Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Montezuma Falls. Amazing Tasmania

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- 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.

Montezuma Falls

Time-travel through Tasmanian mining history on this easy walk in lush, leafy rain forest to one of Tasmania’s tallest waterfalls. Why does Tasmania’s highest single-drop cascade Montezuma Falls (104m) bear the name of Mexico’s last Aztec emperor? Because it’s named after the Montezuma Silver Mining Company, founded in 1891, which found gold and silver, the treasures of the Aztec empire, (as well as tin, lead and zinc) from leases in the surrounding hills. Local mining has ceased but the falls are another treasure worth unearthing.

Montezuma Falls. Amazing Tasmania - photo 1

Montezuma Falls. The walking track passes an old timber bridge, all mossy timbers and rusty bolts.

 

Walk:

11km return

Time required:

3 hours

Best time:

Year-round: damp, even misty days with no sun intensify the greens

Grade:

Easy

Environment:

Rainforest, waterfall, mining history

Best map:

This one “Montezuma Falls”

Toilets:

Pit toilets at the start of the walk, beyond the gate, and in the top picnic area.

Food:

The nearest available food is from the supermarket, cafes and pub in the mining town of Rosebery, 8km away.

Tips:

Wear closed shoes; most of the walk’s on compacted gravel but even in summer there can be mud.

Take a torch (or use your phone) for exploring the adit (mine tunnel) on the track.

Leashed dogs and mountain bikes are permitted.

Montezuma Falls. Amazing Tasmania - photo 2

Montezuma Falls

 

The historical Montezuma Falls

The historical Montezuma Falls walk starts in a gravel car park 6km of winding bitumen and 2km of potholed gravel (called Williamsford Road) off Murchison Highway (A10). Branching south off the highway about 2km west of Rosebery and 27km east of Zeehan, the access road winds through the remains of the old mining community of Williamsford on the Ring River Goldfield.

Montezuma Falls. The walk follows the route of the North East Dundas Tramway (a 61cm narrow-gauge railway) constructed in the 1890s between hills mining operations and smelters in Zeehan in Tasmania’s west. One step past the green gate at the end of the car park and you’re on a flat gravel track in a railway cutting.

Follow the tramway route past toilets (right), and keep left at a track junction, crossing rocky Ring River by a footbridge (the right-hand track enables cyclists to ride through the water). Keep left again at the next junction, and climb a narrow track through trees, or tread the wider one, watching and listening for bikes. Turn right at the top into another cutting whose hand-cut walls are a gateway into cool temperate rain forest. Montezuma Falls.

Montezuma Falls. Amazing Tasmania - photo 3

Montezuma Falls

Montezuma Falls. Everything here – trees, rocks, forest floor – is plush with almost luminescent moss. With the Ring River frothing over rocks at the bottom of the steep bank to your right, you’ll pass a gully down which runs a waterfall-fed creek (see point 1 on map). A pocket of fern-filled forest opened to the sky by a tree fall exposes the river’s equally steep opposite bank.

 A lush corridor of fig trees leads into another cutting. Standing here beneath a canopy of myrtle beech, sassafras, leatherwood and backwoods, some clinging to the lip of the cutting with finger-like roots, it’s hard to believe that much of this land was cleared between the 1890s and 1910s. The trees were felled to make sleepers, build bridges and houses, shore-up mine shafts, and fuel smelters and cooking fires. The smelters closed in 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, and the tramway was used only infrequently until its closure in 1932. You are walking through regrowth forest, aided in no small part by a staggering local average annual rainfall of three metres!

Montezuma Falls. About 1km into the walk the track swings south up Bather Creek, crossed by a wooden footbridge beside the original tramway bridge (see point 2 on map), all mossy timbers and rusty bolts. Having crossed another creek, head back towards the river and walk on to a relaxing gurgle of water. About 3km into the walk, the track again pulls away from the river, and turns sharply south. Ignore the incoming vehicular track on a bend; there’s a bench seat shortly after.

Montezuma Falls. Amazing Tasmania - photo 4

 

 

Montezuma Falls

The further you go on this track the more railway sleepers you will see in the cuttings. These lovely old tramway timbers are very slippery when wet, but risking that can be a welcome alternative to getting muddy and in the largest cutting, on the final approach to the Montezuma Falls, additional walking planks have been laid. The ground is muddy here but also littered with small rocks loosened from the exposed, yellowish rock wall.

Montezuma Falls – the sound of falling water is loud by the time you come to an adit (see point 3 on map) hand-cut into the hill. Go in and examine the tool marks by torchlight.

The last track junction is just beyond another footbridge. A track keeping left along the valley wall leads to the base of the falls but first, if you’ve got a head for it, step up right onto the very narrow, very high suspension bridge across Avon Creek (a Ring River tributary). Enjoy a view of the cascade and your only chance to fit the whole drop in a photo frame. The tramway crossed a 48m long timber trestle bridge built so close to the Montezuma Falls that spray hits the carriage windows but the few relics of this 19th century engineering feat are lost in foliage.

Montezuma Falls. Amazing Tasmania - photo 5

Montezuma Falls

Montezuma Falls, it’s only a short walk from the far side of the replacement suspension bridge to another parking area but the 14km of 4WD track access to here is rough and driving it can take hours.

Back across the bridge, head to the base of the cascade of Montezuma Falls and watch the water drop in a single veil from 100m above. Then retrace your steps to the car park.

“Top Walks in Tasmania”

Melanie Ball 

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