Ferndene Gorge State Reserve

by Michelle Kneipp Pegler

Ferndene Gorge State Reserve is nestled between the foot hills of the Dial Range, six kms south of Penguin.  It is one of the region’s best kept secret places.  We have lived in this region for over twelve months now and didn’t even know it existed.  One day we happened to come across Ferndene Gorge by chance while driving along Ironcliffe Road.  What a hidden treasure it is, and so easy to get to!

Ferndene - Dial Range Walking Tracks
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Cross the bridge over the creek as you walk in the Ferndene Gorge State Reserve

Gorge Yourself at Ferndene

Turning off Ironcliffe Road at the Ferndene Gorge State Reserve’s bright blue sign, you enter the attractive, shady picnic area.  There is plenty of parking, a well maintained toilet block, bar-b-que, outside picnic tables and under-cover picnic tables.  It’s a great spot for a picnic lunch or early morning breakfast while listening to the many bird calls that sound out around this forest reserve.

Ferndene - Gorge State Reserve
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Ferndene Gorge entrance, marked by a blue Tasmanian State Reserve sign

Ferndene - State Reserve Facilities
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Plenty of parking available at the Ferndene State Reserve near Penguin, Tasmania

Mining Features, Man Ferns & Magical Fauna

Just off to the left of the covered picnic area and over a little bridge is the walk to Thorsby’s Tunnel, an old silver mine shaft.  You will also pass Brownings Tunnel along the way; both are left over from bygone mining days.  This is a very pleasant and easy walk, with just one gentle incline mid-way along the track.

Ferndene - Thorsby's Tunnel
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Remnants from bygone mining days in Tasmania: Thorsby’s Tunnel

At the start of the walk there’s a large grove of very tall Man Ferns or Tree Ferns.  These stately and beautiful sentinels of the state reserve do a fabulous job guarding the entrance to this stunning walk.

Ferndene - Tree Ferns
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The aptly named Ferndene, has tall ferns lining the walking tracks

Like so many of Tasmania’s national park and reserve walks, as you wander along you are accompanied by the sight and sound of a beautiful, clear water bush creek running parallel with the path.  We encountered a few pademelons having a morning drink before they quickly scampered off with a thud of their tails.

Ferndene - Creek
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Pleasant walking experience: a creek running through Ferndene Gorge

Dial Range Walking Tracks

When you reach the Thorsby’s Tunnel sign, there is another walk that takes off to the right.  This one goes to Mt Dial and Mt Gnomon so if you are feeling energetic you can walk on further and discover more of this interesting area.  The Dial Range has a whole system of walking tracks.  Depending on your fitness level and experience, you can choose…

  • Ferndene Walk (30 mins)
  • Tall Trees (45 mins)
  • Leven River (40-60 mins)
  • Mount Montgomery (2 hrs)
  • Mount Gnomon (2 hrs)

 

All of these are accessed via Ironcliffe Road.  For more information about these walks you can purchase a Dial Range Recreation Map from the Penguin Visitor Centre across the road from the Big Penguin.  If you’re after a very pretty and relaxing (but not too strenuous) walk, then Ferndene Reserve is the one for you.  Very easy to get to; you don’t need a four-wheel drive and it’s not far off the Bass Highway.

Ferndene - Gorge Walking Track
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Ferndene Gorge State Reserve has walking tracks to suit every fitness level

There are also many interesting options in this region for the experienced walker, including the Penguin Cradle Trail.  This walk starts at the Dial Range, continues through Gunns Plains and the Leven Canyon, then on to Black Bluff and Cradle Mountain.  The walk follows a wide and diverse variety of landscapes along the way.


 

If you’re interested in doing the Penguin Cradle Trail and have bush walking experience, check out the North West Walking Club website.  It has lots of interesting information about walking in this region.

Michelle Kneipp Pegler writes a blog called Leven River Farm
about the ups and downs of her Good Life
and occasional forays delving into the lessons of the past.

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Map: Ferndene Gorge State Reserve, Tasmania