Continuing Part 2 of The Top of the World Tour, where Kev and I experienced a magical journey with our guide, Sarah Lockyer, employee of Adventure Forests and Forestry Tasmania. After the wonderful time at the Railtrack Riders, it was back into the four wheel drive and travelling on Tasmanian Forestry roads we headed to the beautiful Styx State Forest Reserve in the famous Styx Valley.
Maydena Adventure Hub: Styx State Forest Reserve
After a short journey through some beautiful regrowth forests, our first stop was at the Styx River. Here at the junction of the Styx and South Styx Rivers the rich tannin stained waters flow through the beautiful Styx Valley. As one stands on the bridge an almost eerie sensation is felt as one hears the ‘silence’. Our Styx River is said to be named for the Styx River of Greek Mythology.
In Greek Mythology, Charon was the ferryman of Hades who carried the souls of the newly deceased across the River Styx, a river said to divide the world of the living from the world of the dead. A coin (an obolus or danake) was placed in or on the mouth of the dead person to pay Charon for passage across the river. It was believed the souls of those who could not pay the fee, or those whose bodies were left unburied, were left to wander the shores for 100 years.
To stand on the bridge, amongst the silence, a rustle of leaves in the breeze and the tannin stained waters flowing below the only sounds, one can almost begin to believe this myth.
Big Trees? They are Humungous!
From here we then travelled a further 15 kilometres through regrowth forests to the Styx State Forest Reserve, and learned of our Tasmanian Forestry practices, of the unique sustainable practices our forestry uses to both harvest and regrow our forests, yet also protect so much of the magnificent beauty of not only the Big Tree Reserve, but many other regions of this beautiful Tasmanian wilderness. Sarah’s love of these forests so obvious as she shared her passion of the flora of the region with us. Much of the temperate wet forest here in the Big Tree Reserve is ‘callidendrous’, known as ‘beautiful tree’ forests found in the wetter areas of Tasmania. Magnificent tall trees tower overhead, some areas dominated by myrtle and sassafras trees. The understorey with beautiful clear open spaces, and the forest floor filled with lush green mosses and native ferns including the beautiful Dicksonia Antarctica (soft tree ferns/manferns). It is here in the Styx Valley that the biggest hardwood trees on earth grow; massive giants over 85 metres tall, massive giants up to 400 years old!
What are the Big Trees?
These giants of the Styx Valley are commonly known as Swamp Gums or Mountain Ash, their botanical name is Eucalyptus regnans. Swamp gums have an average life span of 400 years. Here in the Styx Valley these giants are slowly shrinking due to the natural process of aging. One tree measured in 1957 at 98 metres today measures around 85 metres. The top of the tree is slowly dying back and parts of the crown has been blown off and destroyed by strong winds. If nature is left to its natural course all of the giant trees of the Styx State Forest will eventually fall to the ground. The gradual rotting of the base of the tree weakens it, and it becomes vulnerable to collapse under its own enormous weight, and often helped by strong stormy winds. Natural wildfires also destroy many of these Swamp Gums long before they reach this size. The forest floor lays littered with these giants, where the decomposing trees slowly add to the nutrient rich soils of the wet-eucalypt forest.
Cool, Green and Morning Tea Included
The Big Tree Reserve contains a boardwalk, along which you take an informative tour of the old growth forests where the magnificent Eucalyptus regnans (swamp gum) grows. This tree species lays claim to being the tallest hardwood trees on earth, also the world’s tallest flowering plant and the loftiest tree in the southern hemisphere! These giants grow so big due to a combination of factors which include high rainfall (up to 1500mm per year), an extremely high soil nutrient content and the lack of regular bushfires/wildfires in this area. Many of the Eucalyptus regnans in the reserve are over 85 metres tall, and unique platforms are available where one can comfortably lie back and view the sheer magnificence of these majestic trees growing to their full heights. This forest walk is magical… so cool, so green, so beautiful. It was here Sarah provided us with morning tea: refreshing hot tea or coffee and delicious home baked muffins. The reserve is also equipped with toilets, disabled access, a car park and some beautiful picnic facilities can be found within the forests.
Flora and Fauna of the Styx Valley
Other rainforest tree species including Southern Sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum), Myrtle Beech (Nothofagus cunninghamii) and Celery-top pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius) can be seen growing within these forests, and also many uniquely native Tasmanian flora grows in the understorey. The Styx Valley also contains large areas of tall Eucalyptus obliqua, Eucalyptus delegatensis and other rainforest species. These forests are also home to many species of Tasmania’s native fauna including the Eastern Pygmy Possum and the Echidna (one of which we had the pleasure of watching rustle his way through vegetation upon the forest floor). Birdlife is also frequent, including the majestic Wedge-tailed Eagle, Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos, owls and rosellas.
Here in the nutrient rich, wet soils of the Tasmanian Styx Valley you will find yourself in a domain of ancient tall trees, some up to 400 years old, forests so mysteriously majestic where one feels they have ‘crossed’ to another world. It truly leaves one wondering if maybe Greek Mythology played a part back in the days of Gondwanaland.
Bookings for the Adventure Forests Top of The World Tour can be made by phoning 1300 720 507, or visit The Maydena Adventure Hub. The Hub is open 7 days a week. Operators, Kelley and Mark are long time Maydena residents and will answer your every query. Their home made muffins, lasagna, scones etc. are just scrumptious.
Maydena Adventure Hub Opening Hours
NB at time of writing…
Mon-Fri 7:30am – 4:00pm
Sat-Sun 9:00am – 4:00pm
- visitor information centre
- licenced cafe
- public toilets
- gift shop
- car park
- coach parking
Please note, the cafe and visitor centre is closed over winter.
Carol and Kevin Haberle were guests of Adventure Forests (Forestry Tasmania) on behalf of Think Tasmania.
All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography. You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards. Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian. If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.
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