By Craig Doumouras
Published on 24 Jul 2020
I can't recall the year... possibly 2016 when I decided to try and reach a waterfall called Sharpes Falls in Southern Tasmania. I was very determined back then to get every 'named' waterfall document on this Waterfalls of Tasmania website, and Sharpes Falls looked like a relatively easy waterfall to get to. Most of the walk was along a foresty road before a short walk into the forest to reach the waterfall. 'Nothing hard', I thought. 'This will be easy'.
At the time, as I was walking along the road I saw some pink ribbons tied to trees. I diligently walked into the forest, and then tried to push myself into the direction of the waterfall. The distance I needed to hike wasn't huge. Most likely less than a kilometre, but the forest was a nightmare. Big fallen trees were sprawled all over the forest floor. Rocks and boulders were laced around as well. Add to the mix some steep slippery terrain, sludge, and mud, and suddenly I was faced with one of Nature's most horrendous obstacle courses! Even Special Ops would surely be brought to tears trying to work their way to this waterfall! Every step forward was hard work in a rather dense forest.
I reached a waterfall! I was nearly in tears with joy staring at a waterfall possibly 3 metres in height! It wasn't very impressive, but I photographed it, checked my GPS, and sure enough, I was where I thought I was meant to be! I worked my way out of the forest and back to my car!
I was really proud of myself, I bagged and tagged the waterfall after a gruelling hike! It wasn't until I posted the photo in the Facebook Group that someone explained to me that what I photographed wasn't Sharpes Falls, rather a minor waterfall downstream.
I was crushed!
So the day came when I decided to try and get to this waterfall again! My man, Adrian Bol, who holds stock of my books in Hobart needed re-stocking, forcing me to travel South. While in Hobart, I was also keen to catch up with a dear friend of mine Peter from Wombat Photography and his wife for lunch!
So we left Launceston at 7:45am and headed down the highway. My kick-ass tyres, the ones that are simply too big for my Land Rover, were squealing and grinding against parts of the wheel arches again! A tad annoying! But they are 4WD tyres! The first stop was Campbell Town to fuel up on coffee!
Hobart was good, a nice day, and after delivering books to a few bookstores that needed some, we caught up with Peter Podolak for lunch. I always enjoy my time with him. He's special to me, having first met him on Mt Wellington years prior when I tried to overtake him on a hike to Wellington Falls! He was really chatty when I was trying to walk past, and from that day, he's been a terrific friend! Exposing yourself to the rigours of the outdoors also exposes you to beautiful friendships.
We said our goodbyes to Peter and his lovely wife once lunch was finished, and drove over to Adrian's place to drop off books. Adrian is elusive, and never seems to be home when I call in. He's obsessed with hiking on Mt Wellington, and was probably there again! Who knows! I was looking forward to catching up with him.
Off towards Mt Field National Park we went, and we arrived about 2pm. It was later in the day I would have liked, and remembering the ordeals I had years earlier, I was somewhat anxious about not reaching this waterfall again. We drove down Newbury Road in Tyenna as far as we could, until we reached a locked boom gate. This region is active forestry plantations, and gated for a reason. A sign identifying the operator as Norske Skog was on the boom gate. We parked the car out of the way, and pressed on by foot.
The walk along the forestry road is uphill. It was also void of the trees I remembered from years earlier. It had been deforested and a new batch of pines have started to grow. They were very very small. The topographical maps for this waterfall show a track called 'Sharpes Falls Track' on them, but there is no track at all, at least not anymore. The guides on the maps though are a very good indicator as to where you should try and walk to reach the waterfall. Years earlier I entered the forest way too early, and had the worst time trying to reach Sharpes Falls. This time, I was going to make sure I would enter the forest as late as possible.
As I neared the track, I looked to where the tree line was to see if I could find a hint of a track. There were no ribbons to guide you, and there wasn't really any obvious openings through the wall of trees. I saw a spot I thought may have been the track, and pursued it. That opening pushed me backwards however, and forced me to the edge of the creek about 50 metres downstream from the waterfall. I was once again in that hideouos obstacle course, and I knew I had no choice but to push fowrard.
The obstacles were many, and was terribly slow progress. We kept trying to walk away from the creek and walk back uphill towards the road to avoid the obstacles, but once on higher ground, the obstacles would force us down again. We kept progressing in a zig-zag pattern, up the hill away from the creek, and down again. It's crazy to try and explain how progressing 50 metres would result in walking over 1/2 a kilometre trying to overcome a seemingly never ending amount of fallen trees, all requiring a lot of care to climb over. At least I knew we were never far away. I kept a very diligent eye on my GPS to make sure I was progressing correctly. We finally reached the waterfall!
It's lovely! A lot bigger than the waterfall downstream I found years earlier. I also found some ribbons near the base of the waterfall which I would follow when I was ready to leave. Rebecca and I rested, and enjoyed the waterfall. It's actually a really pretty spot, and I was quite impressed that it wasn't a total mess like the forest I walked in earlier. In a funny way, I kept thinking to myself that the the forest was really upset with the forestry operations occuring around it, and it threw obstacles everywhere to keep people out! I know it isn't true, but in my tiredness, it was almost a symbolic thought.When we were ready to leave, we made our way to the ribbons, and followed them steeply uphill until we could see the edge of the forest. Although there were still quite a few obstacles to negotiate, it was a lot easier than the way in. The ribbons took us away from the waterfall in a north-west direction. Now with much of the forest de-forested, it was a quick walk out of the trees and back onto the forestry roads. The late afternoon sun was bearing down, and a casual stroll downhill took us back to the car.
So the trick to reaching this waterfall; walk along the road to a point north-east of the waterfall, and then penetrate the forest, making sure you're walking towards the waterfall.