Liffey Falls, Narawntapu NP and Waterhouse Conservation Area


On September 22, 2020, in company with Allen Campbell, I left Hobart for three locations: Liffey Falls (a Conservation Area in the Central Highlands), Narawntapu National Park (central north coast) and the Waterhouse Conservation Area in the far northeast of Tasmania. Our purpose was to make exploratory visits to these areas, staying only one day at each location.


We travelled through the Central Highlands. There are many natural lakes here as well as dams built for Tasmania's hydroelectric system: these dams are usually (euphemistically) also called "lakes".  Lacking native "sport" fish, trout were introduced for the pleasure of anglers, and in many cases these trout wiped out the smaller native fish, such as galaxiids


Much of the terrain is relatively flat, as illustrated in this photo. There are many fishing 'shacks', which are presumably visited on warm weekends. On the day of our visit the landscape had a cold, empty and lonely feel to it.


Some shacks are built well and carefully maintained, giving the appearance of retirement cottages.


This looks like a rubbish dump for abandoned hydro gear. I was tempted to take some home!



Liffey Falls are stepped, so they have upper and lower ends. There is a viewing area at the upper end, and a good walking track running alongside the river. There's a camping area not far from the lower end of the falls, and that's where we stayed.


The falls are situated in rainforest, in places dominated by Nothofagus moorei (Antarctic Beech).



We were the only campers. The campground is pretty, with lots of shade and flat ground. There's a toilet and some tables, but that's all. No ranger and no fee.


We moved on to Narawntapu National Park, formerly called Asbestos Range National Park, on the central north coast.


Here there's a ranger station, toilets and hot showers. A Parks Pass is required, plus a small fee for campers.


We walked to a hill called Archers Knob, then back to Springlawn (2 hours). If you could arrange a car shuffle, a great all-day walk would be along Bakers Beach to Badger Head, then along Badgers Beach and West Head to a pick-up vehicle at Greens Beach.


There are long thin shallow lagoons behind the secondary dunes, densely populated by paperbark trees. Great habitat for frogs: actually there's a lot of good frog habitat at Nanawntapu. However most of the lagoons were dry when we visited. The large shallow lake just northeast of Springlawn (see the above map) was also mostly dry. A bit disappointing, I thought.


Kangaroos on the dry lake floor. 


The burrow of a terrestrial crayfish, on the dry lake floor. Tasmania has 13 endemic species of freshwater burrowing crayfish, three of which are endangered and two are vulnerable - mainly the result of habitat loss (farming and forestry activities are the biggest threats).



Above and below: Drosera spp.




Looking west from Archers Knob.


Drosera in flower.


Most of Australia's orchids are small and cryptic.


On the drive to Waterhouse we passed through several small towns. In Australia many small towns are gradually dwindling away. Over the last century the rural population has tended to move from small towns to larger regional centres. More recently, over the last three decades, small towns close to Australia's larger cities have seen a revival as city-dwellers purchase holiday houses in the countryside.


In Tasmania there are still many places for a person to quietly 'disappear' from view, should that be necessary. 

In the late sixties I worked in a remote mine in the Northern Territory, and I was surprised to find that many of the workers there had no past (which they would discuss, at any rate). The electrician I was working with disappeared, suddenly, without a trace, even leaving behind back-pay. I queried the mine management, but got the reply "it happens all the time".



Waterhouse Conservation Area. Many areas of moving sand are clearly visible in this image.


We camped at Mahers Beach. There are toilets but no other facilites. No ranger and no fee. This is a good spot for families, with sheltered campsites and sheltered, safe beaches. It's crowded during Christmas and Easter holidays, but on the day of our visit there were only a few other campers.


Above and below: Mahers Beach


Off-season, it's a quiet, beautiful and relaxing place.


From the dunes above Mahers Beach, looking east. The hills in the distance are, I think, the Blue Tiers.