Monday, 5 January 2015

Huon Valley and Gliding on Air

We headed towards the deep south of Tasmania into the Huon Valley. This region has been shaped by a rich history of whaling, timber cutting, boat building and fruit growing. We passed many apple orchards, vineyards and some cherry orchards during our two hour drive to the Tahune Forest Reserve. Poised on the edge of the south-west wilderness, the forest has been an important economic driver to the area since colonisation.

It was interesting to learn about the logging quest for Huon Pine (named so as it was first found in this valley). These straight trunked trees grow incredibly slowly at a rate of 1mm per year. It's a rich smelling, warm creamy-golden wood which is highly prized for boat building due to its grain and anti-rot properties as it is insusceptible to marine borer or screw worm. Huon Pine can no longer be felled and is a protected species. The Huon Pine currently used for timber products is reclaimed from buildings or from old trees submerged in rivers or lakes.

We experienced the beautiful views of the forest canopy from a high walking platform that was suspended among the giants of the forest. The air walk took nearly an hour; we were impressed by the high wire engineering - which thankfully held our combined weight. These southern forests are dominated by Eucalyptus regnans, or Swamp Gum. These trees, like the legendary Phoenix, are born and destroyed in fire. Swamp Gum flourishes in the high rainfall. The largest recorded Swamp Gum in the Tahune Forest Reserve holds the record of the tallest hardwood in the world at 99.6m and has been called Centurion (obviously working to significant figures). 

At one point we walked out on a limb above the tree tops and saw the mighty Huon River rush beneath our feet. The confluence of the Huon and Picton Rivers was visible to the west. Ella was especially courageous to venture out on the limb and overcome her fear of the exposure. 

We also took to the air (almost) when we tried Eagle Hang Gliding. It was great fun and safe as we were controlled by wires. 

We then travelled further into the south, passing the town of Dover. It was in this deep bay that the first European navigators dropped anchor. When we arrived at Hastings Springs we were surprised to find a normal swimming pool when we were expecting something a bit more, well, natural. It was fed by pure spring water but you couldn't actually see the spring. It said that this attraction was 28C all year round, which I found a little optimistic, but it was good to relax in the pool. We were warmed by a tasty BBQ, expertly cooked by Chris on the publicly provided gas grills. 

A fallen giant

We each take to the skies!

Beautiful blue-spot moth

Walking amongst the tree tops

Views over the Swamp Gum canopy

The river water is stained brown with tannins but is clean and fresh

Confluence of the Huon and Picton Rivers

Out on a limb

Chef cooks up a treat 

Mermaids relaxing