Wednesday, 19 Jun 2019

Bridport Walking Track. Launceston Region.

Bridport Walking Track

“Top Walks in Tasmania”

Melanie Ball

Bridport Walking Track. Launceston Region.

     Whether you prefer pressing feet into sand dunes or treading alpine tracks, hanging out with kangaroos on coastal plains or getting down and dirty with fungi in lush rainforests watered by cascades, there’s a walk for you near Launceston. Bridport Walking Track. You can spend an hour, half a day or from dawn to dusk checking out these northern delights. This lovely loop through historic Bridport proves you don’t have to go bush to go bushwalking.

Bridport Walking Track. Launceston Region. - photo 1

Bridport Walking Track. The remains of the Granite Point Jetty thrust from Anderson Bay

Walk:

12.5km loop

Time required:

3–4 hours

Best time:

Mid-October to late-November for the wildflowers but the track is walkable year-round

Grade:

Easy

Environment:

Riparian bush, eucalypt and banksia scrub, town foreshore

Best map:

This one

Toilets:

Flushing toilets under Bridport Visitor Centre and along the foreshore.

Food:

Pub, cafes and takeaways in Bridport’s main street.

Tips:

There’s no drinking water until you get back to the foreshore.

Bridport Walking Track. Launceston Region. - photo 2

Bridport Walking Track

     Broad beaches and opportunities to hook fish from ocean and river attract summer and long-weekend crowds to Bridport, on Tasmania’s north-east coast, dramatically increasing the resident population of about twelve-hundred. But Bridport Walking Track reveals that there’s more to the 1860s port town than sand and sea life. Multiple access points facilitate nibbling at it or you can tread the entire loop, a lovely way to experience the Brid River and inland wildflower scrub, which might otherwise remain overshadowed by the attention-grabbing coast.

     Bridport Walking Track is divided into three legs: River–Forest, Wildflower Reserve and History Foreshore. You could start at Bridport Visitor Centre, in town, part-way along the foreshore, but the walk described keeps the sections distinct by kicking off with River–Forest.

     Bridport Walking Track. An hour’s drive from Launceston via the East Tamar Highway (A8) and Bridport Road (B82) – there are several alternative routes – Bridport and surrounds were, for millennia, a gathering place for Leenerrerter Aboriginal people, who feasted on local waterfowl, fish and plains animals. Nowadays the town has scallop, trout (farmed) and lobster industries. It’s also the departure point for ferries (with limited passenger capacity) to Flinders Island in the Furneaux Group. Bridport Walking Track.

Bridport Walking Track. Launceston Region. - photo 3

Bridport Walking Track

    Bridport Walking Track. Park opposite the port (and a seafood takeaway) on the Brid River’s west bank, cross the road bridge, and turn right, treading a formed track into riverside swamp paper barks. Emerging from these melaleucas, the track ducks under power lines and presents a river view, the water mirroring rocks and tall white gums on calm days. You then pass the back gate of Torrington House, Bridport’s oldest original dwelling.

     Early on you can hear traffic and port activity. The riverbank is also infested with blackberries but replanting works are underway and it’s still pretty. Having almost touched Ada Road, the track returns to riparian scrub and continues along a fence as Conrod Straight (sections of track are named after people involved in its creation). This brings you to a footbridge over Brid River (see point 1 on map) beyond which, steps climb the opposite bank. Platypus can show themselves any time of day so watch here for the tell-tale bubbles and water rings of these remarkable duck-billed, egg-laying mammals feeding and surfacing. Bridport Walking Track.

     Bridport Walking Track. Cross a concrete water race and continue, with houses atop the slope to your right. Boardwalks cut through tree fern pockets to a reedy pond, soon after which a short side track visits a miniature waterfall over a low dam wall. The dam and weir were integral to Bridport’s first modern water supply, opened in 1938, and the race, crossed earlier, now waters the fish farm at the town’s entrance.

Bridport Walking Track. Launceston Region. - photo 4

Bridport Walking Track

     Bridport Walking Track. Beyond the dam, turn left onto a dirt road under more powerlines and descend to the old turbine station. The walking track resumes right of the turbines (ignore the vehicular track going uphill). Moss-edged, it snakes through bracken, paper barks, black peppermints (rough-barked eucalypts) and the semi-parasitic native cherry trees that feed on them. Farmland climbs the slopes across the river.

     Dip into fern gullies, bisect a rough vehicular track, and enter a world of immature she-oaks, Tasmania’s most drought-resistant tree species, rising from a wash of cutting grass as sharp as its name suggests. This is gorgeous forest despite the growl of trucks. Bridport Road appears left as you continue through more mature she-oaks, their fallen needles muffling your footfalls. Watch for green rosellas as you pull away from the river, cross vehicular tracks and climb to a bench (see point 2 on map) with a view of farmland and Mt Arthur (1188m), to the south-west. Bridport Walking Track.

    Bridport Walking Track. You may have seen bell-shaped common heath flowers already on the walk but the spring spectacular begins in earnest beyond sealed Maxwells Street. Cross towards Bridport Golf Club (looking right you’ll get a good view of how far you’ve climbed) and pick up the track again several metres to the right. Walk towards Adams Beach, initially along a banksia corridor between golf course and houses.

Bridport Walking Track. Launceston Region. - photo 5

Bridport Walking Track

     Even outside peak wildflower season, spherical grass trees and shapely eucalypts make this delightful bush. From mid-October to late-November, however, this short leg can take hours due to the distraction of show-off blooms such as waxlip orchids, tapered leek orchids, running postman, pimelea, cushy bush pea and trigger plants. Bridport Walking Track. 

     Bridport Walking Track. When manicured greens give way to vistas reaching to the next-west headland, a wider track descends through grasslands, crosses another vehicular track (gated right), and traverses heathland towards bays, beaches and headlands. Part-way down there’s a bench sited for watching sunrise and sunset (see point 3 on map).

     Veer left at the next junction, through a chicane to Adams Beach. You could explore the beach before rock-hopping east around the headland at low tide to rejoin the walking track. Otherwise return to the main track and descend to the foreshore, swinging east at a vehicle turning circle onto a gravel road that runs along the shore, passing footpads into rocky coves. Bridport Walking Track.

Bridport Walking Track. Launceston Region. - photo 6

Bridport Walking Track

     Bridport Walking Track. About 150m along, turn left at a parking area onto Old Pier Beach for the best views of what’s left of Granite Point Jetty, built in 1916 and mysteriously burnt down in 1938. Seabirds perch on the palisade of pylons. The saw-tooth peaks on the horizon are the Strzelecki Range on Flinders Island.

    Bridport Walking Track. You’re now on the History Foreshore walk. Dating back to a 1920s promenade, it is studded with storyboards, such as at Croquet Lawn Beach. The thwack of mallets on balls has quieted but the Croquet Club shed lives on as storage for Bridport Sailing Club.

     Skirt grassy Bridport Seaside Caravan Park, Tasmania’s largest campground according to the coordinator of Bridport Visitor Centre; facilities include a help-yourself herb garden beside the camp kitchen. Then pass the ‘village green’ lawns (see point 4 on map) rolling from the main street down to a playground above Gottons Beach, at the river mouth. Bridport Walking Track.

     Bridport Walking Track. The walk follows the river inland now but low tide exposes a broad, flat, river beach – the Flinders Island ferry can depart only at high tide – which you can tread back to the car. Stay on wet sand to protect birds’ nests above the high-tide mark and watch out for romping dogs.

 

 

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