We have a purely endemic experience which goes almost unnoticed, only ever seen in Tasmania: the turning of the fagus. So said Carol Haberle in her article about autumn in Tasmania, as she supplied this description of the uniquely Tasmanian event…

Tasmania can lay claim to only one native deciduous tree, Deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii), or fagus as it is best-known.  The Deciduous Beech is a direct link back to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. Fossil records found at Cethana in northern Tasmania date back 35 million years to the early Oligocene period. A small tree, usually growing to two metres or less, and found only in places many would call inhospitable. Known also by European Settlers as “tanglefoot”, it can be the bane of a bushwalker getting caught in its twisted, ground-hugging branches. But this usually insignificant tree is Australia’s only winter deciduous tree, and can be found nowhere else in the world. The autumn display it gives is a kaleidoscope of greens, yellows, oranges and browns, and generally begins to occur around ANZAC day and only lasts two to three weeks.

Scientists, botanists, naturists, conservationists and bushwalkers the world over have been known to make an annual pilgrimage to Tasmania to see what is locally known as the turning of the fagus, where it can be best seen creating a fiery blaze on mountainsides at Cradle MountainLake St Clair National Park or in regions of Mt Field National Park.

Fagus - Cradle Mountain National Park
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The Turning of the Fagus, Tasmania (photos by Carol Haberle)

Mount Field National Park

Some say the spectacular sight is best viewed around the Tarn Shelf or Lake Fenton alpine areas of Mount Field National Park. Those looking to plan an outing for the ANZAC Day long weekend ahead should consider the inaugural Fagus Weekend, set down for 25-26 April, 2014.

Fagus - Alpine Drive, Mt Field National Park
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View from the alpine road, Mt Field National Park

Fagus Festival instigators Greg and Rachel Power of Waterfalls Cafe at Mount Field plan to build on the event each year, designed to enhance the visitor’s experience. A great time to explore the incredible autumn colours, there will be guided walks around Lake Fenton, with the Power’s Troopy shuttling passengers up to Lake Dobson throughout the day.

Fagus - Mt Field
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Mt Field National Park is a park for all seasons, so dress appropriately
say Greg and Rachel Power, organisers of the autumn Fagus Festival

Fagus Festival Degustation Dinner

The headline act of the Fagus Festival will be a degustation dinner on both Friday and Saturday nights. Guest chef Ben Milbourne will create the four-course dinner using produce from the Derwent Valley. At the time of publishing, seats were still available at a cost of $99.00 per head. If you’re reading this and thinking you’d like to partake, call Rachel Power on (03) 6288 1526 without delay. We’d hate you to miss out. The dinner commences at 5:30pm and there will be plenty of local drinks on offer too.

Fagus - Festival Chef, Ben Milbourne
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Fagus Festival guest chef Ben Milbourne pictured at Taste the Harvest
Devonport Festival (photo Kelly Slater) – click image for more details

According to Greg and Rachel, visitation figures to Mt Field National Park are up over 30% at the moment. Obviously many people have been enjoying the sights and sounds of the Derwent Valley, and autumn is a particularly popular time to explore the region. It’s certainly one of our favourite places, and we’ll no doubt have more information to share about Waterfalls Cafe and the national park in general before too long.

Fagus - Mt Field National Park
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Mt Field National Park (photo by Max Hidding) click image for more

Waterfalls Cafe

If you haven’t been to Mt Field lately, the Fagus Festival could be just the impetus you’ve been waiting for. Just one hour’s drive from Hobart, you’ll find Waterfalls Cafe in the Visitor Information Centre, where you can purchase a national parks pass. Venture beyond New Norfolk on Glenora Road, then turn left onto Gordon River Road until you arrive at the well-signposted entrance to the national park.

Fagus - Russell Falls Walk
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Take a walk to Russell Falls at Mt Field National Park. You won’t be sorry!

Fagus - Russell Falls
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Russell Falls, Mt Field National Park (photo by Dan Fellow)

For more information, follow Wallerfalls Cafe Mt Field National Park on Facebook; phone Rachel Power on (03) 6288 1526, or visit in person at 90 Lake Dobson Road, National Park. The Fagus Festival also has a Facebook page.

Wallerfalls Cafe is a registered member of Think Tasmania.

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Map: Fagus Festival, Mt Field National Park…