The reserve is named after Truganini, known to be the final living full-blood Tasmanian Aborigine. When Britain settled Tasmania, the majority of those who came before her had either been slaughtered, or died in various settlements when local governance sought to reform them into european ways. This reserve stands as one of many small tributes in honour of the maltreatment the Tasmanian Aborigines suffered at the inception of what we know as modern Australia.
The Truganini Track follows Cartwright creek inland on the northern outskirts of Taroona, before ascending on a steep incline to the summit of Mt Nelson. The path first winds through damp, dense forest, climbing to scattered trees, their thin trunks hindering an expansive panorama of the ocean to the south.
I stopped many times to look back, hoping for a clear view of the sea behind me. Eventually these trees give way to hardy bushes, and a small maze of paths meandering the summit. To the west lies an ornamental tribute to the Aborigines, and to the east, the Mt Nelson Signal Station, and Station Cafe.
This segment of the trip required under two hours, and believe me, if you attempt it yourself, if you’re as inexperienced or unfit as I was, it will be a heavy climb.
I neglected to visit the cafe at the summit, but I did investigate the Mt Nelson Signal Station. This was a small historical building with clear views of the southern ocean and the eastern banks of the Derwent.
Inside, a central room features large plaques relating the history of the station: At the founding of Hobart, before the era of radio technology, incoming ships would relay back and forth with the signal station atop the mountain, and this station in turn could communicate with a station based down by the port. Within a tiny office, two displays feature old documents and signaling flags in glass cases, old telephone equipment still mounted on the wall. A wooden filing cabinet stands above the door frame, aged markings still visible.
Featuring plenty of historical significance, which may be fascinating to the history buff, my central aim was to simply experience the forest and the climb. The view from the summit was not as satisfying as I had hoped, but the climb itself, especially throughout the lower foothills and dense forest, although a taxing climb, was rewarding in atmosphere.
If starting from the bottom, this track can be reached by following Sandy Bay Road from the Hobart CBD. The trip is circa. 15 minutes by car, 30 minutes by bus – the reserve sits on at least six public bus routes. According to Greater Hobart Trails – a valuable guide to the various trails within the Hobart surrounds – no bikes, dogs, or horses are allowed on the track. There are facilities at the summit, but I recall none until that point. I strongly suggest carrying water for the climb. Set aside roughly two hours to reach the summit, perhaps shorter, depending on your level of fitness. Visit Truganini Track | Greater Hobart Trails for a detailed map of the area.