Tasmania north east to north west: Mount Paris Dam, The Nut, and The Big Tree

If you haven’t read about the first part of our week-long trip to Tasmania recently, feel free to read that first. 😊 After spending some time on the east coast, we travelled by car to the north west coast, stopping at Launceston on the way. We didn’t go to Cradle Mountain this time or even spend much time in Launceston because we did that a couple of years back. This post is about some of the sights we saw between the north east and north west coast. We stayed for one night in Launceston and then took a scenic drive through the towns on the north-west coast and visited The Nut at Stanley, before staying the night at cottage on a lovely farm in Black River.

So, where I left off in the last post was leaving Binalong Bay on the east coast. From there, we had a couple of short walks planned on our way to Launceston. One of them was St Columba Falls, which was only about an hour’s drive away. The short rainforest walk only took about twenty minutes, and we got lucky when we arrived because there were only two other vehicles parked and one of them left, but when we got back to our car after the walk, at least a dozen people arrived. 😆

image 1: A wide dirt path going through a lush rainforest.
A short rainforest walk at St Columba Falls

The walk was in a somewhat secluded place after driving through a lot of farmland. It was a return track, and at the end you were greeted with this amazing waterfall that you can see from a viewing platform. The waterfall has never known to run dry.

image 2: A very tall waterfall cascading in a staggered fashion down a large rock face, with green ferns growing amongst the rock.
The falls as seen from a viewing platform
image 3: Georgie, an Asian woman with short dark hair, standing in a rainforest. She is wearing white and black checkered shorts, a bright blue jacket, and brown hiking shoes. On the path near her is a wooden bench made out of a tree trunk.
Getting good wear out of my hiking boots!

We stopped at another very short rainforest circuit about twenty minutes away, but there wasn’t too much to see. It had lots of signposts and was aimed at younger children because the signposts told a little story personifying the trees while sharing the history of the land and encouraging preserving the rainforest.

image 4: A rainforest with a rough path through the trees, leading to a slightly open area. The open area has a small wooden signpost next to it, facing the opposite direction.
Short walk to stretch the legs

Mount Paris Dam

After driving a little while longer, we arrived at a small town called Weldborough, checking our internet connection on our phones and determining which direction would be most interesting to head to Launceston. Nick spotted a brown recreational sign reading “Mt Paris Dam”. I am fascinated with those brown recreational signs when I’m on the road. Since they’re universal, and indicate some interesting landmarks, sometimes I find it hard to say no to an enticing sign. Prior to our trip, I had looked into some interesting things to do on the road, and there were definitely some spots in Tasmania where hydro-electric dams were set up (we saw them later in our trip), which I told Nick he might be interested in. I was a little reluctant to check out this Mount Paris Dam, but we looked it up on the internet and found an informative blog post that made it seem worth exploring.

The blog post said that Mount Paris Dam rewards the explorer rather than the effort. That really spoke to me and my tendency to take risks for the sake of exploration. I almost said “urban exploration”, but frankly, I’m not into going into sewers and other strange nonsense; I simply love exploring the intricacies of preserved nature and its history. So we drove along a six-kilometre gravel road to get to Mount Paris Dam. The hire car was definitely filthy after that. 😅

image 5: Nick, a white man with short dark hair, walking near a stream of water going through some rocks and some ferns growing amongst the rocks. Nick is wearing sunglasses, a blue shirt and navy shorts. He is facing the left of the photo.
Nick getting right into exploring the dam
image 6: A view following Nick from behind, as he walks towards the walls of a large abandoned dam, with vegetation growing around it. One of the channels in the dam is dry and leads straight through to the other side.
Wow. It begs to be explored.
image 7: The walls of the dam from the previous photo, seen from a further distance away, with the top of it visible. There are a lot of trees growing in front of the dam.
Maybe it’s not huge as far as dams go, but it’s something else when you can explore around it
image 8: Georgie, wearing the same outfit in a previous photo, standing in between two giant walls of the dam, with her hands in her pockets. She is standing a distance away on some rocks, and more rocks are closer to the camera and have a bit of water in the spaces between the rocks.
Just for you to get an idea of what an imposing sight this was

The dam was honestly one of my favourite things on our trip, not only because it was unexpected, but because it was such a unique sight. It is a very small and abandoned dam, with the Cascade River running through it. It was built in 1936 as the “Morning Star Dam” for the purpose of tin mining, for the Mount Paris Tin Mine nearby. The dam operated until the closure of the mine in 1961, but changed owners a couple of times along the way. It was not until 1985 that the Rivers and Waters Supply Commission decided to blast a hole in the bottom of the dam to let the Cascade River run naturally through.

image 9: Another image of Nick walking around the dam, but from the opposite side. There are less trees and more grass visible, and you can see clearly through the channels of the dam.
The back of the dam
image 10: Another view straight between two walls of the dam, with tree fronds in the foreground, and the path through just being a straight dirt path, no rocks.
We didn’t spot any snakes or weird bugs, by the way – it was fine to walk trhough

Nature is reclaiming the area as the river continues to flow and vegetation grows in and around the dam. It makes for some incredible photos, though. I found it so fascinating. We entered the dam from the flowing river side, and walked up the path around the back side of it, which was a hundred or so metres before you had to sort of climb over the top of the dam, where part of its construction is embedded in the ground.

image 11: A channel in the dam which is filled with a shallow amount of water. Large rocks partially obstruct the entrance. Trees are visible on the other side.
We obviously didn’t walk through this part, but wow. 😯
image 12: Another view of the dam, with more of the vegetation around it visible. These clearly obstruct any way through.
I still thought everything here was so incredible.

Although it is on a gravel road and you have to take it easy if you’re not in a truck or a four-wheel-drive, I think Mount Paris Dam is definitely worth the effort if you find yourself somewhat close to Launceston and have some time to spare. If the photos and the description doesn’t spark your curiosity at all, then I think it’s fair to say you might not be interested, but if they do, you might really like what you see. 💚

image 13: A view of green valleys and farmland seen from a lookout. There is a lot of lush green in the photo
We stopped to check out this lookout, which had a very nice view considering we had been driving along winding roads and increasing altitude for some time

We stayed in Launceston for just one night, but walked around the town a little bit. The furnished cottage stayed in had provided us with a breakfast basket. It was full of breakfast goodies including muesli, milk, fruit, and eggs. Since we planned to leave Launceston early – at around 7:30am – the following morning, we decided to either eat some of the breakfast or bring it with us for the ride and eat it the next day. It was somewhat unplanned, but I discovered a raspberry farm cafe on the route we were taking, that opened at 7:30 and would be a tasty option for breakfast. This was going to be a somewhat long day for us because we were driving to the north west, and the drive was going to be about two-and-a-half hours. We also wanted to leave sufficient time to explore the north west coast.

image 14: A rectangular straw basket from the top down. It is filled with breakfast items including bread, muesli in jars, raw eggs, juices, milk cartons, fruit cups, and butter and other condiments.
Breakfast basket!

We had no idea how to transport the eggs. We spent maybe fifteen minutes wondering if we should put them in my coffee cup, put them in a bag somewhere, in the centre console of the car… but most options made me very concerned that the eggs would crack, go all other the other eggs, and we’d be absolutely fucked. 😂 We ended up putting them carefully in the netted pocket behind the driver’s seat, semi-wrapped in our beach towel that we no longer planned to use on the trip. They survived the trip. 👏🏻

“Cradle to Coast”

image 15: Georgie, sitting behind a table with a bowl of granola served in front of her. In the foreground is some french toast served on a plate, and two red cups of coffee are on the table as well.
Breakfast at the raspberry farm

Rain started to pick up on our travels. It wasn’t too bad to begin with. After the raspberry farm cafe, we stopped at a dairy and shared a toast and watched cheese being made through the giant windows; we also stopped at a chocolatier but weren’t in the mood for snacks or purchasing chocolate. Then we went to Turners Berry Patch, a decent sized berry patch in Turners Beach, where you could pay $10 to pick your own berries. We brought an umbrella with us since it continued to rain, but it wasn’t enough to completely interrupt our berry-picking.

image 16: A black round plate served with a cheese toastie on it. It is topped with shredded cheese.
Had a rather fancy cheese toastie for a snack
image 17: Two fresh strawberries growing on a vine, hanging from planted strawberries in a wooden planter a short height off the ground.
Just a couple of the berries growing in the patch

If you are travelling between Cradle Mountain and the north-west coast, there are a lot of spots to stop by and taste different foods like the berries, cheese, and chocolate, and places to have beer or wine. I believe it’s called “Cradle to Coast” tasting trail, and is useful for breaking up a long drive and having an opportunity to taste the local Tasmanian produce.

image 18: A grassy area between two rows of planted berries in a berry patch. A highway with cars on it can be seen in the distance.
Turners Berry Patch is just off the highway
image 19: A close-up of pink-purple blackberries growing in a berry patch.
There were many berries, but we mostly picked strawberries and blackberries
image 20: A punnet of bright red, freshly picked strawberries on a wooden table.
Our finds!

We stopped in Burnie for lunch, after driving through Ulverstone and Penguin. Penguin has a brewery (and you will find quite a few around the state!), but we weren’t that interested in stopping there. It makes for a pleasant scenic drive, but I don’t suppose too many people think about going to the north-west – when we reached our accomodation and spoke to the Airbnb host’s husband, he said that usually people visit the area last, after making their way to Hobart and Launceston. 😆 I guess it’s easy for people to visit major cities first, yeah. It was raining a lot when we were driving through the towns, and sort of stopped when we reached our accommodation.

Mrs M’s Cottage

image 21: A view of farmland in north west Tasmania on a cloudy day. The Nut, a flat rock mountain, can be seen in the distance.
Gloomy rain. We could see The Nut from where we were staying
image 22: A view of the same farmland in a previous photo, from a slightly different angle, with a wooden bench and a small garden in the foreground. The weather is still cloudy.
We stayed in a quiet place on a family-owned farm

We stayed at Mrs M’s Cottage on the beautiful Mayura Farm and the family dog, Maggie, welcomed us and also didn’t want to leave us! She came into the cottage and sat around wanting to be petted more. When we were heading back out to go to Stanley (twenty minutes drive away), she was waiting at the door. 🐶

image 23: A top-down view of a brown and white border collie dog with short hair, looking up at the camera with beady eyes. In the background is the ground of a front porch.
Maggie welcomed us
image 24: The same dog in the previous photo, being petted under the neck by Georgie, seen from a side view.
…and also didn’t want to leave us
image 25: Georgie sitting on a built-in couch by a window, next to the same dog in previous photos. She is wearing a bright blue jacket and shorts and holding a smartphone in her hands as she smiles at the camera. The dog is also looking at the camera.
Really didn’t want to leave!
image 26: Some black and white cows in farmland. The sky is grey and cloudy.
Some of the cows on Mayura Farm. They didn’t bother us at all.

The main attraction we wanted to see in Stanley is The Nut. The Nut is a large, flat, rock mountain, and is actually what’s left of the core of a volcano. The top of it is accessible by a pretty rudimentary chairlift (for a fee), or you can walk up the very steep hill, which I think only takes about fifteen to twenty minutes, and zig-zags for about 430 metres. The chairlift is only open at certain times, and won’t run when it’s very windy or when the weather is extremely poor. Thankfully, while we were outside and exploring The Nut, the rain kept away. It only returned once we got back to the bottom and got back in the car.

The Nut at Stanley

image 27: A bay in a remote seaside town, with the road going from left to right along the coast. The sky is very cloudy.
Stanley is a small town.
image 28: The signposted start of some walking trails in some light yellow coloured grass and shrub. The signpost indicates a circuit and lookout in the same direction.
It’s all open once you get to the top

The vegetation at the top of The Nut is a mixture of pale long yellow grass/shrub, and patches of forest, as well as open lookouts where you can see the ocean and the town of Stanley. Walking around The Nut is relatively easy and the ground is flat, although may not be completely wheelchair accessible. There are wide paths, but some sort of rough, if I recall correctly, there were probably some stone steps towards the lookouts. It’s a two kilometre circuit and we walked very quickly so we wouldn’t miss the last chairlift ride, so we completed it in about 30 minutes. It would probably take 40 minutes on average, although the signpost says an hour, so I would say that’s accurate if you really take your time.

image 29: A high view of a seaside town from the side of a steep hill. There is a beach leading to the ocean. The sky is also cloudy.
You can see the city of Stanley from the chairlift and from the lookouts
image 30: A grey gravel path lined with netted wire, going through some bushland trees that are generously spaced apart.
A bit of forest at the top of The Nut
image 31: A wide view of the ocean with subtle current. In the foreground are rock cliff faces. The sky is cloudy.
Gorgeous views of almost-the-corner-of Tasmania
image 32: A view of a town from an old chairlift. Beneath the chairlift is dense but lightly coloured shrubbery and grass. Part of the chairlift cables and the next chair with two people sitting on it are visible.
It’s not really a scary ride. Just be sensible 🙃

There is a self-guided heritage walk you can do in the town of Stanley, but we were short on time and the weather got in the way a bit as well.

The next morning we enjoyed a little sleep-in, and Nick made scrambled eggs in the cottage, with both the eggs we brought with us and the eggs that were supplied in the cottage. They actually came from the chickens on the farm! We didn’t have to leave that early because we would be in Strahan on the west coast that evening, and the following evening as well. The only thing we had booked was the West Coast Wilderness Railway early the following morning.

image 33: A view of the farmland from earlier photos, with The Nut in the background, but this time with bright blue skies.
It just had to get sunny on the day we left!
image 34: A red porcelain bathtub with white inside, sitting on the porch of a farm cottage. Some of the farm can be seen in the background.
We didn’t use the bathtub but it was just made such a nice photo!

Dip Falls and The Big Tree

Strahan was quite a long drive so we did a lot to break up the three-hour trip. I’ll leave this post with two sights that were near each other, and about 45 minutes from the farm: Dip Falls and The Big Tree. These two sights were in the town of Mawbanna. Dip Falls had an incredible set of stairs that went deep down to the bottom of a waterfall. You could also see the waterfall from a higher vantage point across a bridge from the carpark.

image 35: Man-made stairs with a steel railing leading downwards and to the left, going into rainforest.
Lots and lots of stairs going down
image 36: A waterfall with two distinct sections of falls. The section closest to the camera falls down a cliff made of layers of multiple geometric charcoal rocks. Talk trees and blue sky are in the background.
The bottom of Dip Falls
image 37: The same waterfall from the previous photo but seen from a high vantage point, with the bottom of the waterfall visible. The man-made walkway can be seen off to the side amongst the trees. The waterfall appears as multiple long streaks of water going down the rocks.
Dip Falls seen from across the bridge from the carpark

A short drive away was The Big Tree, a huge, old eucalypt tree that is one of the last trees of that species and size in Tasmania. It won’t be all that impressive to folks from the United States who have real forests, but it’s a big tree for us! It might not be a lot to see, but worth it if you are passing by. You can see a couple of other big trees in the same area, but the main one has a small boardwalk around it.

image 38: Georgie, in her bright blue jacket, standing on the roots of a giant tree. She looks small in comparison to the very tall tree with a very thick trunk, which is shown from a low angle.
Big Tree, Small Georgie

My next blog post for this trip will cover the sights we saw on the west coast, the West Coast Wilderness Railway, and some of the things we came across on our long drive back to Hobart to return home. ☺️

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?? This is one of my dream places ever since I learned of its existence 😍

Stanley looks like a mermaid town 🤤

Also love how you wore a skirt to a hike 🤭

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Haha it’s a pair of shorts!! 🥲 But yeah, why not be fashionable and comfortable when I hike haha. I’m still finding ways to do it “well”, but for longer hikes I am definitely more inclined to go for activewear haha.

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