Leeaberra Track 2

I was ridiculously anxious before I began Leeaberra Track mach 2. My bout of flu A has left an unwelcome aftermath of generalised fatigue, and when I try to run, I have heart palpitations. Was I going to make it up the taxing hills with a heavy backpack? Was I going to be a nuisance by my slowness? Were the others going to get impatient with me? Would I conk out? One thing I did know: I didn’t want to cancel out. I wanted to give it my best shot and see if I could do it.

Leeaberra Track. Can you find it?

Meanwhile, the car problems facing us looked as if maybe I’d need to drop out and become a chauffeur: we couldn’t find a way of retrieving my car should I take everyone up to the start. Nobody else had a car capable of taking me back to my own at the end. It would be sad to only be chauffeur, as this walk had been my suggestion. I phoned National Parks for a solution, but drew a blank. Adrian tried the far better option of the Bicheno Tourist Bureau, and was given the number of Tiger Tours, who own a 4×4 vehicle capable of taking us all right to the very start. Wow. 0416 983 926. Brilliant innovation.

So, after breakfast in Bicheno on Saturday morning, Lynden picked us up. We dropped my car at our finishing point, and all continued together to the official start of the walk. Others have taken 3.5 hours to do what Lynden did for us in his van in less than half an hour. Who wants to walk uphill for that amount of time on an ugly old road that can’t be used any more? Not us.

Leeaberra Track: Underway

The start was a bit of a disappointment, as the NP ranger said they’d done work on the track. We searched and searched for signs that someone had improved something, but not a hint of work could be found. We were drenched within about a hundred metres of starting because of all the overhanging branches. Cutting grass invaded and obscured the track. This was what I would have expected had I not been told of improvements, but having been thus told, I became disappointed in its lack of fruition. Although it wasn’t raining, I really should have had on my jacket and pack cover, as everything was sopping by the time we reached our pack dump point a bit over an hour and a half later.

It was great to drop the packs after this time and head to the falls. I estimated two hours. Wrong. It took us three: two in getting there and back and an extra hour for photographing all that beauty. Having not met track improvements in the first bit, I was hopeful that maybe what the ranger had spent time on was this waterfall section. Wrong again. It was still chocked with fallen limbs and branches. I felt very clumsy with my tripod dangling around my neck, but that left two hands for grabbing and climbing. The rocks themselves were very slippery indeed, so Leandra and I stayed on what used to be a track and fought all the fallen scrub. The boys felt OK about skating on a bumpy surface, so went along the rocks. But it was far from relaxing, and they chose the scrub on the rebound. Using the rocks, they had to climb back up high anyway, as there is no way over the bluff that guards the entrance to the actual waterfall. If you want to see the base, you have to climb up and over. … and then DOWN a very steep section where some people sent rocks flying, as it is also loose.

Down there in the semi-amphitheatre made by the curve in the river below us, it felt like hallowed ground. The falls dropped into a pool that was a fabulous blue, but also wonderfully transparent at the same time. Everything was super except that I was too scared to move. All rocks were angular, and they dropped into water I didn’t feel like bathing in, especially not whilst having priceless electrical equipment strapped to my body. There was nothing much to hold, and the rocks were some of the slipperiest I have ever encountered in my life. My photographic compositions were dictated entirely by safety rather than by whatever the more artistic part of me may have wanted. I chose a spot where I was kind of wedged in, so that when I slid, I would fall into a rock and not the pool. My tripod slipped downwards as well. I chose to do a series of shorter images and stack them later. That way, if and when the tripod slipped on the rocks, I wouldn’t ruin a whole long exposure. The photos you see are stacks of 3-5 images.

Despite these difficulties, I chose three angles. Caedence, more courageous, chose more. Adrian hopped from here to there, sliding with gay abandon (was this his Dutch ice-skating heritage coming out?), and Leandra mostly sat on a stable rock and enjoyed the scene from her vantage point, soaking in its beauty. It was so nice for me to be with friends who wanted to spend time at the falls. When I was here in February, the people I was with didn’t even want to go to the base with me, let alone spend time there gazing in wonder.

Everyone content and happy, on we moved to the base of Leeaberra Falls, which we could only see from the top at this stage (having gone downstream a bit). I hadn’t been to the base of this one last time, due to time pressure of the others with me who didn’t like waterfalls, so I was excited to be seeing something new. We found a safe crossing point. With the rocks as treacherous as they were after yesterday’s rain, we were lucky the water wasn’t any higher; it was possible to get across safely – even for cautious people like me – and then we climbed up over the kind of bluff the other side before dropping pretty steeply to the base of Leeaberra. As said, this exercise took, in total, an hour’s walking, photography time not included. Down here was more beauty, and a kind of repetition of the previous fall, with two setting up tripods, the third hopping about exploring many angles, and the fourth meditatively gazing in wonder. I felt very content by the time we were ready to head back. Waterfalls should be savoured like this.

Leeaberra Falls base

Back at the camp that wasn’t our camp, we had lunch before dispensing with the business end of the afternoon, namely, getting up the big Lookout Hill (highest point on the track) and descending the long, long drop to the Douglas River, our actual campspot for the night. I think everyone was glad to finish off the day. The river was lower and less scenic than last time, and the lighting less interesting, but it is still a beautiful spot to spend a night. The others ate “in” the river on rocks. I socialised a bit, but then retreated to my warmer tent. I had never dried out from the morning’s drenching, and the chill was gnawing at my innards.

Leeaberra Falls base

The next day was earmarked for Tevelein Falls, but overnight rain had made the rocks a nightmare again. It had taken me an hour in nice weather in February to reach them. I didn’t fancy my chances today in these conditions where, really, it might as well have rained olive oil over night. Leandra and I contented ourselves with lesser goals. The boys, not burdened with a female’s life preservation instinct, dashed along and got to a spot that satisfied them. I already had photos from last time, and was pleased not to have the pressure of trying to squeeze this one in under these challenging conditions today.

Tevelein Falls, Caedence’s perspective. HIs image; my editing. Thanks Caedence.

And then, it was back to camp, packing up, and setting out up the big hill to the fire trail. We were all up within forty four minutes’ walking. I had been pessimistic and thought we needed at least four and a half hours to get from camp to the end, using the fire trail exit. Adrian thought three, and it was wonderful that his predictions were correct and not mine. We did this second section in stints of, roughy 50, 50 and 30 minutes: the first break for lunch, the second initiated by the fact that Caedence came into range and thus wanted to catch up on the cricket scores, so I dumped my pack and declared it a rest. The final one finished it off. There was my car waiting for us. Now it was time for cappuccino and home. We were all so refreshed from having had time in the wilderness.

Stretcher Falls 2019

I didn’t know Stretcher Falls existed until I saw them, but really, they are just as big as many other falls, and I thought they warranted a photograph, so, here they are. They lie on Stretcher Creek, as one drives along the road beside Lake Rowallan. I saw them on my way to the end of the road, en route to Horeb Falls, and vowed I would photograph them on my return if I noticed them. I did. Here they are.

Stretcher Falls

I had had to make do without any filters at Horeb, and did the same here. Each photo thus consists of a stack of four shots to give me the long exposure I wanted. When I gaze at a waterfall, I don’t see water as odd droplets, frozen in time, but as flow, so I like my photos to depict the flow that my mind sees as I stare in wonder.

As I saw these falls from the car, they are a good waterfall to go to if you want to take somebody too old or young or ill to do much walking.

Horeb Falls 2019

Horeb Falls day (today) seemed to start quite well. The road beside Lake Rowallan must have been recently worked on, as it had fewer nasty attacking rocks and deceiving puddles than on my last visit. And, it wasn’t raining, despite BoM predictions – which admittedly still had plenty of time to come to fruition; there were some very healthy clouds floating around the place.

Off I set, along the Jacksons Creek track, which I intended to stay on for 15-20 minutes until it crossed the creek on a swing bridge, after which I would hive off to the west. Hm. The track was actually frozen and I was sliding everywhere. I had to slow right down. Even when I trod on old bracken (of which there was plenty), I was skating, as the fronds were coated in a thin rime. The myriad fallen branches were also treacherously slippery, and, hm, where was the track, actually? I kept having to search, as the large quantities of bush debris (artistically dotted with snow patches) obscured any trace of a path. Sometimes I just gave up and hoped to pick it up later.

Cascades on Moses Creek

At one stage, I got out my gps to check. Horrors. I was nowhere near the mapped track. Just in case, I called up my Cathedral Mountain route. Ah. Yes. Hardly for the first time in my experience in Tasmania, the track on the map and that on the ground bore not the slightest resemblance to each other. The dashes on the map were a mere “artist’s” fumblings, which is quite dangerous when you actually need accuracy. Luckily I had my own old route with me, so used it to guide myself back to where the ground track was.

Jacksons Creek was roaring, and several pop-up creeks had appeared along the route. I decided to change my plan to ensure that I could get across the next creek with maximum safety, and continued on the “formed” track for a while later. Surely it would cross at a good place. It did. With the aid of a broken branch, I even kept my precious tootsies dry. Wow, the stones were slimy!! Being solo in territory like this requires extra care.

Lower Horeb Falls

I climbed a short steep incline, swerving now away from the track, and began the bushbashing section of the day. Unfortunately, I had earlier ascertained that my compass was not playing game and was randomly selecting directions. (Had I accidentally brought a northern hemisphere one along? Possible.) My map said to keep the more sharply contoured section to my left, the flatter land to my right, and use that to get around the spur, climbing a little.

I have already mentioned the debris. There must have been an almighty storm in the somewhat recent past. On the nose of the spur, fallen trees were piled on top of each other as far as my eyes could see, in an untidy fiddlesticks jumble. The wood was icy, sodden and treacherous, but I could not get under or around it, so would have to do what I hate doing, and tread on wet wood. ‘Over’ was the only way if I was to move forwards. I made gastropods look hasty.

Testing everything before i committed, and using, as ever, all five limbs. I snailed my way over the obstacles, eventually reaching the next band, one of thick bracken and tree ferns that concealed submerged tree mines.

It was with enormous relief that I finally made it back to the rainforest. Ahhhh. The green lushness of that calming moss and the delicate myrtle leaves instantly erased all the anxiety and negative feelings caused by the spur. According to the map, the falls were still about a hundred metres upstream, but I could see foam and beauty below me, and I don’t trust Tasmaps’ placement of waterfalls, so I descended to the creek to investigate. Definitely worth photographing! I dumped my pack (with, possibly hilariously, two sets of ice spikes.) But, oh no, it contained no filters for my camera. Ach. They must have been left in the boot of the car. I’d have to take lots of shorter shots and stack them together later for a single long exposure. Sigh.

From this point on, the creek was magic, and I took lots of photos and enjoyed the green beaches, and the feel of the forest. I was also starving, so got out some food, but discovered that the water was so cold it hurt to drink, and lowered my core temperature drastically and almost instantaneously. I couldn’t afford that, so opted to go thirsty.

Now, quite apart from skating on ice, losing the track early on, being held up by tree bandits, forgetting my filters and not being able to drink the plentiful water that surrounded me, I began to have problems with the sun. Right up until when I got out my camera, it had been snowing lightly. The minute I pointed it at water and took the lens cap off, the wretched sun came out and would not go away! Grr. Meanwhile, thirst was getting to me. I decided ginger chocolates would help. I opened the packet (which resisted my attempts at first) and whoosh, little brown bombs flew everywhere. They were subtly disguised on the brown humus, but I did retrieve some. Na ja. The beauty overcame all. I obviously need to return on a day that is more consistently overcast, and with my filters.

I had squandered too much time playing with all the different drops and falls to then do the full circuit, so did my own much smaller one on the rebound.
If Horeb Falls were not already named, I would call them Glory Glory Glory. I spent about an hour and a half playing around their presence. You are no longer in “time” in a place like that. You lose yourself. The world stops … or maybe you just step off it.

Joy Falls 2019

Joy Falls

Having seen my own, and a few other people’s, photos of Joy Falls, I have to wonder if it is actually possible to begin to do this waterfall photographic justice. A huge part of the problem, of course, is that wherever you stand, trees seem to obscure the view. Another part of the problem is that the drop-offs are so massive, and the potential for your gear (or your person) to tumble over, so apparently likely, that you are both on the edge and on edge as you soak in what you are seeing. Adrenalin levels are high. This set of falls pleases yet teases – reveals yet conceals – simultaneously. Your eyes can join the dots and yield a really pleasing whole – a long, medium width strip of fine, misty white veil with several tiers – but the camera just cannot – or not one attached to a human attached to terra firma.

I shot with my tripodded camera also around my neck for safety, and with my arm looped right around a young, healthy tree, leaning into it, so I couldn’t get bumped or just somehow accidentally start sliding. If I had brought the rope that was in the boot of my car, I would have anchored myself with it. Steve dropped something he was carrying and it did exactly as I was expecting: it just rolled a metre down the incline before dropping irrevocably over the edge into space, never to be seen again. Each of us announced any movements we intended making in advance so we didn’t accidentally even hint at bumping the other one. Any loss of balance or position could have been disastrous.

Apart from this danger of trying to get a view and shoot from it, the trip itself was not at all dangerous. We parked where “Joy 3” (pink) track met Joy Road (red). Sure, you couldn’t drive along Joy 3 (an old logging road), but it was easy and delightful walking. At the end of Joy 3, there were tapes to guide you in through pleasant forest. We took our shots at about where the “l”s are in the word Falls. But don’t think that tapes mean it’s easy. Tapes help if you know what you’re doing and are already doing it. This is yet another waterfall that is for experienced bushwalkers. If you want to learn to navigate so you can enjoy areas like this, I suggest you join an orienteering club. That will also increase your confidence in the bush.

Ford Falls 2109

From the first moment I saw the position of Ford Falls on the map, I knew I wanted to “bag” them (as the saying goes) in winter, with snow and ice all around. Today I had my wish.

Ford Falls

Now, I should be all set up for this, as I have an AWD and a set of chains, but putting on chains had always been Bruce’s job, so I felt a little insecure doing this alone, and prancing around on icy rocks is also better done in pairs than solo, so I contacted my friend Steve, who said he’d love to come. It was on.
The trip up was uneventful; the ranger happily let us through seeing’s we had chains on board, and up I drove. It was a balmy minus one at this stage.
Up on top, Jacob’s Ladder neatly behind us for a while, we searched for a spot from which we could attack these falls. Near the lookout, scoparia bushes were in thick armies. We got back in the car and went a bit further, nearer to the path up Legges Tor. There was a suitable spot to abandon the car, so we did so and tried again. No route yelled at us, but we chose a lead I liked the look of and followed it. Ha ha. After maybe ten steps there was a gap in the snow, and underneath was the path I had been searching for.

Ford Falls

Elated, we followed it until it dumped us at a pile of rocks, from which we were then left to do a kind of monkey-cum-crab dance across the rocks until we were where we wanted to be, photographically speaking. Unfortunately, Steve slipped on the ice and his hand hurt for the rest of the excursion, but no limbs got broken. I had spikes and spiders for us both, but neither of us bothered to put them on.
We stayed a while, as it was so beautiful there amongst the ice crystals and shining glassy stalactites. You could have skated on the ice below the falls (if you knew how) it was so thick.

Chilly enough?

The path, when not buried in snow, is probably clearly visible from the “car park” of its origins. This spot is not official, but there is probably room for two or three cars. The ground opposite has also been cleared a tiny bit. It’s maybe 2/3 rds’ of the way along between the lookout and the Legges Tor path. The waterfall is higher than shown on the map, more at the start of where the gorge begins.
I hope that helps. For us, it was time to go and visit Joy Falls as well before lunch. These are also on the slopes of Lomond, but a further drive around than I was expecting. We did fit in both falls before having lunch by the car in the forest and setting out for home.