The Turning of the Fagus - Tasmania Only Event
Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair and Mt Field National Parks are excellent places for enjoying
With the approach of Anzac Day (April 25th), it reminds us that the leaves on the Deciduous Beech, Nothofagus gunnii, will be transforming from green to beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red. The Deciduous Beech, or fagus as it is known by many, is the only native deciduous tree in the cool and temperate region of Australia. It is only found in Tasmania and here you have to go and do a bit of a hunt for it, as it certainly isn't one for growing by the side of the road! Simply put, the cold and wet parts of the state that have a bit of altitude are where you tend to find it. Maybe that is part of the delight of admiring a stand of fagus, the fact that you have to set aside a day to go out with the plan of seeing the fagus. A day venturing away from home and into the beautiful mountain wilderness.
It is estimated that there is only about 10 000 hectares of Deciduous Beech, with 70% of it to be found in Tasmania's World Heritage Areas. Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair and Mt Field National Parks are excellent places for enjoying the beautiful Autumn colours of the fagus. It is a great opportunity to plan a hike to see it. However, if you don't have the health, time or inclination for a hike, there are stands of fagus that are quite accessible. In the Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair National Park the relatively flat, easy two hour Dove Lake Circuit passes through some patches. The much shorter and even easier Weindorfers Forest Walk takes about 20 minutes and trees can even be viewed from the carpark at the historic Waldheim Chalet, where this walk begins and ends.
In Mt Field National Park fagus can be seen around Lake Fenton, where there is also an observation area. Continue further up the Lake Dobson Road and amongst boulders some fagus is visible from the road.
If you delight in a good walk that gets the heart pumping a bit faster, which rewards you with the delightful spectacle of the turning of the fagus, the walks to Crater Lake in Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair National Park and Tarn Shelf in Mt Field National Park are pilgrimages well worth making - words won't do them justice. To walk to Crater Lake takes approximately two hours return. You can head off on very clear tracks from Weindorfers Chalet, Dove Lake or Ronny Creek Carpark. To walk to Tarn Shelf, drive to the carpark at Lake Dobson (16km of gravel road) where you can do a walk return walk that takes around three hours or spend the day and do the circuit.
Last April, our family walked up to Crater Lake. Almost as soon as we were out of the car our teenage son said, "It's raining" with an expectant look of being able to hop back in the car! As if! It was on with the raincoats and off along the track. Hmm, can we convince them a walk to Tarn Shelf would be a great idea this April?
Most importantly, to maximise your safety and enjoyment, make sure you register at the walker registration stations before undertaking any walks in National Parks, and have clothing suitable for cold weather, as conditions can quickly change at altitude in Tasmania.
National parks fees apply for admission to national parks in Tasmania.