The first time I set out to walk the Myrtle Gully track, I walked straight past the entrance. Unfortunately, the map I relied upon wasn’t clear that the start of this track is just inside another (the Old Farm Track.) This is me looking back, fifteen minutes in:
I was walking on the edge of Wellington Park, which is one of the largest natural reserves in Tasmania. At the heart is Mount Wellington, one of Tasmania’s most notorious landmarks. Standing at 1271m (4166ft), it overlooks the city of Hobart, the Derwent River, and surrounding ranges. Dozens of tracks run throughout the mountainous areas of Hobart, most of which intersect one another in this park. This walk started on the eastern boundary, at the end of Old Farm Rd, in South Hobart.
After walking a few minutes longer, I came upon the Old Farm Fire Trail.
It wasn’t the Myrtle Gully Track I’d been looking for, but a Google search showed it lead to the same destination – Junction Cabin. Unfortunately I fell on a more arduous and far less scenic route. I didn’t take any photos on the climb. Track notes specify it as a difficult climb usually reserved for cyclists, but at this point.. it was the shortest route.
The track opened on a large clearing with further trails in every direction. Junction Cabin was a simple, open hut with a wooden table and fireplace, used as a public shelter from inclement weather. (I felt it wasn’t worth a photo at the time, but this guy was there during a cold winter.)
Scouting the edges of the clearing, I found a decent map giving a guide to the area. I hadn’t planned on a long walk, but considering the few hours left of the day, I opted to head south along the Lenah Valley track, where I could pass the most features in the shortest amount of time.
The first of these was Lone Cabin, another small shelter, sequestered down in the forest, on a narrow path against the hillside.
Heading back to the Lenah Valley track, I kept on for Rock Cabin.
Rock Cabin was much the same as those previous: in this case, a steel table, a molten mass of several candles and an empty fireplace.
After leaving Rock Cabin I found Sphinx Rock a further five minutes down the trail. Sphinx Rock is a natural rock formation which overhangs the valley below, exhibiting a massive panorama of Hobart and it’s surrounds. I attempted to take a full panorama including the ground and the expanse of river to the east, but the lack of a tripod spoiled the attempt. No matter, just another reason to return..
Checking the map, I decided to double back and divert down the Lower Sawmill Track to make it back to my car before sunset. The track seemed less well-travelled than the others, even those which cross its path. Thick, damp leaves cover much of the ground and the tree canopy throws a dark and claustrophobic atmosphere over the forest. Personally, I loved it.
Descending the Lower Sawmill Track, I stumbled down onto the Middle Island Fire Trail. I found myself faced with a faded, green, wooden sign on a grassy road. To the left was “Inglewood” (which, at the time, I figured might be an old name for a nearby suburb, unaware of the fire trail by that name.) In the other direction was Strickland Falls, a feature not noted on the park map I’d seen. Google to the rescue! A blog told me it was relatively close, so I decided to make the trek. The fire trail terminated at an overgrown path descending the walls of a steep gully. I was beginning to realise just how old this trail was when I was clutching trees and near-sliding down the side of the muddy walls of this place. It’s not a route I’d choose to approach from again. I managed to reach the bottom without braining myself, and found this..
What I didn’t know at the time is that the waterfall is apparently readily accessible via nearby Strickland Avenue, at least if you have the right boots to stomp through the water.
How would I rate this trek? Well, apart from being ill-equipped to approach and hop around the waterfall with my camera, Strickland Falls is a pretty nice place, and I’d be curious to find an approach from above. A well-supplied hiker could make more use of the cabins, if they found themselves isolated by the weather. The Lenah Valley Track is quite picturesque, from winding wooded hills to open vistas of large, tumbled rock falling down the hillside. There isn’t a panoramic view of Hobart, but you can certainly observe most of the general area through the trees. Sphinx Rock rewards you with a panorama to rival the top of Mount Wellington itself.
Normally, I’d give you some precise directions, but there are so damn many options. Honestly, I would look at the “Things to do” section on the Wellington Park website. Their maps page supplies detailed images of trails throughout the park, with indications to possible points of entry and suggested routes. The site is packed with advice and guidelines on enjoying the park without destroying it, but more importantly common sense advice for those aiming to wander through the mountains.
To recap: I walked a loop from the terminus of Old Farm Road, which is situated behind Cascade Brewery in South Hobart. My trek took me across the Main Fire Trail, up Old Farm Fire Trail to Junction Cabin where I walked across the Lenah Valley Track to Sphinx Rock. The narrow path of Old Sawmill brought me down to the Middle Island Fire Trail from which I rejoined the Main Fire Trail to close it.
As the highlight of the trip, if you wanted to see Sphinx Rock in the shortest amount of steps, you could park at the end of the Inglewood Fire Trail (marked Inglewood Rd on Google Maps) and walk up the Old Sawmill Track. I won’t pretend it will be easy, though.