It’s an early start at 8:00am but I’m sure it will be worth it. Today I will be heading south, down over Vince's Saddle and through some picturesque country towns like Franklin and Huonville which are dotted along the Huon River. It’s only a 60 minute drive to Geeveston, and then another 20 minutes down the Arve Road to Tahune (but more about the Arve Road another day).
After stopping for a short leg stretch in Geeveston at the Forest and Heritage Centre, and then a drive into the heart of the Southern Forests, I arrived at the Tahune AirWalk. Here I was greeted by some of the lovely ladies in the Visitors Centre before heading off on my first walk.
First stop is the Swinging Bridges along McKay’s track. After about a 20 minute walk, I reached the first bridge. This one spans about 50 meters across the Picton River, and is quite amazing to walk over with the river rushing underneath me. There is a bit of history behind the bridge, and while I won’t go into too much detail, it does replace a similar bridge which got washed away in the floods about 40 years ago. Don’t worry though; it is perfectly safe with a good distance between you and the water!
After safely making it across, it was just a quick stroll to the next bridge. This one is a bit more impressive as it is longer than the last, and the Huon River is a bit wilder with a few rapids underneath as it flows through some rocks. This bridge was a bit damp; it must have rained that morning (note to self, wear more appropriate walking shoes next time!). Lucky for me, the bridge does have good handrails and barriers, which I must say I made good use of! Looking down from the bridge the water colour reminds me of Coke, once again highlighting how unorganised I was, and that I should have brought a drink with me.
A thirty minute walk through the lush rainforest, takes you to the base of the Tahune AirWalk which is the major attraction of this area. There are a few steps, but the AirWalk itself is a ramp, which is nice after the hike from the bridges. The AirWalk hosts a cantilever, suspended 48m above the forest floor. This in itself is pretty exciting (lucky I’m not scared of heights!) but the view from up here is amazing. Looking directly out, there are the Hartz Mountains, and below them is the joining of the Huon and Picton Rivers which I only crossed a short time ago. I spent a bit of time on the cantilever, the wind had picked up which swayed it a bit, but I wanted to make the most of that view.
You can walk a bit further down the AirWalk, through the forest where there are different viewing platforms, which give a different perspective on the scenery. However, I was keen to head off on another walk, this time the Huon Pine trail. This is a loop walk, which is good because you don’t have to come back the same way. It takes about 20 minutes, so it’s only short, but it is interesting because it shows you the lifecycle of Huon Pine which is native to the area. Some are huge, and are as old as 2000 years!
There are other species in this forest as well, including man ferns which really stand out due to their lush, green colouring; sassafras; celery top; and flowering leatherwood. Signs along the walk tell you a few facts about the trees, and how they are used to make some of the items we use every day, such as furniture. The walk ends alongside the river, and it’s just a short walk back to the visitors centre.
The visitors centre is well equipped with toilets and a cafe for refreshments after all that walking. Alternatively, there are BBQ facilities, both gas and wood fuelled if that is more your style. Then it’s a leisurely drive back along the Huon Highway towards Hobart. It was definitely a great day out, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys getting out into nature and exploring at their own pace.
For more info on the AirWalk visit www.adventureforests.com.au
GPS Coordinates :
LAT : 43° 5'42.34"S
LON : 146°43'47.00"E
Always check our road and track closure information before setting off on your journey (click here)