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Published: February 14th 2010
Fifth Day Mount Field National Park
is Tasmania's oldest national park (1916) and also one of the oldest reserves in Australia. Oh and one of the few places you can ski in the Winter. Its highlight is the Giant Tree Walk
- a forest walk of swamp gums (Eucalyptus regnans)
, the tallest hardwood trees in the world growing to 70-100 m (230-330 feet) - and plenty of cricking of necks. (Californian Redwood trees are taller, but these are softwood trees, and botanists do not classify them as flowering plants).
In 1899 Tasmania was the first British colony to issue scenic stamps; they included ones of Russell Falls. Yes, more waterfalls! After this we drove up a terribly winding lumber road watching out for trucks and hoping they didn’t push us off the narrow road. We narrowly passed tourists who were speeding and who had to slow abruptly, Gary in his inimitable way,: “slow down, mate”.
At the top we parked up and took the Pandani Grove walk
around Lake Dobson.
Named after the world's tallest heath - the pandani - it was a wonderful place to walk - despite the steady rain (still a novelty for me here). The walk was dominated
Mount Field National Park
by a mixture of pandanis and pencil pines. Pencil pines are one of a number of ancient conifers that are endemic to Tasmania. We were also on the look-out for platypus.
After eating lunch Gary gave us the option of going to the Styx State Forest
- which would require a forty-five minute drive or to continue onto Hobart. I'm so glad we chose the first option because this reserve contains some of the tallest hardwood trees on earth; In fact one of the trees was until recently the tallest in the world at 97 metres tall, and called 'Icarus Dream'. (Down near Hobart they've found another Gum 'Centurian' over 100 metres tall.) The Styx reserve is a sight to be behold, these trees are still the tallest Eucalyptus tree in the world, the tallest hardwood trees in the world, and the tallest flowering plants in the world.
It was only recently that this area was protected from loggers and created into a reserve. But they still managed to cut down a lot of these magnificent trees for the pulp mills. Indeed Gary told us that visitors' cars to this remote spot have mysteriously had they're tyres slashed...I
wonder by whom....
Our next stop was Tasmania's capital, Hobart - and a drive south.
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