The ride towards Maydena was a repeat of our original trip up from Hobart until the turn to Mt. Fields National Park and then on to Maydena, the last little village in this wilderness. As I traveled on the small road towards the park I came upon a field of what looked like hops. A few corners later then more. Then some really big fields. Now I started to wonder if I was confusing the tall vine like plants for something else. A stop in a small coffee shop confirmed that I was right. They told me that the climate here was just right and most of them went to Cascade Brewery, the largest producer in Tassie and located in Hobart.
I stopped at the Park Headquarters to take a look, but knew that a better adventure could probably be found in Maydena. Continuing on my way, I was soon peddling up a steep hill off of the far end of this tiny little logging town. Maydena Cabins and Alpacas. What the hell were alpacas doing here, I wondered. Derek, who along with his wife Anthea were the owners, told me that the animals were here when he bought the place ten years ago and that he had grown to enjoy them. So they grazed just in front of my nice little cabin. I also had a great view of the surrounding peaks. And talk about quiet.
I came here with the idea of seeing some of the tallest trees in the world. Unlike the Huon Pines we saw on our cruise up the Gordon River out of Strahan, some of which were over 3000 years old and grew only 1 ml in diameter a year, the Eucalyptus or Gum trees here grow into Giants. These Eucalyds keep their leaves year round. There is only one Native deciduous tree in Australia and I can’t remember its name (I am posting on the net here by standing up next to the owners house. Don’t want to stand there researching or they might think I’m lurking).
In the morning I hopped onto my bike and rode a few K’s down to a dirt logging road which took me into the Styx River area. I followed this gravel track for 15k till I came to a one car pullover and a trail with a sign saying Big Tree Reserve. Great, up the trail I hiked, keeping my eyes peeled for snakes. There are three basic varieties here and they are all venomous. I had seen a black one about 6 feet long slithering across the road earlier. They won’t attack you unless you step on them or something. I first came to huge tree with a small sign saying Big Tree. The base was huge. It was not round like a Giant Redwood, but very irregular with many different shapes jutting out. I took a few photos then headed up to the one called Bigger Tree. The sign here said 87 meters high. This base was even larger. I think the tallest tree in the US is 97 meters high but no research for me today so not sure. The sign also said that a few taller Gum Trees had been found nearby. I wished I could take a photo of me next to the big tree.
As I walked back out an older car came rumbling up to a stop. A lanky young blonde man came out and fished for his tripod and camera out of the back seat. I learned that he was British, was 23, and had been traveling for over two years. Everything he owned was in that back seat. He had bought the old car for three hundred fifty dollars and now had a few thousand K’s on it. Paid for it by picking cherries. George was the first person I had seen all day and just in time to take my photo back at the Big trees. After we got the photos, George told me that there were taller trees nearby up a side road called the Waterfall Creek Road. It had been the sight of a major protest with people camping in and around this group of tall trees when a logging firm had gotten within a half a K from them. Some had stayed in the trees for up to six months. The end result was a compromise – the huge trees were protected and the loggers were allowed to continue logging as long as they replanted in this World Heritage Site.
George worked on setting up his photos while I got back on the bike off looking for the right road. After about 6k with several side roads, none of which had a name, I started back. George met me in his car so I left my bike and hopped in the old buggy with him leaving my bike on the side of the road. After about 15K of driving and several more unnamed side roads, we gave up trying to find the Tolkien Track with Gandalf, Morannon, Fangorn and many other big behemoths. He dropped me off at my bike and took off. As I pedaled back I decided to try one more side road near our original stop at the Big Tree Reserve. As I crested the top of this steep roadway I spotted a vehicle parked on the side of the road and knew I had found it. The trail itself was marked only by an orange survey taped wrapped around a tree and was little more than a deer trail with occasional orange ribbons. There were a lot of really big gum trees throughout this little area including the largest, Gandalf’s Staff. These trees and the area had been named by the protestors who had spent weeks in tree platforms to save them from the logging operations slated to cut them down. It certainly was a forest track worthy of the Lord of the Rings. I got some photos and spent some time enjoying the magic of this place.
As I was getting on my bike to pedal home up roared George in the second hand rambler. Down went his window and I was met by a toothy grin. “George,” I said, “I’m so glad you found this place too.”
It was a great day worthy of a glass of wine which I enjoyed with George and Anthea in my little cabin.
Sent from my iPad