Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Huon Pine & Whyte River Track (Pieman River State Reserve)

Two short but pleasant walks in the Pieman River State Reserve, the Huon Pine Walk and Whyte River Track explores a section of the Tarkine rainforest along Pieman and Whyte Rivers. With the Huon Pine Walk being a very short but wheelchair-accessible trail that caters for all, the longer Whyte River Track provides a more immersive experience over its 3.3 kilometres. Good, easy going options for those visiting Corinna

Distance: 600 metres (return) + 3.3 kilometres (loop)
Gradient: Largely gentle over its length (wheelchair accessible for the Huon Pine Walk), with some mildly steep sections on the Whyte River Track.
Quality of Path: Largely clear and well maintained. Some sections of the Whyte River Track blend into the forest and can be less easy to discern
Quality of Signage: Clear and easy to follow trailhead with directional signage at key junctions. Some trail markers along the length of the trail
Experience Required: No Bushwalking Experience Required
Time: 1.5 Hours for both
Steps: No steps on the Huon Pine Walk. Some steps along the Whyte River Track
Best Time to Visit: All year.
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The trail starts at the main car park in Corinna, located north-west of the Corinna Rd barge. The trailhead for the Huon Pine Walk is located at the north-western end of the car park, while the Whyte River Track is south-east of the crossing and past the Tarkine Hotel 

With Frenchmans Cap completed, Alissa and I moved onto the road trip component of our December Tassie trip. After completing the Walls of Jerusalem Circuit in April 2018, Alissa and I used the rest of our holiday to drive up the east coast of Tassie via the Tasman Peninsula and Freycinet National Park as a bit of a sampler for a future visit. For this December trip, Alissa and I decided to go explore the west coast by driving up Lyell Highway to Cradle Mountain. This side of Tassie is definitely the wild frontier as it lacks the almost Margaret River-like gloss of the east coast and instead feels remote and less developed. As we've come to expect from Tasmania, it was also pretty beautiful. The drive into Queenstown was a crazily winding road, and Queenstown itself looks like an old mining town from an HO scale model trail set.

After all the challenge of Frenchmans, Alissa and I had originally wanted to go check out Montezuma Falls near Queenstown as it is the tallest waterfall in Tasmania. The advice from the hotel we were staying at was that they hadn't had consistent rain for quite some weeks, and that the waterfall was likely to be less than inspiring. Not wanting waste our time, Alissa and I decided to give it a miss and instead visited Strahan before driving north to Corinna to get a taste of the Tarkine Rainforest.

The drive in from Waratah went through some pretty uninspiring scenery near Savage River before we suddenly were immersed in some dense and beautiful rainforest as we came closer to Corinna. Corinna was once a small mining town but is now managed as a holiday retreat on the banks of the Pieman River. Information about walking trails in Corinna is a bit difficult to decipher, but once we were there we realised we had quite a lot of options. Having just had a difficult walk, we decided to start with something super easy in the Huon Pine Walk, which Alissa gleefully pointed out was only 300 metres one way!

This wheelchair-friendly walk follows a series of boardwalks along the Pieman River through a section of the Tarkine.

Being a tourist friendly short walk, there are the usual extra details like lookout points along the way, and informative panels to elucidate the history of the area.

River views are actually fairly scarce along the walk, however there are occasional breaks in the foliage that allow walkers to take in the beauty of the Pieman River.

For a trail called the Huon Pine Walk, I have to admit that I thought we would be walking through dense pine forest - something like what you see in the Walls of Jerusalem. Alas, it is not the case at all, with the tree pictured above being the big reveal of the walk - an unremarkable Huon Pine growing by the river.

Beyond the pine, the trail changes standard to a non wheelchair friendly track with a number of longer walk options on offer. Had we not just finished such an arduous walk and had more time in the area, this is something I would have loved to go explore, but will unfortunately have to wait for another time.

Less than fifteen minutes after starting the Huon Pine Walk, Alissa and I were back at the car park after completing one of the easiest walks we've ever done. With more time to kill before check in at our hotel, we decided to pop in for a drink at the hotel (accompanied by complimentary lollies and rum balls as it was Christmas) before tackling another walk.

Heading in the opposite direction of the Huon Pine Walk, Alissa and I headed through the camping area which featured the cool (if slightly dilapidated) sign pictured above.

Near the end of the campsite was the low key trailhead for our next walk - the 3.3 kilometre Whyte River Track that forms a convenient loop back to the hotel. Ironically, the 300 metre long Huon Pine Walk had a massively informative trailhead since it has been designated one of the Tasmania's Great Short Walks, while the Whyte River Track's trailhead is so vague it doesn't even list the trail's length at all, and only give an indicative time for completion.

From the trailhead, the walk is an immediate immersion in the Tarkine Rainforest. At the time of year we were walking it was dryer and less lush than the rainforests we had seen on the Frenchmans Cap Track and South East Queensland at its lushest. It looked very similar to the dryer sections of the South East Queensland rainforests, like the area near Tamborine Mountain or the small pockets of rainforest near Burleigh Heads.

As with the Huon Pine Walk, most of the walk is through pretty dense rainforest however there are occasional points along the walk were the track runs close enough to the river bank to get good views of the Pieman and Whyte Rivers.

The track is criss-crossed by a number of streams crossed by wooden bridges. Again, at the time of year the creeks were a mere trickle but are probably much deeper and more impressive closer to the middle of the year.

At points the fairly natural looking trail blended into the landscape and it become slightly difficult to discern where the track was meant to go. There are however a number of markers cut into the trees that point walkers in the right direction.

Heading deeper into the forest, Alissa and I couldn't help but be impressed by the size of the massive ferns and trees. The Shield Mother Ferns were sometimes twice our height, while the cool shady forest made for very pleasant walking.

As we continued along the trail, Alissa and I noticed that we were turning northwards to follow the river bank as it went up the Whyte River.

The terrain along the walk is pretty mellow for the most part, with a series of steps up just before the halfway mark being the first even mildly strenuous section of the walk.

The ascent is pretty brief and unchallenging (extremely so compared to Frenchmans Cap), and it wasn't long before the track heads back down to once again run only a metre above the water level.

25 minutes into starting the Whyte River Track, Alissa and I were at what appeared to be the walk's halfway point, with a rustically carved directional sign pointing in both directions.

A more contemporary and typically Tasmanian orange marker on a tree points us onwards. Alissa and I always love the shaggy-looking moss that can be found in Tasmania, and seeing it again reminded us a lot of our stay in Pine Valley when we did the Overland Track.

After a long stretch deep within forest, it was nice to find the track come to a clearing overlooking the Whyte River.

For those staying in Corinna, this is the perfect spot to head out for a picnic as a table and benches are provided overlooking the river. Even without a picnic lunch, this is a perfect spot to stop and take it all in even for a brief moment.

Just beyond the picnic area, the trail passes by a massive tree that has a hollowed out interior. While less grand than the Tingle Trees of the Walpole Wilderness, these trees are large enough to shelter someone inside. The interior looked somewhat dodgy however, and Alissa declined to pose for a picture inside.

Continuing along the trail, Alissa and I reached another clearing in the forest which allowed us to see the bend in the Whyte River with a cove to the left appearing like this was another meeting point of two rivers.

With these kinds of forest walks, it is the finer details that provide a lot of the added interest, and Alissa and were amazed by a section of moss that looked like it was green lace hanging from the tree.

Things get mildly more rugged along the home stretch. The trail enters a section of boardwalk as it passes some large moss-covered rocky outcrops to the right of the track.

A cool section crosses over a series of pebbles that are probably a creek bed at other times of the year. This really reminded Alissa and I of Queensland, particularly all the creek crossings along the Coomera Circuit.

The only moderately steep section of the track follows not long after, with the track rises up a section of rainforest filled with roots that brought back memories of Frenchmans Cap just the day before.

After the ascent, the track heads along some easy rainforest walking for a few more minutes before arriving back at the settlement at Corinna. From there, it was a short walk back to the car and the end of the walk.

While the Huon Pine Walk and the Whyte River Track were hardly difficult or adventurous, they were exactly the kind of low challenge walk Alissa and I were looking for after Frenchmans. Both are pleasant forest walks, with the Whyte River Walk being particularly enjoyable as a short stroll on a fine day. Alissa and I love rainforest walking, and this first visit to the Tarkine really reminded us of the South East Queensland in a lot of ways (without the stifling humidity), and made us want to come back to explore more. With former Greens Leader Bob Brown pushing for a multi-day hike through the Tarkine, I feel like this was only a tasting of how good this area can be and I look forward to returning - hopefully with a fresh new multi-day to really immerse ourselves in the area. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alissa and Don Thanks for a great write up I definitely have to check out the Tarkine on our next Tassie trip the photos are awesome. We did the walk to Montezuma walk about 2 weeks ago and while I am sure it would be absolutely incredible with more water coming over it was still worth the walk.