continued on our way. The path lead towards a steep set of stairs built on the edge of the mountain providing views over the top of the falls. From there we continued along the path towards Horseshoe Falls and then the Tall Trees Walk.
Jack and the beanstalk
The Tall Trees Walk goes through a very impressive forest of Swamp Gums. Swamp Gums, or Eucalyptus regnans, are the world’s tallest flowering plants. They are incredibly tall and seem to reach up into the clouds.
The Tall Trees Walk was another first for me, this time for photographing vertical panoramas. I had read a little about it and had a vague idea of what I was doing. The hardest part was that the forest was so densely packed; you couldn’t photograph individual trees and you couldn’t stand far enough back from the tree you were photographing. The result is far from perfect but does a good job of showing the size of the tree. John looks like Jack about to embark on an adventure up the beanstalk.
We left the Swamp Gums behind and walked through a grove of giant ferns before coming out onto Lake Dobson Road. We then crossed over and headed back into the forest in the direction of Lady Barron Falls.
It was at this point on the previous evening that we had started our night walk searching for Quolls in Mount Field National Park.
A very memorable section of the Lady Barron Falls walk was what I called the ‘never-ending staircase’! The timber staircase with 239 steps was built up the side of the mountain. It may have been an easier alternative to climbing John’s beanstalk but was tiring nonetheless. Every time I’d think we had reached the top we’d turn the corner and be faced with more stairs. Thankfully whoever built them was sensible enough to put a bench at the top so you could sit and rest.
TIP: The Three Falls walk should take you about 2-3 hours to complete.
The Three Falls Walk, while not overly challenging….apart from the stairs…..was still very enjoyable. Between this and the other walks in the park there is something for all abilities. The park also provided us with the opportunity to experience a varying range of ecologies all in the one location.
You should add Mount Field National Park to your Tasmania Bucket List.
What is your favourite National Park? Leave a comment below.
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