St Columba Falls
I've spent a lot of time on the East Coast of Tasmania, but until recently I'd never been to St Columba Falls, which is one of the popular attractions there. I had heard a lot about it and had always wanted to go. I had visited the Pub in the Paddock
just down the road from the Falls many years ago. At that time there was a beer-swilling pig in the paddock.
On way to the Falls. Rebecca Donaldson photo
I'd been down in Tassie for a week recently and had done a couple of walks to the Walls of Jerusalem
and Devil's Gullet
near Mole Creek in the Central North of the State in the upper Mersey Valley.
St Columba Falls
We then went down to the East Coast to stay at my sister's beach shack near St Helens for a week. My niece Becca and I decided to do a couple of short walks including St Columba Falls and Anchor Stampers. There is so much to see and do in Tasmania, it is often hard to decide where to go next.
We set out on the drive to the falls. It was only about a 30-minute drive from St Helens via the Tasman Highway (A3), then road C428 from Pyengana.
Sign to Falls
It was a good bitumen road with a good car park, toilet and picnic facilities at the end.
At the Falls
It was a beautiful short, easy 15-minute walk to the Falls, although it was a bit up and down which some people may find tricky if they have any problems with walking. The distance is only 1.2 kilometres return. There was one section with a warning sign not to stop because of the threat of landslides so we went pretty fast past that bit. The Falls are in a State Reserve. There were bridges over a couple of creeks. The track could be slippery and muddy during wet weather.
Under the trees
We walked through cool, shady Sassafras and Myrtle rainforest trees and lots of lovely tree ferns to a viewing platform at the base of the Falls.
At bottom of the falls
In winter up to 220,000 litres fall over the Falls which end up winding its way through the South Georges River into the Pyengana Valley.
Becca under the falls
The Falls are 90m high and are one of Tasmania's highest waterfalls. It flows through a series of cascades.
There wasn't a lot of water going over the falls when we were there, but I saw some photos with a lot more water pounding down, so a visit after heavy rainfall would be great.
Landslide warning sign
I read the Falls got their name from the original landowners. George and Margaret Cotton were the first settlers from Pyengana Valley taking up land not far from the Falls in 1875 with their nine children. They named their property St Columba after the Gaelic Irish missionary monk who preached Christianity. Mrs Cotton named the falls after their property in the late 1870s after they discovered the falls on their land.
Falls and ferns
There is also a very interesting story about the area. Mrs Annie Beechey who was an early settler in the Pyengana District set out in winter in 1908 from her property to look for a lost calf. She got lost in the bush for nine days. Large search parties went out looking for her but didn't find her. Everyone had given up hope, but she emerged out of the bush. She told an incredible story of sheltering in hollow logs, eating stinging nettles and being stalked by two Tasmanian tigers. She became known as Iron Annie Beechey and was named Tasmanian Woman of the Year in 1909.
Till the cows come home. Painting by Janet Freestun of Annie Beechey
Annie said she slept in a hollow log and found two Tasmanian tigers peering in at her from both ends in the morning. She thought she was going to die, but got up and came across two men who helped her.
Nice mossy trees
I remembered seeing a painting about Annie by artist Janet Freestun at an art exhibition in Deloraine in 2018 "Tasmanian Love Stories
We called into the Pub in the Paddock on the way out. There was no sign of the pig on this trip, so I'm not sure if he is still there.
On the way back to the shack, we went and had a look at the Stampers which I will describe in another story.
Pub in the Paddock
Toilet block at St Columba Falls