Mavista Falls, Fluted Cape, Mt Mangana etc. Bruny Island

My daughter and I only had a day and a half on Bruny in which to enjoy the light, but managed to squeeze in quite a lot of walks, including bagging the only waterfall on the island (Mavista Falls) as well as the only mountain worth points (Mt Mangana), plus doing a couple of other popular walks, like Fluted Cape and Cape Queen Elizabeth. I love exercise, so enjoyed the walking. Lena  had work to do, so combined sitting at the dining table of our fabulous air bnb (Baywatch) editing, with joining me for most of the walks.

Adventure Bay, Bruny Island

Much as I love walking, however, I think my favourite part of being on Bruny was shooting the dawn.  I really do love the early hours of the day: the light and colours thrill me; I like having the landscape to myself; and I love hearing the dawn chorus, which is far too early for actual sunrise, but I like to arrive about 40 minutes or so before the sun comes up, so I get to hear the ornithological choir practising.

Mavista Falls, Bruny Island

As I really love seeing waterfalls, whilst Lenie prefers other types of walks (she doesn’t enjoy bushbashing), I visited Mavista Falls alone, whilst she used my absence to knock off some of her work that was pressing. I find that each waterfall I visit engenders a certain feeling connect uniquely to it. And what is the lingering aura connected to my short walk to Mavista Falls? As usual, I guess, part of what resonates is the actual process of movement through place, of negotiating my way through that particular environment of lush greens and rich, muddy browns – similar in type to many such places in Tasmania, and yet with its own individual characteristics that make it different: under, over, around fallen logs; through the creek many times as this side, then that side was easier; trying hard to leave no trace, as the moss was so beautiful yet greatly and noticeably compromised by people who were careless of where they trod, and did not respect the place or the right of others to see it in its pristine condition.

Mavista Falls forest, Bruny Island

The creek was wonderfully clear as it ran its course under the mossy logs. This should have aroused sheer pleasure, but I couldn’t help being disappointed at the way moss had been trodden on unnecessarily, and I was rather alarmed at the amount of mud under foot. It looked as if a pack of elephants had been to see Mavista Falls. Perhaps some teacher had taken in a school group? Why do these people have to tread on rather than over a log that is a mere 30 cms high? Why do they have to tread on mossy rocks when other options are available? And why on earth do they go to such a beautiful place – hallowed ground – and leave behind drink bottles, tissues and pink plastic? Is it really so very hard to treat nature with respect?

Adventure Bay Cliffs

The falls themselves teased me. The map said I was there, as did my gps, and the 7 metre drop in front of me was the right height; however, the October output was significantly less than that of the only photo I have seen of the falls, taken in enthusiastic winter flow, and I became uncertain that I was really there. One thing is sure, however: I must return when Bruny has had some really good rain. What I saw was still lovely, but I know it can look even more wonderful in the right conditions.

Storm brewing, Bruny Island

Besides, I need to return for other reasons. Bruny was fabulous, and I have not nearly tasted all she has to offer. I actually did rather a lot of the other kind of tasting: enjoying coffee and scones at the Penguin and Pardalote Cafe in Adventure Bay, oysters at Get Shucked and dinner at the Bruny Hotel, where the whisky mouse was maybe even better than the fish. But … er … I wasn’t really there to eat. That was just to fund the exercise.

Mt Mangana scenery

Before I went to the waterfall, we “climbed” Mt Mangana, which was a nice little excursion (30 minutes exactly in each direction), although not much of a workout, as you drove almost to the top, and so just enjoyed a fairly flat walk along a quaint path through very lovely green and mossy forest until we arrived at the rather non-event of a summit, the only unappealing part of the walk. The forest had been cleared and a tower erected, but there was no view, and you were not allowed to climb the tower (and were prevented physically from doing so). I longingly eyed up the kind of short trunks going up the pole, but there were none at my kind of height. I guess workers bring a ladder.

Mt Mangana path

Two walks that did have a view were (i) Truganini’s Lookout near The Neck, a fun little climb for an expansive glance over a large length of beach, although it takes no time at all to reach the highest point; and (ii) the Fluted Cape circuit.

Fluted Cape, Bruny Island

I did both of these with Lena. The Fluted Cape walk begins with a flat 23 minutes to Grass Point, before climbing nice and steeply for another 32 minutes to reach the summit of the cape (272 ms asl). The views along the way are very dramatic, even on a day like the one on offer, which was rather dull and flat. I thoroughly recommend doing this clockwise, as I think that makes for the best views and drama. (It took 34 minutes to get back from the summit to the car, making for a round trip of nearly 1 hr 30).

Enjoying a bit of a climb on the beach of the Cape Queen Elizabeth walk

The other walk we did on this 1.5 day visit to the island was to the beach at Cape Queen Elisabeth. There were fabulous rock crevices and caves that were fun to explore. We took 30 minutes in each direction to the beach, and then spent maybe 20 minutes exploring rock formations. We haven’t nearly explored all the possibilities of this walk, or of Bruny Island. I can’t wait to go back.

Storm on the morn of our departure

Please note: not one of the places mentioned here knew who I was, or that I have a blog. My good opinion is not bought, but I like to support small businesses, so when I have enjoyed what they have to offer, I try to give them a good word.

Stormy sunrise, Bruny
Mavista Falls + Mt Mangana Bruny Is Map

The red dot on Waterfall Creek (centre, above) is the location of Mavista Falls, which you approach from Adventure Bay. Google maps will take you to the start anyway. After that, follow a nature trail for a while, and then either call it quits, or follow the creek to the falls. Mt Mangana is also on this map, and you will see you also approach it from Adventure Bay (just north thereof). Again, Google maps will take you to the car park, where you will see the start of the walk.

Gibson Creek Falls

Gibson Creek Falls were definitely the pièce de résistance of our waterfall bagging spree on this day, when we had spent the morning seeing nearby Dip (Upper and Lower) and Little Dip Falls, picnicking adjacent to the drop with our backs to the tourist infrastructure, choosing for our seats natural, slightly-wet earth rather than picnic tables. (My choice, but my friend went along with it. He possibly doesn’t dare contravene).
Gibson Creek is a very long way from my home in Launceston (Google says 3 hrs 13 mins one way), so I was glad to combine these falls with the Dip trio, and very glad to have the offer of a co-pilot: someone to keep me awake for the bulk of the long drive, someone to save me stopping and checking my map all the time in between Dip and Gibsons – both kind of near Mawbanna – and someone to take over the wheel for a part of the return journey so I could recharge my batteries for the final hour of solo driving. I sure struggled to stay awake and alert during that final hour.

Gibson Creek Falls

It was a big drive, but Gibson Creek Falls are worth the effort, and that is despite the context in which they occur: one of the ugliest clear felling you could imagine! The stench of the burnoff afterwards filled my nostrils and lungs. They have totally trashed the forest. You wade through huge piles of debris, but not for too long (even though it is vast in the other direction), and then you are in pleasant moist green forest.
I had seen photos, but they hadn’t quite alerted me to the splendour of these falls. I was entranced. It didn’t even take ten minutes to reach them. I waded through the piles of former forest, but that didn’t last even three minutes, and, once in the bush, consulted my gps to get direction, and headed straight for the falls, just a couple of minutes away, aiming off just a tad so I’d know to head upstream once the water was reached. I rudely left my friend behind a bit, as I knew he’d reach them in his own way. He was busy trying to relate where he was in the trash to where he’d been last time, when it didn’t look quite this disastrous. The original road had disappeared under rubble. I didn’t care about that relationship; I knew where I was in relation to the falls and was all impatience to get there. Ahh the colour of that tannin-filled water. How I love it, and how I revel in the lines of flow at the base of such a waterfall: the tiny white streaks of whirl as the water indicates to you the course it is taking by the circulating lines of bubbles it leaves.

Gibson Creek Falls

We spent quite a while enjoying the beauty. S redirected a plank of tree that had fallen to make a kind of bridge, which we crossed for the heck of it, just to play as playing is fun, and then we returned to the car. S could now see the old track, so wanted us to follow it to see where it emerged from the forest. It had tape and was muddy underfoot, so I much preferred my very direct approach route. I am a stickler for wanting to “do it myself”, without tapes and certainly without tourist highways. The joy of the find is that much greater. I laugh when I see tiny Abby, insisting on dressing herself, not caring one scrap if the clothes are on inside out, back to front, upside down or all three, as long as she has done it herself. Her daycare centre has a school uniform, but she has never once worn just the regular uniform, insisting on her own choice of clothes, with the uniform then inappropriately crammed over the top to reluctantly comply with the rules. Ach, genetics.
I’ll add a map after the weekend, especially if someone reminds me. No chance before next week. Sorry.

Dip and Little Dip Falls

Dip Falls Upper

I know that Dip Falls (Upper and Lower) are the famous ones, but I’m afraid they just didn’t do it for me. Yes, they were attractive; yes, their dimensions were ginormous; yes, they were in many aspects impressive, but I could not divorce them from the equally enormous, arresting and dominating human infrastructure with which they are now overshadowed, so that all the dear tourists can get to the base without having any real contact with nature in which they might hurt their tootsies or fingers. The first thing you notice is not the whopping sense of space that these falls occupy, but the humungous stairwell present.
The whole way down, it is not the marvellous green and rich brown of the lush forest that demands your attention, but the shining steel railings. 1 min 23 down; 2 mins 00 up. Duty done. A few photos taken at the base and then at the top. I prefer my Tassie Wild thanks.

Little Dip Falls (section). We arrived too late in the day to be able to get a good angle on these falls.

There was not even enough exercise to justify the trip. It is exceptionally difficult to take a photo that does not include unnatural objects. I photoshopped mine out, as I hate looking at them. I go into the bush to escape the ugliness of human invasion and incursion, not to have more of it for the sake of tourists. My waterfalls need to be in the context of surrounding beauty.

Little Dip Falls forest

Luckily, the friend who was with me this day had heard of Little Dip Falls from Brendan Costello’s blog, so off we went in search of it. Now, HERE was a waterfall worth visiting. No smashing stairwells and steel, but rather, pure mossy forest, masses of startling fungi (although it is October), and a delicate, dainty waterfall of subtle beauty.

Stereum ostrea

There were not even any horrid pink tapes, so we were free to choose our own route. We spent a much longer amount of time at these falls than at the others, as they were so much more appealing. The big dips are sacrificial pawns to the tourist industry, which is ever taking over the beautiful natural features Tasmania has to offer, and locking Tasmanians out of their own land.

Stereum ostrea
Stereum ostrea (focus stacked)

Deception Falls kunanyi

Our visit to Deception Falls on the Hobart Rivulet had not endured a long planning period. It was school holidays, and I offered 8-year-old Gussy an open choice of activities: whatever he wanted to do that day, we would do together. He chose to go waterfall bagging. This is also what he chose the previous day, on which we’d had a lovely time visiting O’Gradys and Betts Vale Falls, with a steep off-track descent to the top of Strickland Falls for a snack before finishing.

O’Grady’s Falls the day before

Towards the end of our time the day before, we saw, out of the corner of our combined eyes, the hint of a waterfall. We gazed at it from above, but I couldn’t see a ready way down, especially not with an eight year old in tow (and one merely wearing sneakers at that). The slopes leading into the Hobart Rivulet can be extraordinarily steep, and our angle of view was not promising. I told him I’d find a way of getting down to that waterfall, and then take him once I’d worked out a doable route.

Hobart Rivulet below Deception Falls

On this day, however, he said he wanted to do the exploratory work with me. I explained we might fail to get there, but he wanted to be part of the trying. On this day, he did the waterfall the courtesy of wearing proper boots. I think he’d been a little jealous the day before, when I stomped around the creek without problems, while he had to pick his way so as not to get his sneakers wet.
We parked below where the falls would be, and dropped steeply to the water level, Gussy leading the way for most of it. He selected good routes. Once in the creek bed, he was very happy with his choice of boots, and proudly walked up the creek itself. We didn’t have exactly the same path, even though, of course, we stuck together. That’s part of the fun of real bushwalking: freedom of choice. You are not a puppet fulfilling some role designed by someone else. This was a real adventure, and he was loving it. We still had no idea at this stage whether we would reach the waterfall we’d had our glimpse of the day before. There was still plenty of time for nature to win this game’s episode. That uncertainty is part of the fun, and makes success so much more enjoyable than just marching on a track, knowing you’d reach the goal even if you were a blind, lame nonagenarian walking backwards. You don’t need to be a million miles from home to have an adventure, but you do need “wild” bush.

Deception Falls

On we forged along our obstacle course, climbing over, under and around what came on our path. At one stage, we arrived in a huge kind of tree cave: a truly gigantic tree had fallen across the creek, and being under it felt as if we were in a cave, such were its dimensions.
Once we reached our goal, we could see that it could have been a lot faster and easier if we had chosen a different starting point, but I had chosen the one I did so as to create a proper adventure. The aim is to enjoy, not to break some speed record reaching the falls. The long way was the fun way. We enjoyed being there, and found some shell fossils and a marvellous specimen of Oudemansiella gigaspora (which I mistakenly thought was an Entoloma panniculum, not noticing the white stipe at first. Thanks to Herman Anderson from the Tasmanian Fungi group for the identification). There were also some wizened tiny fungi, perhaps mycena sp. As the pool at the falls’ base is chest deep, we agreed it would be a great swimming hole in summer.

Oudemansiella gigaspora

The road was now visible, but Gussy did not want the easy way of going there. Instead, we turned our back on the road, and chose the hardest way out: the approach route that we had rejected the day before, only this time, we were climbing up not down, which is safer. I stayed directly underneath him, watching his choices, which greatly pleased me. If he slipped, I could catch him and arrest his fall. This did mean that the odd rock came my way, but I knew the dangers. He is more important than I am. Meanwhile, he was learning great lessons about what you can and can’t rely on in the bush: what might give way, and what is sure to be stable. I watched with satisfaction while he chose living branches or roots and tested them before committing to them.


We called this waterfall Deception Falls, as we felt it was somewhat deceitful, hiding itself away from view of its many passers by. We had never even noticed its existence before.

Secret Falls snacking

We hadn’t finished having fun, so I said I’d take him to Secret Falls. Off we set, walking and talking. Once we were there, I pointed out to him the beautiful moss, but also the fact that much of this wonderful lushness had been replaced by mud due to other people’s carelessness, selfishness and disregard for nature. He trod very carefully, and avoided all moss. Wearing the right shoes really helps in this regard. If you’re wearing boots, you can walk on the stones in the water a lot more easily. In the little canyon, we talked in hushed voices, as we could hear other people walking along the track above, and didn’t want to attract attention to this secret place. I think he found it very special to have been somewhere “not on general display”, even if it did bear, all too noticeably, the marks of the carelessness of others. Experiences like this help reinforce his growing respect for nature, and for its fragility if not protected against stupidity. That sentence read to me as contradictory in a sense, as nature is, in other ways, tough, very tough, and will outlive us stupid homo non-spapiens; however, in the face of the forces of destruction from the average tourist or greedy bureaucrat, desecrated features of nature’s beauty can take longer than a human lifetime to regenerate, and some beauty can be lost forever. How much of this glorious world that I am showing Gussy will still be here at the end of his life?
The vision of a dying world is vast before our eyes;
We feel the heartbeat of its need, we hear its feeble cries …” (Hymn. 1966).

Dora Falls Eldon Falls circuit 2019

There I stood at the top of Dora Falls, gazing down to an abyss below. How on earth would I get down there? The drop seemed as infinite as it was vertical, and any spot where verticality gave way to a degree or two of slope, the trees were a mess of impenetrable tangle. I was, yet again, solo, and was totally unwilling to lower myself down something I might not be able to climb back out of later. I basically gave up. “Oh well,” I said to myself, “at least you’ve bagged Dora Falls. This is probably it for the day. It was a nice little excursion.” I took a shot for the records, the one shown below.

Dora Falls from above

However, being the sort of person who does not give up easily, I decided to take one more look at the map to see if it gave me any hints, and indeed it did. I noticed that on the other side of the creek, the contours were more spaced than on this side. Perhaps that was a clue that would open the key to the treasure. I would not give up yet, but would cross the creek and give that a go.
It had taken me 17 minutes to reach Dora Creek from the car, and I had just wasted a further 23 trying to crack the code to the base. Perhaps if I had gone further on that western side I would have found something doable, but here I was back where I’d arrived, crossing over. I had already determined I would use the point of the spur rather than the creek’s edge, and carried out my plan. Presto. 8 minutes later I was at the base of my holy grail. The little “den” was mossy and had a special silence that would have had me whispering had someone been there with me. I was captivated, and so very glad that I’d persevered.

Dora Falls

Now I felt confident that I could use the same spur to reach Eldon Falls. Up I climbed. It was not hard at all, and it was mossy and wonderful. I went up the spur for 14 minutes from Dora’s base until I was on contour with where I had waymarked my best guess at Eldon Falls, and then just sidled around the spur keeping height for another 13 minutes. Tra la. There I stood at the base of my next goal.

Eldon Falls

This one wasn’t as beautiful as Dora, but was still well worth the visit. Photography finished, I decided to go straight up and over the spur above rather than retracing my steps. It meant possibly more contours, but I have always been rather careless when it comes to contours, so up I went, thinking this would be more interesting than a retrace.

Eldon Falls

And so it was. After 21 minutes, I had crested the spur and then dropped into a higher region of Dora Creek, and what should I find but an area of delightful cascades. The bank next to them was very steep and cluttered, and I didn’t feel like foraging for a possible route to visit all of what I had found. I reached a place that looked like I could get across, and photographed that particular cascade, which was possibly the best anyway. At least that one looked “climb-upable” on the opposite side. These cascades seemed quite well fortified by small cliffs.

Dora Cascades

From there I continued west until I hit the edge of the public-private boundary, and followed that back to the car. (There is a pad that weaves along through the forest up the top there, following the boundary. There is also, at some points, a “road” [maybe at all points], but I didn’t use it, always preferring the green and shade of forest, even to the ease of a road, especially when it is a glary machine-made  one with clear felling on one side of it.) The circuit thus took a shade under 1 hr 30’s walking IF you don’t count photography and the 23 minutes I spent stuffing around on the western side of Dora trying to find a way down.
Not only did I find great beauty, but I also had a fun adventure, and the pleasure of “doing it myself”: the joy of discovery and overcoming obstacles. That was, I fear, because this is a southern waterfall, and Hobartians do not feel the need to stick pink tape through every section of forest to spoil the fun of others who want to do it themselves. Pink tape is ugly, totally unnatural, and destructive. I thought we were trying to rid our planet – and especially our wild and beautiful places – of plastic, but in the north, every waterfall, it seems, is festooned with plastic, even ones with a very obvious path leading to them. Someone estimates the general IQ of fellows living in the north to be somewhere around 60.
Time for lunch at my favourite red cafe in Huonville. Well, I bought lunch and picnicked by the river there, it was such magnificent day.