by Mike Fry
I recently spent the weekend at Liffey, at my sister’s small farm, for her 60th birthday. The weather forecast was not particularly favourable, however we were fortunate. On the Sunday the clouds cleared and as we had a few hours up our sleeve before the festivities began, I suggested that we venture forth to Liffey Falls some distance further up the valley.
Liffey River: Power of Nature
This area, just 35 minutes from Launceston, has to be one of the prettiest areas in the region. The Liffey River always flows and for the greater part is a gently flowing stream fed from the Great Western Tiers. At other times of heavy rainfall the river changes to a raging torrent as I found on a previous visit when the bridge over the Liffey (where Liffey Road becomes Gulf Road) was significantly damaged by the water.
We drove, by choice, to the main falls. Given our time frame, this was the best choice, avoiding a 45 minute walk from the lower car park. However it did take us the best part of 40 minutes drive from the farm to the upper car park. The drive is easy and well signposted. There is also an alternative to drive from Deloraine towards Great Lake via Golden Valley, turning off the Lake Highway to the left at the sign to Liffey Falls. Regardless of the direction the scenery is beautiful and a great way to spend a few hours, half a day or make a full day exploring the area.
Liffey and the Falls were named by Captain William Moriarty, a naval officer who was granted land at Dunorlan, near Deloraine, after losing all his possessions in a shipwreck. He established his property there and also commanded a local garrison. Being an Irishman from Dingle in County Kerry it is no surprise that he named the river and area after an Irish river, the River Liffey that flows through Dublin.
Drive, Walk and A Rainforest
Having arrived at the Liffey Falls car park we disembarked, cameras at the ready. Leaving the oldies at the farm I took my niece, nephew and partner and my daughter and partner in my trusty Pajero. I have no doubt that on most days a two wheel drive vehicle will do the job quite well. The gravel road has many twists and turns and is quite steep in sections. In really wet weather a two wheel drive may slip and slide a little.
The walk through the rainforest is about as good as it gets. Massive man ferns almost arch overhead combined with many species of trees and plants. There is a short walk to a Big Tree near the car park, a Browntop Stringybark; however we decided to do the main walk to the falls, about 45 minutes return, given a party beckoned upon our return.
At the car park there are shelters, tables and information areas and I have to say the facilities are excellent and a credit to Forestry Tasmania. Liffey Falls is part of the World Heritage Area and when you look at the map of the WHA you will see some small pockets around the northern edges of the boundary of which this area is one.
Main Attraction: Liffey Falls
Along the way there are information panels provided by school children describing elements of the forest featuring their own artwork. There are a number of viewing areas where you can pause and take photographs. The trip down is remarkably easy with a well prepared track, timber lookouts with rails and plenty of signs. The trip back is a little more arduous; mostly uphill but great exercise.
At the base of the falls there is an area where you can walk down to the waters edge. It was no surprise when my niece, an archaeologist, noticed plant fossils in the sedimentary rock at the base of the falls. “Typical”, I said, “just like an archaeologist.” Only to be corrected by being told: that is Palaeontology Uncle Mike! All the same, seeing fossils millions of years old was a bonus.
I think Liffey Falls is a hidden gem and even though there were about 6 cars at the car park there should have been more on such a great day. So if you live nearby or are visiting the Launceston area do yourself a big favour and take a drive to Liffey and one of Tasmania’s prettiest waterfalls and forest reserves.
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