TAS2023 – A tale of two waterfalls

Mount Roland on the way to Lemonthyme Lodge Wilderness Retreat

During a recent three week visit to Tasmania for two weeks work and one week play, I managed to spend some of my downtime seeking out a few waterfalls. To assist me to identify waterfalls to visit, I refer to two volumes of ‘Waterfalls of Tasmania’ published by Craig Doumouras and his associated website. Two locations I visited, Lilydale Falls and Lemonthyme Lodge Wilderness Retreat, were dramatically different in terms of the hiking experience and the results.

Lilydale Falls

On Sunday 15 October, my work commitments in Launceston finished mid-morning, so I decided to make use of the remaining day to visit a local waterfall – Lilydale Falls. Located an easy drive of 19 kms north east of Launceston, this location offers two waterfalls, with access claiming to be a grade 2, 30 minute return walk.

The start of the walk is a car park adjacent to the main road that allows 24 hr camping, complete with toilet facilities.

The distance between the lower and upper falls is only about 100m. Aiming for the upper falls first, the easy walk ended at a viewing platform. However, in order to get a better composition, I clambered down some rocks to the base of the river bed, successfully keeping my feet dry.

On my return, I stopped off at the lower falls, taking the convenient steps down to the river bed to take this shot.

On returning to the car, I passed a number of others, ether walking or walking their dogs – clearly a very popular spot for Sunday exercise. These waterfalls were very accessible via a pleasant easy walk, and, on processing these shots, I was very happy with the results.

Lemonthyme Lodge Wilderness Retreat

K joined me on Monday 16 October to spend my week off work together and to accompany me back to Victoria. On finishing my week’s work, our crossing on the night ferry back to Victoria was on Tuesday 31 October. Having stayed the night in Sheffield, we had most of the day to seek out another waterfall or two before embarking.

On considering the options from the books, we decided on two waterfalls located at Lemonthyme Lodge Wilderness Retreat, near Moina at the southern end of Lake Barrington, 30 km south west of Sheffield. The 8 km drive from Cradle Mountain Road was on a single track unsealed road that made a proper mess of the wagon as it had been raining. The higher we drove, the colder it became dropping to 6 degrees when we set off on the walk. On arriving at the retreat, we checked in at the reception where we were given directions to the start of the walk.

My book stated that this track was a 2 – 2.5 hours, 6.5 km, grade 3 walk. The first part was a long incline up a 4WD track to the point where the loop stated to the two waterfalls. Taking the right hand route to Champagne Falls, we very slowly made our way down a very steep slippery slope (we realised why the receptionist asked we had poles!) across exposed trees routes and rocks. Despite using my poles, I did manage to end up on my backside on one occasion!

Arriving at the bottom to view a spectacular waterfall, I had to clamber across a few large rocks, partly on my backside, to try to get a shot. The best position was across some very slippery rocks, so I decided not to go there and had to make do with a less than acceptable hand held shot (the rocks were even too slippery for the tripod). Added to that the sun shone directly on the water making the exposure very difficult.

From there, the track took us a further 1 km along an easy undulating path to Bridal Veil Falls. The bridge across Bull Creek was a much more accommodating platform to set up the tripod from where I was pleased with the resulting shots, an example of which is:

After a very short incline track, we ended up on the 4WD track all the way back to the retreat. Although we agreed that most of the track was a Grade 3, the descent to the first falls was more like a challenging Grade 4. However, overall, it was a great walk taking us almost four hours (including stops for K to photograph birds and me to photograph the falls).

In Conclusion

Taking the shot of Bridal Veil Falls

So, two very different locations and results. Lilydale Falls was very accessible with very acceptable shots of both falls. The wilderness retreat waterfalls were less accessible, with the photos of Champagne Falls being very disappointing, compensated by those of Bridal Veil Falls.

It would be useful prior to visiting waterfalls to understand their orientation with respect to sun position, as this could influence the time of visiting, other factors permitting. Overcast days are much better for waterfall subjects. Champagne Falls face due north catching the direct midday sun making exposure challenging – fortunately, there were a number of clouds scudding across the sky which meant I could avoid too much glare and washing out of the water highlights.

Champagne Falls was also my first experience of spray on my lens, such was the ferocity of the falling water. Removing the lens cap, measuring the exposure and taking the shot had to be done very quickly. Due to the occasional rain, I also had to keep the lens free of rain drops.

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