Horsetail Falls 2019 Mar

Horsetail Falls 2019 Mar

As I drove past Horsetail Falls near dinner time on my way in to Queenstown, I noted that they were flowing properly, and made a mental note to return to them after dinner. The last time I saw them, they were a mere trickle, and not worth the effort of getting out the camera. The great guy who checked me into my Hotel confirmed that they were flowing well at present, so, dinner consumed, I set off to give them a go. Unfortunately, I wasted far too much time looking for Pearl Creek Falls first, so arrived a little later than I wished. I thought it didn’t matter, as it was raining lightly, which I hoped would add to the atmosphere.
I parked, hastily grabbed my gear and set out, planning to go across roughly on contour from the top of the track to the falls for a closer image. However, I was only about three-quarters of the way up the track when the light started to do magic things. There was no point going further: the light was happening (despite the rain) right now. I speedily set up the tripod and began to shoot as the whole mountain turned aflame, and wispy clouds floated around the summit of Mt Owen above the falls.

One of the best things about this night was that I got to share this beauty of our world with another photographer, and, wonder of wonders, this person was a female (Rebecca Brogan). I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but tripod-carrying, out-by-themselves-photographing-odd-spots females are a rare breed. Of course we hit it off, and stood there in the rain chatting until well after dark. Pelting, bucketing rain forced us to say a temporary goodbye before getting in our cars. I was scheduled to meet my friend Carrie so we could do Svengali together on the morrow, but right now, the rain was so strong I couldn’t drive. At least there’d be a good drop for us over at Rosebery. I hoped we wouldn’t get drowned or washed back downstream by the mighty current that might eventuate.

Pearl Creek Falls, Queenstown 2019

Pearl Creek Falls, Queenstown

I really wonder why a tourist town like Queenstown does not capitalise on its beautiful little waterfall, Pearl Creek Falls. It’s not like they need to spend any money. There is already a track that someone has cleared – admittedly through boring marshland – but, hey, the walk took me a tick less than three minutes in each direction, so it’s not like you have to endure hours of boredom before you reach your gem. There are some quite interesting lumps and bumps in the area, too, so someone with some ingenuity could design a longer optional route for the rebound if that was felt to be worthwhile. What’s more, this walk is only about five minutes’ drive from town. Perfect for a little post-dinner amble in the summer.
And certainly, Queenstown was abuzz with activity when I was there this long weekend. Everywhere I looked there were groups of happy tourists dressed in outdoor gear, and talking of cruises, rafting, train rides and waterfalls. The mood was positively fun. I felt like I wanted to do every single activity on offer, and all of them right now. (It seems I am rather a greedy person.)
As I write, however, this waterfall remains quite hidden and unsigned. It is not marked on any maps I have found, and does not make it to any noble (or ignoble) lists. But if beauty is any qualification at all, then this waterfall belongs and can hold its head up amongst heaps of named ones.

(Route in magenta) I knew it was on the airport road (Take the A10 out of town north, and then head on the Strahan Rd B24), which also happens to be the road to the airport. There is almost immediately a sealed road to the left leading to some business something; Downer, I think it might have said. Ignore that, but don’t drive too far. From the corner, only drive about a kilometre. If you go past a nobble with a kind of tower on top (see map), you’ve gone too far. Turn around and try gain … and again and again. My problem was that I was looking for a tiny pad leading into the rather impenetrable and uninviting marshland. In fact, I was looking for a metre-wide path that a quad bike could happily drive along. Once you’ve found this path, the rest is easy. It’s just a three minute amble (200 ms) to the falls.
Perhaps the reason Queenstown is quiet about these falls is their very easy access. Maybe the denizens don’t want tourists trashing the place with their discarded rubbish and general carelessness. Let’s all help them out by leaving the place either as good as we found it – or even better than that (by taking away the trash of other inconsiderate people who seem to think that beauty is meant for them and no one else). It’s also a great idea to go to the toilet in Queenstown before leaving to avoid using the bush as a general latrine.

Owen 2014 Jun

Mt Owen June  2014

The glorious Franklin
I did not intend to climb Mt Owen this weekend – that is, I did not leave home with that intention – but I snapped my tooth, and had some of it sticking into the roof of my mouth just before our group set out on the venture I had been intending, so had to quickly form a plan B). (This goes to show you shouldn’t eat home-made cherry muffins with the seeds left in when about to go walking). Rather than get into the middle of nowhere and then discover that I urgently needed dental attention, thus ruining the walk for the others, I opted to forego this trip. Sadly, I waved them farewell.

Franklin River

But what should I do now? I’d driven all this way (2 1/2 hours). I wasn’t just going to turn around and drive home, and my husband had already gone bush with other people, so no one would even be pleased at an early return. Well, I’d never seen Nelson Falls. Let’s start with that and see how the tooth was then.

(This is a later photo. The 2017 Louise hates the 2014 Louise’s photo).
As I drove in that direction, I came to a sign advertising a walk in the rainforest, so I pulled over. Might as well do all the tourist things. It was beside the Franklin River. Great. This river holds a special place in my heart. I was one of the multitudes who voted for Bob Hawke on the strength of the fact that he promised to save this wild river AND he kept his promise. I wanted to walk its banks here, even if only for a short distance, and immerse myself in a little history.

However, there was a sign there warning against entry, and informing us that dangerous trees lurked behind the barricade. I was fascinated. I know of dangerous fungi that poison, and dangerous snakes that bite; of lawyer vines that grab you and won’t let you out of their clutches, but dangerous trees! I must see and photograph them, so I climbed around the warning sign and went seeking. I found a magnificent, beer-coloured river gurgling intently as it urgently rushed downstream, lots of soothing green mosses and lichens, but no dangerous trees lying maliciously in wait for me were to be seen anywhere.

At Nelson Falls, I found a different sign. This one warned me that in nature I might slip. NO. How dare nature be natural ! That’s surely not what I came to see. Anyway, I managed to see the falls without slipping or finding cause to sue someone who has somehow become responsible for my behaviour if something goes wrong. The falls had so much water you could barely see them for the white spume-blur.

Climbing Mt Owen
I haven’t climbed Mt Owen yet, so in Queenstown I decided that would be a good mountain to do when in doubt about your teeth, so off I set for the base of Owen.

Having not planned on day walking, I lacked a day pack, so just set out hoping the rain wouldn’t return, carrying only gps, camera and compass. Halfway up, the sky changed from benign to threatening. On I strode, hoping I wouldn’t get too wet. The anorak I’d chosen was windproof, but no longer useful protection against rain, being about as old as the Franklin Dam issue. In rolled more clouds. As a rule, I loathe being made to stop on my way up a mountain, and one of the enormous blessings of going solo is that there’s no one there to ask me to stop. However, I hit a view that I feared might have vanished by my return the way the weather was changing, so stopped long enough for a couple of quick shots before continuing on, staring at what appeared to be a cross at the top of the summit still visible. Unlike Australia to be religious, I thought. However, the ‘cross’, I discovered when I drew nearer, was indeed something religious, but was nothing about the God of Christianity; rather it was about our sacrifice to technology. I should have known.

Not only was I disabused as to the nature of the object on top, but  also to the site of the summit. My tower, I could see once there, was unfortunately not the summit. There was something bigger and better (and with a trig on) in the distance through the mist … and then it vanished. While it was visible, I took a compass bearing on it, more so that I could get back to where I was now standing than to reach it in the first place, as I was pretty confident I could maintain direction having once spotted it, but turning around is often tricky. It’s easy to get confused.
The view from the top was hardly exotic in such mist, but I still had enough sense of its promise from the few tachistoscopic glimpses I did get, to know I want to return – preferably on a long summer’s evening to watch the light gently fade. Right now, the clouds were getting increasingly darker and it was time to head back down, having only just arrived. Considering the mining operations on Mt Lyell facing this mountain, perhaps the mist was a bigger bonus than I knew. It looks as if the entire mountain will be eaten by the machines in the near future. I quitted the scene of mass destruction and headed back to Lake St Clair, and, for the first time in my life, slept at the Derwent Bridge end.
Do I need to tell you I had been officially trespassing the whole time I climbed my mountain? This was a grand day of warnings and disobedience.