We had planned our route in advance when driving through Tasmania and were up in the northwest heading towards the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. In doing so we ended up at Hellyer Gorge, more or less by accident. When we saw the not so imposing sign at the roadside, we nevertheless had an immediate desire for a coffee break. Gosh, am I glad we did! And my husband too.
This small, seemingly insignificant, detour from the Murchison Highway ended up as an amazing experience. We spent about an hour walking through an ancient relic of Gondwanaland. I couldn’t get enough of the incredible terrain from our ancient history, many hundreds of million years ago, when the Australian continent belonged to the supercontinent called Gondwanaland.
Gondwana included most of the landmasses in today’s Southern Hemisphere, including Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar and the Australian continent. The Arabian peninsula and the Indian subcontinent were also part thereof, but slowly, slowly moved into the Northern Hemisphere.
The exciting vegetation around Hellyer Gorge include Myrtle Beech, Southern Sassafras, Leatherwood and Messmate, which belongs to the Eucalyptus family. Then there are the myriad of ferns and tree ferns and towards autumn, the ground is apparently coloured by different varieties of fungi.
The old Myrtle Forest has a mysterious atmosphere. You feel like stepping back in time and it’s easy to imagine you’re walking with dinosaurs. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park or in my own fairytale.
When we were there, the sunlight filtered its way through the leafy ferns and Hellyer River flowed with an almost singing voice. Many days in Tasmania are cloudy and rainy, mostly depending on the season, but this sunny day in spring was excellent for walking through this forest on a 15-20 min track.
Enter this remarkable and enchanting rainforest and you feel privileged to have been gifted the experience by Mother Nature. If you have children, I bet they would be deliriously happy to stare up into a roof of fern leaves and imagine themselves to be in a different world. I must be a child at heart because I like to imagine.
Hellyer Gorge needs to be protected, since it’s so very, very special. How many people know about this wondrous place?