Growling Swallet, Apr 2018
That’s the Growling Swallet right there, swallowing this helpless river rushing to its gaping mouth.
Growling Swallet: don’t you just find that the most wonderfully descriptive name – a mountain growling as it swallows a river? This guzzler of a mountain swallows this beautiful watercourse, as if in some magic fairytale (which is fitting if you could just see the forest!) and spends thirty kilometres digesting it in its large intestine before excreting it at the Junee Caves in Maydena. After being thus digested, it is called the Junee River. I only first heard this name less than a month ago, but was smitten with curiosity. I had a chance to see it on Sunday when returning from a climb in the South West, so grabbed the opportunity (along with a visit to kind of nearby Tolkien and Regnans Falls, which each have their separate blogs).
I have only recently finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, and am now reading a story set in Iceland, so I was in the mood for magic and fairytales. And it’s fungi season. I was expecting a lot of this place, and I got it.
To reach this area, turn right if coming from Maydena onto the dirt road that goes under the main road after you’ve turned and after it sub-divides into Styx and Florentine Roads. You want the Florentine Road, which you’ll follow for quite a while as it rises ever so gently to a saddle with Tim Shea, and begins a descent just as gradual over the other side. The drive will take 25-30 mins, depending on how comfortable you are with dirt road driving. Ultimately you will arrive at a road on the right called F8 EAST. This is yours. It has a locked gate. You can pay $300 for a key (refundable if you’re not swallowed), or you can try your luck at driving in, or you can do what I did, and just park and walk the lot. This involves walking an extra four kilometres.. Big deal. At the minute, there’s a fallen tree right at the start of the road, so if you love your car, walking is the go.
The road bit is quickly dispensed with, and then you’re into the gorgeous rainforest, which is totally distracting with its many and varied fungi. Depending on your level of concentration in the presence of such tantalising beauty, you will, after a short walk, hear the sound of rushing water. You have arrived. Some, fearing the monster’s appetite, are content to stay high. Others like me, opining that we’re too bony to be an enjoyable dinner, venture down into the water. Play it safe and keep in your comfort zone. The small-track walking part took me eleven minutes, but with the extra photography of fungi, perhaps an hour.
The track to the area is clear, but once there, if you go around in a lot of circles chasing fungi and mossy giants, the part at the end seems to have tapes everywhere, but not in a way that helps. I had to get out my gps and compass to see which general direction I needed, as I had become so immersed in fungi and moss that I lost my sense of direction, and I seemed surrounded by pink tapes. I could have spent another hour here, easily, but I noticed that the sun had lost its warmth, and the sky was getting rather dark. Whoops. I’d stayed here far, far longer than anticipated. I now had a big drive back to Launceston, and all the nearby food outlets were shut for the night. I just made the cut for Zeps at Campbelltown (closes 8 pm) for a cappuccino to keep me awake for the last leg home.