This trip had disaster written all over it before we had even left as the weather forecast was for severe weather, the Florentine River Bridge had been burnt down and I had lost my equilibrium (somehow).
A couple of days before we left for this trip to check out Florentine Road and surrounding areas we found out that the Florentine Bridge had been burnt down a couple of years before but with accommodation booked at Tarraleah with no cancellation we thought we would try to make the most of it anyway and to make things worse severe weather was forecast and I had some bad congestion happening to make me feel like I had lost my equilibrium. Despite all the good news we where going regardless so we where up early Monday morning with the weather looking horrible then as we where climbing the Western Tiers it got worse, blowing a gale and somehow foggy at the same time but after we got to the great lakes and turned off to Tarraleah it was like someone had flicked a switch although still windy the sun was out and it was surprisingly warm. Things where starting to look up now, we arrived in Tarraleah just before lunch so we decided to keep going through to Wayatinah and check out the start of Florentine Rd to where the Bridge had been burnt down and yep it was completely destroyed. Why anyone would do this I do not know but it is just a senseless act of vandalism and I hope the people responsible were punished.
After seeing this and feeling a little disappointed we had some lunch (food always makes me feel better). From here we decided to go and check out the Wayatinah dam and found a little goat track down to the bottom of the wall. Whilst I was looking at something Jacinta was overlooking at one of the Gated holes so I walked over and said something as I was walking and then I heard Jacinta scream and I thought what on earth is she freaking out about… It turned out that the tunnels produce a near perfect echo so it sounded like someone was inside coming out to attack haha. A good trick for the unexpected person if anyone ever has a look in there.
After Jacinta gathered herself we decided to go back to Tarraleah and check out Tarraleah Falls. The walk in is rather unspectacular but the waterfall itself isn’t to bad.
Of course on the way in I was keeping an eye out for fungi the whole way but it wasn’t until the way out that I spotted something interesting.
After the walk and my equilibrium feeling worse we decided to go check in to our room but it was still early and I couldn’t bear to waste any of the days and I had noticed that only a couple of km away right next to the Lyell Highway there where a couple of waterfalls marked on my map on a tributary to the Nive River so we decided to go and check it out. The scramble down the hill wasn’t much fun but was worth it in the end as the first of the falls was pretty good.
At this stage, although there was no wind in the valley we could hear it was now blowing a gale up above us and the clouds were starting to darken but the other waterfall was less than 100m away so we pushed on and head downstream and found the second one.
Now the wind was really starting to blow but Jacinta spotted another waterfall only 50 m away and this was the big one. It had a drop of about 25 m but was in a very steep gorge so without much time left on our hands before the weather really settled in I only managed to get a shot from the top.
From here we went back to the cabins so I could have a beer and try to restore my equilibrium.
After spending the night before looking at my maps whilst trying to restore some balance…. which failed… We had found another way into the northern end of the Florentine Road via Lake Repulse Rd just north of Ouse so we lost very little time in driving, the sun was out after the very brief storm the night before and the day was looking good other than my congested head. It wasn’t long before we got to the first area we wanted to check out and that was Beginners Luck Cave. The bush here was looking horrible as it was thick to the point of impenetrable dogwood regrowth but within minutes we struck it lucky and found an entrance to the cave.
I climbed in for a look but seen the passage was no wider than my body and didn’t look like it went too far so didn’t bother going in any further. At this point we were not convinced that this was the only way in so we dug a bit deeper into the dogwood and sure enough found another. This hole was even smaller and full of cave spiders so I wasn’t to keen on getting in there either. Realising that we could spend all day in the area and probably find many more holes and have not much luck we decided to move on as we had a great list of places to check out but not before finding some fungi.
The next planned stop was to try to find Cashions Creek Cave so we pulled up in the rough location and came across a very old loggers hut.
As soon as we broke through the scrubby bush on the side of the road it became very obvious where the cave was going to be as there was a big rocky knoll in front of us. This cave is actually a Swallet and or Karst feature as the name suggest has a creek flowing through it. We followed the old creek bed around and came to the inflow but on the way I saw fungi that neither of us has ever seen before.
Unfortunately, I didn’t nail the shot as such. The inflow just disappeared under a heap of organic debris so we decided to go around the other end where we started from and find the outflow. Which was much better and you could actually enter it a little and it had a few mudstone decorations. From here we went to our next destination which was a little harder getting to as the road was as slippery as ice so it was time to lock the hubs in. Even though it was by no means hard going I always get a little nervous attempting any 4wding especially been so far away from home and in such a remote area but we were determined so we crawled along as far as we could and then walked the rest of the way to try to find Welcome Stranger Cave. Normally when we are out in the bush up the northern end of the state it is dead silent apart from the occasional bird that you disrupt but down here we could hear something scratching away so we stopped and listened but couldn’t see anything so kept on walking and the scratching kept going… until we got to close and then like a bomb going off with noise and feathers everywhere a lyrebird went scrambling off in the other direction scaring the crap out of both of us. After a fair bit of time searching around in the bush, we finally came across the entrance to Welcome Stranger Cave which by the look of it is also another Karst Cave and to our surprise was big and wide enough to enter but… Now I can fully understand why they do this and agree with it but it doesn’t change the fact that I hate it and I found the sign rather ironic to it has been placed there be Forestry Tasmania and says this grate has been placed here to protect the sensitive nature of the cave… but yet above ground is clear felled forest Hmmm that might suggest the massive silt build up in the bottom of the cave but anyway it is what it is. Noticing that there was no gate on the grate we thought there must have been another entry to the cave so after taking a few photos we went off in the search. And sure enough after going out and over we found another entrance and found the tiny little gate under lock and key so we decided to go to our next destination The Tassy Pot. The sidetrack to here was pretty tight and again slippery the V8 might have made a few loud groaning noises going up the hills but we got there and decided before going to have a look we would have some lunch. The Tassy Pot is a sinkhole and a rather large one at that and down the bottom, there is a massive scary hole that just disappears into the earth. I wasn’t to keen on dying so I couldn’t really get a good shot. I then decided to do something that I now realise was bloody stupid as these caves are commonly explored and dropped a rock down there, the depth was scary there were quite a few seconds of free fall before it hit what I think was the bottom. Also next to this deep hole was another that wasn’t so deep but just as scary. After treading carefully we decided to head back to the cruiser but on the way, I found a couple of my favourites… Waxcaps
After we got back to the cruiser my equilibrium felt like it was turning to delirium so we started to head off and then seen some streamers on the side of the track and thought we are here now so we better go and check it out. The map showed it might have gone to a couple of sinkholes and sure enough, that’s exactly where we ended up and at the first one found a massive entrance to most likely the Tassy Pot Cave. Unfortunately, the entrance was way too steep and slippery so we decided not to even attempt to go down. At this stage, we thought we had a pretty good day and a beer was looking good but then we could feel the other sinkhole pulling us towards it so we crawled ducked weaved slipped and slid through sodden leech infested bush and then suddenly appeared in an opening and seen a beautiful waterfall disappearing into the earth. This got me pretty excited as it is one thing that I have always wanted to see after seeing YouTube videos of Vanishing Falls deep down in the south-west. So this was another tick off the bucket list and the best way to finish a day exploring a fascinating area. The only problem was it was very hard to get a decent photo of so I filmed it to help get a better picture of how spectacular it is.
Also at the base of the falls is an old cave where the water would have once flowed The water has now cut its way a lot further down the rock and disappears deep below the surface. From here after being on such a high after finding such a spectacular place we went to the National Park hotel and settled in for the night.
The Junee-Florentine Cave system is one of the most expansive in Australia it contains one of the deepest caves believed to be at least 390m deep some believe it may be as deep as 500m but this is very hard to judge as they are very difficult to fully explore as it is full of icy cold water. It is also home to the longest cave in Australia which starts at the Spectacular Growling Swallet
and ends at Junee Cave.
It is believed to be over 23km in length.
All locations of everything we have visited are on the newest versions of Tasmaps.
Hope you enjoyed