Mt Barrow Discovery Trail and Visitors Centre can be accessed via the Tasman Highway from either the Scottsdale or Launceston end. To get there you follow the Tasman Highway to Nunamara and then turn off on Binghams Road just near the Nunamara General Store.
The Discovery Trail was officially launched in 2004 and allows you to take a step back in time and gain an insight into forestry life as far back as the mid 1800s. Since then, around six sawmills have operated in this area. As you work your way along the 24km loop drive, you can see evidence of past civilisations and the tools used to move the logs.
The drive is a one way loop and for safety reasons it is best to follow the red directional arrows as the road can get quite narrow in some places making it hard to pass oncoming traffic. In general, while the road is gravel, it is quite smooth and you should have no problems in a car.
There are many opportunities to stop and take a look around, or walk through the forest. To get an idea of what to expect, or the different sites available, you should first stop at the information shelter at the beginning of the drive. The next stop is a lookout and I think the locals refer to it as Max’s Lookout after a local man who was involved in the project. When I went up the sky was a bit hazy, but I have heard on a clear day you can see out to the Tamar River in Launceston (so I have heard). Here there is also an interpretive board which names the mountains you can see.
A bit further along is the Horse Trough Walk. I didn’t do this one myself but I am told that it follows a track which was cleared to assist the horses who pulled the logs through the bush after they had been felled. It eventually leads to an old horses trough (hence the name) and is only 15 minutes return. Then, if you keep driving along the road you will come to a fork, this is where the loop begins. If you follow the red directional arrow on your left, a sign explains to you about an old sawmill site that used to be here. The North Barrow Mill which was built in 1940 was home to six families- Rattray, Clark, O’Tooles, Wise, Bourk and Padgett. The Padgett family are still a prominent logging family in the area today.
From here you will continue on through myrtle rainforest. In about November this area is a sea of red from the Waratah’s which flourish in this environment; I’m sure it would be a fantastic site to see. Other things to see along the way include, Jubilee Tree which was felled in 1951 and carted to Launceston as part of the Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth 2. There is an interpretive sign and photo which explains a bit about the event.
You can also stop at an old tabletop landing and hut which includes a 20 minute walk, however I continued on to the visitors centre. This is quite well maintained and is a great spot to take in some information about the history of the forest and the flora and fauna found here. There are also toilet facilities and a gas BBQ, plus tables if you plan to stop for lunch.
From the visitors centre I went on the workmen’s hut walk. This leaves from just behind the visitors centre and takes you through the forest to an old workmen’s hut which has been restored. If you take a peek through the window, you can see just how simply the workers used to live with not much more than a bed, table and fire. The hut was originally built in 1948 and also appeared recently on the TV series Going Bush.
Another couple of kilometres along the drive is the Tea Tree Boardwalk. The track here was built with assistance from the Work for the Dole Program. While it should be a loop walk, it hasn’t quite been finished but is still worth 20 minutes of your time. The boardwalk crosses Weavers Creek and there is a tree which has what looks like a trough carved into it. This hole was actually used back in past decades by workers to wash. Also along this walk you can see the old tramway which the logs were rolled along to get to the sawmill. If this is something which particularly interests you there is a separate ‘Tramline Walking Track’ which gives you a closer look and better interpretation, and is only 15 minutes return.
Between these two walks (Teatree and Tramline) along the road to your right you can see three tree stumps. These stumps are evidence of three separate harvestings in the same area. I can’t remember the dates of these exactly; however, I do know the first one was done with a crosscut saw and the next two by chainsaw (and this was the first site in Tasmania to ever be felled with a chainsaw). By looking at the area, it really shows you how resilient the forest is, it has been harvested three times and is has now once again grown back.
As you can tell there really is a lot to see and learn on this self-guided tour through the heritage rich Mt Barrow. If you are in the north east, it really is a lovely spot to call into and is only half an hour from Launceston. I hope my information is useful, however if you get stuck, the Scottsdale EcoCentre are a fantastic resource for local knowledge.
LAT : 41°22'42.75"S
LON : 147°25'30.29"E