If visiting the Stanley region on the North West Coast of Tasmania, a ‘must see’ is the Dip River Forest Reserve.

Dip River - North West Tasmania
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Dip River, north west coast of Tasmania

Dip River Forest Reserve

by Carol Haberle

Ten kilometres east of the Stanley turn off, the Dip River Forest Reserve is 24 kilometres from the Bass Highway junction, on a good sealed road, apart from the last few kilometres, which are gravel, but comfortable driving. Covering an area of about 2,800 hectares, Dip River Forest Reserve is home to the magnificent Dip Falls and the Big Tree.

The Forest Reserve was a ‘working forest’ back in the late 1800s to early 1900s, and well established walking tracks will have you finding old relics such as an old boiler which provided steam to power the sawmill from the blackwood milling days. Here in the nutrient rich, wet soils of the Dip River Forest Reserve you will find yourself in a domain of wet eucalypt forest, a forest once harvested by man, but today a forest which is a healthy example of a sustainable biological system. Interpretive signage gives an insightful overview of the history of the forests in this area.

Dip River - Dip Falls
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Dip Falls, upper cascade as seen from the viewing platform

Dip Falls

Dip Falls are a magnificent, two-tiered waterfall, the water of which flows over cubic-basalt columns, formed hundreds of years ago by the cooling of the volcanic rock. After heavy rainfalls the waterfall is most impressive, as water appears to ‘bounce’ from one rock formation to another as it hits the lower tier. A viewing platform is provided (wheelchair and pram friendly) and gives a magical view of the top tier of the falls. For the more energetic, there is a steep pathway to the base of the falls, comprising a rather steep set of steps (152 in all). These steps are narrow, and can be quite slippery due to the constant moisture, but well worth the effort to view these falls from the bottom!

Dip River - Dip Falls, Lower Tier
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Dip Falls, lower tier

The flora here is also certainly worth seeing, native trees, numerous varieties of fungi and lichen and many species of native ferns… it also pays to note that leeches can be in abundance here, they love the moist ferns! (Tip: Spray your shoes and legs/trousers with MUM brand deodorant (pink can), it has a high aluminium content and the leeches hate it! Tried and tested by both myself and Kev.)

Dip River - Dip Falls, Basalt Colums
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Dip Falls, lower tier, basalt columns

The Big Tree

A further kilometre from Dip Falls, and a one kilometre walk into the wet eucalypt forest, you will find the home of the Big Tree. Estimated to be 400 years old, the tree is a ‘eucalypt oblique’, or commonly known as a ‘browntop stringybark’. The Big Tree stands at 62 metres (203 feet) tall today, it is believed to have been up to 90 metres tall at one time. This giant is slowly shrinking due to the natural process of aging, and much of the top growth has been blown off and destroyed by strong winds. The circumference at the base of the tree is 16 metres.

Dip River - Forest Reserve, Big Tree
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I’m dwarfed beside The Big Tree (photo by Kev Haberle)

The Big Tree is a true survivor, it has escaped death from lightning strike, insect and fungal attack, wildfire and even the axes of the early forest workers. One stands before this tree and truly feels the quiet of the Tasmanian forests! A boardwalk has been built around the base of the Big Tree which allows people to get up close, while preventing compaction of the root system around the tree.

Dip River - Big Tree
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The base of the Big Tree

With well-appointed wood fuelled barbecues, picnic and toilet facilities, and many short walks in the area, the Dip River Forest Reserve is a perfect location for a day trip. The pathways to the viewing platform at Dip Falls and the Big Tree are wheelchair/disabled friendly.

Dip River - State Reserve, Fungi
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Fungi growing in the Dip River State Reserve

All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle of H&H Photography. You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards. Carol writes feature articles for us about all things Tasmanian. If you’d like Carol to visit you so your place of business can be promoted online, please contact Think Tasmania.

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Map: Dip River Forest Reserve, Tasmania…