JULY 2018 | Tara Ulbrich
IT TOOK fifteen years to get to Meander Falls. I don’t have a list of excuses. One of the benefits of being a local is that you can wait for exactly the right conditions.
In Tasmania ‘prepare for all weather’ is almost a cliché but how a walker interprets and responds to forecasts has real implications for the experience to follow. Backpacks loaded with food, water, layers of clothing and a first aid kit. The prediction? Cool and sunny. A 10 am departure should be ample for the four and a half to six hour hike.
Eased into the ascent my mind focuses on the effort to maintain sure footing and a pace that will deliver us to our destination. Other thoughts clear away. Breathe in the mist created by the Meander River thundering beside our well-marked trail. Don’t miss the miracles of a King Billy copse or section of uniformed myrtle trunks disturbed by random burls. After two hours, and just as I think it can’t get any steeper, my companion and I emerge to the first sight of the falls. They’re deceptively just ahead.
With recent downpours we have to wade through a knee high water crossing before lunch is enjoyed at our final rocky viewpoint. Below, a family of ancient pencil pines keep vigil in the basin pools. Observing the many moods of this place, their tips point high up to the plateau ledge. In winter the falls have been known to freeze, a vertical monument. In summer I can imagine pushing to higher vantages.
Conscious of both our fatigue and exhilaration we deliberately slow our return descent. Even though it’s just early afternoon the valley is in dark shadow. “Being here is such a privilege but you have to earn that by putting in the effort.” My daughter-in-law is allowed to say that. She is four months pregnant. Mind you, everyone gets some kind of blessing for their day of pilgrimage to Meander Falls, just give it time.
Photo | Jade Hallam