Entry point to the Mount Field National Park and Tasmania's Southern Wilderness
South West Tasmania is wilderness. It is restricted to keen bushwalkers prepared to walk for days through forests that have never been tamed to coastlines few humans have ever seen. Most people go to Strahan and experience the wilderness from the comfort of a cruise across Macquarie Harbour and into the mouth of the Gordon River. Those wanting to explore the wilderness from the inland have to drive through National Park on the Gordon River Road which eventually reaches the shores of Lake Pedder and Lake Gordon. As a town, National Park is really nothing more than a few cottages and a picnic spot on the edge of the Mount Field National Park.
National Park is located 71 km north-west of Hobart via National Highway 1 and the B62.^ TOP
Origin of Name
Located next to Mount Field National Park it was too, too obvious to call the small village - little more than accommodation and a kiosk - National Park but still this has to be a new standard for the title of "bleeding obvious" in naming a town.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Russell Falls Nature Walk and Mount Field National Park
Mount Field National Park, which covers 15,880 ha, has a total of ten walks ranging from the easy, level Russell Falls Nature Walk (a leisurely half hour return walk through stands of stringybark, mountain ash (the tallest flowering plant in the world) and white gum to a section of rainforest where myrtle, sassafras, tree ferns and fungi grow in the damp cool climate around the falls) through to Tarn Shelf circuit which is over six hours and Mt Field West walk which is over eight hours.
The appeal of Mount Field National Park is that it combines tall, wet eucalypt forest and cool rainforest (at Russell Falls) with glacial formations and snow country and alpine vegetation around Lake Dobson. There is more information on the downloadable brochure - http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=6757 - which discusses the geology and geomorphology of the area.
The Russell Falls, which were discovered by a man named Browning in 1856, are worth the effort. They are only 40 m high but the way they are tiered (it is possible to walk across the falls between the lower and upper levels) is exceptional and unusual. The track - Russell Falls, Tall Trees Circuit, Horseshoe Falls, Lady Barron Falls - is a worthwhile round trip of around two hours. There is a good downloadable brochure on the National Park. Check out http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=28144 or tel: (03) 6288 1149.
Lyrebird Nature Walk
Another walk is the Lyrebird Nature Walk which is located 7 km up the Lake Dobson road. There is an excellent information sheet available which describes the points on the trail - it passes kangaroo ferns, unusual heath species, yellow gums, man ferns and sword grass.
Other Attractions in the Area
Lake Dobson is 16 km beyond the main entrance to Mount Field National Park. The road is unsealed but it is worth the effort because the glacial lake is beautiful and isolated. In snow or in the wet it is impassible without chains and a 4WD. For information about the road tel: (03) 6288 1319. There are a number of walks around the lake and in wintertime it is a popular cross country ski destination. For more information check out http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=28144. It is a useful downloadable brochure.
Located 13 km beyond National Park on the Gordon River Road is the tiny forestry township of Maydena. The town's great "attraction" is 'The Big Tree' in the Styx Valley. It is a huge mountain ash which, at a height of 98.2 m, is reputedly the largest eucalypt in Australia. In recent times Forestry Tasmania has offered interesting accommodation and a "Top of the World Tour" which they promote as offering "action packed itineraries that include the best of Tasmania's tall forests, gourmet food and mountaintop vistas." The experience lasts approximately four and a half hours and departs daily at 11.00 am every day from 26 December to 8 January, every Saturday and Sunday from 1 October to 30 April and every Sunday all year round. There is a problem. The State Government invested $6.5 million in this project with the very beautiful Eagles Eyrie Lookout as the centrepiece. It closed down because it wasn't financially viable. Check the web for information. Type in "Eagles Eyrie Maydena". The most recent article at the time of writing was http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/eagles-eyrie-in-need-of-private-bailout/story-fnj4f7k1-1227022374386. There may be new information.
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans there is no evidence of Tasmanian Aborigines living in the area.
* In 1885 the area around Russell Falls was set aside as Tasmania's first nature reserve.
* Mount Field National Park was proclaimed in 1916 after William H. Crooke had organised a National Parks Association two years earlier.
* In 1933 the last known Tasmanian tiger (thylacine) was captured in the area.
* In 1947 the tiny township was officially named National Park.^ TOP
The Visitor Information Centre at the entrance to Mount Field National Park has brochures and sheets of information on all the roads and walks within the park. It also has a cafe, shop and toilets. Tel: (03) 6288 1149.^ TOP