Wednesday, 21 Aug 2019

Meander Falls

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Meander Falls
- A man with a seven-inch (18 cm) penis may proudly compare his organ to the average man’s five to six inches (12-15 cm) but be intimidated when learning another wields an eight-inch (20 cm) rod.

Meander Falls

     One of Tasmania’s outrageous bounty of cascades, Meander Falls is accessed by a continuous – and, in places, steep – climb on a rough track that necessitates watching every foot placement. It’s worth the physical and mental effort. Tread an ankle-threatening track along a mountain river to one of Tasmania’s most spectacular waterfalls.

Meander Falls - photo 1

Meander Falls. The top of the Great Western Tiers as seen from the base of Meander Falls.

 

Walk:

10km out-and-back

Time required:

4.5–6 hours

Best time:

Autumn, late spring and early summer. The falls’ geology makes them impressive year-round but the flow lessens greatly by late summer. In winter and early spring, the cascade can partly freeze and icicles drip from the pines, an unforgettable sight; these conditions raise the grade of the walk to challenging, suitable for only experienced hikers.

Grade:

Moderate–hard

Environment:

Rooty and rocky rainforest, eucalypt forest, boulder slopes, waterfall, dolerite cliff, river

Best map:

This one

Toilets:

At the time of writing, the only toilet was a grim one downhill to the right of the car park beyond a rustic Apex hut however by publication there should be a new loo in the car park.

Food:

None

Tips:

Snow can fall year-round and walkers should to be prepared for sudden, unpredicted deterioration in the weather including footwear with good grip and ankle support. Walking poles can be invaluable.

Meander Falls - photo 2

Meander Falls

     Early in its 112km journey from the Great Western Tiers to the South Esk River, near Hadspen, the Meander River drops down a chasm in the dolerite escarpment as spectacular Meander Falls. One of Tasmania’s outrageous bounty of cascades, Meander Falls is accessed by a continuous – and, in places, steep – climb on a rough track that necessitates watching every foot placement. Meander Falls is worth the physical and mental effort.

Meander Falls takes the plunge about 29km south of Deloraine in the Meander Conservation Area, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Head south-west from Deloraine on the A5 (East Pde becomes Highland Lakes Road). After 11km turn right onto the C167 (Meander Road) and continue for 10.5km through Meander township. About 700m beyond Whiteleys Road (left), turn left onto (here unsigned) Meander Falls Road, which runs all the way to the falls car park (ignore Bessells Road, branching left), and crossing Mother Cummings Rivulet and the Meander River. The walking track starts from a parking area at the end of several kilometres of sometimes-potholed gravel, generally navigable by conventional vehicles but muddy and slippery when wet. Meander Falls.

Meander Falls - photo 3

Meander Falls

     Meander Falls. Official estimates of time for this walk vary and the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service Great Short Walk sign, a few metres along the track, gives the return distance as 7.5km compared with online and GPS measurements of ten kilometres. There’s no doubt, however, that the alternative loop walk, returning from the falls via Split Rock (five to seven hours), is tougher than the out-and-back option described here. Many challenging obstacles, including very steep sections, extensive boulder fields difficult to navigate in poor weather, and river crossings that shouldn’t be attempted when in flood, make the loop suitable for only skilful bushwalkers.

The Meander Falls walking track heads south-west off the parking area. Crazy paved with protruding rocks and roots, it climbs marginally through regrowth forest of tall eucalypts, tea tree and myrtle beech, passing fallen trees and the stumps of axe-felled giants. The Meander River is audible but not yet visible on the right.

Meander Falls - photo 4

Meander Falls

     Continuing through more open eucalypt and beech forest you glimpse a flotilla of silver-grey dead eucalypts scaling the valley’s steep far wall, and the river shows below. Meander Falls. The track narrows and traverses a hillside dropping into a tree fern gully parallel to the river.

The walking track is marked with red arrows (the return with yellow ones) but the network of footpads a kilometre in, indicates how easy it is to lose your way hereabouts. Fallen trees and landslips can force diversions too. Watch for markers ahead as keenly as you watch your footwork on the rough track. As you come through here the forest opens enough for a good look at the precipitous cliff of the Great Western Tiers. Impregnable cliffs show through the trees on the right as you cross an area of scree. Almost back at river level, with water gurgling through rocks to your right in leafy riparian forest, look closely at the exquisite mosses, plushest in cooler, damper months.

Meander Falls - photo 5      Meander Falls

     Having passed the Dixons Track and Wood-Maynard Loop (left) (see point 1 on map), 1.3km into the walk, the track hugs the river, crossing and following mini-tributaries and passing tempting waterholes beneath a thick, almost tangled canopy. Marginally less rocky track littered with beech leaves brings you to Wood-Maynard Memorial Bridge.

Meander Falls. Over the bridge, cross and then follow a gully through beech forest adorned with fungi in wetter months, keeping straight on again beneath parasol-like tree ferns where the Dixons Track and Wood-Maynard Loop comes back in on the left.

The Meander Falls walking track is a blend of roller-coaster and tight-rope: up and down, loose underfoot and rocky, away from and towards the river, which here is piled with fallen trees washed down by rain, there cascading into pristine pools, most inaccessible from the track. Opposite one pretty miniature fall, wooden and stone steps, and uneven track scale the gorge wall, only to drop down again and work between river and scree slope.

Meander Falls - photo 6

   Meander Falls

     Amid King Billy pines (see point 2 on map), about 3km into the walk, the track turns hard left and starts steeply uphill beside another scree slope (left), climbing into drier forest of myrtle beech, gum trees, mountain berries and spring- and summer-flowering mint bush (the throats of their distinctive tubular white flowers are spotted purple). This ascent deposits you on a cliff edge with pencil pines, jagged balancing rocks above and rugged cliffs and a huge scree slope with a reptilian texture opposite.

Meander Falls. The track pushes on into beech forest, robbing you of the view but providing welcome shade on a warm day. A weathered wooden sign marks the Split Rock loop junction (see point 3 on map), shortly after which you’ll see falling water through the trees. From a sun-trap opening in the forest, head right and continue about 30m down a ribboned route to Meander Falls pencil pine-fringed plunge pool for some well-deserved lunch.

Even with a light summer flow, these falls are spectacular, plunging from the lip of the Great Western Tiers escarpment, way overhead, down the dolerite rock face in two tiers, into a natural bowl with blocky, sharp-edged walls. Meander Falls. The promise of winter water volumes and seeing the falls frozen might have you planning a return visit before you test your surefootedness again returning to the car park.

“Top Walks in Tasmania”
Melanie Ball

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