Ralphs Falls: Discover North East Tasmania (Part 2)
by Gina Scott
Next stop after Legerwood is Ralphs Falls in the North East of Tasmania. Off we go through the quiet country town of Ringarooma and onto the Falls, up the winding gravel road that has a dry stone wall completed in the 1940’s after the Second World War. This area also has several old tin prospecting and gold mining sites, some of which can still be seen today.
Off you go kids… take the forest walk to Ralphs Falls. It’s only 20 minutes (while I have my cup of tea and lunch. They ate theirs in the car.) It’s a lovely picnic spot in the forest complete with a BBQ hut with electric BBQs and composting toilet.
The falls are part of the Mt Victoria Forest Reserve, and at over 100m, have the longest drop in Tasmania. I’ve walked there several times before and the kids are old enough now to take themselves. Oh no… they didn’t take a camera! Not to worry; they have mobile phones which do everything except cook the dinner!!!
This stop is an ideal picnic/BBQ spot between Ringarooma and Pyengana. The rustic BBQ hut has a very well kept cooking plate and a fantastic open fire to keep warm should you need it during winter. We also found some fresh water here too. The all important BBQ tools are chained to the wall near the BBQ for your convenience and no one has nicked them yet!
Well, the kids survived the short walk to the falls; I’ve had my quiet, reviving cup of tea and enjoyed the stillness and birds of the bush. So off we go down the rough road to Pyengana. Whilst you are in this majestic place it is possible to do a longer walk around Cash’s Gorge and take in some wonderful scenic views of the valley.
Now we are venturing down the rocky road made by the famous local Norm Brown. He is a complete book waiting to be written! Such a character and has a fierce passion for the Mt Victoria region. Here we go… let’s be safe and lock the wheels into 4WD down this slippery, winter track. Just as well we did. It allowed us to safely, but narrowly, miss collecting a young person in a blue car coming around the blind corner a little too wide!
St Columba Falls
We arrive in the next waterfall car park, where we notice many hire cars. We set off on the easy walking track down to St Columba Falls viewing platform, a 90m drop but much wider than Ralphs Falls. A beautiful, cool 20 minute walk through the tall Myrtle, Eucalypt and Blackwood trees, and giant ferns. This is one of Tasmania’s most popular short walks for visitors. It’s not too steep, not too long, and there’s plenty of parking on the roadside too.
Unlike Ralphs Falls, we remember the camera. Click, click, click and we’re off up the track again. “OH, my earring” shrieks the daughter! “I’ve lost one of my earrings!” Damn, blast and everything else! Go back down the track to see if you two can find it. I’ll keep going up the track and watch out for it on the way and I’ll search the car too. Phew! She found it on the track. How lucky was that?
Pyengana Dairy… for Real!
Let’s go so we can visit the Pyengana Dairy and Holy Cow Cafe to get real ice cream, and real milk, milk shakes! This cheese factory is one of the oldest in Tasmania. Cheese has been produced in this valley since the early 1900’s.
I remember as a child my grandfather feeding us Pyengana Cheese, the very mature variety, which came in cloth. It’s now a family tradition to weigh yourself on the large freight scales out the front too. No we won’t reveal the weights… sorry!
We give the Pub in the Paddock a miss this time. The pig must have had enough beer by now, but many visitors pop in there to check out the famous beer-swilling pig, and maybe have a delicious country lunch. By the way, the pig is not the same one all the time. The piggies are on a roster!
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