I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published April 5th 2021
Boulder hop down a gorgeous gorge
Tasmania is a wonderful place for bushwalking and people travel from all over the world to walk there. The most popular walks include the Overland Track, Freycinet National Park, Three Capes, Walls of Jerusalem, Frenchman's Cap, Western Arthurs, South Coast Track, Maria Island and lots of others. I grew up in Tasmania and have done a lot of those walks. I moved to Queensland many years ago. These days, I like to explore some of the lesser-known tracks on my regular visits to the state.
I was recently down in Tasmania on a two-week holiday to visit family. We were spending some time at my sister's beach house on the East Coast. My niece came up from Hobart for the weekend. On my last visit, two years ago, Becca and I climbed St Patrick's Head near St Marys. I wrote about that walk here.
On this trip, Becca suggested we do a couple of other walks around the East Coast, including Apsley Gorge in the Douglas Apsley National Park and some walks in the Blue Tiers Forest Reserve Area. I had never visited those areas before.
We drove down from Scamander on the Tasman Highway and turned off at Rosedale Road, about 4 kilometres north of Bicheno. There were road works happening and we couldn't see a signpost for Rosedale Road but there was a large sign on the highway just before the road. The car park is 7.5 kilometres along a dirt road, but is suitable for 2 wheel drive cars. You do need a National Parks Pass to enter any Tasmanian National Parks. Becca had an annual pass, so we were okay.
The Douglas-Apsley National Park is situated on the East Coast of Tasmania and lies between the Douglas and Apsley Rivers. The area has a long history of farming, mining and trapping. It contains one of the last remaining areas of uncleared dry forest in the state.
We did our walk at the southern end of the National Park, where there is a compost toilet, information posts and a marked track to a waterhole, lookout and to the Apsley Gorge. You do need to wear boots or shoes with support and grip as the terrain is rough and can be slippery. Water in the river needs to be boiled before drinking.
Becca had done the 8-kilometre walk once before, so we felt confident doing the loop, especially because the water level was low and it was dry. The rocks would be very slippery and dangerous in wet weather. The National Park sign said the walk would take 3 to 4 hours. It took us 3 hours.
We walked down some steps to the beautiful large turquoise rockpool, which is a popular swimming hole. After crossing some rocks across the river, we followed the well-marked track through dry sclerophyll forest, which climbed up 150m before heading down some steep steps to the riverbed.
We found some interesting scats along the way. Some were pointy on the end, which Becca said was a sign they were from a carnivore such as a Tasmanian Devil or Quoll. I posted the photo on a mammal identifications site, but couldn't get a definite answer. One person thought it could have been snake poo because of the calcium in the scats, but others said it was from a carnivorous animal.
Some people only go a little way down the river and then return the same way, but we did the whole circuit.
We had to hop across large boulders and scramble up and over some sections. The Dolerite cliffs with Oyster Bay pine trees were very beautiful. We did keep our feet dry by crossing over and back lots of times to find the best route I have done gorge walks in Queensland, where we just jump in the river and swim across some sections, as it is impossible to climb around them. One of these is Northbrook Gorge in South D'Aguilar National Park near Mt Glorious in South East Queensland near Brisbane. I wrote about Northbrook Gorge here.
There were some gorgeous cascades along the river. They would be pretty spectacular after heavy rain, but the high water level would make the walk a lot trickier. We only saw a few other people on the walk, including a man, woman and teenage girl. The man said he and the woman had been to the area once before, but that time they didn't do the whole circuit. They had turned back. I think they felt confident to try the full circuit seeing us ahead of them.
The only other walker we saw was a young man leaping along very fast. I'm sure he would have completed the whole walk in about an hour. It was a lot of fun finding the best way over the boulders. It felt like a real adventure. The family passed us after we stopped for lunch on the rocks. We didn't see them again. You can't get lost as although there are various ways to get along the river, tall the paths lead back to the main waterhole.
The gorge reminded me a lot of "The Gorge" in the middle of Launceston where I spent a lot of time in my early life Back in those days we used to climb down rocks into the gorge to swim.
There were lots of beautiful swimming pools along the way. We didn't swim, but it would be very tempting on a hot day. After a while, the large boulders gave way to smaller rocks which were easy to walk along. We eventually got back into the forest and onto the track to the Waterhole and car park.