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TRAVEL

CHAMPAGNE FALLS: 

COUCH TRAVEL INTO TASMANIA'S WILDERNESS BELLY

Words & photography by Kylie Bell
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Flicking through a Tasmanian hikers guide book from the bookshelf one evening and using Google Maps to pan around the north of our island, it was time to find a new adventure. Deciding to save up our mountain-hiking bucket list destinations for later, this time we were on the search for a waterfall. We were craving somewhere new, that we had not visited before. An untouched place and somewhere deep in Tasmania’s wilderness belly. 

Finding and locking in our gamble on the map, and tucking the notes we had made into our hiker’s guide book, we found - as per usual our eager selves - the latter and our gear piled in with us in the car, galloping down the road in our mini the next morning. With the sun flickering between the trees and the morning’s yet-to-be-eaten breakfast precariously balanced on our laps, we chatted excitedly as we took one of our favourite routes to Cradle Mountain from the North Coast. Only this time, as tempting as it was, this was not where our map-pin was taking us.

 

We didn’t entirely know what to expect. We had found a collection of photos of the waterfall online and checked the track details and feedback. It looked sizable enough and in the Tasmanian wilderness to tick all the boxes. Within thirty minutes we were turning the car left, down towards Lemonthyme Lodge from the route that would have otherwise taken us to Cradle Mountain. From this moment, we started sensing this was going to be good. Towering Tasmanian natives ran past our windows either side of our Mini Cooper, as we bounced down the gravel road. Man ferns silently watching us as our two eager faces peered back out. We soon found ourselves tucked into the belly of that Tassie wilderness we were craving. 

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Arriving, we pulled on our packs, registered at the lodge and set off up the track that was pointed out to us; a forested gravel road, lined by Sassafras, Bluegums and Peppermint natives. After thirty minutes, as we gently ascended the first part of the track, we came across a sign pointing right. This jumped us off the regrowth gravel road and into the rainforest. We could hear the soft promise of the waterfall as we clambered down the earthen track into the sides of the rainforest gorge. Passing a couple of chatty adventurers heading the other way - the first and last fellow adventures we would see for the rest of the walk - the water in the valley below grew louder.

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Walking down underneath carved-out boulders three times the height of us and brushing against the scent of the undergrowth, we soon stumbled out and under one of the most magical and cathedral-like, cascading waterfalls we had seen in a while. We stood, at the bottom, entirely surrounded by lime-painted, fungus-coated rocks. It was just us, the wilderness and the drum of the water. Champagne Falls was impressive and stunning, filling our adventure-seeker and nature-loving souls. 

 

I am not sure how long we stayed; it didn’t matter. Finding a new travel destination on this wild island of ours, that exceeds expectations, is a powerful moment. Before leaving, we attempted to capture that sense of peace, beauty and wilderness with our cameras. Then moving forward, our adventure beckoned further. Champagne Falls was just one of three on the circuit. Reluctantly pulling ourselves away, we pushed into the rainforest again, following the thrum and tumble of the stream that carved out this valley’s floor. The best part, as we almost danced through the forest from our adventure-travel-high, was that we were entirely alone. Thirty minutes drive from Devonport or Cradle Mountain if you swung in the other direction, we could have been deep in the south-west wilderness from the ambience and experience of this place.

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Come on the journey, as we explore our island state of Tasmania and beyond, through the medium of photography and travel stories. Lost Oar is my travel and photography journal, through which I hope to inspire you to seek out your adventure too. Lost Oar is fuelled by an insatiable passion for adventure travel, hiking, geology, and landscape photography.

 

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I thank the thoughtful and sharing person who decided to carve out this track for future visitors. Or perhaps, like our Tasmanian native animals, the keenness to return again and again made that path; I would have wanted to come back too. Mentally marking this as one of the best waterfall and rainforest destinations in the region, we also knew it was largely unknown in mainstream Tasmanian travel. In fact, how many times had we passed back and forth past that gravel road ourselves as we visited Cradle Mountain National Park since our childhood; completely oblivious to this place! It felt like a fairy glen, stumbling into one waterfall after another as you follow the stream, and even a collection of monster Eucalyptus trees that had been left standing despite parts of this area fallen for timber over sixty years ago. I could even understand why Lemonthyme Lodge accommodation was built; perhaps it was someone’s dream, knowing how special this place was, and having the humbleness to share it with the world. Now it is a collection of beautifully silvered cabins, almost unseen amidst the Man ferns and native bushland. 

As a travel destination, and if you really want to experience some of this islands wilderness magic, and you are in the region - perhaps to see Cradle Mountain - chuck this on the bucket list. Champagne Falls is not the only spectacular spot in the area. Leven Canyon sits quietly just over a few hills, and Sheffield hums away under the foothills of Mount Roland only a short drive east. The roads also take you back through to Stanley back on the Cradle Coast or head west to Strahan and Macquarie Harbour. The walk is two-three hours return - depending on how long it takes to pull yourself away from Champagne Falls - make sure you give yourself the time to really enjoy and immerse yourself into this one. If you would like to learn more or explore those other local travel destinations - piling some more great experiences into your suitcase - you can check out our travel guides, link below.

 

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