If your child says to you: “Hey mum, dad, please take me to fairyland,” please don’t say: “It doesn’t exist.” Instead, pack your lunches and take them to one of Tasmania’s many jewel-secrets, Rinadena Falls. You can all look for goblins, fairies, ents and gnomes while you walk. William Morris or JRR Tolkein would have loved to have set a book there, I am sure, if only they’d been lucky enough to see this place. Magic glades and open forest are what you’ll find there. Gurgling waters can be heard for nearly the whole route. It is pure delight.
Some walks are about reaching the summit; others about the views from on high. Yesterday’s walk was more about just being out there on a beautiful, sunny (but freezing) day, and about getting in a nice long walk to help “fitten” my husband up for Europe. I wanted him to be walking for five hours (not counting breaks). This route took 4 hours 50.
Having not yet climbed Mersey Crag, my thoughts wandered in that direction, even after I’d learned that an extra two hours now had to be added to the time taken as a bridge was down. Last visit to the area, we had taken 4 hrs 45 walking time to climb Turrana Bluff, so this meant we would be looking at about 6 hrs 45 walking plus photo and food stops. Hm. Well, why not just go to that beautiful valley at the top with its marvellous pools that appear from nowhere and equally quickly disappear, that are waist deep yet one step wide? I love those pools. Even yesterday, in sub-zero temperatures, they begged me to have a dip.
Had we started at first light, we could have done the whole trip to the summit, but that would have involved being at the start line shortly after sunrise, and I was in need of a “sleep in”. We didn’t leave home until 7 a.m., and didn’t park at the closed bridge until 10. No time to summit, but plenty of time for what I now had in mind – the valley described above. I was also looking forward to seeing the wonderful Rinadena Falls again.
We allowed an hour for the first part of this journey, which we had driven last time. One blog, by a strong walker, had said 50 minutes, so an hour seemed realistic. I was delighted with my husband’s progress when he hit the old car park at 42 mins despite his Parkinson’s disease. He, too, felt chuffed, as last week he had been rebuffed from a club walk because he was “too slow”. He had been judged by the name of his disease and not his actuality. Having a good split here today helped him to reclaim something for himself.
I expected that road to be boring – some kind of medicine to be taken to enable other activity. This was far from the case. We loved it. Moss grew down the centre, complemented by the lightly tanned dirt to each side. Tiny myrtle leaves overhead framed a tunnel through which we progressed. Gurgling streamlets bubbled their way past us, chuckling as they continued to travel downhill and join the Little Fisher River below. Fallen trees indicated that even if you got your car magically past the bridge declared uncrossable, you would not get more than a short distance along this road that was fast giving itself back to the forest from whence it had come. Frozen fungi laced the scenery.
We crossed the bridge at the end of the former carpark, proceeded 8 more minutes to a cairn, and then swung left to follow a pad with pink ribbons through the lush forest. The tape was helpful, as fallen timber sometimes obscured where the path should lie – but don’t worry. This is still a very family-friendly route. I plan on taking infant Guss there at Christmas to enjoy this enchanted forest and to paddle in the Little Fisher River.
Rinadena Falls were as perfect as ever, so we took a longish photography break here. Half the falls were frozen, augmenting the beauty already there.
The broad valley at the top, framed by Turrana Bluff, lightly clad in white powder to our left and Mersey Crag to the right, was all that I had hoped for when planning this day. Frozen tarns giving white foreground interest, rich colours, crisp outlines provided by the sharp air. All was wonderful. We meandered our way along between the pools of water and ice until my watch indicated it was time to turn around. Mersey Crag was so tantalisingly close, I felt very tempted to ask Bruce to wait while I dashed up, but it was too cold for waiting, and such an impetuous dash would have meant we did the last road bit in the dark. The wicked tempting feelings said: “Who needs light for a road anyway?” Well, we didn’t need light, but it was sure nice not to have to hurry to try to “beat” it, and when we did get to the road, it was very handy to be able to see which patches of ice were more dangerous than the other bits. Our hands, even in the hour before sunset, were frozen to the point of pain. The mountain iced back over as we walked.