Returning from the west, from Strathgordon-part 3 of 3

Five minutes’ walk from the Pedder Wilderness Lodge we’d noted a sign ‘Forest Trail 30 mins’.

No track should be left untrod and so I walked its length as soon as I had left my room in the morning. The air wasn’t dry and my jacket hood kept the bulk of the drizzle at bay. I squelched across sodden mossy lawns and, when starting on the track, thought it seemed remarkably like a fire trail for vehicles. So, initially, I was disappointed. After a couple of corners, a tiny track commenced with a wooden bridge over running water.

Then I sloshed up an increasingly steep track that was running like a river downhill towards me.

Despite its short length this walk offered variety and distractions. The track climbed and dropped down from hills and then up and down again a number of times. In a couple of rises, metal grate steps had been installed to cope with the gradient.

However most of the high steps were usually formed from placed logs, or occasionally constructed wooden steps. All of these were deteriorating with the incessant rain. Rot was everywhere: the planks on one bridge had softened and broken under the weight of a previous walker, parts of the inner workings of tree trunks had decayed and lumps parted company with the tree and fell across the path. Nevertheless I had a sense of the lusciousness of  rich vegetation forever washed by endless rainfalls.

I imagined it was likely I would leave the forest with leeches attached to my body somewhere. It was the type of environment they love. I was delighted that none fell or climbed onto me because I remember the itch, as the ‘wound’ heals, is extremely irritating.

This very wet path amidst very wet foliage did not appear to have many visitors. It was a treat to be alone amongst huge trees and enjoy the colours of the leaves, the lichen and the fungi. With an overcast sky, the colours glowed.

Occasionally branches and trunks were low overhead, and it would have been easy to knock myself out if I had head butted some of these. On my recent voyage to the south west of Tasmania (blog posts to come soon) one passenger slipped on wet leaves, fell and injured herself. I was conscious of slippery leaves on this 30 minute track and remained present and vigilant. A broken leg or even a sprained ankle could easily have resulted from inattention.

When I came out from the forest, that exit was along the road some distance from Strathgordon.

As I walked back, further away I watched an animal at the side of the road. It moved, and with feline firmness crossed the highway, then wandered casually along a mossy embankment. When a few cars came into view, the cat rapidly disappeared from view. I came to the conclusion it must be feral. I felt sorry for it. In addition, I worried about the parrots that like to look in the window of the restaurant and bar. I wish them a long life.

My early morning walk was a wonderful way to wake up and enjoy a cool temperate rainforest.

We set off towards Hobart with no intention to take any long walks; neither of us was inclined to walk in the rain. Our first stop was to examine an unusual work of public art built on the road side. Titled ‘Bitumen Bones’, it included an artist statement, a structure mounted by a stylised form suggesting a Raven, and a poem about wombats as roadkill.

Our final stop was the information centre of Mt Field National Park, where dozens of visitors were streaming in to buy Park Passes while we sipped tea and soup.

I wandered and was delighted to be able to photograph an example of the Eucalyptus Regnans tree – the tallest flowering tree in the world and endemic to Tasmania. The one below, in the information centre grounds, was a relatively young small one; thankfully so, because it allowed me to get its whole height in one photo.

This casual three day visit to one part of Tasmania’s wilderness did not include long hikes. Rather our approach was to look slowly at a few aspects, preferably in the moments when the sun shone. And we were lucky.

We were able to enjoy experiences of the wilderness mostly between cloudbursts; and the soft lounges in the Lodge complex always remained attractive – especially with a wine in hand.

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